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Course : Ceramics for Non-Majors

Course Number
ART 1613
Section Number
Fall 2023
Fain Fine Arts Center, c119
Days & Times
Final Exam Day/Time

Midwestern State University

Ceramics for Non-Majors ART 1613

(Fall 2023)

William McKinney                                                                                 Studio/C119

2:00 to 4:50 Tuesday/Thursday Ceramics                             Office Hours - C119 or by Zoom Appointment                                10:00 PM to 12:00 PM Tuesday/Thursday 

Campus police: (940) 397-4239                                                              9-911 (any emergency)

Course Description:

An introduction to ceramic materials and techniques of hand building, decorating, glazing, loading and firing of kilns.


1.     Demonstrate a basic understanding of equipment safety and possible health hazards associated with ceramics, while maintaining a clean working environment

2.     Describe, recognize and utilize ceramic tools

3.     Demonstrate rudimentary knowledge of kiln firings to include oxidation and reduction methods 

4.     Demonstrate basic skill with select hand building techniques

5.     Demonstrate the procedure for loading kilns: glaze and bisque

6.     Demonstrate basic wheel techniques

7.     Demonstrate basic glazing and surface decorating methods


Textbook: The Craft and Art of Clay (Fourth Edition)by Susan Peterson (this book is a great book for ceramics majors. If you are not a major, you do not need to buy this book.  You may use a book in the reference section of the library.

Other Expenses:

1.     Clay and Glaze Fee: We will be calling Trinity Ceramics in class on sometime in the next few weeks with a credit card and be prepared to pay $48.02 (with tax this will be $50)

2.     Respirator: Buy at Lowes, Home Depot, or Granger – make sure it is good for dust (they usually have a magenta (pink) color on the filter and are generally labeled P100 filters): Approximately $35

3.     Assorted ceramic tools: Approximately $45 - $60 (listed below)

Building Use Hours:

  1. Art building access will be discussed the first day of class
  2. The use of this and all art studios is considered a privilege, if this is abused, it will be revoked. 
  3. The studio door code is_132_ Please do not share it with anyone outside this class.

Attendance Policy:

Students enrolled in the Juanita and Ralph Harvey School of Visual Arts must comply with the following department-wide Attendance and Lateness Policy:

·       If you are sick . . . don’t come to class!!  We can Zoom/Facetime you in if appropriate

·       Students arriving after class begins will be considered late. Students arriving 10 minutes after class begins will be counted absent.

·       THREE late arrivals count as an absence.

·       Students may be absent from class THREE times without penalty and without providing any documentation regarding the absence.

·       If students incur a FOURTH absence, their final course evaluation will be reduced by a full letter grade.

·       If students are absent or late FIVE times, whatever the reason, they will receive a FAILING GRADE, be dropped from the class roll, and be asked to stop attending class.

·       Example: after your 4th absence, a 90% (A) will become an 80% (B)

·       Example: after your 4th absence and 3rd tardy, an 80% will become an F and you will be dropped

·       Faculty members have the discretion to make exceptions to this policy based on individual circumstances.

·       When you are absent, it is YOUR responsibility to contact class members and learn what you missed.


You will have homework in this class . . . except you will be doing most of it in the studio. You should spend a minimum of 6 hours in the studio outside class time to be successful. Most will spend more.  The more time you spend in the studio the more successful you will be. If you make more . . . You will learn more!

Grading Policy:

Each assignment should be evaluated and graded as it is completed.   It is your responsibility to make sure I know your work is ready to be graded.

Since ceramic work has two stages of completion, you will be graded on turning your completed green or leather hard work in on time, and you will be graded on your glazed work at the end of the semester.

As art is subjective, I will be grading your assignments with some of the following criteria (depending on the assignment). It is your responsibility to show me each assignment as it is completed:

1.     Is it innovative/experimental

2.     Does it accomplish the assignment

3.     Does it communicate your intention/content

4.     Is it aesthetically pleasing . . . and designed well 

5.     Craftspersonship

6.     Attention to detail(s)

7.     Technical elements and mastery

8.     Growth of your work

9.     Sketchbook

Your final grade will be determined by a formula similar to the one below:

Points earned divided by points possible (approximately 1940 pts)

Assignments                                          1500 points

Critique (4 critiques minimum)                  100 points

Participation (clean-up, helping out, tools)   150 points

Wood Fire Participation                              50 points (if we have a wood firing)

Quizzes                                                   150 points        


If you have a question/problem with the material or a technique, please see me as soon as possible. If you wait until the last week of the semester, I might not be able to help you.


Any student who feels she/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs.  Please contact Disability Support Services at 940.397.4140 in room 168 of the Clark Student Center to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Studio Etiquette:

It is everyone’s responsibility to help keep the studio clean. Do not leave without making sure all materials, tools, and artwork are properly stored. Your grade will be lowered if you do not clean up after yourself.

• The last 12.498 minutes of class is devoted to cleaning up, with everyone assisting.

• The floors need to be mopped every class period and every time you throw on the wheel

• There will be one mandatory all studio clean-up in the middle of the semester and the final clean-up on Tuesday, December 5th  at 2:00 PM . . . this is the final cleanup, if you miss the cleanup, you will lose one letter grade from your final grade!

