Table Manners: Functional Pottery Syllabus

AR 2310 Table Manners: Functional Pottery         

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  • FINAL Tuesday May 5th
    • 9-10:50 section we will meet from 9:00 – 10:30 AM
    • 12-1:50pm section we will meet from 11am-1:30pm

Course Objectives:

  • Reflect on the various contexts in which food serving and eating vessels are used, from the everyday table to special occasions.
  • Consider the rituals and customs of food preparation and serving in a variety of cultural traditions from around the world.
  • Consider the design and form of table vessels for ceremonial, communal and intimate occasions.
  • Understand the nature of food preparation and serving in small settings.
  • Appreciate the hand-made, hand-held container or vessel.
  • Understand the potential for customizing food presentation for special traditions or occasions.
  • To appreciate the nature of hospitality, relative to the offering and sharing of food.
  • Design and make specific food containers and serving vessels in individual styles, for individual needs, for interest, elegance, or special purpose to be used in a final critique.
  • Create a basic frame of reference for ceramic materials and processes used to create a functional vessel.
  • Discuss the basic elements of design and how they pertain to the functional vessel.

Course Description

This is a hands-on ceramic art class in which you will explore several approaches to creating handmade functional tableware. Explorations will include considerations of context, function, style, and expressive potential within the framework of the utilitarian sensibility. Traditions, rituals, and customs for food preparation and presentation are compared with contemporary and innovative ideas for creating vessels and containers for food to be offered at the table. The result of this course will be the development and creation of original and individualized sets of tableware and creating a frame of reference for the history and techniques of tableware.

This is a General Education Course

This course is a Creative Thought Direction (CTDI) in the General Education program. People need to be creative in order to thrive in our complex and changing world. People also need to understand the creative processes that lead to the generation of ideas and to engage in new interpretations of existing ideas. CTDI courses encourage students to recognize beauty in its many manifestations and to become aware of formal elements of creative expression. CTDI courses also encourage students to view themselves as creative beings, to appreciate creativity in others and to regard creativity as an essential component in all areas of human endeavor. In these courses, students develop and value perseverance and a tolerance for ambiguity. Students are challenged to appreciate aesthetic forms, to use their imaginations and to develop the skills and attitudes that allow creativity to flourish: independence and non-conformity, the ability to organize and reorganize information and the confidence to think in new ways. Creative Thought courses emphasize the skills of critical thinking, reading, writing, listening and speaking, and working with information technology.

Required Materials

Clay, glaze, and other materials for the course will be covered by the course lab fee. You will be supplied other safety materials as well. You will need to purchase or create:

  • Dedicated sketchbook/ Idea log using unlined paper

Ceramics Studio Policies:

  • Health and Hazard:
    • Covid-19 requirements:
      • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth at all times for the safety of you and those you work with in the classroom.
      • Please use the designated entrance and exits for the room to keep social distancing at a maximum.
      • Please consider there can be no sharing of tools or materials to contain any potential Covid-19 outbreaks. All materials and tools will need to be marked and stored accordingly.
      • Universally used equipment such as rolling pins, the slab roller, spray bottles, and other items will need to be wiped down after each use with disinfecting wipes located near the equipment location or storage area.
      • Sinks: there are 7 available sinks in the rooms of the ceramics studio and exterior bathrooms. Please keep to one person per sink when cleaning up to leave. If you come in outside class time you will also need to use the same sink.
      • Assigned seating: on the first day of class you will be choosing the seat you sit in for the semester. Please sit in that seat for Face to Face (F2F) class times.
      • All items below with a * need to be marked with:
        • your name/initials
        • fall 2020
      • *Lockers: Small lockers are available near the exit to the studio. Please leave purses, backpacks, and other personal items outside the classroom as both fire code and safety measure require this. You will need to supply your own lock if you need one.
      • *Studio Storage: You will have designated studio shelving for storing your work and tools.
      • *Buckets: you will each receive a bucket to keep clay scraps in that you will in time recycle. Please mark your bucket with.
      • *Plastic bag: you will be given a large plastic bag to keep your work from drying out too quickly.
      • *Plastic cup: this cup will be used to hold water or slip for making connections between two pieces of clay
      • *Clay: We will be working with Red Earthenware clay and you will be given 25 lbs. MAKE SURE TO:
        • keep your clay wrapped up and on your shelves when not in use
        • keep track of the clay you might not be using by putting it back in the bag or in your recycle bucket

