Table of Contents
Ceramic Room Rules ...................................................................................3
Project Rules/Clean up Jobs/Deadlines .......................................................4
Tools and Equipment ............................................................................... 5-6
Kilns and Firing Temperatures ....................................................................8
Slip and Score/Finishing Touches .............................................................10
Pinch Pot w/Incising and Indenting ...........................................................11
Open Coil Design Container ......................................................................12
Slab Container with Piercing .....................................................................13
Working on the Wheel ...............................................................................14
Bowls on the Wheel ...................................................................................15
Creating an Altered Form ..........................................................................16
Trimming a Foot ........................................................................................17
Making Handles .........................................................................................18
Making Spouts ...........................................................................................19
Figurative Sculpture ...................................................................................20
Glazing ................................................................................................. 21-22
Hints on How to Make Your Piece Survive ..............................................23
Sketches ............................................................................................... 26-34
Grade sheets ......................................................................................... 35-49
Extra Credit Sheet ......................................................................................50
Project and Glazing Checklist ....................................................................51
Possible Assignments (50%)
Hand Built Projects Wheel Thrown Projects
Open Coil Design Container 3 practice cylinders—we will not
Pinch Pot with Indenting and Incising fire these
Slab Container with Piercing Bowl
Themed Teapot Vase
Ceramics and nature Plate with Slip Trailing or Sgraffito
Reductive Sculpture of an Animal Piece with a lid
Figurative Freestanding Sculpture Piece with Handle and Spout
Repetition Sculpture 1 Free choice project
1 Free Choice Project
All must be used at least once during the quarter unless otherwise noted
Sponging Low Fire
Spattering/Dripping Stains/Transparents (optional)
Banding (optional) Colored Slip
Wax Resist Underglaze (optional)
Stencil Hi-Fire (optional)
Slip Trailing or Sgraffito
Stained glass in the bottom of a wheel piece
Notebook Assignments (20%)
Every Friday at the beginning of class, two sketches are due on a specific topic. There is
space in your notebook where the assignment is explained. (50 points for full credit)
Every week late is 10 points off. This must be done at home or in study hall, never in the
ceramics room or during class time. This adds up to a significant part of your grade.
Exams (10%)—there will be two exams, one at mid-quarter and one at the end of the
term. You will be expected to know everything covered in lectures, class
demonstrations, videos and your notebook. You will have to study.
Clean-up (10%)—there is a rotating schedule for clean-up. Each student will have one
job for a complete week, several times during the quarter. The week is worth 100
points. No clean-up = no points. This is in addition to cleaning up your work area
General Clay Support (5%)
-Pug clay four times (once every two weeks) with a partner
-Help with a kiln firing
-Mix a glaze or slip
Ceramic Room Rules
Respect Yourself, Your Classmates and the Teacher!
Do Your Best!
No eating or drinking. Ceramic dust and glazes are not good for you to ingest. Do not
bring food or drink into the room at all. I reserve the right to throw it away.
No throwing clay. Not only is it dangerous, but it is messy. If you throw clay even just
6 inches, you will not be allowed to continue working with clay and will receive an “F”
for the project.
Never touch anyone else’s artwork. Clay is very fragile. You could break it
unintentionally. Also, glaze can be ruined if there are hand oils on a piece.
Clean up after yourself. Your work area, work and tools must be clean and in their
proper place before you leave. Those who leave a mess will lose 10 pts off your
grade for each day. I will not repeatedly give passes for not cleaning up on time.
Work left out on tables or counters runs the risk of being damaged or recycled.
Use your class time wisely. Attendance is very important. Clay cannot be taken home.
You cannot make up any work. So all work must be done during class.
Do not clean up until 10 minutes before the bell rings (15 minutes if you are on the
wheel). If you are all done and standing at the door or table with nothing to do, I will
find a job for you. When you are finished cleaning, take a seat until the bell rings or
help someone else. You can’t leave the room before the bell.
If your project is any of the following things, it will not be fired. It may be recycled, or it
may be places on the Oops! shelf.
