Ceramics - Primitive Techniques Today


Instructor:                   Ken Turner

Telephone:                  206-241-7058

Credits:                        3

Quarter:                Summer Qt. 2005

Location:                      Antioch University Seattle

Prerequisites:               None

Day & Time:     Friday July 8, Sat. 9, Fri. 15, 22, Fri. Aug. 5, 12, 9 a.m.– noon.  Sat. Aug. 6th & 13th 10:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Teaching Liaison:       Jayashree George, DA., A.T.R.-BC


This is an opportunity for anyone interested in working creatively with clay regardless of your experience level.  The instructor will demonstrate various techniques, some of which have been used in cultures across the world for thousands of years, and are still employed today.   The focus will be on creative self-expression through clay, and the exploration of optional low fire techniques.  This class may require participation in firings off campus, outside of regularly scheduled class periods (instructors studio, beach, etc.).


  1. To become familiar with the potential of their creative spirit through the medium of clay.
  2. To recognize the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of working with clay, and to recognize clays humbling qualities.
  3. To gain an entry-level understanding of the ceramic process, creating an awareness of the benefits of clay as a useful tool in their art therapy studies and practices.
  4. To learn introductory ceramic vocabulary, basic hand building and low temp. firing techniques.  Perhaps learning something new about themselves, and communicating an idea or emotion through their artwork.


  1. Regular attendance at class lectures, discussions and off campus meetings;
  2. Participation in class exercises and discussions;
  3. Completion of assignments;
  4. Utilizing studio time;


  1.       Class attendance:  Students are expected to attend all classes and satisfactorily complete all assigned work.  Failure to attend 90% of the classes for a course will adversely affect a student’s assessment unless appropriate make up work is completed.  Failure to attend 80% of the classes for a course will result in no credit for the course unless otherwise determined by the course instructor.

  2.       Participation in class discussion and activities.

  3.     Completion of assignments

  4.      Clean up, and consideration of others.

  5.      Cultural diversity assignment:  Write a short paper related to primitive ceramics from another culture.  Biographies of artists, potters working in traditional – nontraditional, potteries or techniques. Book, article, gallery, museum show, or video reviews.

  6.     Late assignments:  Assignments are to be submitted on their due date.  If the assignment is not satisfactorily or thoroughly completed, you may have the opportunity to re-do the assignment.  Credit is granted for this course upon satisfactory completion of all course assignments.

  7.      Students will be expected to learn the following techniques and complete the related assignments by the due date:


Students will be expected to learn the following techniques and complete the related assignments by the due date.

Week One Friday Class 1  

7/8/05         Distribute and discuss syllabus.  Make notations of possible modifications based on class feedback.  If revisions are necessary, students will receive revised syllabus on week two.  Explain studio policies, safety, and clean up.

                    Discuss ceramic Terms and Definitions hand out.

                    Discuss specifics on “Cultural diversity assignment”. (Due 5th week) Demonstration of making, and attaching simple pinched clay forms; constructing a rattle.  (Due 6th week)

                    Inform students of meeting place at beach on Sat. to find tools and create a form using sand (assignment two).

                    Assignment one: “Create a “Ritual Rattle” and three to six small forms using the pinch method.”  Bring these unfired, bone dry pieces back to class three (week 2) to learn about the application of terra sigillata.

Week One Saturday Class 2 (Time to Be Announced) Low Tide!

4/8/05         Meet at the beach!  Beach comb for and collect natural or found tools. Demonstration of “Sand form” or “Stone form”.

                    Assignment 2: Create clay sculpture or pot using beach sand or stone as form.

Week Two Class 3

7/15/05        Discussion and demonstration of terra sigillata application and burnishing effects.  Demonstration of coiling method.

                    Assignment 3: Gods and Goddesses, Sacred Icon Figurines. Sculpt a small figure representing your interpretation of a mythical God, Goddess, or Deity of your choice. 

 Note: No Class, July 29th                                

Week Three -  Class 4


                     Mid-Quarter Evaluations handed out and collected.  Soft slab demonstration.

                     Assignment four:  "Representational Mask" Soft slab construction.    

                     Work should be bisque fired (^012) by next class.

Week Four

7/30/05         No Class 

Week Five Friday Class 5           

8/5/05          Greenware must be bisque fired to cone 012 by this date to sawdust fire. Discussion based on mid-quarter evaluation of previous week. Hand out directions to my studio. Stiff slab construction techniques demonstrated.

Assignment five: Create a personal altar or shrine combining three or more of the techniques you have learned.  You may also use other techniques, and add elements other than clay.  For example:

                    Feathers, branches, flowers, paper, candles, oils, etc.  Be prepared to talk    about your alter, your choice of elements and their symbolism.  Did you discovery anything about yourself while creating your alter?   (Due 6th week, Saturday, class 9 & 10)

Week Five Saturday            Class 6 & 7, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

8/6/05          Meet at my studio for sawdust firing.  Bring bisque fired ware for firing and clay for extruder project, totem or         musical instrument. Prepare, load and fire kiln.   Cultural diversity assignment due. 

Week Six Friday Class 7 & 8

8/12/05        All remaining greenware must be bisque fired (cone 04-05) by this date.  Discussion and critical evaluation of fired work.   

Week Six Saturday Class 9 & 10, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

813/05        Meet at my studio for glazing and raku firing.  Private, and group discussion of  “Personal Altars” assignment.  End of quarter Evaluations handed out.  All assignments due.

                    Group critique of assigned and unassigned work.  End of quarter Evaluations collected by a student and returned to Margaret Conley, Office Manager’s, box in the front office.

Notification to the school of any and all types of personal needs involving physical, emotional, and learning difficulties and / or needs related to the Americans With Disabilities Act is the sole responsibility of the student.

While all reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate individual needs, it is conceivable that some conditions and circumstances are beyond the University’s ability.