AR 231 Introduction to Ceramics
                                                 Jerry Nevins, Professor
                                            203 Aquinas Hall, 773-8546

                                                         Contact me

                                   Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, CT ________________________________________________________________________ Introduction:

This course is intended for those studying ceramics for the first time and is a comprehensive introduction to the craft of clay working. The primary emphasis is on studio work leading to a portfolio of finished pieces by the end of the semester. In addition to demonstrations of technique and technical assignments, you should take a field trip to view historic and contemporary examples of fine ceramic art. Periodically throughout the term, I will show slides or films to help illustrate what you are learning.

The main goal of this course is that you will be able to create as well as appreciate expressive, beautiful three dimensional clay forms. You will have an understanding of other cultures and periods of human expression in clay and finally you will begin to be proficient at forming clay objects yourself.

Topics this semester will include:

Introduction to clay the material... where It comes from, how It was formed, how it is gathered, early methods for forming clay objects, pinching and coiling.

Introduction to the potter's wheel, centering the clay, forming bowls and cylinders... trimming and burnishing on the wheel.

How sculpture is made with clay, slab construction, extrusion, tile making and slip casting.

Texturing and coloring clay, color used in clay and slips, engobes, oxides and underglazes as well as non-traditional decorative techniques including acrylic paint and dye.

Glazing: The function of glazes and how they are made up... simple glaze testing... proper application, health and safety.

Firing... Firing methods used throughout history Including a primitive pit firing and oxidation firing.

The main emphasis will be on your work, your growth in the medium, your ability to create expressive, unified and cohesive three-dimensional forms in clay.

Learning Outcomes for this Class:


-You will learn about clay and glaze composition and formulation.

-A primary emphasis will be on hand built ceramic forms. You will learn to increase the scale of your work all the while keeping control over the quality, coherence and contour of your work.

-You will explore a variety of hand building methods including extended pinch, slab built and extruded forms.

-You will learn firing and glazing methods for stoneware clay.


-To appreciate ceramics from an historical perspective through study of original pieces at the Yale Art Gallery that span from Neolithic times through to the present.

-To appreciate how a unified, coherent form that is finely crafted is beautiful in its own right.

-To understand how finishing and decorating contribute or detract from your intention as an artist.

List of projects due by the end of class:

3 round forms in increasing size and elongation ranging in size from 8" - 18" with emphasis on elegant, refined contour.

3 slab cylinder vessels, 7" - 15", emphasis on texture and process.

2 slab bowl forms, "hump mold" method, with foot, diameter: 10" - 12", emphasis, clarity and simplicity.

2 slab "box" forms, can be box and/or taller vase, constructed with leather hard slabs.

5 wheel thrown bowl and or cylinder forms, 4" - 9" tall. Emphasis: understand wheel thrown ceramics, learn to center.

All work will be photographed with instructor's help and uploaded to a Google Drive folder and shared with me for inclusion in the master class folder.

Academic expectations:
Attend all classes, care about the work you are doing in class, see it through, visit the ceramics studio between classes to move your work along, help others in the class to succeed, keep the studio clean. The final grade is based on a portfolio of fifteen vessels showing good progress in the medium. The portfolio will include wheel thrown, slab built, pinched or extended pinch, or extruded pots. Attendance is crucial. A maximum of 3 absences is allowed, with or without a valid excuse. After 3 absences, your grade may be affected. Students missing class from sports comitments need to demonstrate how the time was made up.

Tradition of Honor: As a member of the Albertus Magnus College Community, each student taking this course agrees to uphold the principles of honor set forth by this community, to defend these principles against abuse or misuse and to abide by the regulations of the College. In art work, that means you have created all of your artwork.

Tradition of Respect: In our class: 1) Everyone is allowed to feel they can work and learn in a safe and caring environment; 2) Everyone learns about, understands, appreciates, and respects varied races, classes, genders, physical and mental abilities, and sexualities; 3) Everyone matters; 4) All individuals are to be respected and treated with dignity and civility; and 5) Everyone shares the responsibility for making our class, and the College, a positive and better place to live, work, and learn.

