Art 244            Intermediate Ceramics:  Wheel Throwing


Instructor:  Jennifer Owen          Office:  Ka Lama 133 and Ceramics Studio


Phone:  984-3202 (ext. 202) Ceramics studio  Email:


Office hours:  Mon./Wed. 12:30-1:30 in the Ceramics Studio


A.  Course Description:

Art 244 develops vessel and sculptural concepts using wheel throwing techniques.  The course introduces the elements of art through the making of ceramic form.  The class progresses beyond basic throwing techniques to intermediate throwing skills, various forming and embellishing techniques both on the wheel and subsequent to throwing, colored slip work, glaze work, and the firing of kilns.  Students work towards development of individual creative expression. 


B.  Course Credits and Contact Hours per Week:

            Three credits, and six lecture/lab contact hours.


C.  Prerequisites:

            Art 105, or consent.


D.  General Course Objectives:


At the end of the course the student should be able to:

1. Demonstrate the use of clay as a means of individual expression.

2. Demonstrate the relationship between form and function in functional vessels and the relationship between form and content in non-functional ceramics.

3. Demonstrate innovative problem solving.

4. Demonstrate an awareness of ceramic traditions around the world, and, in particular, a familiarity with the development of ceramics as art in the twentieth century.

5. Demonstrate an awareness of visual elements and design principles while creating vessels and sculptural forms.

6. Demonstrate an ability to articulate the concepts and intent of a completed piece.


E.  Learner Outcomes:


Students completing this course will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a proficiency in wheel throwing techniques and an effort to develop a personal style.

2. Demonstrate knowledge of different clay bodies and the relationship of geology to the origin and characteristics of clay.           

3. Demonstrate knowledge of the varieties of materials and techniques of the glazing and firing processes, including the basic chemical compositions of glazes, oxidation and reduction firing, low temperature and high temperature firing, and proper kiln care and safety

4. Demonstrate an understanding of color and surface as it relates to three-dimensional form in the use of glazes and oxides.                                               

5. Demonstrate an understanding of kilns and the chemical changes that transform clay and glaze at each stage of the firing process.

6. Demonstrate knowledge of historic and contemporary examples of wheel thrown ceramics.


F. Course Requirements:


1. Completion of 15-20 wheel thrown projects in clay, some being very specific assignments, and others being chosen by the student, following assignment guidelines.

2. One in-class written exam, and several quizzes, which will test the students' understanding of vocabulary, concepts, chemistry, and techniques of ceramics.

3. Active participation in the maintenance of the studio, including regular cleanup, clay recycling, kiln shelf chiseling and painting on kiln wash.

4. Active participation in loading and firing of at least one bisque firing, one glaze firing, and one raku firing.

5. Mixing of at least one glaze or colored slip.

6. Keeping a notebook that records every clay project, with glaze notes for each piece, as well as lecture notes and notes on glaze tests.


G. Text and Materials:


Numerous handouts will be used, and students will be referred to two specific ceramic periodicals in our library (and numerous other books) for further studies.        


H. Attendance and Punctuality


Attendance and punctuality is extremely important if you wish to do well in this class.   If you have a legitimate emergency (health, work or family crisis) you must call ext. 229 (984-3229) to report the reason for your absence before the class meets.  If you are not excused from a class, your absence will be marked against you.  Tardiness will also be marked against you.  If you are tardy four times, that is the equivalent of being absent once.  In addition, quizzes are given at the beginning of class and will be marked down one letter grade if they are not taken on time.


I. Evaluation and Grading:


            Letter grades will be given based on 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79%=C, 55-69%=D.

            The course requirements will be weighted as follows:

                        Projects and assignments in clay:                                   50%

                        Participation in class, includes cleaning etc.:                   20%

                        Midterm exam:                                                5%

                        Quizzes:                                                                       5%

                        Notebook and oral report:                                            5%

                        Loading/firing kilns and glaze mixing:                  10%

4 pieces for MCC Class Act Restaurant                        5%.


 Note:  Projects are graded on craftsmanship, creativity, vitality, form, surface, glaze, expression, and effort.







J. Safety:


Throughout the course, safety will be stressed, with particular attention given to safety in kiln firing procedures, glaze mixing and handling, and the prevention and hazards of dust throughout the entire studio and in every stage of working with clay and glaze.  Each student will be expected to leave the course with a clear understanding of the health hazards associated with ceramics, and well-developed habits in the safe handling of ceramic materials.  Any deviance from safety procedures will not be tolerated and will be corrected immediately.