• During the semester, everyone will be asked to help maintain the studio

• Please turn all cell phones to silent while in the ceramics studio . . . this includes texting ****

• Music: Please respect everyone in the studio when playing your music on the Ion Speaker.  If someone asks you to turn it down or change the music, please do so.


Choose a locker that has nothing in it and put your lock on it. Put your name on the locker sign-up list.

MSU coronavirus pages

If you are sick . . . stay home.   But try to Zoom/Facetime the class.  You have to do this in a timely manner.  Do not ask to Zoom unless you give me at least some notice.

Decorum and Academic Dishonesty:

Students will abide by all MSU rules, regulations including the Student Honor Creed, and will thereby earn all the student’s rights as noted in the MSU Student Handbook. Cheating, collusion, and plagiarism (the act of using source material of other persons, either published or unpublished, without following the accepted techniques of crediting, or the submission for credit of work not the individual’s to whom credit is given) is academic dishonesty.

• Student Honor Creed: â€œAs an MSU student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else to do so.”

• I reserve the right to drop any student with an F grade, or recommend other sanctions, if a student engages in any form of academic dishonesty.

• Smoking and other uses of tobacco products will not be allowed in accordance with the Student Handbook

The instructor reserves the right to initiate an instructor drop with a grade or W, WF, or F, as specified in the Student Handbook (see link above) for reasons to include attendance issues, academic performance in the class, indifferent attitude, or disruptive conduct.

Enrollment in this class constitutes an acceptance to adhere to the Student Honor Creed and all other student conduct policies outlined in the university Student Handbook.


  1. We will not be sharing materials or tools in class this semester.
  2. Some materials in the studio are toxic. If you are uncertain of the nature of a material, PLEASE SEE ME and/or see the Material Safety Data Sheets in the folder by the front door.
  3. Students are expected to take the utmost care in working with kilns and all power equipment.  Do not use any equipment, including kilns, without being properly trained and signing a training document.
  4. Always wear a respirator and rubber gloves when working with any toxic materials.
  5. Always wear a respirator when sanding ceramic material and spraying glaze.
  6. Always sand ceramic material outside
  7. A list of all materials used in this studio is available in the yellow folder next to the front door.

8.     TAKING THIS COURSE IN THE ART DEPARTMENT AT MSU MEANS THAT YOU ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY to use all equipment, tools, and materials related to the course in a safe and responsible manner.  If you have any health-related problems that would be adversely affected by taking the course, you should consult with me at the end of the first day of the class.

9.     Please tell me about any accidents, no matter how small.


Return and Retention Of Student Work

If work or tools are left in the studio longer than (1) one week after the end of the semester, the department has the right to dispose of or use the unclaimed work for any purpose.  

Please buy these tools now so you have them for the beginning of class!!



Numbers 1 through 4 below can be found (with a considerable MSU discount) online at But you do not have to purchase from Brackers if you can find a better deal elsewhere.

• If you do use Brackers . . . Use stevehilton as the discount code.  

• All of the letters/numbers below are from Brackers as are the links

• If you know one of your classmates, order together to save shipping cost

• Most of these tools you will not be able to share

• KT means Kemper Tool


1. pottery tool kit (KTPTK - Kemper Pottery Tool Kit) (wire, needle tool, wooden rib, metal rib, trimming tool, sponge)

2. rubber rib (buy the red Sherrill Mudtool, soft ) Do not buy a “cheaper alternative”. They are a waste of money

3. loop tool kit (KTMRS Kemper - Mini Ribbon Set) Do not buy another loop tool kit, you will need this kit specifically

4. metal scraper (KT S10 – steel scraper with serrations) Again . . . please do not buy another “option” 

5. scoring tool | chinese clay art

6. small bucket: a gallon or less at the dollar store . . . Do not buy anything larger than a gallon

7. combination lock

8. assortment of inexpensive brushes (1/4-inch, 1/2-inch, 1 inch). You can share these!

9. sketchbook

Important Dates:          

Final Clean Up – Thursday December 7th or last class before finals 

NCECA – Ceramic Conference - more information forthcoming. 

** This syllabus may be changed to best meet your needs, or for other reasons as I see fit. This includes the changing or deleting of assignments. If for some reason the assignments administered total something other than 2000 points, the method of obtaining the final grade will remain essentially the same: the total points achieved will be divided by the total points possible to obtain a percentage and a grade will be assigned according to the percentage scale outlined above.

*** By staying enrolled in this course, you are indicating you understand and accept the terms of 

ART 1613 and this syllabus

**** Assignments are due at the start of the class period on the due date. Any assignment submitted after that time will receive a penalty of 10% per day, with the total penalty not to exceed 50% of the points available for the assignment. The only accepted excuses for late work or missing a test/quiz/critique/class are requests from an academic dean, or a documented medical situation. There will be no exceptions, so please do not ask.

