ARTS474 Advanced Ceramics, Lisa Nocentini, Fall 2019 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTS474 Advanced Ceramics, Lisa Nocentini, Fall 2019

The SACI advanced ceramics course is designed for those students who are capable of working almost completely independently. They need to possess a high level of technical skill and competence and a clear idea of their aims for the semester.

Advanced ceramics students are expected to strive for quality. This means pushing idea limits, refining skills, understanding the behavior of ceramic materials and processes, creating an original and personal vocabulary in clay.

In the SACI ceramics studio we use clays and glazing materials that are traditional in the Mediterranean area (low temperature earthenware). Advanced students are expected to gain knowledge and awareness of the historical background and of the aesthetic potential of this traditional ware.

A complete body of significant, original and personal work is expected from an advanced student at the end of the semester.


After a discussion with the instructor each student will be required to submit a written study proposal with attached sketches of the planned project/s and planned dates.

Critiques & Requirements

Formal critiques will be held on:
- Tuesday, October 3 – First critique
- Thursday, October 24  – Midterm critique
- Thursday, November 21  – Third critique
- Thursday, December 19 – Final critique

Before the end of the semester advanced students will have to write a short essay on the development of their work during the semester, on influences, changes, directions that he/she may have taken. This essay will be presented during the final critique.

Working only during class hours will not be sufficient to complete the amount of work expected from an advanced student. Therefore he/she is advised to allot at least 10 extra hours per week outside of regular class time to working with clay and glazing.

Graduate Students
Students in MFA, MA, and Post-Bac programs are expected to complete additional assignments and to produce work at a level appropriate for students in a graduate program. They are graded accordingly and, if they successfully complete all course requirements for graduate students, receive graduate-level credit for the course.

Sketchbook: Students will be required to keep a sketchbook for class. Its purpose is to document ideas and artistic development. It will be a most useful tool in helping students to work out ideas and plans before starting projects, and during them. The sketchbook/journal will be checked on a regular basis and will be part of the final presentation.

Students are strongly recommended to take advantage of the ceramic books and publications (Ceramic Review, Ceramics Monthly, and Pottery Making Illustrated) that we have in the library.

Field Trips and Special Activities

Tuesday, September 17 – Field trip to visit the room of the Majolicas (historical Italian pottery from the 14th to the 18th centuries) at the Bargello Museum.

Tuesday, November 19 – Raku firing field trip to La Meridiana International School of Ceramics (Certaldo). Advanced students can participate if their schedule allows. If an advanced student has never participated in a Raku firing before, he/she is required to take part in the field trip.

Possible field trip, if time allows, to visit another local ceramic studio.

Cleaning Up

Each student will be responsible for cleaning personal and shared areas and should make the process of recycling clay as easy as possible by following the rules posted in the recycling area.
You are expected to put back all materials used (stored in bins, jars or bags) to their original storage cabinets after use. Floors need to be left free of objects so that the cleaning staff can vacuum the studio area.

If we all do this we will have an efficient and safe place to work. A messy, dusty studio is a HEALTH HAZARD for everyone.

Being messy and not cleaning up will affect your grade.

General Safety & Emergency Instructions

Click here for a pdf of SACI's General Safety & Emergency Instructions.

Additional Studio & Safety Rules

Do NOT use machinery unless you have been instructed in its use by the instructor of this course. 

  • Access to the ceramics studio is allowed only to students enrolled in the class.
  • Always clean up at the end of class: do not leave without cleaning up your working space (table or wheel, tools and plastic containers), and putting away all tools and materials used.
  • Do not leave clay bags or clay bins open.
  • Dust formation should be kept to a minimum: do not let pieces of clay or clay slop fall on the floor (if this happens, clean it up immediately).
  • Do not use sand paper on raw clay.
  • Always use a dust mask if you have to sand bisqued clay or if you have to use colors and glazes in dry powder form.
  • Always use a protective dust mask and/or gloves whenever a particular glazing material's composition requires you to do so. In any case always follow your teacher's instructions.
  • Do not leave glaze bins or color containers open and always put them back in their storage area (inside the cabinets).
  • The glaze sprayer can only be used outside in the garden.
  • Wear a dust mask provided by SACI when you use the glaze sprayer.
  • Wear gloves provided by SACI when using the kilns.
  • Do not smoke, eat or drink in the ceramics studio.
  • Do not wear flip-flops in class - only safe, closed shoes.
  • Never touch kilns unless authorized by the instructor.
  • Do not keep your cell phones on during class.

Evaluation & Grading

Work will be evaluated during midterm and final critiques. Keep in mind that grading of studio work is necessarily a subjective process; however, the following points will give you an idea of the criteria I have in mind and their relative importance in determining a grade:

1) Generally, I will be looking for evidence of involvement with the problems presented, the dedication and effort applied to them, and the quality of their solutions.

2) In the ceramic process, problems of aesthetics and design are inseparable from the craft techniques that express them. A well-crafted work by itself does not constitute a work of art, but a great concept cannot be expressed without adequate technical skill. Workmanship therefore is an important part of the final grade.

3) I will appreciate evidence of original thinking and awareness of the possibilities of the medium.

4) Individual research is also very important and its quantity and quality will influence an advanced student's grade.

5) Proper handling of studio tools and equipment and correct safety and maintenance procedures are considered. Participation in studio maintenance and cleaning up are essential.

6) Participation in the critiques and the capability to verbalize ideas and concepts 

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