1. It is not appropriate for public school. Anything to do with: alcohol, drugs, tobacco
(including ashtrays), nudity, bigotry, racism, hate, etc. Use your common sense.
2. It does not bear your name or initials.
3. It is not placed on the correct shelf for firing.
4. There is glaze on the bottom of the piece, or way too much glaze.
5. It is a wheel thrown piece, and has not been footed.
6. It is too thick, not hollowed out, or not dry.
One person will be assigned to do each job every day for one week.
1. Mop floors – Mop floor area around wheels, hall, and room. Pick up any pieces of clay.
2. Tools—make sure all hand tools are in their proper bin. All drawers/cabinets must be
closed, and the work tables/counter wiped off.
3. Sinks—make sure the sinks are empty and rinsed out. No hand tools or buckets should be
littering the counter. Do not do this job until most people have cleaned up.
4. Slab roller —be sure slab roller is clean—sponge as needed, remove excess clay.
5. Clay room – Make sure clay bins are covered and all workable clay is put away. Keep
6. Glazes—organize glaze shelves, sorting by color; make sure glaze brushes and sponges
have been cleaned.
There will be no exceptions to these deadlines. Not because I am trying to be mean, but because
you cannot speed the drying of clay. Clay that is fired when not fully dry will just crack into
thousands of pieces. I need the time allotted for pieces to dry and be fired.
Mid Quarter Midterm exam, first day you can glaze
8 days before end of Quarter Last day to work with wet clay
4 days before end of Quarter Last day to glaze projects
Last day of Quarter Exam Day, all work must be picked up
Tools and Equipment
Needle Tool [A] – For cutting and drawing into clay and can be used for scoring. Necessary for
working on the wheel to cut off uneven tops, poke air bubbles, and gauge thickness of clay.
Wire Loop (Trimming) Tool [B] – Wooden handled with a loop of wire or strap of metal on the
end(s). Used to trim off and carve out unwanted clay.
Modeling Tool [C]– Shaped wooden or plastic tools used for carving, indenting, modeling, and
smoothing clay. Especially helpful for details or areas too small for fingers – like the inside
corner of a box.
Fettling Knife – A thin, flat knife with two straight sides designed for cutting into clay.
Carving Knife – A short curved knife with a pointed end used to carve clay and scrape rounded
Calipers – used for measuring widths of lids and other fitted pieces.
Ribs [D]– Flat pieces of metal, wood, or rubber used for scraping, shaping or smoothing.
Cutting Wire [E]– A piece of wire with two handles, used to cut chinks of clay and to remove
wheel thrown pieces from bats.
Sponge [F]– Sponges are used to smooth the outside surfaces of clay, remove excess water and
slip from work on the wheel, and for glazing techniques.
B C B
Kiln – the oven that bakes or fires clay. Ours is electric, not very different than a large toaster.
Gas and wood fired kilns are also used when firing clay.
Potter’s Wheel – A machine that spin the wheel-head via an electric motor or by human power
(such as the kickwheel). Used to make round, symmetrical pieces.
Bat – Circular plywood or other material used for throwing large pieces. This enables the user to
remove the bat without touching the piece until it is firmer and drier.
Pug Mill – A mixing machine that recycles clay by churning it with an auger and forcing the air
out. Loading the pug mill should consist of a mixture of clay that is too dry and some that is too
wet. Pugged clay still needs to be wedged.
Slab Roller – used for creating large slabs of
clay with even thicknesses. Clay is placed
between burlap cloths which are fed through
one end. The burlap is pulled between two
rollers by rotating the large wheel and the clay
is compressed to the desired thickness
The three most common used clays are earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. The chart below
will provide information on each type. Plasticity refers to the ability of the clay to stretch and
bend without cracking or breaking. Strength refers to how strong the clay is after being fired.
Porosity refers to the size of the air holes, or pits in the clay that allow for water to absorb or
escape when drying. A surface with small pores is smoother to the touch.