Art Department Policy on Unclaimed Artwork

Any student participating in a studio course in the Art Department at PSU is responsible for removing from the premises the artwork he/she creates in that class at the end of the course. Any artwork left behind by a student from a course at the end of the semester will be saved or disposed of at the discretion of the instructor or Program Coordinator. The Art Department cannot ensure safety, conservation, or appropriate storage of work. If the artwork is saved, it will be used as a teaching resource for future classes.

Any artwork that is in a departmentally endorsed or sponsored exhibit and which is unclaimed by the artist at the end of that exhibit will be retained by the department for a period of 6 months. However, during this time, the Art Department cannot ensure safety, conservation, or appropriate storage of work. At the end of 30 days, the work will be reviewed by a departmental vetting committee to determine if the artwork will be retained or discarded. If the artwork is retained, it will be used as a teaching resource and Images of that artwork will be used for any public relations purposes as the Department and University see fit.

University Policies

  • ADA Policy: Plymouth State University is committed to providing students with documented disabilities equal access to all university programs and facilities. If you think you have a disability requiring accommodations, you should contact Campus Accessibility Services (CAS), located in Speare (535-3300) to determine whether you are eligible for such accommodations. Academic accommodations will only be considered for students who have registered with CAS. If you have authorized CAS to electronically deliver a Letter of Accommodations for this course, please communicate with your instructor to review your accommodations.


This course is a Creative Thought Direction (CTDI). We will emphasize the skills of critical thinking, reading, writing, listening, speaking, and working with information technology. The ceramic projects you create in this course concentrate on the four C’s of:

CREATIVITY: your projects should be visually interesting using the principles of design and a creative solution to the assignment while following guidelines. There can be no use of contemporary design iconography (no team logos, cartoon characters, etc.) in the designs created.

CRAFTMANSHIP: you should correct problems you run into. Projects should be well refined, defined and functional. The key is don’t be sloppy, quick, or rushed.

COMPLETION:  meet the deadline or deadlines for projects. Project must meet all of the assignment requirements.

CONSISTANCY : the ability to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with minimal variation or a reasonable or logical harmony between parts. Your projects need to be challenging to your abilities. The easy or quick way out (with clay as a material) usually means an average grade at best. I keep in mind everybody isn’t on the same ability level but require that you apply yourself. Be aware that there will be working critiques as well as the final crit. The working crit looks at the work before it has been fired. You will need to keep in mind the firing schedules that will be set up in order to have your work fired in time for final crits of work. If your work does not get fired it does not get a final grade.

Each project will have a specific grading rubric to follow so please make sure to review them. Over the semester you will be graded on the following criteria:

% Category   Explanation Amount Average
  50 Studio
Grades for studio assignments   5-6    
& Approach
Mid semester and final
including attendance
  5 Presentation You will create a video
blog post on a specific
  10 Written
these will include self reflections, projects posted into your eport, and other assignments5-6  
  15 Eport Mid semester and final grade averaged together 2  
  10   Quizzes All moodle quizzes averaged together 4-5  

You will receive a mid-semester progress report as well as a final grade. Here is a very generalized breakdown for grades.

  • A, A-   = Exceptional and creative work. Projects are always challenging, well crafted and executed. Evidence of working outside of class time noted. Participates and interacts with class during crits and group activities.
  • B+, B, B-= Above average work. Projects are challenging and well executed.
  • C+, C, C-= Work is on time and fills the requirements.
  • D+,D,D-= Below average work, constant tardiness and poor attendance.
  • F= BELOW acceptable work, missed deadlines, constant tardiness, poor attendance.
  • IC/Incomplete will not be given unless I discuss it with you.

Eport and Idea log

I will be looking over your sketchbook with you and as a class on a regular basis relating to assignments in class that you will also post on your Eport. You will receive a mid and end of semester grade on your Eport. The grade will correlate to the following rubric.

