Ceramics I


Instructor:                              Ken Turner

Telephone:                             206-241-7058   

Email:                                     Ken_Turner@antiochseattle.edu

Credits:                                   3-4

Quarter:                                  Spring 2009

Location:                                Antioch University Seattle

Prerequisites:                         None

Day & Time:                          Friday 9 am.-12:20  9 sessions No class May 15th & 22nd

Teaching Liaison:                  Janice Hoshino, Ph.D., A.T.R.-BC



This course is designed to address some of the Liberal Arts Core Competencies required of AUS graduates.  Communicate effectively through dialogue, writing and creative expression. Learning and practicing the fundamental hand-building skills will challenge students physically, emotionally and mentally. 

Through a verity of introductory hand-building techniques students will gain a new awareness of their creative selves making the undeniable connection between creativity and a healthy spirit.  The assignments are designed to promote success, encourage critical thinking and creativity while building confidence in each student. Further, students will be introduced to wheel throwing techniques, although there will be no required assignments related to wheel throwing. 



  1. The goal of this course is to give students ability to create as well as appreciate expressive, three dimensional clay forms.
  2. Gain an understanding of other cultures and periods of human expression in clay.
  3. Experience self-awareness and reflective practice while becoming familiar with the potential of their creative spirit through the medium of clay.
  4. To gain an entry-level understanding of the ceramic process.
  5. To learn introductory ceramic vocabulary, basic hand building and glazing techniques.
  6. Learn to an idea or emotion through their artwork.
  7. Engage in dialogue, understand and address the concerns of designing work while appreciating aesthetic considerations of the individual artist/craftsman.
  8. Student’s sketchbook will be a recorded history of their development in this course.



  1. Regular attendance at class lectures and discussions;
  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 discussions, critiques and activities.


3.      Completion of assignments. Ceramic work is fragile. Studio accidents or kiln issues may cause work to break. While all due care will be exercised, work may be broken before completion. I must have finished work for each assigned project to fairly evaluate. Work that blows up or is broken before completion will require re-making for grading. If your work is destroyed in progress, please show this to me and discuss what must be done to achieve a finished project for evaluating. In the case of involved projects where the loss is not the student’s fault, abridged project parameters may be negotiated and due dates adjusted.


4.      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.


5.      Clean up, and consideration of others Clean-up of work space is required. Please have a proprietary attitude about the studio, and leave it clean, regardless of the condition you find it.  This includes cleaning up table space, sink, and floor. Working in built-up clay dust is a health hazard! Working together effectively to ensure a clean, safe, environment contributes greatly to the overall success and happiness of a shared studio. Wet-clean only.  Do not sweep, as this puts toxic dusts into the air. Please read and observe shop procedures and rules. If in doubt, please ask me.   We appreciate your co-operation.


6.      Sketchbooks are a necessary tool for artists. Regular use throughout the term is part of research in seeing and developing ideas. Additionally, a sketchbook functions as an archive for your ideas, and a record of thoughts and work produced, and a workspace for developing ideas. It takes regular exercise in using a sketchbook to help you grow as an artist.


7.      Cultural diversity assignment:  Write a three page paper related to ceramics from another culture.  Ideas include but are not limited to; biographies of historic or contemporary artists/potters working in traditional – nontraditional potteries or techniques.  Write a critical evaluation of books, articles, gallery and museum shows or video reviews and ceramic technology.  Papers must be submitted electronically. 


8.     Students are expected to work on assignments outside of class time. Studio hours will be posted.  Students must attend to and care for their work in progress. 


9.      All written assignments must be submitted electronically.


     10.     Expect techniques not covered in this syllabus to be introduced into class.


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

·        Proposals for students requesting extra credit must be submitted electronically (Due 3rd week).

·        Cultural Diversity assignment. (Due 4th week)

·        Two examples of a simple “pinched” clay form (pinch pot). (Due 5th week)

·        One example of a hidden coil form, one continues coil, one random coil and one repetitive pattern coil form, or four forms incorporating variations of these coiling techniques. (Due 5th week)

·        Representational Mask (Due 9th week)

·        Two examples of “soft slab” construction techniques; one horizontal form (Tray assignment), one vertical form. (Due 9th week)

·        Open discussion on definition of ceramic terms, 9th week.