Clay Color Plasticity Strength Porosity Products
Earthenware Red/Brown Low Very Strong Large Pores Terra Cotta
Difficult to Pots,
Bend Outdoor and
Stoneware Grey/White Medium Strong Medium Everday
Bendable Pores dishes, Plant
Porcelain White High Weak Small Pores China
Stages of Clay
1. Slip--watered down clay in a muddy form.
2. Plastic--workable stage; molding stage; can recycle; can join to other pieces
3. Leather-hard--stiff and will hold its shape; can join to other pieces; carve into; recycle
4. Bone Dry-- can be carved into; very fragile; can recycle; cannot join pieces
5. Bisqueware--fired once in kiln; cannot be recycled; ready for glaze to be applied. Our clay is
fired at Cone 05.
6. Glazeware--second fire-low fire; cannot be recycled; can have additional layers of glaze
applied and refired, however a higher temperature glaze cannot be applied over a lower
temperature glaze. Refiring too many times can cause the glaze to bubble and crack.
*Greenware is a reference to clay that has not been fired.
Kiln Firing Temperatures
A kiln is an electric or gas oven that reaches temperatures from 800 to 2450 degrees Fahrenheit.
In ceramics, we measure the temperature in cones.
The idea of cones comes from early firing, before we had thermostats, when a cone shaped piece
of clay would be placed in the kiln. This cone would melt at a certain temperature, and indicate
to the potter that the kiln was hot enough. These cones are still used in outdoor firing and gas
firing. Often more than one is used in different levels of the kiln. Heat rises, so the top shelf
might be hot enough, but the bottom might be too cool to mature the glaze or clay.
The clay we use can mature into bisque at Cone 05. This is about 1888 degrees F. It takes about
8 hours to heat up to this level and 12 more to cool off.
Ceramics which are removed from a kiln when it is hot, can crack and break. Glazes which are
removed too hot, lose their shine and crackle, or craze. It takes about 24 hours to fire and cool a
piece. Never touch or open a kiln that is on. Mr. Murray will let you know when pieces can
Glazes can mature at varying temperatures. Our low fire glazes, stains, underglazes and
translucent mature at Cone 05.
Since our clay and glazes mature at the same temperature, we can mix a Bisque firing and a
Glaze firing. However, I do require that they be positioned on separate levels in the kiln. An
exploding piece of bisqueware can ruin a nicely glazed piece with bits and pieces embedded into
Below is a chart comparing cones to their Fahrenheit equivalent. Notice how Cones with an “0”
before the number are lower in temperature and the higher the number, the lower degrees
Fahrenheit. These are pronounced: Cone “oh” 5, for example.
Cone Degrees F
Cone 12 2419
Cone 5 2185
Cone 2 2124
Cone 0 2102
Cone 02 1955
Cone 05 1888
Cone 012 1623
Clay is a mixture of ground minerals, such as silica, which is also the main element in glass.
Water is not part of clay, but only something we add to make it moldable. Clay must be
completely dry before it is fired, or the expanding water will cause it to break and crack, to
relieve the pressure. Likewise, air is not part of clay. Trapped air bubbles will expand in the hot
kiln and cause cracks, or in extreme cases, explosions. In order to prevent air bubbles, clay is
kneaded before it is used. This kneading is called wedging.
1. To begin wedging, use a wire to cuff of a chunk of clay, about the size of a grapefruit.
Wedging pieces smaller than this is difficult and rarely effective. Larger pieces can be wedged,
but it requires strength and practice.
2. Always wedge on a surface such as canvas that the clay will not stick to. Put both hands on
top of the clay and rock it back and forth, while putting pressure on it.
3. Now rotate the clay towards yourself and rock it again. Keep doing this repeatedly. The
clay will turn around and around.
4. Occasionally turn the clay 90 degrees so that you are rocking it to the other direction.
5. After 2-3 minutes of wedging, you can check your progress by cutting your clay in half
with a wire. If you see any air bubbles, you are not done.
Score and Slip
When two separate pieces of clay have to be joined together, one must slip and score the joint.
This is one of the most fundamental rules of ceramics. A joint that is not slipped and scored will
most likely separate or crack during the drying and firing process.
1. First, score both surfaces to be joined.
Scoring is the roughing up of clay by
scratching short lines close together. Use the
scoring tool or a needle tool.
