Pottery and ceramics

Surface safari – decorative ceramic techniques with Jenny Mendes

Ref: S5D09926

Suitable for all

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About this course

Discover the magic of painting on a three-dimensional surface while investigating personal style through hand building ceramics followed by an intensive investigation of the decorated surface. Create rich and varied decorative surfaces using a palette of terra sigillatas, brushwork techniques, scrafitto and inlay.

Course Description

There can be magic in painting on a three-dimensional canvas much unlike a flat surface. Discover and honour your inner voice while investigating personal style through hand building low temperature ceramics and an intensive investigation of the decorated surface.

You will begin by making a series of pieces either sculptural or functional. Later in the week this work will be decorated in a way that shares equal time and attention to the finishing, as well as to the making. Our aim will be to marry form with surface in a way that expresses the special vision of each maker. Basic hand building methods of coiling, pinching, slab work and carving, will be demonstrated and applied to create sculptural or functional work during the initial days of the course.

Brushwork technique will be demonstrated primarily, as well as scrafitto and inlay to create rich and varied surfaces. You will then spend intensive time diving into surface decoration which is the focus and intention of this course.

Interspersed during the days of making will be discussion and demonstration of different painting techniques and strategies as we consider ways of thinking about how to complete the surface of our works – brushwork will be the primary method used. Various colourful ways to approach the surface of our work as a painter, by means of a palette of terra sigillatas, underglaze, washes and oxides will be demonstrated. You will learn a low-tech method of making terra sigilatta, and emphasis will be on creating a relaxed and rich environment where people can play with colour, texture and imagery and be inspired by the surrounding landscape to create something new and visionary in their work. Other techniques including scrafitto, inlay, and printing techniques will be demonstrated and discussed as well.

By the end of the class, you will have finished several works and have laid down a foundation to create a whole series based on techniques taught during the workshop.


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


  • Included in the fee for this course is the cost of all clay, glazing and firing costs (large work in size and quantity may be charged extra).

What students need to bring

  • While the tutor is an advocate of preparation, she also recognises in her own work, the best of it comes from being in the moment, focus, dedicated time, and responding to the environment no matter what you may have planned out. So it is recommended that you bring anything that inspires you, books, sketchbooks, research, images of your own work, small objects of inspiration, and/or anything you would like to share with the group.
  • Please also bring overalls and old towel.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pottery tools, pottery knife
  • Rough paper or sketch pad, and pencil
  • Wood or plastic ruler and plastic set square
  • Natural sponge
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.


Jenny Mendes

Jenny has been working with ceramics professionally for over 25 years combining her love of clay and painting. She works as a fulltime maker and has taught workshops across the United States, as well as participated in ceramic residencies in France, Slovenia, Latvia, Turkey The Netherlands, and Serbia.


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

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