Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

ART 3CC3 Concentrated Study-Ceramics (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Carmela Laganse


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 430

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23926

Office Hours: Tues. 1:30-2:30

Course Objectives:

This course is a concentrated exploration of the ceramic medium, associated materials, methods and processes to facilitate and explore the potential of this medium as it informs and expands the production of an artistic practice.

Through projects and exercises, students will learn building methods, basic material awareness, basic mould making and casting and surface techniques that support the creation of artworks and knowledge specific to the ceramic medium. Emphasis will be placed on the development of haptic and tacit knowledge as it relates to the technical and conceptual facets of the medium.

Students will become aware of ceramic practice through lectures, demonstrations and discussion that will include, historical and contemporary craft practices, maker culture and assigned readings. Students are expected to apply knowledge acquired to their individual explorations and creative practices demonstrated in their work.

By the end of this course, students will:

  • Create 3d works utilizing a range of ceramic materials and techniques, specifically: basic building methods, introduction and application to ceramic mold-making, casting, reproduction and an introduction to firing, surface techniques, and glazing
  • Acquire a basic understanding of tools, machinery and methodology relevant to the ceramic medium
  • Acquire a basic understanding of the range of expression in the ceramic medium and develop a greater symbiotic relationship for it’s dimensional potential (multi media expression)
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of how ceramic media is a vehicle for personal expression, and conceptual ideas related to creating art in 3d space
  • Have a basic understanding of ceramic history and contemporary studio practice
  • Demonstrate an awareness of safe working practices in the studio environment
  • Produce a portfolio of dimensional works, which demonstrates clear personal creative strategies and explores appropriate methods in the medium

Students will be expected to:

  • Take notes on content in class and visiting artist’s lectures
  • Make a serious and thoughtful effort in applying various ideas and approaches introduced in class demonstrated through projects, assignments and personal investigations
  • Will be expected to think critically and respond to the issues and content presented in class
  • Will be expected to consistently and professionally invest, engage and contribute positively to the overall studio environment/community

Due to the hands-on nature of this course, perfect attendance is expected. Missed class will be reflected in your evaluation and missed demonstrations cannot be repeated. Every class will include valuable information requiring you to keep notes on demonstrations and lectures.


Students are expected to use Avenue to Learn to find information including: Project Outlines, deadline changes, general announcements, technical information etc. It is the student’s responsibility to check the Avenue to Learn course site for this information.

Although a certain amount of time will be allotted for in-class project work, students will also be required to spend a minimum of 5 hours/week developing techniques and strategies introduced in the course, conducting independent research, completing assigned projects, and preparing for discussions and presentations.

Students taking this course will be expected to arrive on-time at the start of each class, and be sufficiently prepared to work on projects and participate in class activities for the duration of the scheduled class. Each unexcused absence without proper medical documentation will be reflected in the evaluation.

The use of cellphones, text messaging, and/or social media sites during class time will not be tolerated.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

A lab/studio fee of $120.00 must be paid to Sharon in the SOTA office as soon as possible. This studio fee will provide you with an access card to the studios as well as expendable materials needed for the course and studio facilities which can include firing costs or materials to cumbersome for public transport (clay) , glaze, slip etc. This studio fee subsidizes general costs related to the course. You are resposible for acquiring personal materials such as  brushes, drawing tools or materials specific to your individual projects.

Other tools and/ or materials you will need for class:

  • Steel toe boots/shoes
  • Sketchbook/file folder for idea generation, notes etc.
  • USB flash drive or external hard drive for research or image collection

Basic ceramic studio tool box that should include:

  • various drawing tools (pencils, graphite etc.)
  • Basic ceramic tool kit (small sponge, pin tool, fetling knife, trimming tool, wood knife, cut off wire, small trimming tool, metal rib)
  • Scoring tool
  • large sponge
  • old towel(s)
  •  old cotton bed sheet cut into pieces (3’ x 3’)
  •  Plastic sheet (thin gage)
  • spray bottle
  • wide natural brush, chinese caligraphy brushes (various sizes)

