Throwing and turning with Alison Sandeman

Pottery and ceramics

Ref: SLW11694

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About this course

Explore working on the potter's wheel and, whatever your level of experience, develop your skills in making (throwing) and finishing (turning) pots. Enjoy exclusive use of your own potter's wheel during the course.

Course Description

This course is suitable for all abilities. You will be taught throwing skills appropriate to your level of experience and encouraged to practise. New ideas and methods of making will also be introduced.

For beginners: The course provides an excellent opportunity for beginners to experience working (throwing) on the potter's wheel. On the first evening, we start with clay preparation (kneading and wedging), and the tutor will give a throwing demonstration for all. On the next day, after a short demonstration, you will start learning to throw. On the last day, we will cover the finishing processes of turning, but allowing time for further throwing practice for those who have time. You are likely to finish with 8 to 10 pots.

For those with some experience: The course is also ideal for those who want to improve and develop their throwing skills. This includes making different shapes, increasing size, and learning to get the most out of the clay. Throwing knobs on lids, teapot spouts, bottle shapes, lids and other techniques will be covered. The tutor will give demonstrations where needed.

On the final day, we will be turning, but you may have time for further throwing practice. You are likely to finish with 10 to 15 pots.

Everyone will have the use of a wheel for the whole course.

It will start with an introductory talk and throwing demonstration. This is followed by an introduction to clay preparation, and we finish the evening with a video or slides relevant to throwing.


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

  • It is good, but not essential, to come with some ideas for the pots you wish to make – functional or decorative.
  • 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 (Conran Octopus)
  • The Techniques of Throwing by John Colbeck (Batsford Watson-Guptill)
  • Throwing by Richard Phethean (Blandford)
  • Throwing Pots by Phil Rogers (A & C Black)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pottery tools, pottery knife (basic pottery tools are provided for use)
  • Rough paper or sketch pad, and pencil
  • Wood or plastic ruler
  • Natural sponge
  • Available from tutor:
  • Overall, old towel
  • Books of interest
  • Cardboard boxes are useful if taking raw pots away at the end of the course
  • Clean plastic shopping bags, approx. 15.
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. Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Safety boots, if specified.


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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