The Expressive Vessel: An Immersive Introduction to Clay

Course Description

Students will learn to make and to analyze functional ceramic forms, with a focus on wheel-thrown pottery.  Studio time will be dedicated to the acquisition and refinement of shaping, marking/glazing and finishing skills; supplementary lectures and discussions will be used to explore the aesthetic range of contemporary studio ceramics as well as major historical traditions in clay.  No prior experience is necessary, but instructors will work individually with students at all levels of ability to make this Arts Intensive experience both challenging and rewarding.  Each student will produce functional ware (e.g. dishes, cups, vases, et cetera) suitable for use and display and will give a final class presentation on a selection of their most personally expressive work.

This class will take place in Elliot Program Center in collaboration with the Stanford Ceramics Club.

This course fulfills the Creative Expression (CE) requirement.


Hideo Mabuchi (Professor of Applied Physics) leads a scientific research group that pursues projects ranging from quantum engineering to single-molecule biophysics, and in recent years has developed substantial new engagements in ceramic art and science.  His studio practice focuses on thrown functional forms for atmospheric firings; he has been studying Japanese ceramic traditions, American studio ceramics, and craft theory; he is intrigued by the complex relationships among art, craft, science, design and engineering.  He is beginning to explore the use of modern analytic techniques such as laser spectroscopy and electron microscopy to understand microscopic processes involved in the creation of wood-fired ceramic surfaces.  Lately he has been finding creative inspiration in the works of Don Reitz, Frank Boyden and Robert Turner.


Deardra Fuzzell, Cartographic Technology Specialist for Stanford University Libraries, manages an Oversized Imaging Lab for Stanford and works with Curators and the Digital Production Group to coordinate the digitization of the Branner Earth Sciences Library Map Collection and Donor owned Historic and Antiquarian Map Collections (Digital Philanthropy). She holds a B.A. in Studio Art with a focus on Sculpture and Ceramics from The College of Wooster in Northeast Ohio. Deardra has been making ceramic work for 12 years and has been teaching techniques in clay for 7 years. Her practice focuses mainly on thrown and altered sculptural forms evocative of growth and sprouting and she is fascinated by alternative firing techniques such as pit firing and sawdust firing. She lives in Palo Alto.