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The Elements and Principles of Design in Clay with Nick DeVries
The Elements and Principles of Design in Clay with Nick DeVries

The Elements and Principles of Design in Clay with Nick DeVries

In this workshop, Nick DeVries will teach various making approaches, largely stemming from the wheel, while immersing the teaching process and workshop in an exploration and understanding of design concepts.

Date & Time

Jul 21, 2024, 6:00 PM – Jul 26, 2024, 12:00 PM

Adamah Art Studios, 4681 Co Rd ZZ, Dodgeville, WI 53533, USA

About the Workshop

The basic or foundational concepts of design are often left out of ceramics learning at clay centers and workshops, often for good reason. There really is so much to learn when diving into the field of ceramics: throwing, hand building, slipping and scoring, altering work, glazing, firing. Beyond this there are a multitude of ways to teach how to create a handle, a lid, a gallery for a lid, a foot, how to apply slip, when to apply slip, what slip to apply for what kind of firing. Then there are clay bodies, glazes, firing temps, all sorts of kilns; the list goes on.

One thing that often gets overlooked are the basic building blocks of visual language; the elements and principles of design.

In this workshop Nick DeVries will teach a variety of making approaches, largely stemming from the wheel, while immersing the teaching process and workshop in an exploration and understanding of design concepts. Design concepts are touched on in the normal flow of any clay class. We might talk about color, or form, or the line of a spout; but by focusing on these concepts intentionally workshop participants will gain a stronger sense of how to apply these design tools in their own making practice.

Nick will take participants through discussions and examples of design concepts. Through demonstrations and making Nick will explain how he approaches making and design choices in his own making process; from the throwing of a pot all the way to the considerations at the trimming and finishing stages.

Conversations around color and glazing will be addressed but the main focus of the workshop will be making and finishing work. Participant will be able to bisque fire work the is dry and take the finished work home.

Adamah will provide:

  • 50lbs of stoneware clay. Porcelain and additional stoneware will be available for purchase.
  • Bisque firing during workshop
  • Basic throwing and hand-building tools

Participants should bring:

  • Any personal tools they wish to use during workshop
  • Boxes and wrapping for any pieces you make during the workshop

Artist Statement:

When I first started using clay as a creative vehicle, I did not realize that I had just stepped into an ancient ecosystem, teaming with knowledge, dynamism, and unfathomable depth. I was eighteen, ever the art kid, and clay was one of the last mediums I was interested in. While I was pursuing an art degree, clay seemed like it was always pulling at me: it was the one medium where the creative process, physical interaction, and self expression came together completely. Working in clay seemed to reveal itself to me. Rather than attempting to make it something, I was able to gain a stronger sense of who I was without trying to express myself too directly in the medium. This unintentional process continues in the studio to this day, and I have learned to accept it as an instinctive method, not to be interrupted or forced, but to be nurtured, explored and capitalized upon. I have learned to sense the subtle changes in my work; allowing these changes to guide me while I guide them is the essence of my creative process.

I work primarily on the wheel, making forms based in a tradition of function and use. I enjoy finding balance in my work through large areas of subtle texture balanced with small additions, stamps, and details. I also enjoy the challenge of creating tight, direct, unbroken lines balanced by a bit of looseness and spontaneous gestural marks. I often work in a reductive fashion, throwing heavier forms, altering them, and then carving and shaving the pieces away to reveal new forms. I bring all of these elements together with layered satin glazes that unify and accent these textures, lines, and marks.

Nature is a common influence in the lives of artists, and the same is true for me. I am interested in the ways in which we interact with nature, sometimes symbiotically and other times in contradictory ways. In this connection to nature I find a synergy between the natural ecosystem and the creative ecosystem, where the multitudes of nature and the thousands of years of clay overlap. This is a place where I am free to explore, and this exploration inevitably feeds back into both my work and life.

Finding this life as a potter has been a gift, and I am constantly striving to make pots that communicate a sense of balance and complexity, so that through my pots I may add something to this thriving ecosystem of life and clay.

To learn more about the artist visit:

IG: @devriespottery

This event has a group. You’re welcome to join the group once you register for the event.


  • Single Occupancy

    Private single room with private bathroom, linens included. Meals and #50 DSM clay are included.

  • Multiple Occupancy

    Shared room with private bathroom, linens included. If you do not indicate a roommate or come with a houseguest, you will be assigned a roommate prior to arrival. Meals and #50 DSM clay are included.

  • Commuter Rate

    The rate does not include lodging. Lunch will be provided daily. Additional meals are available for purchase. Please make arrangements in advance if you would like to add meals to your workshop. Lunches and #50 DSM clay are included.

  • Houseguest

    For anyone looking to join a workshop participant during their stay at Adamah without participating in a workshop. Meals and lodging are included. Come experience the beauty of Bethel Horizons property with over 7 miles of hiking and 5 miles of mountain biking trails. Relax and take in the breathtaking views and enjoy exploring Wisconsin's beautiful Driftless Area.




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