Pottery and ceramics

Glazes, glazing and firing for potters with Alison Sandeman

Ref: S5D09261


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About this course

Learn the all-important glazing and firing processes to complete your pottery. Please bring biscuit-fired test pieces suitable for 1260–1280 degrees C.

Course Description

Learn the all-important processes to complete your pottery, through theoretical and practical sessions on stoneware and earthenware glazes, glazing techniques and kiln packing and firing. Please bring biscuit-fired test pieces suitable for 1260-1280°C.

Gain a thorough grounding in glazes, glazing and firing. This is ideal for those who have already done some pottery, but may be a beginner in glazing and firing. The tutor will liaise with you in advance to discuss your needs (please see below).

For the first two days we will discuss and learn about stoneware glazes and their application, balancing the theoretical and the practical. You can focus on only stoneware or earthenware or both. We then move on to kilns, packing and firing. The electric and gas kilns will be available and, under the tutor's guidance, you will be encouraged to pack and fire the kilns yourselves, depending on your particular interests. Please bring your own biscuit-fired pots, suitable for stoneware or earthenware firings. You may like to make your own test pieces in advance. These can be small tiles or small pots, preferably numbered. There will be pots and test pieces available for those unable to bring any.

While the kilns are firing and cooling the course continues with demonstrations, practical work and group question and answer sessions. We will cover aspects of decorating; particularly brushwork and wax resist. As well as health and safety, we will also cover the maintenance and buying of kilns, including types, designs, and fuels.

Non-residential students may like to note that the structure and content of the course requires work to continue on most evenings. You can book and pay for additional dinners on the first morning of the course at the Reception desk.

At the end of the course you should feel a lot more confident and be familiar with the theory and the practical sides of glazing and firing. You will also know how and where to go for more information.

Alison Sandeman sees the glazing, kiln packing and firing parts of the pottery process as exciting and full of challenges. She enjoys sharing these aspects in a simple and clear way with much attention to detail.


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


  • The cost of all clay, glazing and firing costs (large work in size and quantity may be charged extra).

What students need to bring

  • Clean overall/apron
  • Old towel
  • Cardboard boxes are useful for finished pots
  • Books of interest
  • Calculator
  • Biscuit fired pots up to 10" high made from stoneware clays
  • Digital scales
  • Approx. 20 clean jam jars + lids
  • You are also encouraged to bring previously fired pots that may be of interest to the group. These may have unusual glaze effects or faults that will help group discussion and research.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pottery tools including pottery knife
  • Lined notebook or ring binder and file paper
  • Wood or plastic ruler
  • Natural sponge
  • Watercolour paint brushes and/or oriental brushes
  • Biscuit-fired pots and test pieces

Please note: please email bookingsoffice@westdean.org.uk at least two 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. Course reading list: For those interested in reading any books before the course, the following may be in your public library. All the books in the list below will be available at West Dean College. Craft of the Potter by Michael Casson (BBC Publications) The Potters Manual by Kenneth Clark (McDonalds) The Complete Potter's Companion by Tony Birks (Conran Octopus) Glazes and Glazing by Greg Daly (A & C Black) Clay and Glazes for the Potter by Daniel Rhodes (Pitman Publishing) Stoneware Glazes - A Systematic Approach by Ian Currie The Glaze Book by Stephen Murfitt Colour in Glazes by Linda Bloomfield. The Handbook of Glaze Recipes by Linda Bloomfield (Bloomsbury) Cone 6 Glazes by Mike Bailey. ( Ceramic skillbook series) The Potter's Book of Glaze Recipes by Emmanuel Cooper 10,000 Years of Pottery by Emmanuel Cooper (British Museum Press) If you want to have your own copies of any of the glaze recipe books numbers 4, 7, 9, 10, & 11, they can all be purchased second hand on the internet.


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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