Introduction to portrait heads in terracotta with Jon Edgar

Ref: S1D30006

Location: West Dean

About this course

An introduction to the process of working with clay to make a life-size portrait, working directly from the model.

Course Description

Working from a model, you will experience modelling a portrait head in clay and prepare a mask for firing at the College after the course.

The tutor will introduce you to the process for making a life-sized clay portrait, working directly from the model. You will learn to improve your observation skills and recognise the factors which affect how you use your eyes effectively. You will create a portrait mask which can be kiln fired after the course. You will experience working in the round, directly from the seated model, and gain an understanding of the practical requirements necessary for observing and modelling a portrait.

You will have the option to purchase your head-peg armature and/or take your complete head home unfired. Works left for firing will be ready for collection about 6-8 weeks after the course ends.

To be successful on this course, you do not need to be able to draw or sculpt, just be enthusiastic about trying a little of everything.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials


  • All the materials and tools will be supplied for the course, including clay, headpeg/armature, modelling stand, modelling tools, hollowing tools and a model.

What students need to bring

  • Comfortable footwear and clothing that you don't mind getting clay on and that is not too restrictive for movement while working. Come with an open mind.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • General drawing equipment and some modelling tools

Additional information

Firing your work: Please note that your work will be kept for collection for six months from the date we inform you work is ready for collection. Firing of raw, finished pieces: You have two options: 1. Leave any raw, finished pieces that you wish to keep, for biscuit firing by the College, for collection within six months. 2 . You take away your unfired work for firing elsewhere. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Jon Edgar

A tutor with 10 years experience teaching at West Dean on both short and degree courses, he has recently created bespoke short sculpture courses for the degree course at UCA, Canterbury, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, UEA.

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Further study options

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 advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). 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.