2. Then, add a little water to the clay with a brush, sponge or on your finger. Rub the water in
gently to create muddy, watery clay called slip. Slip is essentially the glue for the joint. Using
slip from the recycle barrel is the most effective.
3. Gently press the pieces together, and put pressure on the joint. This removes any air and
excess water that will cause the joint to crack.
4. Clean the outside edges of the joint and smooth with a rib or wooden tool. If you can see a
crack between the two pieces, air will get in and separate the two pieces. The joint must look
5. It is doubly important to let slipped joints dry slowly. Quick drying will cause each piece to
warp and bend away from the joint.
Craftsmanship is very important to your final product. Taking the time to make each area perfect
before it is fired is essential. Clay cannot be changed once it has been fired. A smooth even
surface is also essential for glazing. Bumps and scratches become sharp edges after firing.
Make sure you have paid attention to these finals steps before you fire your piece.
1. File off any burrs, or rough edges
2. Do a final sanding with imitation steel wool
3. Is your piece thin enough to be fired? Does excess clay need to be removed?
4. Does the bottom sit flat?
5. Pick out any dust from small areas with a needle tool; this includes your name on the
6. Use a flat file to make sure flat areas are even and flat and edges are straight.
7. Is the top edge or lip of even thickness?
8. Is the surface lumpy, or showing fingerprints?
Pinch pot with Incising and Indenting
Your first project is to make a pinch pot that is
decorated with incising and indenting. It is
encouraged to make your pinch pot in a shape
other than a cylinder, such as a fish or shoe.
To begin a pinch pot:
1. Wedge your clay.
2. Form a round ball of clay about 3-4’’ in diameter by rolling it on the canvas.
3. Smooth the surface of the clay by wiping with your finger to remove any cracks.
4. Stick one thumb into the clay about half way.
5. Pinch gently between your thumb and 1st finger as you rotate the clay. Keep your 1st finger
straight. Rotate often with gentle pinches. If you pinch too hard, the clay will crack.
6. After the pot has opened up, press it on the table to flatten the bottom. A flat bottom will
keep your piece from rolling over and falling. This is especially important during glazing, as
glaze will stick when it melts.
7. After you have pinched your desired shape, smooth the lip (rim) of the pot with your finger.
If it has gotten too dry, you can dip your finger into some water to smooth the edge. Don’t use
too much water; the clay will become too sticky and muddy to work with.
8. Once your pot is smooth, add texture and pattern with incising and indenting, explained
Incising is drawing on the surface of clay with a sharp tool such a needle tool. No clay is
removed, just scratched into. Since this process often leaves a rugged area next to the line called
burrs, sanding after the clay is dry is necessary. Trying to smooth such small areas before the
clay is dry is difficult without ruining the incising lines. Sanding when dry makes the burrs fall
Indenting is taking any object or tool and pressing it into the clay to leave an impression. Items
such a cloths, stamps, jewelry or cookie cutters are good examples.
9. Put your full name on the bottom of your piece. I cannot give you a grade if I don’t know it is
10. Allow your project to dry slowly, first in the damp cabinet wrapped in plastic, then in the
damp cabinet uncovered, then in the dry cabinet. It should take at least a week to dry.
11. When dry, sand the piece with steel wool and files. Remove all burrs and fingerprints.
12. When bone dry (not cool to the touch), put in the kiln room to be fired on the Bone Dry shelf.
Feel free to be creative with the shape of the pot, add extras, go above and beyond.
Open Coil Design Container
A coil pot is made of a flat bottom and layers of
rolled coils. Your coil pot can be many different
shapes; it does not have to be a cylinder. You
must have at least 10 layers of coils and use them
in varying directions to create a pattern. When
the holes are left in the sides, this is called an
open coil design. Additional shapes, textures and
additions are your choice.
Begin by wedging your clay. Make a base for the container by creating a slab that is about 1/4'’
thick. Cut out the desired shape with a needle tool or fettling knife. If you want a perfect circle
or square, use a round or square object as a template and trace around it. Rulers also work well.
