Foundations of Ceramics (FoC): Exploration Syllabus Fall 2020

FoC: Exploration

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  • Introduce students to the artistic medium of ceramics through experiences in hand building construction processes, surface manipulation, glazing and firing.
  • Explore clay mixing, glaze and surface treatments, glaze mixing, and kiln firing procedures in order to gain an understanding of the materials, as well as the physical and chemical changes that these ceramic materials undergo through firing at a diverse range of temperatures
  • Familiarize students with hand built functional and sculptural ceramics made by artists and craftspeople in both ancient and contemporary cultures around the world.
  • Consider the concepts, contexts, and expressive potential for artwork in clay.
  • Discuss work created by the student and their peers in a constructive and objective manner.
  • Consider the formal elements of art and design as they relate to functional and sculptural 3-dimensional visual forms and objects in clay.
  • Foster creativity by active participation in the creative process, reinterpreting existing ideas and the generation of new ideas.
  • Produce a sketchbook of forms and processes related to this course.
  • Demonstrate understanding of safe and healthful ceramics studio practices.
  • To produce a body of ceramic work related to the forms and ideas considered in the course.
  • Digitally document work created for future reference and use.

Studio Practice

  • Have a notebook/ idea log for assignments, notes, and lectures at all times.
  • Projects are due on the assigned date to make it in the kiln and make critique.
  • Participate, it counts towards your grade.
  • CLEAN YOUR AREA BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE ROOM. If you spill or dump anything make sure to clean it up asap. SEE HEALTH & HAZARD section.
  • You are responsible for missed work. If you miss or do not complete a project a ZERO is being figured into your grade.
  • Be respectful of other people’s ideas and opinions.
  • No food in the studio.
  • Practice respectful phone usage. The cell phone is a useful tool and we may use them from time to time. However, if there is a special situation and you have to answer your cell please do so while exiting the classroom.
  • Personal music players are not allowed until after six weeks into the semester and at that time they will be allowed with ONE earplug only. There is a stereo that you are encouraged to play music on for the class.     


I will demonstrate the safe use of materials and equipment throughout the semester. Please pay close attention and take notes.

Dry materials=itchy lungs. Itchy lungs are bad. There are toxic ceramic materials that should not be ingested or inhaled in the clay lab. Do not eat in the ceramics lab. Make sure to wear gloves and a respirator when mixing materials in the glaze room and a mask in the clay mixing room. Always wear a dust mask/respirator to protect your lungs from silica dust.  You will be given a mask at the beginning of the semester so keep it in a plastic ziplock in you locker. Additional masks are available but try not to increase the waste stream already leaving the studio.

            For this same reason you need to keep the studio clean.  DO NOT use a broom or dust brush to sweep off tables or the floor. Always use a wet sponge to clean off surfaces.

Kilns=fire&heat. Be careful when maneuvering around kilns and assume they are hot. DO NOT unload a kiln if it is over 150 F. YOU know the work you’re unloading from a kiln is hot but the next person will not. Burns are bad. (continued next page)

Claymixer can = fingers minus 1or 2. When mixing clay make sure to wear a mask to avoid itchy lung. The mixer is a fairly safe rig but there is always room for error. Long hair and loose clothing are always best tied back. DO Not put arms, hands, or tools in a running machine!

Grinder=glaze in the eye. The grinder is a tool to be used with goggles and gloves AT ALL TIMES. If I catch you using the “blink” method.


Wear a respirator when working in the glaze mixing, clay mixing, and dry material room.

Wear nitrile gloves when mixing, applying or cleaning up glaze materials.any container with a mixed material (slip, glaze, wash) must be marked with recipe and year mixed.


  • 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 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


   There are four parts to every assignment that you need to document in your note/sketchbook.

  • 1. With each new project assignment you will be required to express and articulate your ideas before you start. Project ideas don’t have to be sketches. Look for intriguing images or surfaces and try to bring that energy to your ideas. I need to know your ideas to ensure that you don’t try something beyond your capabilities or that doesn’t lend itself to the ceramic process.
  • 2. Make the piece
  • 3. Working critique- These are as important as the final crit. Working crits allow you to ask questions from the group as you are working and get suggestions. They allow me to see your progress and document that you are using your time efficiently with the deadline of the final crit in mind.
  • 4. We will look at and “critique” the projects as a group. Critiques will always take place at the start of class.
  • 5. Create an Eport page for your project. See EPORT section of syllabus for requirements.

         There will be quizzes covering materials, tools, and the firing process. No ashtrays, paraphernalia, or projects below seven inches high ….. unless assigned.

  • 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.

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.

Category   Explanation   #   %
 Projects Final project grades averaged together   5-6 50
Participation & Approach Mid semester and final averaged together   2 10
 Quizzes All quizzes averaged together   4   5
  Blog posts   2   10
  Presentation An 8-10 minute Powerpoint presentation on a ceramic artist.   1   10
 Online portfolio An online portfolio on Domain of Ones Own with images of all projects and processes. See
    Total 100


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 you convey ideas visually. Be open to input from your peers, give constructive feedback, and practice mutual respect.

Grade 59-68 69-76 77-84 85-92 93-100
        Requirement  of            student Minimal or does not:
Mix materials
Help with firings
Participate in critiqueReads assignments & participates in discussions Clean work area approach 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. 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.”

 For my class an excused absence MUST BE DOCUMENTED with written documentation from the providing authority. If an absence coincides with a quiz you will be required to take the quiz asap. If an absence coincides with a crit there needs to be ample reason. In either instance 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). If you cannot work you will be dismissed. If you are dismissed it will count as an absence. If you are tardy it will be noted and accumulated over the semester and count towards absences.

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. 


  • The Art Department is using social media as a marketing mechanism and needs YOUR HELP! With so many hybrid and remote students and faculty we need to use social media as a resource to keep up our community-building efforts!

Domain of Ones Own (DoOO) Digital Eportfolio grading

You will need to submit the URL to me on the course Moodle page for each project. We will be documenting work as we move through the semester. Much of the information you need regarding  Eports can be found here on the PSU KnowledgeBase. You can also contact the Help Desk with problems and questions.

When documenting your work for your Eport make sure of the following:

  • PROJECTS: Images of your projects are of the highest quality using an SLR camera available to be checked out.
  • PROCESSES: Images of your sketchbook, ideas, and processes of construction are as important as the project itself. Images of these can be taken using a variety of cameras from phone to SLR but need to be documented and reflected upon
  • REFLECTION: This involves reviewing the objectives for the project and understanding how well you met them. Make sure to review each project as you work on it and DOCUMENT your process.
  •  BLOGS: Spell chack, Spill chack, speel cheek!! There will be others reviewing your posts! Make it look professional!!
Grade 0 40-59 60-79 80-99 100
Portfolio that includes 3-4
images of
project and a
writing sample that relates toyour progressAND intent.
none Includes 25% of projects
Includes 50% projects and reflections Includes 75% of projects and
Includes all
projects and
outcomes and