Faculty of Art Ceramics Course

Ceramics Course

The most beautiful shape constructed with clay

Clay, fire, and hands. Ceramics is an art form based on very simple materials and tools. Entwined with the unique creativity of an individual artist and the local conditions, ceramic work based on different techniques, creative expression, and regional features is created all over the world. Because this is an art form closely connected to nature, the scope of creative outlet expands beyond the direct control of the artist.

To shape the image into actual form, students learn different techniques, including hand shaping, casting, the potter’s wheel, and tatara smelting. It is also important for students to come into close contact with a variety of different clays, to understand their different characteristics and how to best utilize them. There are unlimited types of glaze, which determine color and texture, and also different kilns, including gas, electric, and noborigama (climbing kilns) that all have differing firing methods and temperatures that influence the results. Students experience each technique in detail. Getting the result you want is very difficult even after you have knowledge and an extensive grasp of technique, because clay breathes and fire is alive. This is what makes ceramics truly interesting.

Students get to grips with clay and fire through hands-on sessions, covering themselves with sweat and mud. When you take your ceramics out of a kiln, the shape of your work may be more beautiful than you originally imagined. Its color and texture may be greater than you expected. You have never seen anything like this. Whether a bowl or sculpture, this is your most beautiful artwork in the world. Enjoy creating the most beautiful shapes in the world out of clay.

Four years in the Ceramics Course

  • 1st Year

    Learning techniques as if you were an apprentice

    Different forming methods are suited to achieving a variety of colors and shapes. The first year students learn foundational techniques, from hand-shaping and the potter’s wheel to plastering, while also cultivating their creative skills. Students study each technique intensively for five weeks in rotation. Under the guidance of professional ceramic artists specialized in the respective techniques, students learn top-class technique as a part of the on-campus potter tutorship program. This provides students with opportunities to learn techniques and to see professional production methods at first hand, as well as a ceramicist’s philosophy, in an actual studio. Students experience pottery processes, including bisque, glazing, and glost firing, and then create items utilizing each technique, from everyday bowls to giant sculptures.

    Students are also taught by their professors about the history of each technique in order to understand the background of their ceramics work. For instance, in the classes on hand-shaping technique, through thinking about the distinctive decoration of prehistoric Jomon ware, students try to express the vitality embedded in the ceramics.

    The course offers classes focusing on sketching, which are helpful for giving form to an image, and advanced computer skills, necessary for giving presentations. Students acquire the foundational ability to support their future creative activities.

    1st year
    1st Year Goals
    Learning the basic techniques of shaping from professionals, while creating work with an awareness of philosophy.
  • 2nd Year

    Difficulty and fascination—two sides of the same coin

    In their second year, students develop the basic techniques introduced in the first year. Reprising and practicing these skills, students improve on the quality of their technique. Exploring the aspects they are good at and polishing them further contributes to advancing the general quality of their work.

    In addition to working on the methods of shaping, the second year sees students improving their comprehensive production ability through learning firing and glazing. Students practice in full-scale facilities equipped with drying ovens, glazing facilities, four gas kilns, and six electric kilns. The firing process is particularly difficult: The slightest change in heating temperature turns your work into something completely different to what you originally intended. However, at the same time, students can be rewarded with unexpected masterpieces. The color and shape created by accident reveal both the challenge and appeal of ceramics. At the end of the year, students exhibit their works at an off-campus gallery for year-end assessment. Through exhibition planning and designing promotional materials, students acquire awareness of presenting their work professionally.

    The course features classes that investigate the special qualities of clay as a material. Students also learn casting techniques using materials other than clay, such as metal and glass, in order to become aware of differences between materials.

    2nd year
    2nd Year Goals
    Improving the quality of your work, learning techniques of casting glass and metal, and understanding the special qualities of clay.
  • 3rd Year

    Tackling the challenge of the noborigama climbing kiln, the dream kiln for ceramic artists

    Third year students learn other techniques that expand the scope of their creativity, such as casting, large-scale potter’s wheels, and overglazing with silkscreen, grasping the key to “unrestrained ceramic artistry.” This learning enables students to decide their focus for their independent creative work, including their graduation projects in the fourth year.

    The most memorable event during the third year is the module where students practice using the noborigama climbing kiln, which takes place during summer vacation at SEIKA’s Kutsuki Seminar House. Noborigama is a traditional firing method using firewood. With temperatures inside the kiln at 1,230℃ (2,246°F), students fire a large quantity of ceramics while covering them with ashes. Although this technique is difficult, it is also fascinating because the ceramics change color according to the temperature, the types of firewood, and the ashes. Students come to understand the mechanisms of fire, air, and high-temperature firing through four nights and five days of practical experience.

    As few universities have a noborigama, students will greatly benefit from this practice with the climbing kiln, the origin of ceramics, when creating subsequent work.

    3rd year
    3rd Year Goals
    Obtaining advanced techniques and starting individual production work. Learning the genesis of ceramics through practicing with a climbing kiln.
  • 4th Year

    Creating the most beautiful work in the world with your own hands

    In preparation for their graduation projects, students deepen the techniques and creativity they obtained in the last three years while building up their individual styles as they experiment with new creative methods. Students aim to materialize the images they have in their minds as ceramic art.

    The types of graduation projects vary immensely, including ceramic sculptures with an emphasis on beautiful shapes, a small space studded with star-shaped ceramic lamps made by casting, a jar imbued with traditional glaze and the warmth of clay, and even a small house furnished with ceramic kotatsu (Japanese feet warmer) and bookshelves.

    The journey to reach this point is far from easy: Four years on the course means tackling clay and fire, two things very difficult to manipulate. But students can create artworks, the crystallization of their aesthetic sense, only after such training. Create what you believe to be most beautiful in the world.

    4th year
    4th Year Goals
    Deepening the techniques obtained during the three years, materializing personal images into ceramic artworks.

Career paths after graduating from the Ceramics Course

The Ceramic Course is about shaping clay into forms. Here students actively engage with both hands-on techniques and philosophy. What they acquire during the four years of study is the ability to shape an idea into solid form. Utilizing their abilities to plan and shape, some students go on to do planning and design work at manufacturing companies, while others continue in ceramics by working at potteries, or working as artists. There are also many graduates who create artworks while working in different jobs during the day.

Career choices

  • Ceramic artist
  • Jewelry and knickknacks designer
  • Working at a traditional craft studio
  • Studying ceramics further on a graduate program or at a specialized ceramics school

Other career options

  • Art educator
  • Interior designer
  • Curator
  • Materials buyer
  • Product designer etc.

Ceramics Course Faculty Members (in Japanese)