Out of Mud and Back Again

by Ceramics

By Ceramic Instructor Forrest SnyderOn a rainy Thursday afternoon, 15 anthropology students, their TAs, and faculty members Patricia Capone, Diana Loren and Christina Hodge moved their studies across campus and over the river to the Ceramics Program. The anthro students had been cleaning, classifying and examining artifacts for Archaeology Harvard Yard II: Laboratory Methods. As good as they had become at identifying bits of Wedgewood china, utilitarian crockery and colonial tobacco pipe pieces, they lacked the hands-on knowledge of how the work might have been made.The Ceramics Program developed an afternoon workshop with four experiential stations that highlighted areas of ceramic making in order to reinforce their prior discoveries. Forrest Snyder gave the students a "kitchen chemistry" spiel about making clay bodies and had everyone make a small batch of clay that they eventually molded into a pinch pot. Shawn Panepinto and Delanie Wise demonstrated and assisted students in throwing cylinders on a potters wheel and attaching handles to mugs. Kathy King demonstrated timeless glaze printing and image transfers while also showing the students how to carve through colored slip tiles or decorate with trails of slip. Crystal Ribich talked to the students about traditional salt glazing techniques and kilns, and led them in trying their hands at using cobalt wash decoration on unglazed and tin glazed pottery.All of these stations reflected aspects of the pottery the students had excavated from Harvard Yard. With the total experience under 90 minutes, Diana Loren commented that, "...the students were buzzing from the experience."