Course Syllabus

Ceramics: Wheel Throwing

Wellesley High School


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Fall Semester 2023-2024 

Course Syllabus & Overview


Instructor: Jacqueline Martell (she/her),

Office hours:  Before and after class or by appointment as I also teach at WMS

Open studio/extra help time available during purple block on day 6 and with Ms. Larson during green block on day 3. 

Schedule:   Class meets A block on days 2, 4, &6

Course Objective: 

This course provides a general introduction to ceramics and sculpture techniques. In the studio you will explore the basics of ceramics using both the potter’s wheel and hand building. Studio work will emphasize principles of wheel throwing using stoneware clay. We will work to understand the artistic process of generating ideas, organizing and refining vision, and completing three-dimensional artwork. 

Course Description: 

You will learn the basics of working on a potter's wheel and learn techniques to make a tumbler (cups/vases without handles), a mug or vessel with a handle, and a set of bowls.  Clay can be an unpredictable material and it is important to be flexible in how you approach assignments as things can crack, break, and warp during the process of making or firing something. Throughout the semester you will also maintain a digital inspiration board in the form of a google slideshow. You may occasionally produce sketches to plan your projects but you will not be assessed on your drawing skills. 


  • Tumblers 
  • Mugs
  • Bowls
  • Symbolic place setting


Studio Techniques Covered: 

  • Centering and Pulling up Clay 
  • Wedging clay
  • Cylinders 
  • Attaching handles
  • Trimming a foot (bottom of vessel)
  • Glazing and finishing your work

Semester Independent Work:

You will maintain a digital inspiration board using google slides as a place to collect ideas and reference images. You will also use it to organize your research for specific projects and share video tutorials you find helpful.

Course Requirements: 

Be present. Consistent participation in class for the duration of our time together is essential. Since our class only meets 3 times/cycle, missing a class or being frequently late can set you back. Have a growth mindset; be open to constructive feedback and put in your best effort.  Working with clay is like learning a foreign language with your finger tips.  Be patient with yourself as it takes time to master the skills needed to be successful! We will work together as we continue to build your clay vocabulary both on and off the wheel.

Materials needed for class: 

Tools and clay will be provided. You will store your work in progress on a labeled shelf in the studio. We have some aprons, but you are welcome to bring in your own or an old shirt/towel to leave on your shelf. You may also want to bring something to write with and something to write on if taking notes is helpful for you during demonstrations. 


In this course you are assessed on the following categories:

  • Class Participation & Effort

Submitting assignments in a timely manner, being present and engaged, demonstrating a growth mindset, documenting and taking care of your work.  

  • Projects

Work will be assessed for understanding of the learning goals and EFFORT. All projects will have deadlines for different steps to ensure that you finish your work on time. 

  • Studio Clean Up & Citizenship

Cleaning your wheel before and after using it, wiping surfaces, organizing your shelf, returning boards, leaving an area cleaner than you found it. 

  • Research, sketches, written work 

Planning and reflection


In this course, an A is yours to lose.  If you attend class, come with a positive attitude and willingness to take risks, and you follow guidelines for each assignment you will excel.  Poor attitude, fixed mindset (not responding well to constructive suggestions/feedback), lack of accountability and incomplete assignments will result in points lost and will negatively impact your grade.  To excel in wheel throwing, you need practice and a positive attitude, thus effort and participation are integral to your success in this class. Cleanup will also impact your grade. You will receive a grade for individual assignments in Canvas and monthly updates in PowerSchool.

Please reach out to me for help or feedback. My schedule is complex as I teach at both the high school and the middle school. I am available after class and during Red block on day 5. I  will post additional open studio times later on in the first term. If you have any questions, the best way to reach me is through email


Studio work deadlines will be given for different steps in the clay process. Studio projects will be staggered so you may start a new project while the other is in the kiln. We will have in process and final critiques.


Many of the materials used in the ceramic studio are toxic or harmful if mishandled. Protect yourself by following proper procedures and giving yourself time to clean up safely.

 YOU WILL NEED A MINIMUM OF 10 MINUTES TO CLEAN UP AT THE END OF EVERY STUDIO CLASS. Wet cleanup is SAFE cleanup to avoid breathing in clay dust! Remember that clean up and studio citizenship count towards your grade. In the beginning of the term I will give your many reminders for cleaning up. As the semester progresses, you will need to become more responsible for managing your time. 



  1. Clean up after yourself! This includes wheels, splash pans, floor around wheels and tables, table surfaces, studio tools and bats, sinks. 
  2. We will be trimming a lot of pots in this class – you MUST sweep the floor gently or vacuum after you trim – every time! Trimmings can make a lot of dust which can damage your lungs. 
  3. Never leave your work out on wheels or tables. Move it to your assigned shelf. Always remove boards and bats from your work when it is dry. Wash the boards and bats when you have finished using them and put them back in their proper locations. 
  4. Never touch anyone else’s property. 
  5. When you come into the studio you will fill your bucket with clean water and begin by wiping down your clay tools and making sure you have all of them available. You will end class the same way, wiping down all of the tools and the wheel to make sure you are not leaving clay dust behind.
  6. Everything in the studio has an assigned spot. Please do your best to return things to where they belong.
  7. Keep track of your work throughout the process. Leave your in process work covered with plastic on your shelf to keep it from drying out between classes. Your vessels will dry out between classes and be unworkable if left uncovered. 
  8. KILNS: When your work is ready to go in the kiln for the first time, you will place it on the rack in the kiln room labeled, “GREENWARE: FIRST FIRING.” Once fired, it will be moved to the “BISQUEWARE” shelves. It is your responsibility to locate your work and prepare it for glazing. The process will be demonstrated in class, but you will use your class time and/or outside of class time to glaze your work. Bisqueware that has glaze applied should be put back in the kiln room on the lower shelves of the metal rack labeled “GLAZED WORK.” Once fired, work will be placed on the upper shelves. You will be responsible for collecting your work, photographing it to submit to assignments, and eventually wrapping it up to bring home at the end of the semester. 


Additional Resources: 

ceramics art network

access ceramics   

About Pottery

Big Ceramics Store Tips!

Course Summary:

Date Details Due