Roll coils onto the canvas board using the palms of your hands. Start rolling the in the center of
the coil, using the entire length of your hand. Slowly move your hands out to the ends of the coil
as you are rolling and the coil will get longer and thinner. Keep rolling until the coil is about
Score and slip between all areas that are to be joined, both on the bottom and top of coil. Layer
the coils one on top of another for an even horizontal look. You can make ovals, hearts,
triangles, etc. out of coils and insert them between flat layers. You can also make waves and
curves, use different lengths and thicknesses, and change the angle of the coils. Gently push
them together to make the joints strong.
Be creative! Try making a lid, or adding a handle. Add some interesting textures. Maybe you
want to make it completely enclosed, or have some areas smoothed out.
When it is finished, let your coil pot dry slowly and handle it carefully.
Slab Container with Piercing
This project will require you to make a
geometric shaped container out of slabs. It
must have a design which is pierced all the
way through the container. It must also
have a lid which includes a flange.
Begin by rolling out a large slab of clay,
about 3/8” thick. The larger the container,
the thicker the slabs must be to hold it up.
Use a ruler to measure and draw out the
sides, bottom and lid on the slab. I strongly
suggest you create a paper template for
the shape of your container.
Cut out all your pieces before assembling them. Make sure to hold the fettling
knife at a 90 degree angle when cutting them out, so the sides are straight. It may be
a good idea to let your clay firm up overnight before trying to join them. Make sure
they are wrapped up in plastic.
Bevel the edges to fit corners together.
Slip and score all joints.
Use small coils pressed into the corners to
strengthen the joints. Blend in the extra
clay and re-form the corners.
Try very hard to keep the slabs flat and the
Piercing is a cutout that has removed sections of clay. Your design must include
piercing and fit with the overall design of the container. Other designs may be carved or
pressed into the clay.
To make your piercing – Make sure your piece is well smoothed and even. Draw
lightly the design you want to pierce. Do not make it too large or your container might
collapse. Block off the design into smaller area so that it will not weaken the side too
The lid must have a handle and must contain a flange to keep the lid from falling off.
The lid should also be created to fit the overall design of the container.
Working on the Wheel
Step 1 – Centering
Centering the clay is one of the most important steps in throwing pottery. If your clay is not
centered when you begin to pull up the piece, it will be off balance, and you will fight the clay
the whole time. When centering clay it is important to use your whole body. Get yourself seated
in a comfortable position, so that your forearm can press against your thighs.
1. Throw the clay down close to the center of the
wheel. You want the clay to stick well, so give it a good
toss onto the wheel.
2. With the wheel spinning slowly, pat the clay into a
cone, forcing it to the center of the wheel.
3. Get the wheel spinning at a moderate to fast speed.
Wet your hands and the clay. Begin to force the clay in
to the center. (Notice the left elbow is pressed into the
thigh. The whole body is used to push the clay.)
4. Use both hands and your body to keep your arms from moving with the clay, press the clay
on both sides to force the clay upwards.
(When centered you are ready to begin the opening)
Step 2 – Opening up the piece
Opening up the center of the clay can be a tricky task. If
you do not manage to keep you hands totally still, the hole
in the center will wobble around, even though the outside
of the clay appears to still be centered.
While pressing down with the thumb use your other hand
to help hold your thumb still. Also, press your arms into
your side to help hold your arms still. Be careful to leave
enough clay for the bottom of the piece.
Use both hands to widen the opening. If water pools on
the inside use a sponge to remove the water.
Your 1st Wheel Project: 3 Equal Cylinders
Create 3 cylinders of equal size. Min. height of 5 inches.
Bottom must be flat and sides are even and straight.
Foot the best one.
Turn in all three – 1 will be fired, the others will be recycled.
You will be graded on your consistency and ability to throw.
Glaze your cylinder.
Making Bowls on the Wheel
A bowl is defined as a pot wider
than it is tall.
Making bowls on the wheel is very
similar to making cylinders and the
process begins in much the same
FLATTEN THE CLAY OUT FOR A WIDE
Once the clay is centered, flatten the top of the
mound with the palm of your hand to widen the
bowl's base. This is very important because if you
don’t have a wide enough base, the bowl will have
a greater chance of collapsing when you belly out
the bowl later.