Optional and useful:

  • rolling pin
  • small ribbon trimming tools
  • various modeling tools
  • various ribs

All of your materials can be located and available at:

  • Pottery Supply House (Oakville)
  • Curry’s
  • Dollar store
  • Value village, Bible Mission Thrift Store (Dundas)
  • Home Depot/Rona/ Home Hardware
  • Bulk Barn (cake decorating section)
  • Princess Auto

*  You are required to have your own safety gear for the duration of your program. In the event you are not prepared for class or work in the studio, communal steel toe foot ware is available for students and located in the lobby area of the TSH studios. They are available on a first come first serve basis and can be used during your class. They may not be taken from they studios.


Method of Assessment:

Your evaluations will be based on the following:

80%                 4 Projects/Assignments:

  • Project 1 (20%) Due: Feb.12
  • Project 2 (20%) Due: Feb.12
  • Project 3 (20%) Due: Apr.2
  • Project 4 (20%) Due: Apr.2

20%                 Participation:   which includes responses, visiting artist notes in sketchbooks, research, notes (10%), professionalism in studio environment and critiques, investment and engagement in class and with studio community and peers (10%)

  • Sketchbooks/ notes Due: Apr.2


*Each assignment and project will include a detailed project description that will outline the educational objectives, considerations, sources, technical information and deadlines.

Midterm progress grades will be submitted Feb. 19 and based on project evaluations completed to that date.

Each assignment has its own array of assessment criteria, and student performance will be evaluated in terms of:

  • Technical proficiency: how you demonstrate a command of technical skills to communicate visually
  • Conceptual development and focus: how you generate, put together and employ ideas/concepts which can be demonstrated through research and planning
  • Synthesis/presentation: how you bring all your skills together, how you choose to communicate your ideas/concepts and how you present and/or reflect these ideas. Synthesis also includes how you refine, resolve and choose to present your ideas/concept through visual language
  • Work ethic/ personal investment: how effectively you engage and work in your studio practice, using course content as a method of learning as well as a point of departure for creative exploration (includes experimentation and problem solving)


You will be expected to fully engage in all studio activity. This means arriving on time, and actively participating through the duration of the class. Due to the nature of the ceramic medium and processes, studio work tends to be communal and interdependent. The firing schedule and due dates reflect the particularities and timing of ceramics and require the students to adhere to the posted schedules. Failure to follow these communal schedules will result in incomplete work and be reflected in the evaluation.

Participation requires the student’s attention and joining in discussion to provide constructive criticism for your peers. The success of the class is largely dependent on each student’s engagement with the course work, each other and our studio community. You are expected to interact with each other collegially and with respect, mindful of how you will contribute to each other’s learning experience in a positive and challenging way. Failing to demonstrate engagement and contribute positively to the group dynamic will impact your grade.




Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:


Assignments are designed as frameworks for creative investigation, and will incorporate the techniques and content learned and discussed in class. Students are encouraged to personalize, explore, and expand on the expressive and communicative potential of these skills.

A penalty of 5% per day will be deducted from assignments submitted late, or those not presented in the required format. You must make arrangements to submit late assignments with the instructor. Assignments will not be accepted after seven days without official documentation (see the MSAF section for details), and will receive a grade of zero. Studio work will be considered late and incomplete if not accompanied by required written work (i.e. project proposals, etc). Late studio and/or written work will not receive the benefit of detailed verbal/written feedback from the instructor or other members of the class.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Readings, sources and links relevant to specific topics and projects will be provided on project outlines and/or Avenue to Learn.


