Pottery and ceramics

Ways with clay – experimental animal sculpting with Susan Halls

Ref: SSS08947

Suitable for all

Join waiting list

Course full - scroll down for other

About this course

Experiment with different hand building pottery techniques to make several animal sculptures. Forming methods will include pinch, slab and dowel, used individually and in combination, demonstrating the impact they have on the subject. You will make both free standing pieces and relief panels and on the last two days you will Raku fire your work.

Course Description

An intensive hand building workshop that introduces several approaches to making animal sculpture on various scales. Demonstrating throughout the week, the tutor will show you how to adapt and maximize traditional pottery forming techniques (slab, pinch coil and dowel) to create sculptures that have impact and presence. There will be a small drawing element to the course - doodling ideas to explore sculptural possibilities.

All pieces will be constructed hollow - no laborious hollowing out! Using a simple external armature will allow you to work more effectively and with more immediacy - technical problems reduced to a minimum. Electric heat guns speed up the making process so ideas can flow. The hollow construction techniques allow you to work the form inside and out, increasing your options for exploiting the unique characteristics of the material.

Animal structure and anatomy will be discussed as this should inform and underpin much of your decision making. However, the goal is not to make a realistic copy of an animal but to capture the spirit of the creature through inventive interpretation of form.

Paper clay with its tremendous tolerance and working strength is the clay of choice. Demonstrations will be ongoing and personal assistance and advice always available.

The aim of this course is to demonstrate the important role of techniques and how each has its own voice affecting the final appearance of the sculpture. Training yourself to consider the method of making before you begin can help achieve a more successful outcome. Other intentions are to show how basic drawing can play a vital role in helping to interpret and extend sculptural ideas. To think about design and stylisation rather than make life-like copies and to work with the benefits/constraints of the medium.

By the end of the course you will have gained enough confidence and experience to continue developing ideas independently. The techniques acquired on the course can be adapted to create other kinds of clay sculpture, such as figures or abstract forms - they can also be utilized for making large or small scale vessels. Students will also have a basic understanding of raku/smoke firing.

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for your summer school week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

Special Summer School features:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• A swap-over session to another course of your choice

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (pre-booked)

• A celebration with dinner, entertainment and music

• Workshop displays of students' work and informal end-of-course group reviews


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

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).

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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • All clay 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

  • Any sketches or doodles of animals that you have done in the past or in preparation for the course, though not necessary.
  • Overall/Apron (preferably cotton or laminated fabric)
  • Basic pottery tools if you have them - especially a potter's knife
  • If you have already or can acquire, strong cardboard tubes, like those used for posting or similar. Various sizes are useful, though preferably longer and larger such as 50cm long x 15cm wide.
  • Small sketchbook/notebook and pencil


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.


Susan Halls

Susan intended to study illustration, but beguiled by the art school's ceramics department she jumped ship and has never looked back. After two years studying for her MA she established her London studios, moving to the USA in 1998 where she continues to teach and make sculpture.


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

Courses of interest