LIFT THE SIDES.
Take a sponge and run it around the base of the
Read more: How to Make a Bowl on the exerting minimal pressure to lift some
Pottery Wheel | eHow.com clay from around the bottom. Then either with
http://www.ehow.com/how_5308238_make- knuckle or palm, pull this ring of
bowl-pottery-wheel.html#ixzz1Ca0AWxkp toward the top and slightly outward at
clay up to
the same time. Do not try to pull a large amount
of clay at once or you will end up with a fat lip
which the skinnier walls may not be able to
support and the bowl will collapse.
The interior shape of the bowl can be refined with a rib pressing out against fingers on the
Read more: How to Make a Bowl on the
To finish, address the rim and trim excess clay at the base. Allow to dry to leather hard
Pottery Wheel | eHow.com
stage, then trim a foot. http://www.ehow.com/how_5308238_make-
Your 2nd Wheel Project: Bowl with surface design.
Create a bowl that has a minimum diameter of 6 inches.
Make sure bottom has a rounded shape – not flat.
Incorporate an intended surface decoration or design - can be on interior or
exterior of bowl.
Trim a foot.
Glaze – must be designed to fit the overall appearance.
Creating an Altered Form
An altered form is creating a unique shape by altering a basic form, such as a cylinder, to
create a sculptural, sometimes non-functional piece.
Do some research. Look up images of altered forms. Try
to alter your piece in similar ways. However, do not copy
the exact shape.
Start by creating a basic form, such as a cylinder, bowl or
square container. This can be hand-built or thrown on the
wheel or a combination of both.
Once the form is created to proper size, alter the shape by
pushing, pulling, or cutting and replacing.
Think about adding
some dramatic texture
by carving, indenting,
incising or pressing
repeated designs into
the clay surface.
This project is entirely dependent An altered form can be purely
on your creativity, building skills sculptural as in the image below, or
and craftsmanship. a functional piece.
You may also want to
include a funky
Try creating two
handle and/or spout
separate forms and
to enhance the
sculptural aspect of
together to create
one unique form.
Trimming a Foot
After a wheel thrown piece has firmed up to the leather hard stage, the bottom must be
trimmed to remove extra clay and ensure the piece will sit flat. At this time, the bottom of
the pot or foot is given a more graceful shape.
To get stared you need to turn your leather
hard pot upside down and place it in the
center of the wheel. Check to see if it is
centered by slowly starting the wheel. You
can trace a circle on top with your needle
tool in the clay or feel the edge of the pot
with your fingers.
Carefully move your pot until it is centered.
Place clay balls or large coils around the
base of the rim of the pot on the wheel.
Place them equidistant apart and press into
the wheel so they are holding the pot onto
Take your clay trimming tool and mark out
the bottom of the pot where you want the
foot to be located.
Start spinning the wheel. Hold the clay trimming tool steady, carving away clay as the
wheel spins. Move the clay trimming tool back and forth until you have as much clay
removed as you wish.
The size and shape of the foot should be determined before you begin. The shape
should reflect the type of piece that is being footed. A wide bowl will most likely have a
wider foot than a smaller bowl. A small foot on a large bowl may result in an unstable
Also, make sure to take measurements often so you don’t carve through the bottom of
the pot. Sometimes you may be required to take the pot on and off the wheel three or
four times in order to check depth and shape of the trimming. Don’t rush the
trimming! You spent all that time creating the piece and waiting for it to dry. It would
be a shame to ruin the piece because you failed to check your progress.
Handles – Although handles may be made in several ways, basically they are either bent
to the desired shape from a strip or coil of clay, or pulled into a shape from a lump of
clay. Pulled handles are usually stronger and their individual shape is usually better
looking and more comfortable to hold.
Begin with 2-3 pounds of wedged clay.
Grasp the top of the pulling blank in one hand. (I
use my left.) Wet the bottom of the blank with the
hand that will be working the clay.
Keeping your working hand wet, grasp the mid
portion of the blank, leaving enough clay above
the working hand for a firm grasp on the blank's
top. As you grasp the clay, your fingers should
be on one side, with your thumb on the opposite
side. Fingers and thumb should be flattened as if
you were going to make a shadow-puppet duck.
