ART06095 2019 Ceramics 1: Introduction to Clay Origins, Processes and Surface Treatments.

General Details

Full Title
Ceramics 1: Introduction to Clay Origins, Processes and Surface Treatments.
Transcript Title
Ceramics 1: Introduction to Cl
80 %
Subject Area
ART - Art
YADA - Yeats Academy Art Dsgn & Arch
06 - NFQ Level 6
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Elizabeth Caffrey
Programme Membership
SG_AARTT_B07 201900 Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art SG_AARTT_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fine Art

The primary aim of this module is to enable the student to establish a basic visual fluency via the medium of Clay in order to allow them to begin to express their works concerns within that of a Fine Art context. Essential to their engagement is a fundamental understanding as to the source of their materials, the clays origins and the early formation of their mineral compounds; ultimately they become more aware as to where in their landscape these compounds can be found, while also learning more about the geological dynamics that created such processes. It is through this understanding that students become grounded within their creative practice, helping to cultivate those vital early connections to their external landscape. Now better aware of their materials source, the students are introduced to set range of basic hand-building skills and techniques, alongside a fundamental introduction to colour treatments and glazes. They begin to establish a basic familiarity with how a glaze behaves, the nature of how it relates to the clay surface and a variety of colour treatments. It is with these early efforts that we begin to see glimpses of the students individual concerns and their burgeoning visual artistic vocabulary

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Realise the value of a broad and well informed research, ensuring they have referenced relevant historical and contemporary artists relating to their works concerns within a Fine Art context.


Understand the set of basic techniques and processes involved in the manipulation of Clay, as a means of artistic expression.


Have attained efficient and orderly practices when handling all ceramic materials, paying particular attention to issues of health and safety when working in the Ceramics Studio.


Illustrate evidence of an understanding and competency in basic glaze technology by demonstrating good colour control and relevant surface treatments.


Show evidence of developing individual and personal qualities within their subject matter, via their Visual Diary and associated notebooks.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Each semester the student is provided with a shared project theme which all disciplines follow and to which each student builds their ongoing research. At the early part of the semester initial technical information is provided via a series of demonstrations, information hand-outs and DVD’S. Students' are asked to maintain a Visual Diary, Ceramics Notebook and a series of exploratory macquettes as they develop their ideas. Weekly one-to-one tutorials support the students’ ongoing research and ensure they are responding productively to the designated project brief .Collective discussions and group critiques further support the students learning throughout the semester.

The Visiting Artist Series, International Trip, Exhibition Visits and Field Trips all provide invaluable exposure to a variety of professional platforms during the academic year.

Module Assessment Strategies

The students’ progress is monitored throughout the semester via informal weekly tutorials.  Students present their ‘work in progress’ for a Mid Term Review,  usually six weeks into the semester.  A  formal  exam takes place at the end of semester whereby the student mounts their finished work in an exhibition format for assessment .

Repeat Assessments

The student is given a set Project to respond to, with a list of requirements. Through this project the student must establish a body of work which will fulfil the required learning outcomes of the initial failed module.The student is given the use of the Ceramic Studios for an extra two weeks, after their assessment, so they'll have the support and access to specialized equipment in order to complete the requirements of the Repeat Project.

Indicative Syllabus

Ceramic Studio Protocols and Health + Safety: Initially the student is introduced to a variety of equipment housed in the Ceramic Studio and made aware of the specialist areas of use. They are instructed in the safe use and basic maintenance of all equipment. With a ‘clean as you go’ policy, each student attends to a weekly cleaning schedule and regularly participates in the recycling of the main clay supply, with support staff.  They are instructed in the safe handling of their materials, reducing the risk of dusty practices and are briefed on all Health & Safety protocols relevant to functioning in the Ceramic Studio.

Clay and the Origins of Materials: In this early module the student is introduced to the origins of their clays, it’s source and the geological processes from which it is created. They are made aware of distinctions between found and blended clay bodies, learning how to identify found materials and the fundamental preparations involved in bringing these bodies to a working state. It is hoped that knowing where their materials originate will engender a closer affinity to their living landscape.

