Throwing and turning for beginners with Alison Sandeman

Ref: S3D31830

Location: West Dean
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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. Everyone will have the use of a wheel throughout the weekend. You will be taught at your own individual level and encouraged to practise.

On the first evening, the tutor will give an introductory talk and demonstration, followed by an introduction to clay preparation (kneading and wedging). The evening will finish with a video or slides relevant to throwing.

On the first day, you will start with preparing your clay and you will then spend the rest of the day learning and practising throwing on the wheel. In the evening, the tutor may show slides or a video relevant to the course. If you are a non-resident you may wish to book in for dinner via the Bookings Office prior to the course.

On the subsequent days, you will continue with further throwing practice and cover the finishing processes of turning. The aim is for you to finish the course with six to eight pots made.


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 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
  • 15 Clean plastic shopping bags or white bin liners

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pottery tools, pottery knife
  • Rough paper or sketch pad, and pencil
  • Wood or plastic ruler and plastic set square
  • Natural sponge
  • Apron and covered footwear

Additional information

Firing and glazing options: 1. Leave your most successful raw, finished pieces, 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 four 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. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open-toes or sandals). Suggested 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) 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)


Porcelain vases in the kiln

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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Further study options

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