Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Clive Bell, the English critic's statement that “We must bring with us our knowledge of space if we are to make the most of every kind of form," was indicative of at least a part of the problem of this study to attempt to achieve excellence of form and ornamentation of handbuilt ceramic pieces. This study was the result of the writer having employed the handbuilt method of forming ceramic pieces for approximately two years and after having tried other methods with a lesser degree of success in achieving individuality of form. The writer felt that the development of a form and its proper ornamentation could be most successfully done by limiting the scope of the creative study in the following ways: 1. Using one style or type of form and each piece being created with the objective of keeping it related in shape and/or design to all the others in this study. 2. Applying only the handbuilt method of forming, commonly referred to as "the pinch method". 3. Confining ornamentation primarily to the use of stoneware matt glazes #1, #2, and #3 combined with the 2 use of metal filings and/or metallic oxides placed in the clay before forming, added to the bisque fired surface, or on or within the glaze itself. Sgraffito designs either on the leather-hard surface or on the unfired glaze were used in some instances. 4. Using only stoneware No. 5 clay body and reduction firing of glazes, as opposed to oxidation firing, predominating throughout. By the process of reduction firing, in which the amount of oxygen in the kiln atmosphere is reduced at certain stages of the glaze firing, thereby robbing some of the oxygen from the glazes and/or clay body materials themselves, together with the use of metals and metallic oxides the most desirable ornamentation and glaze surfaces were achieved. Development of the form in this study presented many interesting challenges as the writer felt that by limiting the style or shape to the two and three-sided form, one could develop greater perfection or excellence of line and design. By limiting the materials used both in the clay bodies and in the glazed ornamentation, as well as the method of forming the pieces, it was felt that more proficiency could be achieved in the mechanics of the 3 process, thereby enabling the writer to reach a greater degree of excellence in form and ornamentation. The handbuilt method of forming these ceramic pieces was used because the writer felt that this technique afforded the best possibility of achieving the desired result. Each piece was first conceived by drawing or sketching on paper. By using the handbuilt method of forming, a nearer representation of the drawing could be reached. It is this writer's opinion that there are unlimited possibilities in the number of variations of a single type of form that are attainable. The limitations of reduction fired glazes in conjunction with metallic oxides and other forms of metallic compounds are unknown, but can produce the most gratifying results.


Dr. Joel C. Moss

Date of Award

Summer 1963

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


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