***** In order to help students keep track of their progress toward course objectives, the instructor for this class will provide a Midterm Progress Report through each student’s WebWorld account who is at risk of scoring below a C.   Midterm grades will not be reported on the students’ transcript; nor will they be calculated in the cumulative GPA. They simply give students an idea of where they stand at the midpoint of the semester. Students earning below a C at the midway point should schedule a meeting with me as soon as possible.


Departmental Policy for Gallery Openings (NA because of Covid)

·       Students enrolled in studio or art history courses must attend every gallery opening. 

·       At every gallery opening, the student will receive a comment sheet.

·       During each opening, the student must fill out and submit the comment sheet. 

·       If the student cannot attend the gallery opening, they must meet following requirements:

1.     The student must write a paper on the artist exhibited in the Juanita Harvey gallery.

2.     The paper should emphasize the student’s reaction to the work. 

3.     The paper must be formatted in Times New Roman, 12pt font, and be double-spaced.

4.     The paper must consist of 500 words.

5.     The paper must be submitted to the art office one week after the exhibition opening.

6.     If the exhibition extends past the final class day of the semester, the paper will be due one week before the final class day of the semester.

·       If a student does not attend the show nor submit a paper, their final grade will be dropped 3.3% per gallery opening. 

·       If a student misses all of the gallery openings and does not write a paper for each required exhibition, the student’s final grade will be dropped by 10%.


All deadlines are at 2:30 AM on due date.






Week 1

Syllabus/ Introduction

Safety Tour/Safety Tour/Quiz

Handout: Cylinder Assignment

Handout: Ceramic Vocabulary Take Home Quiz

Handout: Throwing a Cylinder

Buy Tools

Assign: pinch pots and drawings 

Assign: Cylinders

Assign: Receipt for tools

Pinch Pots Demo


Work Day Pinch Pots

Pinch Pots Demo


Work Day Pinch Pots

Work Day: Cylinders

Due: 3 pinch pots with drawings

Demo: Throwing and Video


Work Day: Cylinders

Quiz: Wheelthrowing

Due: Tools Check

TUESDAY week 3

Work Day: Cylinders

Work Day: slabs for Texture Tiles

Assign Texture Tiles

Demo: Trimming 

Demo: Glaze Pinch Pots

Due: 1st 5 Cylinders


Work Day: Cylinders

Work Day: Texture Tiles

Assign: Glaze pinch pots

Due: Texture Tiles 

Demo: Coil Building

Assign: Coil Vessel

Due: glazed pinch pots

Due: 2nd 5 Cylinders


Work Day: Cylinders

Assign: Take Home Vocab Quiz

Due: Sketchbook for Coil Vessel 

Due: 3rd 5 Cylinders


Work Day: Coil Vessel 

Due: Bisque all Cylinders


Work Day: Coil Vessel

Due: First 12 inches of coil vessel

Demo: Glazing

Due: 5 Glazed Cylinders with notes


Work Day: Coil Vessel

Due: 18 inches of coil vessel

Assign: Surface Decoration


Work Day: Coil Vessel

Due: Surface Decoration Drawings

Due: 5 Glazed Cylinders with notes


Critique: Coil Pot

Glaze texture squares

Due: 24 inch Coil Vessel

Assign: Reliquary

Examples: Slab Building


Work Day: Reliquary

Demo: Slab Building 

Due: Sketchbook Reliquary


Work Day: Reliquary

Due: Glazed textures

Demo: Glazing


Work Day: Reliquary

Quiz: Handbuilding

Due: 5 Glazed Cylinders with notes


Critique: Reliquary

Assign Ceramic Artist

Due: Reliquary


Week 9

Work Day: Throwing

Assign: Cups and Bowls

Demo: Cups and Bowls


Week 9

Work Day: Throwing

Due: 5 cups/bowls Bisque

Due: Ceramic Vocabulary Take Home Quiz


Week 10

Work Day: Throwing/Glazing

Due: 5 cups/bowls Bisque

Thursday Week 10


Work Day: Throwing/Glazing

Wood Fire Weekend (plan to be in town and not working)

Tuesday Week 11

Work Day: Throwing/Glazing

Due: 5 Glazed pieces with notes


Week 11

Work Day: Glazing

Work Day: Throwing/Glazing

Due: 10 cups/bowls Bisque

Tuesday Week 12

Work Day: Throwing/Glazing

Due: 10 Pieces in Bisque (Total of 30 cups/bowls)

Thursday Week 12

Work Day: Throwing/Glazing

Due: 5 Glazed pieces with notes

Tuesday Week 13

Work Day: Throwing/Glazing

Due: 5 Glazed pieces with notes


Week 13

Work Day: Throwing/Glazing

Last Day for Handbuilt Wet ClayCRITIQUE OF WHEEL WORK


 Week 14

Work Day: Throwing/Glazing Load all work in Bisque Kiln

Last Day for Thrown Wet Clay


Week 14




Week 15

Work Day.  Glaze Anything Unfinished

Last Bisque Kiln


Week 15



Finals Week

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MSUTexas e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and 2) earned 60 hours. Students may meet this requirement in one of three ways: by passing the Writing Proficiency Exam, passing two Writing Intensive Courses (only one can be in the core), or passing English 2113. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police at