“Assumption of Risk and Release Forms” are required from all students.  Before using the equipment for a class project, your instructor will review safety procedures.  It is also your responsibility to review those procedures before using the equipment.


Activities that create dust from clay or other silica-bearing materials require the use of an OSHA-approved particle mask.  These activities include:  1) scraping kiln shelves (protective Eye-wear is also required);  2) mixing dry glazes;  3) using the dry glaze room;  4) grinding or sanding clay;  and 5) sanding glaze.  Please ask for a dust mask or respirator when needed, and perform these activities outside the classroom, away from other students.  Manipulating clay involves some repetitive motion which can put students at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome and other disorders.  Students are to inform the instructor immediately if they experience any pain or discomfort in or after class.


Ceramics Studio Procedures:


Use of Facilities

¨      Only students currently registered in ceramics may use facilities; children, family or friends are not allowed in the studio.

¨      Excessive production of ceramic works will not be allowed, and the interpretation of the word “excessive” is entirely at the discretion of the instructor.  The instructor reserves the right to refuse to fire any work, either because it is inappropriate for the college environment, because it is too large, or because it poses a risk to other work or to the kilns or other equipment.


¨      Radios and other music may not be used during class time, except by permission of the instructor.



¨      Smoking is not allowed in or near the studio.


¨      Footwear is mandatory at all times.

Work Space

¨      Please make it your responsibility to help keep the studio clean.  Your contribution to studio chores will figure in to the “participation” portion of your grade.  Work habits and effort are an important part of the evaluation process of your grade.  If you come late, leave early, sit around the studio when kilns need to be stacked, shelves need to be organized, etc., you will be losing grade credit towards your final grade in the course.  Helping in the studio is mandatory and is part of the course.


¨      Cell phones and beepers should be turned off during class.  Only in an emergency should phone calls be made or received during class time.            




Special Accommodation


§         Please talk to me at any time (after class, before class, during office hours, or by telephone) if you need special accommodation.  The College also has wonderful free counseling, tutoring, etc. that I can connect you with.


On the second class, you will be expected to have:


textbook (from the bookstore)

notebook (You must record glaze notes for every piece you glaze.  You will also be expected to take notes during lectures.  Handouts should be filed in notebook.)

                        a tool kit or the equivalent:  needle, wire, wood knife, sponge, loop tool                                            clay (a 25 pound bag from the bookstore)

                        dry cleaner plastic or several kitchen size plastic garbage bags

                        small and medium paint brush (kind that comes to a point)

                        rubber gloves (surgical or kitchen type)

                        green scrubby pad for sanding clay


                                                water spray bottle (spritzer)

                                                smock or apron

                                                piece of chamois (1"x 3")


                                                excellent tools from MCC bookstore:

                                                            scoring tool, clay knife, rubber rib, sharp trimming loop

                                                            thin needle





ART 244               COURSE CONTENT


1)                   Intros, attendance, restrooms

Purchasing clay

Lecture:  steps of throwing (fast and slow), slip, recycling scraps

Handout on throwing


Timed throwing: 3 minutes per cylinder and cut them all in half at 3 minute time.  Rest 1 minute between each one.


Demo:  cylinder with 2 lbs., banding with slip, and trimming wet on wheel

Everyone throw 2 lb. cylinder

Assign:  syllabus, cylinder assignment, and quiz next class on steps of throwing

Colored slip handout



2)                   Lecture:  plasticity, particle size, dust, safety, masks, steps of trimming

Demo:  trimming leather hard, carving feet leather hard, sgraffito

Assign:  quiz on plasticity and trimming

Continue throwing cylinders

Trim cylinders


3)                   Pulled handles and other handles



Lecture:  clay, grog, greenware, bisqueware, drying, shrinking, cracking difference between porcelain, white stoneware, brown stoneware, primary clay and secondary clay, collaring (speed change, wet)

Demo:  cylinders with widening and collaring

4)                   Assign:  vase assignment and quiz on lecture


5)                   Quiz

Demo:  throwing off the hump:  MCC sugar bowls and creamers


7)             Lecture:  bowls:  rims (importance of, different styles)

                                 dryer clay is an advantage

                                 foot:  elevated foot; importance of leather trimming

                Demo:  bowls and slip banding and free hand painting and dotting

                                flattened rim, split rim, squared rim

                Assign:  bowl assignment and slip assignment


8)               Demo:  faceting and fluting (throwing and altering), ikebana technique

 Mishima on bowl from last class


9)               Lecture:  bisque firing:  theory (handouts)


10)           Bisque firing:  practice:  loading bisque


11)            Quiz

Firing of electric bisque kiln

                Slides of throwing and altering and examples of different artists work


12)           Lecture:  the science of glaze:  chemical composition, effects of temperature and atmosphere of                                    firing on coloring oxides (high fire vs. low fire and oxidation vs. reduction)    

Firing:  vitrification, gas kilns vs. electric kilns, health and safety in relation to glazes


13)           Demo:  glazing:  paint, dip, pour, waxing, etc.

