Pottery and ceramics

Throwing and turning for beginners with Alison Sandeman

Ref: SLW08979


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About this course

Experience throwing pots on your own potter's wheel with one-to-one tuition throughout the course, as you learn the techniques and processes for completing pots.

Course Description

The course provides an excellent opportunity for beginners to experience working (throwing) on a potter's wheel.

On the first evening we will start with an introductory talk and demonstration. This is followed by an introduction to clay preparation (kneading and wedging) and we finish the evening with a video or slides relevant to throwing.

On the first full day we start with the clay preparation and you will then spend the rest of the day learning and practicing throwing on the wheel. In the evening the tutor may show slides or a video relevant to the course. (Non-resident students may wish to book in for dinner via the Bookings Office prior to the course.)

On the subsequent days we continue with further throwing practice and cover the finishing processes of turning.

This course is limited to eight students with each having the use of a wheel for the whole weekend. You will be taught at your own individual level and encouraged to practice. The aim is for you to finish the course with 6-8 pots.


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 all clay, glazing and firing costs (large work in size and quantity may be charged extra).
  • Basic tool kits are provided in the Pottery for use during the course

What students need to bring

  • Overall and old towel
  • Books of interest
  • 15 Clean plastic shopping bags or white bin liners.

Available to buy

  • 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 4 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.

Course reading list: For those interested in reading any books before the course, the following may be in your public library: The Craft of the Potter by Michael Casson (BBC Publications) The Complete Potter's Companion by Tony Birks (Conan Octopus) The Techniques of Throwing by John Colbeck (Batsford Watson-Guptill) Throwing by Richard Phethean (Blandford) Throwing Pots by Phil Rogers (A & C Black) Pottery in the Making by Freestone and Gaimster (British Museum Press) 10,000 Years of Pottery by Emmanuel Cooper (British Museum Press) The Workshop Guide to Ceramics by Duncan Hooson and Tony Quinn (Thames and Hudson)


Alison Sandeman

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.


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

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