Making a ceramic animal sculpture with Zoe Whiteside

Ref: SWE31190

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About this course

Taking inspiration from the animal kingdom, learn how to create a standing animal sculpture, using slab-building techniques in clay.

Course Description

This course aims to introduce processes and techniques to complete an animal sculpture of your choice. You will learn to roll clay slabs, incorporate texture, and build animal forms in a hollow way, then use slabbing techniques in order to construct an internal clay armature, which will then be built onto.

On the first day you will learn hand-rolling techniques and preparation for making legs and the internal armature; the tutor will demonstrate how to do this, and experience working with the clay in an immediate way.

There will be opportunities to look at and discuss various sculptural approaches. You will work from your original source materials and pictures of the animal you have chosen to make (size dimensions should be no more than 30cm high or wide). Anatomy of the animal will also be discussed, and ways to accentuate the form, in order to express the essence of the animal. By the end of day one, the beginnings of an internal armature will be in place, ready for constructing the skin and textures on day two. Advanced students will be able to make a start on the next steps.

On the second day there will be opportunities to look at the creative use of applying the clay skin to the structure, alongside discussions and demonstrations of joining techniques. Looking at methods in which to create animal heads, you will be encouraged to experiment, alongside discussions about expression and modelling techniques.

By the end of the course, you will have completed a standing animal sculpture, with the potential of a few animal head maquettes, produced using all the techniques demonstrated and experienced during the course.

After the course, you may leave your work at the College for biscuit firing to collect at a later date.

Work is left unglazed after a biscuit firing. Alternatively, you may take your work away for firing, and/or under-glazing elsewhere.

Course Materials


  • On this course the College will supply most of the materials including clay, most tools, and firing equiptment.

What students need to bring

  • Source materials (pictures of front, back and side of chosen animal standing in different positions, and details of the face/head)
  • An apron
  • A ruler
  • A scalpel/ fine craft knife (with a cork on the end), for making delicate details
  • Fine paintbrush for detailing around scupture’s face/ head
  • A pencil and notebook/ sketchbook
  • A wooden spoon
  • Modelling tools (optional)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Craft knife and art materials

Additional information

Firing and Glazing Options: 1. Leave any raw, finished pieces that you wish to keep, for biscuit firing, at the College, for collection within six months. 2. Take away your unfired sculpture 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). There may be restrictions on equipment available to students in tutor’s absence.


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)

General Information


Zoe Whiteside

My work is primarily a celebration of the animal. Taking inspiration from many sources, my work is equally about the material, the method of construction and the quality of a surface. Recent themes have been exploring reminiscence and sentiment...


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.