Table Manners: Functional Pottery Syllabus

AR 2311 Table Manners: Functional Pottery         

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  • FINAL: Tuesday, Dec 13 11:00 – 1:30 PM

Course Objectives:

  • Create a preliminary and final pair (for a total of 4) of plates, cups, and bowls for functional use.
  • 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.
  • Create, document, and share a written and visual studio practice in an open online setting.

Course Description

This is a hands-on ceramic art class in which you will explore several approaches to creating handmade functional tableware by making 2 sets of handmade pottery. 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.

General Education Habits of Mind

Problem solving
Comprised of the following:
·  Problem Framing
·  Challenge Identification
·  Plan Development
·  Decision-making and Revision
·  Evaluation of Progress
Comprised of the following:
·  Awareness of Context
·  Comprehension
·  Purposeful Expression
·  Effective Application of Strategies for Communication
Self-regulated learning
Comprised of the following:
· Responsibility for One’s Own Learning
· Engagement in the Learning Process
· Metacognitive Awareness
Integrated perspective
Comprised of the following:
·  Self-Awareness
·  Perspective Seeking
· Interconnectedness
· Collaboration

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:
    • DO NOT EAT OR DRINK IN THE STUDIO -TOXICS CAN BE TRANSMITTED INTO YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM. For more information on safety visit the Art Department safety sight here.
    • 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 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.
      • 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.
      • 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:
      • *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.
      • *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:ADA Policy: Plymouth State University is committed to providing students with documented needs 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.
  • If you need any assistance you will benefit by having links to the following support services.
  • Housing insecurity:
    • Residential Life is available to work with students experiencing homelessness for temporary/emergency housing if/when space is available, as well as longer term housing options.  On-campus housing during break periods is available for students residing on campus during the semester.  Options and fees vary so please contact Residential Life directly for details or 603-535-2260.
  • Student Health Services
    • Plymouth State University Health Services is located at 12 Merrill Street (Mary Taylor House), across from Hyde Hall and next to Merrill Place Residence Hall. Students are advised to call for an appointment.
  • Counseling Center 
    • If you are feeling in distress, anxious, overwhelmed, or unsafe, here are some things you can do.
  • Student Support Foundation
    • The SSF is an organization dedicated to helping students dealing with food or financial insecurities. It is open to all full-time undergraduate and graduate students interested in taking responsibility for their fellow students and to learn more about poverty and the life skills of service and philanthropy.
  • Frost House
    • The Frost House is home to a variety of services that support students. These include the C.A.R.E. program, student rights and responsibilities related to student conduct, information for parents and families, and references/verifications.


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.

CRAFT: 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:

50%STUDIO PROJECTSThese are the assignments you will be working on in the studio4-5
15%ASSIGNED PCW POSTSThese assignments are posted on the course Work Schedule3-4
10%QUIZZESQuizzes will be posted on Canvas6-7
10%PARTICIPATION AND APPROACHSee rubric below for details2
15%PCW & IDEA LOGSee rubric below for details 2

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.

PCW 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: organization project idea sketches, images, reflective assignments    Above required: organization project idea sketches, images reflective assignments    Well above required: organization project 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 to keep the studio maintained, clean, and safe. I will demonstrate each one of these activities and am always glad to give pointers afterwards. The best way to learn is by doing. 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. These group responsibilities will be noted on an individual basis and count towards the participation portion of your grade.

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: Participate in critique. Asks questions and is familiar with studio practices. Reads assignments & participates in discussions. Clean work area. Approach to classroom dynamic poor or nonexistent Below average: Participation in critique. Asks questions and is familiar with studio practices. Reads assignments & participates in discussions. Clean work area. Approach to classroom dynamic is periodic. Meets average: Participation in critique. Asks questions and is familiar with studio practices. Reads assignments & participates in discussions. Clean work are. Approach to classroom dynamic occasionally constructive. Above required: Participation in critique. Asks questions and is familiar with studio practices. Reads assignments & participates in discussions. Clean work area. Approach to classroom dynamic regularly constructive. Well above required: Active participation in critique. Asks questions and is familiar with studio practices. Reads assignments & participates in discussions. Clean work area. Approach to classroom dynamic highly Constructive.

Attendance & Tardiness (part of Participation & Approach)

             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 means you 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).

Outside Studio time:  

There is an expectation that students work a minimum of 2 hours outside of class per week. The studios are open from 8am-11pm and are available to you whenever class is not in session. 


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