Clay Preparation and Introductory Hand-building Techniques: Students are instructed in the basic preparation of clay before use and made aware of potential issues and pitfalls. They learn a set range of basic hand-building techniques such as Pinching, Coiling, Slab-building and Slumping on formers. They are shown a range of texturing processes and colour applications which should enable them to establish their early ideas and beginnings of their work in clay.

Basic Glaze Technology: At this early stage in order to work with some fluency regarding colour choice the student requires a basic overview in Glaze Technology, in order to complete their work. Colour, in Ceramics, is cultivated through the use of heat (kiln); considered as ‘chemical colour’ initial applications are not the same as those found after a glaze firing. Students are introduced to basic colour applications such as Slips, Metallic Oxides and Underglazes, which will provide much of the required colour at this early stage. They learn how to prepare and apply these applications in order to gain greater colour control, relevant to their research requirements.

Visual Research: This is an integral aspect to the student’s engagement, which provides all answers to their material and technical challenges. Students are assigned shared project titles helping them begin to develop their personal interpretations and concepts. They are encouraged to realize the value of a broad and well informed research, which feeds all disciplines. Their investigations should explore both technical and creative sources as well as making themselves familiar with all relevant historical and contemporary artists. A strong and rich research is required to meet the diverse learning challenges.



Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
100 %

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Presentation of a body of work Final Exam Practical Evaluation 100 % End of Semester 1,2,3,4,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Workshop Ceramics Studio Ceramics 1: Introduction to Clay Origins, Processes and Surface Treatments 8 Fortnightly 4.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 4.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2018-04-05 Sculpting and Handbuilding Herbert Press
ISBN 1912217511 ISBN-13 9781912217519

Handbuilding with clay offers a unique opportunity to experiment, requiring few tools, and allowing intuition and imagination to come to the fore. In this overview of a fast-developing practice, artist Claire Loder explains time-honoured methods of handbuilding, as well as introducing the fascinating new approaches of contemporary ceramicists.The basic techniques, from coiling and pinching to working with slabs, are explained with practical instructions and helpful accompanying images. Equipment, clay bodies and studio advice are thoroughly covered. Through the work of today's makers, the book then looks at new methods of building by hand, including mixed media work, sculptural methods, vessels and surface decoration, illuminating a wide variety of forms and styles.Sculpting and Handbuilding is an essential guide for any ceramic artist or student wishing to learn the basics of handbuilding, or seeking inspiration to integrate and adapt conventional methods.

Required Reading
2016 The New Age of Ceramics Gingko Press Editions
ISBN 1584236248 ISBN-13 9781584236245

While most surveys of contemporary art focus largely on two-dimensional work, there is a growing movement of emerging as well as established artists that are producing work in the ceramic medium. The New Age of Ceramics documents that movement; accross 180 illustrations it showcases a story of the art world redefining what was previously considered 'craft' rather than art.

Required Reading
2018-11-20 Handbuilt, A Potter's Guide Rockport Publishers
ISBN 9781631595981 ISBN-13 1631595989

In Handbuilt, A Potter's Guide, pottery expert Melissa Weiss shows you the basics of crafting without a wheel, how to harvest and work wild clay, and using natural glazes. Handbuilt pottery is the perfect way for new potters to dive into this unique medium because it doesn't require access to a potter's wheel. In Handbuilt, A Potter's Guide, Melissa Weiss takes an organic approach to harvesting and working with local clays, and even shows you how to mix your own glazes to use on functional pottery for use at home. Students of pottery the world over have traveled to North Carolina to attend Weiss's classes. Now you don't have to! In this book, Melissa provides you with a solid course on slab and pinch-pot techniques that allow beginning students to master the basics and progress through finished wares. Looking to go a little deeper? Melissa also offers her unique knowledge of how to dig and process local clays for use in pottery, and for the techniques she has developed for creating unique glazes with ash, salt, and other dry materials. Melissa will also introduce you talented contemporary potters, who will share their work, tips, advice, and techniques. Learn the basics of handbuilding and more with this engaging guide.

