Ceramics - Primitive Techniques Today

A&L 422

Instructor: Ken Turner

Telephone: 206-241-7058

Credits: 3 - 4

Quarter: Summer Qt. 2008

Location: Antioch University Seattle

Prerequisites: None There is a lab fee of $45.00.

Day & Time: Friday, 9 a.m.-12 noon, Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Sept. 5, Saturday Aug. 30th & Saturday, Sept. 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Teaching Liaison: Janice Hoshino


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 will require participation in firings off campus, on two Saturdays; one at my studio and one at the beach.


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 art therapy studies and practices.

4. To learn introductory ceramic vocabulary, basic hand building and low temp. firing techniques while learning something about yourself, and your ability to communicate an idea or emotion through your 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;


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.

Participation in class discussion and activities.

Completion of assignments

Clean up, and consideration of others.

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.

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.

Students are expected to work on projects outside of class time.

Expect techniques not covered in this syllabus to be introduced.

All written assignments must be submitted electronically.

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

Cultural Diversity assignment. (Due 4th week)

Several examples (at least 6) of simple "pinched" clay forms (pinch pot) including "Ritual Rattle" and use of terra sigillata. (Due 6th week)

Representational Mask (Due 6th week)      

Create a "Personal Altar" combining techniques covered in class. (Due 6th week)

Sacred icon, figurine or Totem. (Due 6th week)      

Self evaluation; write a paper describing what you learned in this course. Must be submitted electronically. (Due 6th week)

Display a working knowledge of basic ceramic vocabulary.

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


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. This request should 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 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.

2. Your intentions.

3. Your learning goals.

4. Your learning experiences.

5. Demonstration of learning

6. 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 the art world.

  Instructors suggested extra credit assignment 2:

Research in depth a specific ceramic technique. Write a paper on your findings and produce physical examples.


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

Week One Friday Class 1


§ 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 pit fire, make request for wood.

§ Discuss specifics on "Cultural diversity assignment". (Due 4th week)

§ Discuss specifics on Self evaluation assignment. (Due 6th week)

§ Demonstration of making and attaching simple pinched clay forms; constructing a rattle. (Due 6th week)

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 the following week (week 2) to learn about the application of terra sigillata.

Week Two, Friday Class 2

8/8/08 Discussion and demonstration of terra sigillata application, polishing and burnishing effects. Soft slab demonstration.

Assignment 2: "Representational Mask" Soft slab construction.

Week Three, Friday Class 3

8/15/08 Assignment 3: Create a personal altar or shrine using 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 6th week, Saturday, class 9 & 10)

Week Three, Friday Class 4

8/22/08 Mid-Quarter Evaluations handed out and collected.

Assignment 4: Gods and Goddesses, Sacred Icon Figurines or Totems. Sculpt a small figure or totem representing your interpretation of a mythical God, Goddess, or Deity of your choice.

Greenware must be dry and on shelf to be bisque fired by the evening of Tuesday Aug. 19th in order to be ready for the pit fire. Greenware must be bisque fired (^010) and cool by next class (8/29/08).

Week Four, Friday Class 5

8/29/08 Discuss pit fire logistics.

Cultural diversity assignment due.

Discussion based on mid-quarter evaluation of previous week.

Every one collect their bisque fired ware to bring to the beach on Sat.

Week Five, Saturday Class 6 & 7, 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM

8/30/08 Meet at Beach for pit fire. Bring bisque fired work, wood, etc. beach chair or blanket, water and potluck. Prepare, load and fire pit. Discussion and critical evaluation of fired work.

Week Six, Friday Class 8

9/5/08 Greenware must be dry and on shelf to be bisque fired by the evening of Tuesday Sept. 2nd in order to be ready for the Raku fire. All remaining greenware must be bisque fired (cone 05) and collected by this date.

Hand out directions to my studio.

Discuss Raku firing process, what to wear and what not to wear.

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

9/6/08 Meet at my studio for glazing, raku firing and potluck. Private and group discussion of "Personal Altar" assignments. 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.