Wheel thrown animals in clay with Susan Halls

Pottery and ceramics

Ref: SWE12558

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About this course

The potter's wheel is more than just a tool for making vessels. A simple adaptation of the technique opens up a whole new world of sculptural possibilities. Explore this exciting way of making figurative and animal forms. Previous throwing experience is essential, but you do not have to be an expert potter.

Course Description

Through a series of ongoing demonstrations, you will be shown how to adapt and construct wheel thrown forms to make exciting sculptural pieces. Dogs, horses, elephants, frogs and most four-legged animals make excellent subjects, as do birds and human figures. Figures can be paired with animal forms, such as a horse and rider, or made independently or in groups. Pieces could retain a functional element or be entirely sculptural.

The process allows you to sit at the wheel and construct the sculptures in situ. The tutor will show you how to throw shapes “off the hump”, building the piece while the clay is still very soft, how to support it and use electric heat guns to strategically dry as you go, helping to avoid the technical difficulties of working with soft floppy clay. Ears, eyes, nostrils, tails, etc. can all be thrown element. The aim is to allow the distinctive character of the wheel to inform and influence the overall look of the sculpture, and create piece with a thrown quality. Though your pieces will generally need to have a base, though in some cases this can be removed later.

The speed of throwing will force you to think and work with more spontaneity and hopefully encourage a sense of play in your experimentation. The use of simple sketching will help to encourage ideas and allow you to see the overall form and essential basic shapes. The inherent speed of the technique allows for greater output, so you can expect to make several pieces during the workshop. Working this way is extremely liberating and the objective is to encourage risk taking, not only with the design of the piece, but in the way the clay is handled. This approach forces you to become less precious and discourages over working. You will be amazed at what can be achieved, embracing the wheel with a different intention.


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 course fee includes the cost of all clay, glazing and firing costs – large work in size and quantity may be charged extra.

What students need to bring

  • Consider animal subjects, mammals and birds as they best lend themselves to interpretation, though other subjects could be considered. Some subject research material is useful, i.e. printed copies from books or online or photographs. Please do not bring too much – too many borrowed images will lead you astray!
  • Cutting wire
  • Small sponges
  • Good sharp potter's knife (preferably not stainless steel), scalpel blade with handle
  • Sketchbook and drawing materials
  • Essential to bring an old towel (or two), or old tea towels
  • Electric heat gun (for paint stripping very simple) if you have one, otherwise expect to share these (if bringing this must be PAT tested at College before use)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Scapel knife with blades
  • We have a generously stocked craft shop, which opens daily from 8.30am–2pm.
  • For any materials you need to purchase from the shop, we suggest you do so during the first morning of your course, after having discussed them with your tutor.
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes). Firing and glazing options: 1. Any unfired or glazed piece that you wish to keep, may be left at the College for firing, basic glazing and re-firing by the College, for collection within six months. 2. Take away your unfired piece 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.

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Further study options

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