Assign:  use cylinders as glaze tests to try out overlaps of different colors


14)            Review for midterm exam


15)            Midterm exam


16)            Demo: throwing large:  coil and throw


17)            Demo:  throwing large:  sectional throwing


18)            Lecture:  planning complex pieces:  drawing as a tool

 Demo:  throwing off the hump: lids

 Teapots:  making the components


19)            Demo:  assembling teapots


20)            Mixing glazes


21)            Work time


22)            Work time

         Slides and video


23)             Work time


24)             Work time



25)             Work time


26)             Work time


27)             Last day to work in wet clay:  April 29


28)             All greenware must be dry for last bisque:  May 1


29)             Glazing


30)              Last chance to glaze for class projects:  May 8


31)              Last class meeting:  May 13

   Check notebooks

   Collect students’ self-evaluations of special projects

   End of class critique

   Clean up









ASSIGNMENTS                   ART 244         SPRING 2002


1)                   Throw 3 or more cylinders using either 2 lbs or 4 lbs of clay for each cylinder

Aim for even thickness of walls and not using more than 5 pulls

Use 2 lbs if you feel less experienced;  use 4 lbs if you feel more experienced

Do not change the shape:  leave as cylinders

Later use them for glaze testing

Trim feet on each cylinder, experimenting with different foot styles, or cut in half and save the two halves for glaze tests


2)                   2 vases, at least 5” tall wet, that have a pleasing shope, including the bottom, which must be trimmed either wet on the wheel or leather hard or carved by hand (the bottom may be flat, it does not need a foot)


A sculpture made from 2 or more thrown forms that were initially at least 5” tall wet, that are combined into a sculptural form.


3)                   A mug or pitcher with added handle


A sculpture made from a thrown form with added handbuilt or thrown elements


4)                   2 nicely shaped bowls with nicely trimmed or carved feet


A sculpture made from two or more thrown forms, one of which is cut into parts and combined with the other form.


5)                   Two sugar bowls(3 1/2” tall and 3” wide wet) (no lid) and two creamers(4 1/2” tall and 2 ½” wide wet) (no handle, pinched for hand grip) for Class Act Restaurant, made out of white clay, glazed with forest green glaze and fired in the gas reduction kiln.  This is your gift to MCC in appreciation for the use of the studio glazes and all the electricity and gas needed to fire your pieces.


6)                   2 different kinds of slip decoration on 2 pieces (may be other assignments)


7)                   Throwing and altering on 2 pieces (may be functional or non-functional)

If you can participate in Bud Clark’s Oriental Philosophy session on Ikibana on a Monday from 6-9pm, then one of these might be an Ikibana container.


8)                   Mixing of a colored slip(by February 13) or glaze(by March 20)


9)                   Decoration on top of glaze with oxide, or under clear glaze with oxide pencil (may be another assignment)


10)                Participation in loading of an electric bisque and gas glaze, and firing of a gas raku glaze kiln


11)                Notebook, containing hand-outs and notes from lectures, as well as a sketch or description of each piece made, with glaze notes about all glazes and decoration used on each piece


12)                Oral report, accompanied by some pictures to show the class, about the work of some ceramic artist or period, either contemporary or historic, and a ceramic piece inspired by the artist or era.


13)                Special project (counts 3X a regular assignment)

Choose one of the following projects:

a)       teapot

b)       sculpture made of at least 3 thrown elements combined together (may include hand built elements as well)

c)       large piece (over 12” tall green) made in more than one sitting at the wheel, by coil and throw or sectional throwing method (may be functional or non-functional)

d)       large lidded jar (over 8” tall green) with 2 or more lugs or handles

e)       a series of 3 or more pieces, exploring variations on the same theme (form, technique, decoration, etc.) (may be functional or non-functional pieces)


14)           Student self-evaluation of special project assignment, when it is completed and ready for grading (instructor provides form to fill out)