Discover creative making, using stoneware and Raku clays, and the excitement of the Raku glaze firing. You are able to focus on throwing or hand-building techniques or both as you wish. Ideas are developed combining design and form with the practical aspects of pottery.
Raku is a Japanese technique originally developed for making the tea ceremony wares but adapted in the West for a broader usage. Pots are glazed and decorated outdoors and then fired in a hot kiln to 1000c. After firing, the pots are plunged into sawdust and water to achieve the exciting Raku effects. We also use other post-firing techniques.
Develop your skills and ideas with one-to-one tuition and advice. Raku pieces will be made in the first two days then biscuit fired ready for glazing and firing using outdoor Raku firing methods, a process that is physically active, yet exciting.
The first evening session starts with a short introductory talk and discussion followed by a practical session on clay preparation (wedging and kneading). The tutor will give a couple of demonstrations and the evening will end with a short audio visual presentation of the Raku firing process.
If you are beginning your experience of working with clay, the emphasis will be on getting the feel for clay and making. This will include clay preparation, making thumb/pinch pots, learning the hand-building techniques of coiling and slabbing and simple decoration. There may be opportunities to try out the potters wheel. If you already possess technical skills you will be encouraged to further develop these skills and your creative ideas.
Further audio visual sessions will take place as relevant to the course mainly in the evenings.
The two kilns we use for the Raku firings are gas fired. One of the gas kilns has been built by ourselves, and you will have the option of learning how it has been constructed on day three. Kiln plans, material lists and glaze recipes will be available.
The work for the Raku firings is made on the first two days of the course. While this is drying and being biscuit fired, on day three, you can expect to continue with finishing work, along with preparing for and learning about the outdoor processes. The glazing and Raku firings take place on the last two days: four and five.
IMPORTANT PLEASE NOTE:
The Raku firings can be very physical, active and tiring, yet an exciting process. It is essential that all students are able to participate with this aspect of the course as part of a team, so you need to be fit and able to do so.
The Raku site is in the sculpture courtyard, 10 minutes walk from the College’s pottery. Only work made during this course can be Raku fired during the course, to ensure that Raku firing sessions can end at 6pm on Thursday. This course ends at 5pm on the final day.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study.
Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.