Mugs, jugs and flatware – a throwers' course with Alison Sandeman

Pottery and ceramics

Ref: S4D11514

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About this course

Ideal for those who want to improve and develop their throwing skills with handle making, exploring form, and increasing size. Learn how to get the most out of the clay, as traditionally mugs and jugs are made without the need to be turned.

Course Description

You can choose to work on mugs, jugs or flatware or all three. The tutor has a wide-reaching experience in throwing functional ware and will be on hand to guide and encourage you in these techniques. She will also guide your decision on size and shape to work on initially, according to your level of experience. You must already be able to centre and throw a reasonable cylinder.

For consistency of size and shape, those that wish to can work to a pot gauge for the mugs. For the jugs, there will be an emphasis on combining functionality with form. For the more experienced, the challenge of tackling flatware: plates, platters, supper dishes, and low cooking ware may be daunting but the process can be very satisfying, giving confidence to future projects.

The first evening session will start with an introductory talk, followed by looking at and handling historical and contemporary examples of thrown pots relating to the course. The tutor will finish the evening with a throwing demonstration.

On the first two days of the course, we will concentrate on throwing. Turning, pulling handles and applying them to the pots will be the main focus of day three, with time for throwing as well. You will learn various handle making techniques including pulling on the pot, lugs and using an extruder. The tutor will demonstrate all techniques throughout the course. Following this, the tutor will cover plates and platters of various sizes, supper dishes, pasta dishes, and low, open serving or cooking dishes, with side handles or lugs. Earthenware and stoneware ovenproof clays will be available. On the final day, there will be a focus on finishing the pots, discussion on glazing and finishing with a group review.


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 until 9pm, 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


  • The cost of clay/glazing materials and firing costs of work made – large work in size and quantity may be charged extra.

What students need to bring

  • It is good, but not essential, to come with some ideas, photos or sketches for the functional pots you wish to make
  • Pottery tools, pottery knife, if you have them (basic pottery tools are also provided in the studio)
  • Rough paper or sketch pad, and pencil
  • Apron or overall
  • Old towel. Roll of white bin liners, and cardboard boxes if taking raw pots away.
  • Books of interest, images or pots of interest: personal or by other potters.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pottery tools, pottery knife
  • Sketchpads
  • Wood or plastic ruler
  • Callipers (metal or plastic)
  • Natural sponge
  • Apron
Please note: Each student will have the use of a wheel for the whole course. Students are taught at their own individual level, encouraged to practise, and are introduced to new ideas and methods of making, where appropriate. Please email at least three weeks before the start date of your course with your name, details of the course you are attending (ie course ref, title and dates) and your telephone number so that the tutor can contact you to discuss the course and answer any queries you may have. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. You may need safety boots, if specified above.


Alison Sandeman

Alison Sandeman is a long-standing tutor at West Dean. She makes functional individual pieces in stoneware, porcelain and Raku. She has a special interest in outdoor firing techniques.


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

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