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CCOG for ART 257 Spring 2024

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Course Number:
ART 257
Course Title:
Ceramics and Plaster Molds
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces processes, techniques, and concepts pertaining to plaster molds to produce ceramic art that addresses cultural, historical, and contemporary issues in ceramics. Examines creative problem solving and process skills to produce and finish clay artwork. Investigates critiques, discussions, writings, and presentations to establish critical skills necessary to evaluate ceramic works, explore artistic intent, examine aesthetic and structural solutions, and expand perceptual awareness. This course is part of a sequence that includes ART 253A, ART 254, ART 255, ART 256A, and ART 257. Prerequisites: ART 253A or instructor permission. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This is a follow up course to ART 253A. Students who have identified an interest in exploring the creative process in the context of plaster molds for ceramic production will have the opportunity to practice and develop their knowledge and skills in this medium. 

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Utilize aesthetic, material and process solutions to produce plaster molds for making ceramics.
  • Enforce safe practices surrounding silica dust, plaster dust, and other hazardous ceramic materials in the studio.
  • Create autonomous expression by making personal works in clay that utilize self-critiquing and awareness of contemporary and historic ceramics from around the world.
  • Research personal and cultural themes to make ceramic works of art.
  • Evaluate the quality of a personal work by identifying meaningful questions, ideas and issues as they pertain to the practices and standards of ceramics while using appropriate ceramic vocabulary.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

The study of Visual Arts is essential to the development of the individual and one’s meaningful participation in society. At the heart of artistic practice is the ability to organize experience and recognize its meaning. The creation of artwork and appreciation of aesthetics is a source of great pleasure and also a valuable means to effective visual communication. Participating in Visual Arts is an important way for individuals to connect to the past and respond to the present with a stronger sense of engagement with culture and society.

Aspirational Goals

  • Acquire a passion for ceramics and for the importance of art to culture. 
  • A life-long curiosity to discover art through art making and/or regularly visiting shops, galleries, and museums. 
  • Future artist, tile maker, industrial designer.

Course Activities and Design

Primary course activities include: Technical and material demonstrations, lectures, group critiques, one-on-one instruction and feedback to students, in-class project work time, and open lab outside of class-time.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Students will do the following in order to be assessed:

  • Make creative and well-crafted ceramic responses to assignment challenges and prompts using plaster mold making techniques, ceramic materials, and tools.                                          
  • Apply analysis of ceramic ideas, techniques, terminology, and issues through participation in formal critiques and discussions.

  • Research conceptual ideas through the practice of creative preparatory studies (e.g. sketchbooks, journals, maquettes, models, writing assignments, presentations, technical practice tests, etc.).

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Visual communication

  • Contextual awareness


  • Form and aesthetic considerations

  • Purpose (such as function, content, or meaning)

  • Craft, skill building, technique, style, and material choices


  •  Processes and material science, including their potential and limitations

  • Safe studio practices

  • Personal expression

  • Audience


  • Model/prototype making

  • Avoiding undercuts

  • Proper set-up for plaster mold pouring

  • Plaster calculations, mixing, and pouring

  • Mold curing

  • Mold care

  • Press molds

  • Slip casting

  • Multipart molds

  • Joining and repairs

  • Applying glazes

  • Ideation (models, sketches, studies, journal writing, collage, etc.)

  • Understanding aesthetic choices

  • Critique and self-reflection strategies.