Week/Day/ Date

COURSE SCHEDULE: 3CC3 Concentrated Study: Ceramics  (Subject to Change)


Week 1

Jan. 8

  • Review of syllabus/ course (content, expectations, studio policy, evaluations etc)
  • Lecture: overview of ceramics
  • Group A: Demonstration: wedging, building methods, Assignment 1 due for next week (keep covered and wet)
  • Group B: Projects 1-4, proposals due next week

Week 2

Jan. 15

  • Lecture: Object and Function, Surface
  • Group A and B: Demonstration: wet work surface techniques
  • Group A: Introduction to Project 1, Assignment 1 due at the end of class


Week 3

Jan. 22

  • Lecture: Figurative ceramics, firing temperatures
  • Group A: Introduction to Project 2, Assignment 1 to be loaded for bisque firing
  • Group B: Loading and firing electric and gas kilns, bisque firing

Week 4

Jan. 29

  • Group A: Demonstration: Glazing, Assignment 1 glazed by the end of class and ready to be glaze fired
  • Group B: Firing temperatures and schedules for glaze firings

Week 5

Feb. 5

  • Projects 1 and 2 ready to be loaded for bisque firing (will be unloaded by Thurs.) Work must be glazed, on shelf and ready to fire. Have work on shelf by Friday for glaze fire

Week 6

Feb. 12

  • Critiques: Project s 1 and 2 (Groups A and B)

Week 7

Feb. 19

  • Midterm Break

Week 8

Feb. 26

  • Group A: Introduction to Project 3 and 4, Demonstration: drop and two part moulds
  • Group B:, Demonstration: combining different clay bodies and components.
  • Midterm progress grades submitted

Week 9

Mar. 5

  • Group A and B: Demonstration: Form construction and methods: patterns, details, cutting/ darting
  • Individual meetings/ work period/ consultations

Week 10

Mar. 12

  • Individual meetings/ work period/ consultation

Week 11

Mar. 19


  • Individual meetings/ work period/ consultations
  • Last bisque firing- work should be ready to fire and placed on shelf

Week 12

Mar. 26


  • Last glaze firing- work should be ready on shelf for final glaze firing

Week 13

Apr. 2


  • Final Critiques (group A and group B)

Other Course Information:


Working in the studio:

All new studio art students are required to complete an online WHMIS test to access all studio equipment and facility. This test must be completed within the first 4 weeks of the fall semester. All students must familiarize themselves with the Studio Art Safety Manual for Students. Be aware of the rules and regulations for studio and equipment usage. Any questions regarding these issues should be directed towards Troy Coulterman, Instructional Assistant for the Studio Arts program or the course Instructor. You are required to wear your steel-toed boots in all of the The instructor will determine the student’s grade by evaluating projects, which should be indicative of the student’s creative sensibility (visually, technically and conceptually), investment and a willingness to explore, innovate and problem solve. Students will be evaluated on the degree of rigor to which efforts have been made to personalize, explore, and expand on the expressive and communicative potential of these skills. The instructor will take into consideration the students’ active participation in the discussion and critique sessions, their commitment to the collective project and their willingness to exceed the basic requirements of the course.

Appointments must be made with the studio technologist in regards to consulting and/ or executing specific projects requiring the use of woodshop, metal and ceramics facilities. Please ensure appointments and arrangements are made well in advance of deadlines and critiques.

Studios are accessible through access cards and are open from 7am -10pm, seven days a week.  Students are not permitted to work in the studios alone. Please arrange to work in the studio with a peer when working after hours.

Guests (people not enrolled in studio art courses) are not permitted in the studios unless proper permission and documentation is provided.

There is no food or drink permitted in the studios. Please do not bring any chemicals or other materials into the studios with out the permission of the studio technologist or instructor.

Incident reports:

If a student should have an accident in any of the studio, the incident, (no matter how minor) must


University Lines – Ext. 88

Emergency Response

Fire, First Aid, Crimes in Progress
Personal Safety
Bomb Threats
Alarm Systems
Vehicle Accidents
Maintenance Emergencies (off hours)

905 522-4135 or

905 525-9140 Ext. 24281

be reported to a faculty member, or the studio technologist within 24 hours. If there is no faculty or technician available, and immediate attention is needed please call 88 for all emergencies. Do not hesitate to call 88 in any circumstance, please do not make medical judgments for yourself or others, let a medical professional make the assessment.