We have a ceramics department, so I try not to "get in the way" of what they do, but I feel it's important to expose my sculpture students to clay as a sculptural option. We have done wire, wood, plaster, metal, found objects, and more, but I like to include clay in one project. Because it's a one-off project I do not buy a lot of colors, we just use clear and push the idea of form and texture. In the past I have done memorial pinch-pot bells, with symbols and shapes for someone who has passed or to commemorate a future event you hope to achieve. They always come out well, but I wanted to switch it up a bit.
They created 3 sample pinch pots before the project was presented. One a bit more challenging than the last. Each was recycled and wedged back into raw clay. They learned to slip and score to attach pieces along the way. Once the basics were understood the assignment was to make a cup that was surreal or expressive in some personal way. It did not have to be functional, and could be designed in such a way as to be completely unusable.
The results were fun, playful, and broad. No cookie-cutter cups here. For many of these students it is their first art class since elementary school, most never used clay before, but the exposure was worthwhile and I think a few might try ceramics next year.