Enhancing translucency in slip-cast bone china clay with Sasha Wardell

Ref: SLW13257

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About this course

This course is an introduction to working with bone china through simple mould making techniques and decorating processes aimed at enhancing the translucent qualities of this seductive material.

Course Description

Bone china is a very seductive material to work with, possessing qualities of intense whiteness, translucency and strength. It is a very ‘single-minded’ clay, which forces the maker to work with clarity and precision. Its technical inflexibility and idiosyncratic making and firing characteristics might easily be a deterrent to investigation; however, once a basic understanding is in place, a wealth of possibilities open up.

This course is suitable for anyone who has a general understanding about mould making and slip casting and wants to branch out to work with the higher firing clays, such as bone china and porcelain.

You will be introduced to simple mould making and slip casting techniques suitable for working primarily with bone china casting slip, although most of the techniques can be applied to porcelain too.

On the first evening, there will be a PowerPoint presentation in the form of a personal case history, which highlights the qualities and properties of bone china and aims to give an insight into this material.

You will have the opportunity to make a drop-out mould with a reservoir ring (indispensable for multi-layer casting), using ready-made plaster bowl/cup models. These models will be supplied for the purpose and use during this course only.

You will also be shown and experiment with a variety of decorating techniques, which aim to enhance translucency once fired. This, in turn, will help you identify the personal characteristics and identities you want to demonstrate in your own practice.

By the end of the three day course, you will have developed a certain confidence in working with plaster and bone china and will have produced a range of experimental bowls and/or cups samples, which can be taken home or fired at the college at a later date.


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, most of the materials required are included. The College will supply all of the materials, including: plaster, soft soap, bone china casting slip and ceramic stains. The tutor will supply indelible pencils for plaster work. Firing costs of work in the College’s kilns is also included.

What students need to bring

  • Apron
  • Fabric masks for plaster mixing
  • Notebooks and pencils
  • Camera phones

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • List items to buy from shop
  • Available from tutor:
  • Books: Slipcasting by Sasha Wardell
  • Porcelain and Bone China by Sasha Wardell
  • Indelible pencils for plaster work

Additional information

Firing options: 1. Leave any raw, finished pieces that you wish to keep, for biscuit firing for collection within six months. 2. Take away your unfired work for firing elsewhere. Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Sasha Wardell, ceramics tutor at West Dean College

Sasha Wardell

Sasha Wardell has 40 years experience in the world of bone china and porcelain having studied in two centres of excellence, namely Stoke on Trent and Limoges. She has taught extensively through universities and masterclasses in the UK and abroad and is a published author of ‘Slipcasting’ and ‘Porcelain and Bone China’.


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

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