Handbuilding traditional flatback ceramics with Rose Wallace

Ref: SWE13357

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About this course

Learn how to hand build traditional flatback ceramics as you find inspiration in these humble folk art figures. Explore a range of decorative making skills, then add colour and detail with underglaze to create a personal narrative.

Course Description

This course provides an opportunity to explore the traditional Staffordshire flatback mantlepiece figure and create flatbacks with your own narrative inspired by these. Your tutor will explore why this much-overlooked folk art object was a powerful medium for our collective social history and how it informs her own ceramic practice.

The tutor will illustrate and demonstrate appropriate skills, and she will support you to follow the step-by-step creative process to make your own narrative flatbacks.

By the end of the course, you will have gained an understanding of the history of the flatback, as well as experience of traditional skills, such as: sprigging, granulation, impressing, pinching, coiling techniques and multi-hued underglaze painting on greenware.

You will create and decorate a single or pair of flatbacks to your own designs. These can then be clear glazed and fired by the College for you to collect at a later date.

You can prepare for the course by considering what subject you might like to create. It would be advantageous to keep this to a loose idea, so that it can adjust accordingly with the creative process. If a commemorative item is being considered, such as a wedding, please bear in mind that it should be at least six weeks clear of the date the course ends.


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 of the materials and firing.

What students need to bring

  • Ideas for your narrative piece, sketches, images, photographs of details you may wish to include
  • Please bring any personal small textured items to embellish your narrative. These could include non-precious jewellery, natural found objects, shells, leaves or domestic items, buttons, lace, etc.
  • Apron to protect your clothes

Additional information

Firing and glazing options: You may leave your piece(s) made at the college for the clear glaze firing, and arrange to collect within six months of the email notifying you that it is ready for collection. Alternatively, you are free to take away unfired pieces for firing elsewhere. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Rose Wallace

Involved with ceramics since 1998, Rose studied at Buckinghamshire New University attaining a first-class BA (Hons) in 2008 and being selected for the Craft Potters Association in 2010. In addition to her studio work in East Oxford, she runs pottery courses for Abingdon & Witney College.


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.