Developing a sense of form for wheel-made pots with Alison Sandeman

Ref: S4D13523

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About this course

The emphasis in this course will be on discovering and developing your own sense of form and function in the pots you make by examining your own and other potters' work individually with your tutor and in group discussion.

Course Description

A good proportion of the course will be devoted to throwing forms, functional and non functional on the wheel, echoing the tutor’s own practical approach to form and function. The emphasis will be on how to produce good forms rather than making finished pots. You will be taught at your own individual level and encouraged to practise and hone your skills with plenty of one-to-one advise from the tutor. From time to time the group will gather together to look at work made to train the eye and learn from each other.

Use will also be made of images and films available to examine contemporary and historical pieces.

The course is ideal for students who have attended any of the throwing and turning courses at West Dean, or for those who go to regular classes, or practice at home looking to extend their skills. You need to be able to centre clay confidently prior to joining the course. Two types of stoneware clays will be available.

Timetable: with individual help and group discussion on all 4 days.

First evening : 8-9pm. Meet up together in the pottery, covering course details, health and safety and ending with a short film.

Day 1: Settling in. Making cylinders AM and vase forms PM.

Day 2: Jugs AM and bowls PM.

Day 3: Other forms eg. lidded casserole and lids and handles.

Day 4: Applying handles, knobs on lids etc. Turning.

Course finishes at 3.00PM

NB: All turning will take place on days 2-4.


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


  • On this course the College will supply all clay, glazing and firing costs (large work in size and quantity may be charged extra).

What students need to bring

  • Aprons and an old towel
  • Books of interest
  • Any pots you own that you feel work or you are not satisfied with
  • A roll of bin liners, to keep pots from drying.
  • Course Reading List: For those interested in reading any books before the course, the following may be a useful reference (optional):
  • Ceramic Form by Peter Lane (Collins)
  • Ten Thousand Years of Pottery by Emmanuel Cooper (British Museum Press)
  • The Unknown Craftsman by Soetsu Yanagi (George Allen & Unwin Ltd)
  • Creation out of Clay – The Ceramic Art and Writings of Brother Thomas (Eerdmans &
  • Pucker Art Publishing)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pottery tools, pottery knife (basic tools are available for use)
  • Rough paper or sketch pad, and pencil
  • Wood or plastic ruler and plastic set square
  • Natural sponge

Additional information

Firing and glazing options: 1. Leave your most successful raw, finished pieces, which you wish to keep, for biscuit firing, basic glazing and re-firing by the College for collection within six months. 2. Leave your most successful 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 sandals or open toes).


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.

Courses of interest

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.