All pieces with a handle With gentle pressure, stroke downward in a
should be dried slowly. The smooth, continuous motion. The carrot form of
piece should not be lifted by the blank will begin to elongate. Continue
the handle until it has been elongating the clay with a series of stroking pulls
bisque-fired. until the clay has reached the desired thickness
and at least the minimum length for your handle
or the pulled
handles off edge of
board to allow
Cut the handle to
size and properly
attach to pot using
score and slip
Your 3rd Wheel Project: vessel with handle
Create a vessel with min. dimensions of 5”h x 4”w
Must incorporate some type of texture through carving, indenting, or
Foot at leather hard stage and create a handle, then attach to vessel.
Make sure handle is attached properly and blend edges into thrown form.
After bisque fire, glaze using at least three colors.
Spouts can be made on the wheel immediately after finishing the wheel thrown pot.
Place your left hand on the outside of the lip where you want to make the spout. Then
using your right hand, wet your thumb and draw the spout out from inside the pot, gently
squeezing the clay between your left palm and your right thumb. Move your wet thumb
out from inside the pot over the lip several times in smooth gentle motions.
A tubular closed spout can also be
slipped and scored onto a hole in
the pot. Make sure the spout
connection is high enough that
water will not just pour out of the
spout. The tube spout can be
made on the wheel (which takes
more skill), made of coils, or rolling
up a slab.
This project consists of sculpting a figurative
piece. Figurative could refer to the human or
animal figure. It could be the whole figure or
an interesting part.
Start by creating several sketches and finding
reference images. This must be an original
piece of work. Do not copy something you
found on the internet, book or magazine.
The piece should show some kind of emotion
You can choose to do:
Reductive sculpture – carving out the
figure from a large block of clay, or
Modeling – adding clay to build up the
Both types will require some adding or
carving away clay.
Use of modeling tools is extremely
Consider having full figures sitting or
laying down. Standing figures are
likely to fall over and break. Small/thin
areas will dry out fast so do those last.
When finished carving, hollow out the form
before it gets too hard. This can be done
from the bottom with a loop tool or you
may have to cut your piece in half, hollow
it out, and then slip and score it back
together. Remember to always leave an air
hole in hollow structures.
Texturize the figure as real as possible.
Make sure all details are sculpted properly
and refine the surface and edges.
Glazes are powdered chemicals mixed with water fro spreadability. Glazes in raw form
do not reflect the color they will be after firing. They must be applied to bisqued clay,
and must dry one day before they can be fired. You can re-glaze and re-fire ceramics if
the first coat doesn’t come out right. Glazes of the same temperature can be layered and
used side by side.
How to Glaze
1. Make sure brush or sponge is clean.
2. Mix up glaze well. Colorants and glass components have different weights, so
they might settle.
3. Rinse off your bisque piece with water to remove any dust particles.
4. Apply glaze by following the techniques listed on the following page.
5. Make sure bottom of piece is clean and free of glaze.
6. Place on correct shelf in kiln room after it is dried.
Types of Glazes we use:
Low Fire – In quart size bottles. Fire to Cone 05. Most are solid shiny colors. Some
have chunks in them to create a spotted effect. These are very predictable colors that do
not run or flow very much during firing.
Underglaze – Small 2 ounce bottles of flat solid color used for details only. Good for
making very small details. Underglazes have a matte finish, so for a glossy look, coat
with low fire gloss. Underglazes do not flow during firing.
Tips for glazing:
Brushed glazes should be applied with at least two layers.
Use layers of different colors to create interesting surfaces.
Allow first layer to dry before applying second layer.
Choose colors that work well together.
Some glazes are more translucent. Apply those over opaque glazes.
(Must use at least 4 techniques throughout the quarter)
Brushing – Use a glaze brush or a paintbrush to apply a minimum of two even coats.
Sponging – Use a soft sponge to dab on glaze. Works well to coat pot in a solid color
first and then dab light areas of other color(s) on top. Sponging can also be used to blend
one color into another gradually.
