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Ceramics

Students work on ceramics projects

The focus of the ceramics program is to challenge the students intellectually by providing an opportunity for an art-making experience with an emphasis on contemporary sculpture. The goal is to encourage and guide the evolution of the each student's aesthetic sensibilities as they strive to understand and define their place in the world.

Beginning ceramics: A course designed to explore ceramics as a medium in which to create contemporary sculpture in conjunction with an understanding of ceramic history. Students must first learn the basic fundamentals of clay and glazing at both high- and low-fire temperatures to gain a solid foundation to build upon. Students are taught various handbuilding and glazing techniques along with alternative ceramic finishes. Assignments are designed to challenge the student's technical proficiency, as well as aesthetic and conceptual ideas. With every assignment, more freedom is given to produce work personal to the student in the direction they wish to pursue. Through lectures, critiques, demonstrations and hands-on experience, each student will foster a deeper appreciation of the ceramic medium as it relates to history, utility and pop culture.

Intermediate ceramics: Classes introduce students to additional ceramic techniques such as mold-making, slip-casting and press molding with an emphasis on contemporary sculpture. In addition, students learn how to make their own clay bodies and glazes, as well as how to fire their own kilns. The ceramics studio offers raku, gas, electric and computerized kilns. Students are encouraged to experiment and take risks as errors are useful problem solving methods. Loose assignments are given with expectation that the student will bring their own ideas to the table to expand upon the projects.

Advanced ceramics: Students initiate their own projects guided by critical evaluation and technical advice and assistance.

  • 3 Skutt electric kilns (computerized with a 7 cubic-foot chamber)
  • 1 Skutt electric test kiln (with a 0.8 cubic-foot chamber)
  • 1 Fire Master electric kiln (with a 7 cubic-foot chamber)
  • 1 Fire Master electric kiln (with a 6.5 cubic-foot chamber)
  • 1 West Coast gas kiln (with a 14 cubic-foot chamber)
  • 1 Alpine gas kiln (with a 9 cubic-foot chamber)
  • 1 Raku kiln (with a 7 cubic-foot chamber)
  • 2 Walker pug mills
  • 1 Bluebird clay mixer
  • 1 Slipmaster slip mixer
  • 1 Studio Star slip casting table

The classroom is the main activity center of the facility and is usually buzzing with students working on their projects. It is broken up into two connecting rooms, one for the beginning ceramics course and the other dedicated to the intermediate/advance students. This allows students full access at any time without interrupting classes in session. Cabinetry lines the walls allowing most students their own personal cabinet to keep their work and tools. There are wedging tables and large work tables. These rooms also contain four electric wheels, one slab roller, as well as an extruder.

Clay room

This room includes two pug mills, one commercial slip-casting table, one slip-casting mixer and a small countertop to work on while slip casting. The clay mixer is just outside the door for easy access.

Kiln room

The kiln room contains three computerized Skutt kilns, one large Fire Master kiln and one small Skutt kiln for testing glazes and clay bodies. Shelves line one wall of this room for storage of greenware that is ready to fire.

Patio

The large patio space is partially hooded and vented. There are two fully functioning gas kilns, as well as a raku kiln, and an additional electric kiln. The West Coast gas kiln easily accommodates large-scale work that does not fit into "conventional" kilns as its interior dimensions are (L)6.25'x (W)3'x(H)5'. Shelving lines the wall for stockpiling necessary chemicals. There are work tables in this area for the production of plaster molds. There are no salt, soda, nor wood firing kilns.

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