SYLLABUS for advanced ceramics students - updated December, 1998
ART 304/404: CERAMICS, Goshen College, Fall, 2000 , copyright, Marvin Bartel, Instructor
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| Production requirements | Learning Tasks | Grading | Materials & Fees | Chicago Assignment
| Goals of Advanced Ceramics | Research requirement | Project Ideas | Being Creative |

    A dvanced C eramics students are expected to strive for quality. This means pushing idea limits, honing skills, and plumbing depths by repeating similar forms until better work emerges.
This photo shows Chad Martin, right, with his hanging stoneware sculptures in his senior exhibit, December, 1997, Goshen College Art Gallery.
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Production Requirements for Advanced students

You should plan to complete 12 pieces (about the complexity of a teapot) or more per credit hour. Persons doing very large or more complex pieces with many parts may make fewer. More pieces may be produced, thus improving the chances of producing high quality work.


A.  Work Grade

Each student brings in all the work from the term to be evaluated at the end of the term.
The work grade is based on the 12 best pieces PER CREDIT HOUR. A person enrolled for three hours should plan to have the best 36 pieces graded.

These are discussed and evaluated on the basis of the following:

1. creativity--how innovative you are in your work?

2. expressiveness--does the work communicate feeling and/or ideas?

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3. design and aesthetics--do you consider concepts such as unity, proportion, balance, rhythm, theme with variation, etc.? Is functional work designed and crafted with the user's needs in mind? Do you care if a cup has a bottom rough enough to scratch a fine table? Do you care if piece feels no heavier than it looks, works well, has a good fitting lid and so on?

4. skill--is the work well made for its purpose, for its material, for its production process? Does the work indicate control of the clay, the glaze, and the fire. Is the glaze appropriately selected and application thickness appropriate?

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B. Research Grade

Make the art department 10 flat test tiles small enough to fit on a 9x12 inch piece of mat board. Make a duplicate set for yourself.  Mount with white glue with all data so that anybody seeing it can repeat exactly what you did. Ask for glaze mixing details when working with small samples.

Have a proposal ready by week 4. Have some glaze tests fired in the first glaze firing. Do a glaze search on the Internet, check books, journals, other potters, as well as studying glazes we use. Read the text material on glaze experimentation.

This assignment is optional if you have previously completed it or if you are enrolled for less than three credits. However, if this is not your first term at less than three hours, this assignment is due this term.

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C.  Learning Tasks Grade

This set of tasks is on a separate page so you can print it and keep a record of your completed tasks.

D.  Other determinants of Grades
Class meetings are important times for instruction, to discuss your work, and discuss concerns related to our class. Come prepared to show some finished forms each week. Attend all sessions. There are no automatic cuts allowed.
Attend the Topics and Issues sessions sponsored monthly by the Art Department. E-mail journals and/or class discussions may be based on these. An e-mail account is required (either a Computing Services free account or a commercial account). You can check it on one of the computers in room 20 in this building. Check it regularly. Kiln firings, class guests, schedule changes, field trips, glaze information, and other information will be posted to class member by e-mail. This is a good way to contact the instructor.
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Learn to use one glaze formulation software packages on a computer in room VA20.

Sign up for CLAYART for one week or more using e-mail. By reading the CLAYART on-line discussion, you will become aware of some current issues in the field. Because of the high mail volume of this list, you may cancel after one week. Using the digest setting will give less clutter in your e-mail box. During the week you are on-line, select one issue and bring a report to class for our discussion.

At least once during the term, find a relevant Internet site and share it with the instructor and the class. This should not be a site already listed on the Ceramic Links page.

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The Good Library has many relevant journals and books. You are encouraged to share some of your best discoveries at class sessions. Ceramics Monthly and Studio Potter should be regular reading. Ask for back issues if you haven't seen recent copies. Other art and craft journals should also be read and viewed when you can. Become familiar with practices beyond our campus.

Project Ideas
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TEAPOT project idea

Suppose you are in a contest to develop a new idea for a teapot. Work to be awarded one of the following prizes for the teapot or teapots you design and make.

Most humorous - Most conceptual - Most functional - Most unusual - Most multi-cultural - Most surreal - Most diminutive - Most expressive - Most human - Most animated - Most your category

Optional: Design cups, sugar bowl, and so on to complete the set.