Grade 60-68 69-76 77-84 85-92 93-100
Eport & Idea log contains insignificant or totally lacking: organization Project idea sketches, images, reflective assignments    minimal: organization Project idea sketches, images,reflective assignments    required: organizationProject idea sketches, images,reflective assignments    Above required: organizationProject idea sketches, images reflective assignments    Well above required: organizationProject idea sketches, images,reflective assignments   


Participation is counted as asking questions, critique input, helping others, and general group interactions. There will be readings that we will discuss in class and your input will be documented. As the instructor I want the group to work well together and everybody needs to do their part. Group responsibilities will be a large part of this as well and include loading and unloading class work from the kilns, mixing batches of clay in teams, testing and mixing glazes, and studio maintenance/ cleanliness. I will demonstrate each one of these activities and am always glad to give pointers afterwards. The best way to learn is by doing. These group responsibilities will be noted on an individual basis and count towards the participation portion of your grade. Due to the materials we use and the fact that we’re making work from dry and dust materials the studio needs to be KEPT CLEAN. “I’m just messy when I work.” is not acceptable. Cleaning up after yourself has nothing to do with how you work.

Approach regards how you approach this course. I’m a practicing visual artist and educator helping students investigate what they have a passion or interest in and help them convey their ideas visually. In your time in this course I would ask you to be as thoughtful about the subject matter as you would a course in your intended major. Attendance is also a factor as noted in the Attendance policy below.

Grade 59-68 69-76 77-84 85-92 93-100

Minimal or does not: Mix materials, help with firingsParticipate in critiqueReads assignments & participates in discussionsClean work areaapproach to classroom dynamic poor or nonexistent Below average: Mix materials, help with firingsParticipation in critiqueReads assignments & participates in discussionsClean work areaApproach to classroom dynamic is periodic Meets average: Mix materials, help with firingsParticipation in critiqueReads assignments & participates in discussionsClean work areApproach to classroom dynamic occasionally constructive Above required: Mix materials, help with firingsParticipation in critiqueReads assignments & participates in discussionsClean work areaApproach to classroom dynamic regularly constructive Well above required: Mix materials, help with firingsParticipation in critiqueReads assignments & participates in discussionsClean work areaApproach to classroom dynamic highly Constructive

Attendance & Tardiness

             Attendance will be taken at the start of each class. If you’re late tell me or it will count as an absence.Be on time and stay for the entirety of class time or get marked down. One unexcused absence will be allowed considering much of what we do in class such as demonstrations and classroom discussions cannot be recreated. After this absence your final grade will drop 2 points per unexcused absence. There will be academic consequences for every absence deemed unexcused after 1.

The PSU college catalog states:

“Student absences are defined as excused or unexcused. Unexcused absences are those that occur without adequate reason. Unexcused absences may be used in the computation of grades.

Excused absences are defined as absences stemming from (a) participation in University sponsored activities and (b) compelling and extenuating circumstances beyond a student’s control…. Instructors have the right to determine when the number of excused absences exceeds a reasonable limit to the extent that it significantly interferes with a student’s satisfactory mastery of course content/skills.”

 An excused absence MUST BE DOCUMENTED with written documentation from the providing authority. If an absence coincides with a crit there needs to be a reason so contact me prior to make arrangements. Constant tardiness or leaving class early is noted and will negatively impact your final grade.

Optimize class time and make sure to have all required materials or you won’t be able to work (i.e., clay, tools or other required materials).

Studio Sign up:  

There is a requirement that students work a minimum of 2 hours of studio time outside of class per week. The studios are open from 8am-11pm and are available to you whenever class is not in session. Sign up in ½ hour blocks to reserve your spots. Directions on how to sign up for studio time are posted on the Course Work Schedule.


All grades, quizzes, and attendance will be handled through Moodle. As the instructor I am able to email your PSU address through Moodle and will do that from time to time. 


There are two documents available that are important resources. The document titled Vocabulary and Technical Information relates to notes and lecture materials we will be discussing.  The other document contains Research Topics. Both have content that will be on quizzes and information you will be required to write about and give a presentation on.