Accommodations for Special Needs
: Albertus Magnus College is committed to ensuring that all qualified students with disabilities are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from its programs and services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Office of Disability Services is responsible for the determination of appropriate accommodations for students who encounter barriers due to disability. Contact the Office of Disability Services at or 203-672-6671 to schedule an intake interview and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, the Office of Disability Services will provide you and your instructor with a Letter of Accommodation. Please discuss the accommodations with your instructors as early in your courses as possible

The Germain Center for Academic Success provides quality tutoring services to all students at Albertus Magnus College. Students can make appointments by booking through Navigate, emailing, or calling 203-773-8590. The Germain Center is open for normal hours during the academic year (Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m.; Friday, 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.; Saturday, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.) and abbreviated, virtual hours during the winter intersession and mod five. Further, (Online Tutoring 24/7) provides online tutoring for many subjects throughout the year -- even when the Germain Center is closed. Students can access through the link at the top of their eLearning pages. If students have any questions about tutoring, they can email

PGS offices are now located on the first floor of Aquinas Hall.

The Registrar's Office, Financial Aid, Human Resources, and the Business Office are now located in the former PGS suite, now called the Student Administrative Services Suite, found on the ground floor of Aquinas Hall.

Prevention of Power-Based Violence Resources 

If you or someone you know is concerned about, have experienced, or currently are experiencing sexual harassment, assault, power-based violence, or stalking, there are many resources available both on and off campus for students to utilize.Click on the link above or here



 It is the responsibility of the student to officially drop or withdraw from a course.  However, failure to attend a course for 14 calendar days may result in an administrative withdrawal from the course. The policies on course withdrawals and administrative withdrawals may be found online at

Albertus Magnus College adheres to the definition of a credit hour in compliance with, and as defined by, NECHE commission policy.


All clay, glazes and firing will be purchased for you for the class. I will provide all of the tools as well. A lab fee of $50 has been assessed on your bill to cover the cost of these materials.

Pinterest ideas

Suggested Reading:


Ceramics Monthly. 1609 Northwest Blvd., Columbus , Ohio 43212
"The world's most widely read ceramic arts magazine"

Studio Potter. Box 172, Warner, New Hampshire 03278
"Studio Potter is a magazine for the community of potters everywhere. It is written by potters and directed toward fellow-potters who earn their living by making pots...".

American Craft. American Craft Council, 44 W. 53rd. St., NY, NY. 10019

American Craft Council and American Craft Museum, NYC

Recommended Books:

Making Marks: Discovering the Ceramic Surface by Robin Hopper

The Craft and Art of Clay (3rd Edition) (Paperback), Susan Petersen

Centering in Pottery, Poetry and Person
. M.C. Richards, Middletown, CT., Wesleyan University Press, 1964, 1989..."CENTERING: that act which precedes all others on the potter's wheel..."

A Potter's Book. Bernard Leach, Faber and Faber, London, 1960 This is the definitive "classic" work which set the stage for the revival of clay craft in Europe and America.

Clay and Glazes for the Potter. Daniel Rhodes, Radnor, PA.: Chilton, 2000, Another "classic"


Yale Art Gallery. Greek and Roman pottery, ground floor, Asian and contemporary ceramics, Fourth Floor

Creative Arts Workshop
, Audubon Street Gallery/shop

Wave Gallery, Chapel Street Resources on the

WWW: The Ceramics Web - Web page devoted to ceramics, based at San Diego State University.

ClayNet - Now hosted at Form of news, tips, techniques


Weeks 1,2

Introduction to the course. Demonstration: Pinch pots, small closed forms Demonstration: Larger spherical forms World Wide Web Resources

Weeks 3,4

Wheel throwing demonstration Film: The Potters of Bindapur, India Kiln loading and firing demonstration

Weeks 5,6

Demonstration: Slab building Techniques Soft Slab, leather hard slab Press mould, drape mould, etc.

Weeks 7,8

Trip to Yale Art Gallery: Greek,Roman and Egyptian, Japenese and Chinese Pottery

Weeks 9,10

Demonstration: Glazing, glaze testing and formulationů.application

Weeks 11,12

Film: Maria Martinez, Pueblo Potter Finish up current projects

Last week of class: Critiques

                                                              Back to Syllabi


Jim Connell, Handbuilt teapot
Glossary of Ceramics Terms
Cone 6 Glaze Formulas