HANDBUIDING project idea

Suppose you are in a contest to develop the best example of a handbuilt clay piece. Work to be awarded one of the following prizes for the best piece.

Most like soft clay - Most like another material - Best use of contrast - Most animated non-animal - Most powerful looking - Most relaxed looking - Most double meaning visual pun - Most surreal and fantastic - Most grandiose looking - Most personal - Most important social comment - Most complex - Most secretive hiding place - Most politically correct - Most sideways looking - Most challenging to use - Most simple to use - Most specialized function - Most expressive - Most symbolic idea - Most universal idea - Most cubistic - Most funny or unexpected looking - Most precious looking - Most monumental looking

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Other handbuilding ideas

If you elect handbuilding, select an approach and perfect it. Begin several at once so that each dries enough to support itself while you work on others.

  • Coil built forms:

  • 1. Develop the ability to refine the form and surface.
    2. Contrast smooth form with texture or pattern.
    3. Model sculptural forms according to a style you have developed in other media areas or a style which interests you.
    4. Place the clay in self-designed molds made of clay (bisqued) or plaster. Do not do the plasterwork in the ceramics room and never save any clay that gets contaminated with plaster. Pieces made from the clay will break when fired if plaster particles are in the clay.
  • Slab built forms: assemble pretextured pieces, leatherhard, soft series, or combine slabs with other methods.

  • VESSEL project idea

    Suppose you are in a contest to develop the best example of a thrown vessel form. Work to be awarded one of the following prizes for the best-thrown vessel form.

    Most spherical - Most cylindrical vertical - Most graceful vertical - Most powerful looking - Most relaxed looking - Most flat and wide - Most diminutive looking - Most grandiose looking Most personal - Most complex - Most lightest weight per size - Most sideways looking - Most challenging to use - Most simple to use - Most specialized function - Most inside-out anti-vessel idea - Most symbolic idea - Most universal idea - Most animated -Most silly looking - Most precious looking - Most monumental looking - Most your category

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    Other specific learning projects for those using the wheel

    Several basic wheel forms should be mastered. These are:

    1. Cylinder
    2. Vertical egg form
    3. Vertical egg form inverted
    4. Half sphere
    5. Whole sphere
    6. Combined sphere and cylinder
    7. Low open form

    The above should be made with control, but may then be altered and/or decorated for interest and expressiveness. Consider strong top rims and or interesting tops and bottoms for each of the forms.

    See paragraph V below if you are beyond these skills.

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    More advanced ways to improve throwing

    1. A series of lidded jars, casseroles, or other lidded forms experimenting with several types of lids.
    2. A series of pieces that include handles and/or spouts.
    3. A set of something. Before beginning any set, produce a series of variations of the form as a prerequisite to making the set.
    4. A series of pieces too tall to be made from one lump. Combine several parts, or coil and throw, or throw and invert.
    5. Sculpture assembled from thrown parts.

    Measure your skills now, and once every three weeks

    Time yourself in throwing a certain size lump. Measure the cylinder height. Give yourself several tries if needed. Finish the piece and record the statistics. Fire and glaze it. Repeat a similar piece the first week of February, the first week of March and at the end of March. Record the results each time.

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    Ways to be more Creative

    Self-sufficiency in a pottery shop
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    Ceramics is a complex art form requiring lots of support tasks. Many potters pride themselves on self-sufficiency. We learn how to replace kiln elements by doing it (with supervision of course). We learn how to repair brickwork by doing it. These are just a few of the important skills needed by any ceramic artist. Be sure to actively look for things that need fixing so you can learn the skills need to do it.

    Time on task
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    For 3 credit hours you are expected to spend about 10+ clock hours per week on the course including class, reading, and studio time. The room is open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days per week. If you need to work later than 11 p.m. you are required to have a pass to show the night guard.

    Material costs
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    Students get the first 20 pounds of pieces per credit hour without a fee. Students registered for three hours may make 60 pound without a fee.  Additional poundage will be billed at the rate of $.70 per pound. PLEASE DO NOT WASTE. NEVER PUT GOOD CLAY ON FLOOR. PUT DOWN A CANVAS TO CATCH SCRAPS. SOAK CLEAN SCRAP. PRE-WASH EQUIPMENT IN SLIP CAN TO CONSERVE CLAY.  Waste will be billed to individual student accounts.

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