Platters and place: making slip decorated ceramics with Anna Lambert

Ref: SSS29865

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About this course

Create hand built earthenware plates and shallow bowls. with time to experiment with slip decoration, based on your drawings. Using the tutor's own recipes and commercially available slips, explore multiple ways to develop complex and layered surfaces.

Course Description

This immersive course is designed to explore the potential of coloured and tonal slips, and develop skills in using these techniques to express your own ideas, using a drawing session around the glorious grounds of West Dean as your source material. The course is suitable for beginners and experienced makers, although some experience in basic hand building is preferred.

Many makers do not have the confidence or resources to experiment in many techniques – here we will each build a library of possibilities in the use of tone, line, and colour. With guided making, group discussion and tutor demos, we will practise the use of semi-transparent and opaque slips, the thickness and viscosity of brush marks, the use of stencils and masks, sgraffitto and inlay. You will be guided in a drawing and collage session to gather visual information and ideas, using notetaking and drawing. We will use simple construction techniques for slumped and textured pliable slabs, with a refined finish for each piece.

Later in the week, support will be tailored to your needs as the project develops, bringing all these skills together to produce a group of plates and a larger platter, shallow bowl, or wall piece.

By the end of the week, you will have a selection of fired samples, a group of ceramic pieces which can be taken home or fired at the College, and a technical resource from which you can develop future work.

You will gain an understanding of surface design in relation to form and function. We will also discuss analysis of ceramic form, surface, and style by examining examples of work made by a range of potters.

The materials used will be: a sketchbook, coloured or textural pencils and pens; collage materials supplied by the tutor; white earthenware clay (a mixture of white earthenware and Earthstone ES40); handmade and commercial slips using stains and oxides; hake, mop and fine soft brushes, tissue paper and stencil knives; a variety of materials for making relief surfaces.

Summer School highlights:

The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)

• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio

• A celebration dinner on the last evening themed on Impressionism, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition held in Paris in 1874. Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully.

Course Materials


  • All materials, clay, slip and firing costs are included in the course cost. Especially large work in size and quantity may be charged extra.

What students need to bring

  • Warm clothing and shoes suitable for a short walk
  • An apron
  • Any pottery tools you wish to bring (optional – please mark any you bring with your name, some are supplied in the workshop or by the tutor): e.g. small pointed vegetable knife, old credit cards or scrapers, potter’s needle, hake brushes of various sizes
  • Ruler
  • Drawing materials and sketchbook (Items for making bold marks are good.)
  • Box, plastic bags and paper for transporting pieces home

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Drawing paper (minimum A4), small sketchbooks
  • Pencils/felt tip pens/other drawing implements: Sharpies, coloured pencils or graphite sticks
  • Pottery tools, pottery knife
  • Soft cut lino sheets
  • Lino cutting tools

Additional information

Firing And Glazing Options: 1. Leave selected raw, finished pieces, which you wish to keep, for biscuit firing, basic clear glazing and re-firing by the College, for collection within six months. 2. 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.


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

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).

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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

General Information


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

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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.