·        Create and present to the group a “Personal Altar” combining three or more of the techniques above.  (Due 10th week)

·        Display a working knowledge of basic ceramic vocabulary.

·        Display care and craftsmanship in all work produced throughout the course.

·        Self evaluation; write a paper describing what you learned in this course. Must be submitted electronically.  (Due final class)


Students will be evaluated on their commitment to course material based on the following criteria:


Creativity- An essential skill in arts education. Although this course focuses on hand-building techniques, students are evaluated according to how often and how well they apply creativity in every aspect of this class.


Technique- Students must demonstrate the skill and care needed to get their work through the process. Ceramics is a technically intensive medium in which failure is counted on and must be continually overcome through preparation, patience, and practice.  Display creativity, care and craftsmanship in all work produced throughout the course.


Participation- Students must have the ability to discuss their work with others in group discussions and one on one exchange. Display a working knowledge of basic ceramic vocabulary.  Maintain your sketch book with current entries. Demonstrate basic class conduct, indicating a willingness to help other students learn, maintaining a clean work area, and regularly attending class.


Assignments- Students are evaluated on their problem solving skills, and how well they follow the assignment or creatively fulfill the assignment parameters. Projects are required to be handed in on time. All written assignments must be submitted electronically.



Students wishing to receive an extra credit for this class must apply for it through the registers office and must complete an extra 30 hrs. of approved work by the instructor in order to receive the credit.  BA students may receive 1 extra credit only.  MA students may receive 2 credits if applied for and completed the required 60 hrs. of approved work.  Students may complete the extra credit assignment suggested by the instructor, or they may chose to submit a written syllabus and a request to the instructor for approval of a special project.  In either event this request must be presented to the instructor by the third class meeting.  Students may withdraw their request for an extra credit up to the sixth week of classes, but will be subject to a financial penalty if they do so; consult your adviser or the registers office for further information.

All students requesting extra credit must present written syllabus (submitted electronically) outlining their extra credit project even if the student chooses to instructors’ assignment 1 or 2.  Please include the following:

1. Quarter, year, and number of credits.

  1. Your intentions.
  2. Your learning goals.
  3. Your learning experiences.
  4. Demonstration of learning
  5. Reading materials

Instructors suggested extra credit assignment 1: 

Research a historical, or contemporary ceramic artist / movement and write a paper describing their contributions to and affects on themselves, the ceramic community or the art world.

  Instructors suggested extra credit assignment 2:

Research in depth a specific ceramic technique.  Write a paper on your findings and create your own examples.



Students will be expected to learn the following techniques and complete the related assignments by the due dates.  All written assignments must be submitted electronically.

Week One 

4/10/09     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, hours, safety, and clean up.

                    Discuss ceramic Terms and Definitions hand out, and notify students of open discussion on terms, week eight.

                    Discuss specifics on “Cultural diversity assignment”. (Due 4th week)

  Discuss Sketchbooks

                    Explain extra credit criteria.

                    Assignment one; “Creating an organic form using the pinch method.” Two examples.  Demonstration of making and attaching simple pinched clay forms.  The introduction of coil building.  (Due 5th week)

Week Two 

4/17/09        Demonstration of coiling method, and explanation of assignment.

                    Assignment two: Coil built pots.  One example of a “coiled” form; continues coil, random coil,  repetitive pattern coil, or one form incorporating variations of these coiling techniques. (Due 5th week)  Check sketch book progress.


Week Three

4/24/09    Wheel throwing and trimming demonstration.  Introduction to soft slab techniques and demonstrate forming a mask.  Announce supplies needed for assignment four.

Assignment three:  "Representational Mask" Soft slab construction. (Due 9th week) 

Week Four  

5/1/09          Mid-Quarter Evaluations handed out and collected.  Discussion of glazes, glaze application and firing, including a demonstration of basic glazing techniques.   Cultural diversity assignment due.  Check sketch book progress.