Spattering – First coat pot in a solid color, then using a stiff bristle paint brush, flick
small dots of several colors on top, creating a speckled or granite texture.
Dripping – First coat pot in a solid color, then dip brush into another color and dap a
thick blob of thin glaze along the top edge, letting gravity create a drip. Dripping works
best on vertical surfaces like rims of pots and outsides of bowls and vases.
Banding – Set your piece on a pedestal and turn the pot slowly around as you hold a
paintbrush with glaze up to the side of the pot. Work slowly around creating a band
around the pot. Several bands of different colors next to each other look nice on round
wheel work such as plates, bowls and vases.
Wax Resist – Paint on a pattern with liquid wax and let dry. Then dip, sponge, pour
or brush on glaze. Glaze will not stick where wax has been applied. Clean off wax area
with sponge. This works well with layers of glaze.
Stencil – Cut a pattern out of stiff paper. After you have coated the piece with one
solid color, place stencil on piece and dab with sponge inside the stencil with another
color. A good way to repeat a shape several times on one or more pieces. Strips of tape
can also be used as a stencil.
Pouring – Use a large container to catch the poured glaze. Place to sticks across the
rim of large bowl and place piece upside down on sticks. Pour glaze onto piece allowing
it to run down side. This can have an interesting effect when using several colors.
Dipping – Coat bottom of
piece with wax resist. Allow wax
to dry. Pick up with dipping tongs
and fully immerse in glaze bucket.
Pull out and let dry. Clean off
bottom with a clean sponge.
Double dipping is done with two
colors in this fashion. Allow the
first layer to dry before dipping
again. Often the lip is done with a
Hints to Help You Be Successful
1. Wedge your clay! This removes the air bubbles. Air bubbles will cause piece to
break when fired.
2. Dry your pieces slowly. Use the damp cabinets, plastic, etc. Clay shrinks while
drying and thin areas will dry first. If one area dries before the other, it will crack to
3. Slip and Score properly.
4. Be gentle with dry clay. Bone dry clay is extremely fragile and will break easily.
Bone dry clay cannot be slipped and scored – pieces will not attach.
5. Don’t handle your piece unless you have to. It could break if bone dry, or hand oils
could get on your bisque ware, which may repel glaze.
6. Clay should not be any thicker than ¾”. Thick clay is difficult to dry and may trap air
causing it to crack in the kiln.
7. Make sure your piece is fully dry before firing.
8. Clay shrinks about 15% overall. Make connecting pieces or lids at the same time and
fire them together.
9. Wash your piece before glazing. This cleans the piece of any dust or oils and allows
the glaze to be absorbed slowly so it won’t flake off.
10. Clean the bottom of your piece after glazing. I will not fire a piece with glaze
on the bottom. Glaze will stick to the kiln shelf and damage both the shelf and your
piece. It usually has to be chiseled off.
11. Be careful not to put on too much glaze. Too much glaze will result in drips and runs
that may cause it to attach to kiln shelf.
12. Keep workable pieces and clay covered. Your piece could dry out quite fast if left in
the open air while you are working on something else.
13. Think ahead! Ceramics is a process that can involve working on several pieces at a
time. Make sure you are working on the piece that needs attention now, before it dries
out, rather than glazing a piece that can wait until another day.
Student Hand Built Project
Make a sketch of your piece with details. Assignment:
Hand Built Criteria Basic Proficient Advanced
criteria—see page in
Creativity of elements
thickness, no cracks
coverage, neatly done,
Design-idea for shape,
Level of Difficulty—
include extra elements
Attention to Surface— Rubric Ratings
using tools to texture or Advanced A
smooth the clay, no Proficient B
lumpy areas Basic C
No Rating D-F
Student Wheel Thrown Project
Make sketch of piece with details Assignment:
Wheel Thrown Criteria Basic Proficient Advanced
on the wheel, satisfies
shape and surface
and even, no cracks,
round, foot even and
coverage, neatly done,
not too small, thickness
proportional to size
Level of Difficulty—
included extra elements
Final Grade: Advanced A
No Rating D-F