Sculpting animals in clay with Jon Barrett-Danes

Pottery and ceramics Modelling, casting and other techniques

Ref: S5D11490

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About this course

Immerse yourself in the Barrett-Danes family's tradition in ceramics as you learn how to create vivid animal forms using a range of pottery techniques. Studying the unique characteristics of each animal, you will complete two sculptures, wall-mounted heads or headed pots.

Course Description

Learn how to make medium-sized animals (up to about 50cm in height) using coiling and other hand-building techniques. We will focus on farm animals such as pigs, chickens and sheep, but you can work on any other animals you wish, using the same way of working. You will be aiming to capture the character of the animal rather than build a factual representation or copy, and we will be looking at various ways of achieving this, including using different tools to create surface textures and finishes.

The course is suitable for beginners as well as those with more experience in clay modelling. You will be taught how to build animals from the legs up, including suitable plinths or bases if required. As well as the techniques involved in modelling animals, you will develop an appreciation of the medium, including the timing of the different stages of construction and when to stop.

If time allows, we will also work on simple press moulds. You will learn how to make a small model suitable for press moulding and will create a one or two-piece plaster mould from it.

You should bring plenty of source material including photographs, drawings, small models and even plastic toy farm animals. These will be very important to work from throughout the course.

Everyone will complete at least one animal, and most can expect to finish two or more, depending on size.


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

  • Photographs you may have taken with the specific use to work from them. Pictures you may have found in books – this of course can be historical images (the tutor will also bring some). You could also make drawings from your own observations of animals, or even bring models of animals too. (To print photographs in the College computer suite costs 50p per A4 sheet).
  • A camera or ipad may also be useful.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Modelling 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 sculpture 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.


Jon Barrett-Danes

Jon Barrett-Danes specialises in modelling animals and thrown work. He trained at Bristol and has followed a family tradition spanning six generations of working with clay.


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

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