Plant sculptures – clay modelling techniques with Frances Doherty

Pottery and ceramics

Ref: S3D10870



About this course

Construct a sculpture inspired by natural forms using basic hand built forms and modelled components in repeating patterns, together with hand painted colouring products such as underglaze.

Course Description

You will learn to manipulate simple built clay forms, small rolled slabs and coils, and the use of different modelling techniques. Colour and texture can be added during the construction process. The tutor will demonstrate a variety of construction methods, together with hand painted colouring products such as underglaze. Various texturing tools that can be found in the home and garden will help you to build up your sculpture.

You will learn to develop an initial idea on paper through a small maquette and then translate these ideas into a realised sculptural form. You will move from two dimensions into three through the manipulation of simple built clay forms, small rolled slabs and coils, and the use of different modelling techniques.

The methods used will be hand built and manipulated forms with components modelled and added in repeating patterns, and colour and texture can be added during the construction process. You will start with hand pinched forms, of simple bowls and cylinders that can be added together then reformed to give you an internal shape on which to add your modelled components. These components will be formed by cutters, drawn templates and your fingers, and added to the basic form in repeating patterns.

During the first evening you will discuss the images that you have collected and plan your starting point for the next morning. The tutor will give a brief description of how to build up a form and how this can be applied to your designs.

By the end of the course you should have one or two small sculptures which will be finished to the point of only needing a biscuit firing and a clear glaze. You will also have developed a good understanding of the variety of methods and the different types of tools, from the kitchen as well as the pottery that can be used in conjunction with each other. You will have gained a knowledge of the various techniques needed to build form in a way to ensure a successful outcome.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • All clay, glazing and firing costs (large work in size and quantity may be charged extra).
  • Basic tool kits are provided in the pottery for use during the course

What students need to bring

  • Please collect some images that appeal to you from the natural world. Look for repetitive patterns (think about plants like zinnias, dahlias, pineapples, pine cones etc). If you like you can draw out how you think you might like to interpret these forms in clay, if not, don't worry, we can discuss this when you arrive.
  • Apron
  • Packaging materials if you plan to take your work home unfired
  • Drawing and sketching materials

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Thick paper or thin card to draw and cut out templates
  • Sketchbooks
  • Drawing materials
Firing and Glazing options: 1. Leave any raw, finished pieces that you wish to keep, for biscuit firing, basic glazing and re-firing by the College, for collection within six months. 2. Leave raw, finished pieces for biscuit firing at the College. You can then book a place on a Glazing Day and glaze your own work (allowing four weeks for your work to be biscuit fired). This work will be re-fired after glazing and available for collection within six months. 3. Take away your unfired pots for firing and glazing elsewhere.


Frances Doherty

Frances is a ceramicist and tutor with 15 years experience. She trained in 3D design at Brighton University and taught there, Northbrook college and HMP Ford. Her work is sold internationally at art fairs. She belongs to the Fiveways Artists Group, Brighton, opening her house to the public each May.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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