Pottery and ceramics

Slab built ceramics – responding to place with Anna Lambert

Ref: S5D09426

Suitable for all

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About this course

Working from the Sussex landscape surrounding West Dean, develop simple slab built ceramic platters and wall pieces. Discover ways to build layered surfaces with tonal and coloured slips, using your own hand cut stencils, stamps and sgraffitto designs.

Course Description

Working from the Sussex chalk landscape surrounding West Dean, learn how to use drawing to develop designs for simple slab built ceramic platters, bowls and wall pieces. We will explore the local landscape on a walk; you will be guided to gather visual information and ideas about their impressions of the chalk downs surrounding West Dean using note taking and drawing.

We will also experiment with and practice the use of various mark-making techniques for use with tonal and coloured slips: relief embossing with lino; hand cut paper stencils; stamping using hand cut and found items; sgraffitto drawing. Each student will be encouraged to find a combination of techniques that appeals to them. Using our drawings and tests, we will progress to a series of simple hand built forms, followed by a longer study to develop ideas, using drawn and relief representations of landscape in clay.

There will be short practical demonstrations for each technique used and group discussions to encourage the generation of ideas and problem solving. Individual practical instruction and support will be tailored to each student's needs as the project develops. Techniques covered will include clay slab rolling and hand-building; painting with multiple layers of slips; making hand cut stencils and stamps, simple lino cutting; use of texture; producing a good finish on rims and feet.

Materials used will be pencil and crayons, graphite sticks or sharpies for drawing, white earthenware clay mixed with Earthstone ES40 and coloured slips.

By the end of the course, you will have completed a major hand-built ceramic piece - a large platter, bowl, or a non-functional piece, which represents their ideas about the local landscape. Pieces will be finished to leatherhard stage and can be left at West Dean or taken home for glazing and firing.

On the first evening, there will be a presentation about the use of drawing and landscape in ceramics, and a discussion about the timing of the various aspects of the course. Weather permitting, the second day will start with a short walk in the Sussex Downs, with note taking and quick sketches. Please bring appropriate clothing.


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 clay/glazing materials and firing costs of work made - large work in size and quantity may be charged extra.

What students need to bring

  • Warm clothing and shoes suitable for a short walk
  • An apron
  • Any pottery tools you wish to use (optional - some are supplied in the workshop) cutting wire, small pointed vegetable knife
  • Clean canvas cloth/J cloths
  • Small sponge, water sprayer, potters needle, jar or plastic pot, slurry brush
  • Hake brushes or soft mop brushes for slips
  • Small sharp scissors or scalpel
  • Ruler
  • Box, plastic bags and paper, for transporting pieces home
  • Camera (optional)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Drawing paper (min A4), small sketchbooks, and pencils/felt tip pens/other drawing implements: Sharpies, coloured pencils or graphite sticks
  • Pottery tools, pottery knife
  • Soft Cut lino sheets
  • Lino cutting tools
  • Available from tutor:
  • High grade tissue paper
  • Coloured slips

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.


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

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