Required Reading
2009-06-22 Pattern, Colour & Form A&C Black
ISBN 9780713678093 ISBN-13 0713678097

A stimulating and inspiring exploration of creative approaches to visual expression: a sourcebook of ideas and images.

Required Reading
2003 Coiled Pottery A&C Black
ISBN 0713666463 ISBN-13 9780713666465

This book is a look at coiled pottery with both historical examples and descriptions of the methods of contemporary and ethnic potters who build in this way. It also discusses different approaches to making and decorating, as well as aesthetic qualities of the work. In this colour edition, the author has brought the contemporary section up to date and included many new colour photographs throughout the book. This is the classic book on the subject and it should appeal not only to potters but to anyone interested in the history of art and cultural studies.

Required Reading
2007 Breaking the Mould Black Dog Publishing
ISBN 1904772765 ISBN-13 9781904772767

The international ceramics scene is enjoying the highest profile it has had for many years. Breaking the Mould looks at ceramic artists working within this versatile medium. Drawing on the rich history of pottery these artists are pushing the techniques, objectives and perceptions of the medium into new, exciting territory. The book profiles the work of over 70 ceramicists, including Suzanne King, Simon Fell, Grayson Perry, Barnaby Barford, Carina Ciscato and Amy Houghton. Their work ranges from interpretations of utilitarian pots, to abstract sculpture and a revisioning of kitch porcelain ornaments, all of which are brought to life in beautiful colour reproductions. Essays by prolific makers and academics look at the history and inspirations behind the medium today. Following in the footsteps of New Directions in Jewellery, Fashioning Fabrics and The Cutting Edge of Wallpaper, Breaking the Mould is a definitive overview of a craft scene that is simultaneously building upon and breaking with its roots, and in doing so creating a brave new future for itself.

Required Reading
2011-03-15 Surfaces and Textures A&C Black
ISBN 0713688599 ISBN-13 9780713688597

This book aims to provide a wealth of visual imagery for ideas and inspiration. This collection of amazing images has been gathered over the last 10 years, showing details of surface textures of everything from rust and wood to lichen and old sails, and has been divided up into themes to make it more accessible. The author has captured fascinating aspects of both natural and man-made things otherwise overlooked, showing the reader their hidden qualities. Elements of skips, old paint, driftwood and stone walls from around the world all contribute to a range of beautiful patterns and samples which make up this selection of photographs. Every surface tells a story and these beautiful images provide a visual sourcebook for artists from all areas of the Visual Arts.

Required Reading
2012 Ceramics and the Human Figure Amer Ceramic Society
ISBN 157498313X ISBN-13 9781574983135

This key text includes individual artists within the field of installation and sculpture as well as those incorporating new technologies. The artists are divided by theme, with each chapter giving a short introduction, and then going on to display the work and ideas of each, showing the very innovative and diverse range of work being made today. A chapter is also included on making methods, giving a glimpse behind the scenes at some of the amalgamation of techniques used to create each piece.

Required Reading
2005-01-01 Glazes from Natural Sources A&C Black
ISBN 0713647558 ISBN-13 9780713647556

This is a new, revised and updated version of Brian Sutherland's classic book on making glazes from natural sources. It is essentially a practical book that deals with locating your own glaze materials, and how to construct, test and use the glazes you create. Rock types and likely sources of supply, making test pieces, the use of blend systems and the Seger system are all fully discussed. The emphasis is always on careful planning and control which ensures results are repeatable. This makes the science behind making glazes from natural sources both understandable and feasible.

Required Reading
1988-11 Pottery materials B T Batsford Ltd
ISBN UOM:39015013835031

Required Reading
20/09/2019 Ceramics Process European Ceramic Workcentre

Module Resources

Journal Resources

Ceramic Review

Art and Perception

Ceramics Ireland

Visual Artists Ireland Newsletter

Other Resources

A selection of DVD's on the lives and works of a variety of relevant Artists....

Additional Information

Students are encouraged to seek Workplacement / Internships/ Scholarships or any work experience in the visual arts. This 'real life' engagement provides an invaluable context for their ongoing learning.