Assignment four: “Soft slab tray” with emphasis on texture.  Demonstration of tray assignment.  Two examples of “soft slab” construction techniques; one horizontal form, one vertical form. (Due 9th week) 

Week Five     

5/8/09           Discussion based on mid-quarter evaluation of previous week.  Discussion and critical evaluation of glaze fired work.   Assignment one and two due. 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 altar, your choice of elements and their symbolism.  Did you discovery anything about yourself while creating your alter?   (Due 10th week)      No class May 15th & 22nd 2009

Week Six       

5/15/09        No Class

Week Seven  

5/22/09        No Class

Week Eight

5/29/09         Assist students with various projects.                   

Week Nine

6/5/09           Open discussion on definition of ceramic terms.  Check sketch book progress.  Check sketch book progress.  Assignment three and four due 

Week Ten

6/12/09        Presentations and group critique of “Personal Altars”.  End of quarter Evaluations handed out.

Week Eleven

6/19/09        Group critique of assigned and unassigned work.  End of quarter Evaluations collected by a student and returned to Jack Johnston, Office Manager’s, box in the front office.  Final assignment due  A written paper describing what you learned in this course. Must submit electronically.




Ceramics Monthly. 1609 Northwest Blvd., Columbus , Ohio 43212
"The world's most widely read ceramic arts magazine"

Studio Potter. Box 172, Warner, New Hampshire 03278
"Studio Potter is a magazine for the community of potters everywhere. It is written by potters and directed toward fellow-potters who earn their living by making pots...".


Pottery Making Illustrated  Ceramic Publications Company A Subsidiary of the American Ceramic Society


American Craft.  American Craft Council, 44 W. 53rd. St., NY, NY. 10019

American Craft Council and American Craft Museum, NYC


The Spirit of Clay: A Classic Guide to Ceramics by Robert Piepenburg (Paperback - Mar 1998)

A Potter's Workbook by Clary Illian and Charles Metzger (Paperback - Jul 14, 2003)

Surface Design for Ceramics (A Lark Ceramics Book) by Maureen Mills (Hardcover - Jul 1, 2008) A comprehensive and invaluable studio reference shows examples and demonstrates techniques for embellishing clay.

Making Marks: Discovering the Ceramic Surface by Robin Hopper

Centering in Pottery, Poetry and Person. M.C. Richards, Middletown, CT., Wesleyan University Press, 1964, 1989..."CENTERING: that act which precedes all others on the potter's wheel..."

A Potter's Book. Bernard Leach, Faber and Faber, London, 1960.  This is the definitive "classic" work which set the stage for the revival of clay craft in Europe and America.

Finding One’s Way With Clay by Paulus Berensohn, Simon and Shuster, New York

500 Cups: Ceramic Explorations of Utility & Grace (500 Series) by Lark (Paperback - Feb 1, 2005).  Any and all of the 500 Series books (Bowls, Pictures, Teapots etc.) are a great image and idea source.


Seattle Art Museum - Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Asian Art Museum - http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/visitSAAM.asp

Northwest Craft Center - http://www.northwestcraftcenter.com

Pacini Lubel Gallery - http://www.pacinilubel.com 

Foster / White Gallery - http://www.fosterwhite.com 

Willman Traver Gallery - http://www.travergallery.com 

Internet Resources:

Ken Turner - www.kenturnerpottery.com

Ceramic Glossary A to Z                       http://www.ruffordceramiccentre.org.uk/ceramic/glossary/gloss.htm

The Ceramics Web - Web page devoted to ceramics, based at San Diego State University.

ClayNet - Now hosted at About.com- Form of news, tips, techniques

Antioch University Seattle is committed to providing "reasonable accommodations" to qualified students with a disability in order to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to benefit from and have access to programs and services.

Students in need of accommodations should contact the Disability Support Services (DSS) Office (206-268-4151 or 206-268-4403). TTY: 206-728-5745