Hand building large sculptural ceramics with Claire Ireland

Ref: SLW13455

About this course

An exciting opportunity to work with clay on a larger scale, exploring a variety of experimental hand-building techniques, using formers, extrusions and moulds. Discover inventive solutions to working in components or sections to fit different sizes of kiln.

Course Description

Learn a sculptural approach to hand-building techniques, incorporating your own ideas and developing your skills as you go.

You will learn how to create larger hand-built structures that can combine a range of different methods of making. This will include how to manipulate clay in various ways, using formers, moulds and extruded shapes, and hand-build with different types of coils, slabs and fragments of clay. You will also have the opportunity to experiment with different textures, incorporating embossed and printed decoration and embedding other materials into the clay surface.

Oxides and body stains can then be used to enhance the surface of your finished forms. This will give you the option to make pieces which only require firing once for stoneware clay. This negates the need to glaze and re-fire work after the initial biscuit firing if you choose this method of finishing.

While considering scale you will learn to work to the inner-dimensions of the kiln to enable your work to be fired, or alternatively how to tackle making your work in components or sections with thought given to solutions in joining your pieces after they are fired to complete a larger sculptural work.

By the end of the course, you will have a repertoire of different approaches at your fingertips, so that you can develop and build large forms in clay with some confidence.


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


  • Clay/glazing materials
  • Firing costs of work made (Large work in size and quantity may be charged extra.)

What students need to bring

  • Bring along ideas and images of forms and structures that inspire you. This can include artists who work in very different mediums – painters, architects and sculptors, for example. Collect textures and found objects, which can be manmade or natural. These can be used to create stamps and directly emboss the clay surface.
  • A sketchbook and camera to document your progress and record your experiments
  • An apron
  • Pottery tools, if you own them
  • If you plan to take your unfired work away with you, please bring plenty of boxes and packaging/bubble wrap to ensure they are protected for the journey home.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Notebooks and sketchbooks
  • Available from tutor:
  • An assortment of textures and materials to experiment with and incorporate into the clay. Images and reference of different approaches by different makers. Additional moulds and formers to use when constructing the work. Printed sheets and information of all the processes covered.

Additional information

Firing and glazing options: 1. Leave any 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 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, i.e. no open-toes or sandals, and safety boots, if specified.


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.