Slab built ceramics – responding to place with Anna Lambert

Pottery and ceramics

Ref: S5D11373

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About this course

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

Course Description

Embrace the location of West Dean Gardens, as you learn how to use drawing to develop designs for simple slab built ceramic platters and bowls. You will be guided to gather visual information and ideas using note-taking and drawing.

You will also experiment with and practise 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; sgraffito drawing. You will be encouraged to find a combination of techniques that appeals to you. Using your drawings and tests, you 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 your 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, (plus a camera if wanted); 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 or bowl, or a non-functional piece, which represents your ideas about the local landscape. Pieces will be finished to leather-hard stage and can be left at the College, 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 West Dean Gardens 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 or by the tutor): small pointed vegetable knife. Old credit cards or scrapers, J cloths, small sponge, water sprayer, potter’s needle, hake brushes of various sizes, heat gun
  • Ruler
  • Drawing materials and sketchbook. Items for making bold marks are good
  • Box, plastic bags and paper, for transporting pieces home

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
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. 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.


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

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