Workshops

Next  Spring Courses     6th -7th April 2019.     11th-12th May 2019.

Lots of great pots fired at our last course in July.

FIRING WEEKEND What to expect

This is an intensive firing course, where you will learn how to fire work (your own or provided by us) in saggar and raku firings over two days. The workshop takes place in my beautiful studio in Christow,  Devon and is run by me and Alison West www.alisonwestceramics.com.

Christow is a village in the Teign Valley on the eastern edge of Dartmoor National Park with easy access to Exeter.

The name Raku means ease, pleasure and enjoyment. With its roots in Japan, the technique has altered over the years to produce some of the most interesting and gorgeous effects found in ceramics. Intensely hands on, it is sheer pleasure to experience the low-temperature, fast-firing process which involves removing pottery from the kiln while at bright red heat and placing it into containers with combustible materials.

Saggar Firing was originally developed to protect wares from ash- slagging and flame-flashing in wood firings, but in contemporary use, with clean-burning gas firings, the process is used in exactly the opposite way: to contain fumes around a pot so that the pot picks up colour and pattern from the fumes. Saggars are the lidded containers used to contain and isolate pots during a saggar firing.

Barrel Firing developed as an alternative to long pit firings with the advantage of getting to high temperatures making it possible for added oxides, carbonates and copper wire to produce stronger colours. A steel barrel is loaded with sawdust, straw and wood together with metallic colourants and pots and fired over several hours. Barrel firing will be introduced into future workshops

Over the weekend you will –
• Learn how to prepare your pots for firing.
• Learn how to load and fire a gas fired raku kiln, load a saggar and fire in a gas kiln.
• Be introduced to wax resist techniques, sacrificial glaze (naked raku) and reduction glazes with demonstration of applying terrasigillata slip.

You will be instructed by two teachers, so plenty of help and advice throughout the weekend.

Bisque fired pots can be provided at extra cost or bring your own bisque fired masterpieces. Details of how to prepare and burnish your own pots are below.

THE COST FOR TWO DAYS IS £225.00

WORKSHOP LOCATION

Couses are held at Christow Pottery in  Devon. Christow village is set high in the Teign Valley close to the Kennick and Tottiford reservoirs and has breathtaking countryside all around. It is a former mining area – tin, sliver, copper and manganese all mined locally. There is a church (with a notable granite tower), pub, post office, local shops, and accommodation. The Cantonteign falls are close by.  Local B&B accommodation is available nearby.

The Mill, Village Road, Christow, Devon EX6 7LX

LOCAL ACCOMMODATION

THE BAKEHOUSE HIGHER ASHTON – Air BnB

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/6786781?checkin=13-10-2016&checkout=14-10-

HYNER FARM – Christow.

www.hynerfarm-bandb-devon.co.uk/

info@hynerfarm-bandb-devon.co.uk

01647 252 923

KENNICK SAWMILL – Christow.

01647 252827

mjsnook@hotmail.com

SHUTE COTTAGE – Doddiscombsleigh

www.shutecottagedevon.co.uk

01647 252 316

enquiries@shutecottagedevon.co.uk

THE NOBODY INN – Doddiscombleigh

www.nobodyinn.co.uk

01647 252 394

EVENING MEALS

The Artichoke Inn –  Christow

http://www.artichokeinn.co.uk/contact.html

PREPARING YOUR POTS FOR THE WORKSHOP

CLAY AND THE BISQUE FIRING

Remember that we will be firing up to 40 pots so it is really important that you keep to the guidelines below so that everyone gets a fair share

Maximum of 6 – pots each no larger than 15cm in diameter and 20cm tall and smaller if at all possible. In particular we cannot manage flat pieces such as tiles as they take too much room in the kilns. No jewellery please. We will provide a few extra pots at a small extra cost if it is not possible to bring your own.

Any well grogged clay which resists thermal shock usually works. I use Ashraf Hanna clay. You will need to biscuit fire all your pots before you bring them. Do make sure you don’t trap any air in your pots when making them as raku firing is much more rapid than normal firing and will expose flaws in making sometimes resulting in pots blowing up in the kiln. Also, if you make fully enclosed forms like pebbles, make sure that the air escape hole is larger than normal i.e. not a pin hole.

BISQUE FIRING – Fire your pot[s] to a maximum of 980c degrees. Anything higher tends to destroy the burnish.

PREPARING THE POT SURFACE

Get the surface of your pot as smooth as you can and then apply a fine grained slip at the leather hard stage.  Some people use a porcelain slip.  We use a slip composed of 50% body clay plus 50% porcelain.  Sieve the slip at 200 mesh to get it as fine as possible and then apply up to 6 coats. Terrasigillata can also be applied at leather hard stage should you be familiar with the technique. .

BURNISHING

 Allow the slipped pot to dry to nearly bone dry.  The actual dryness which suits your personal technique varies from person to person and you can only find it by trial and error.  Try on a relatively hidden part of the pot.  If your burnishing leaves unsightly indentations, your pot isn’t dry enough.  If burnishing doesn’t produce a shine and leaves the surface dusty, your pot is too dry.  See below for a possible way out.
Now you’ve got the perfect dryness[!], burnish by smoothing the whole of the surface using your chosen tool. Different tools are used depending on your preference. Some people use the back of a spoon, some use a polished pebble.  This should give you a smooth, polished surface.  You can repeat the burnishing to improve it if you wish.  It is worth finishing the surface by rubbing it with a thin plastic bag stretched across your finger.
If your pot was too dry you can try moistening it in sections by dipping your finger in water, smoothing that on your pot a section at a time and then burnishing that area.

 

 

 

RUNNING ORDER FOR THE WEEKEND

Saturday 2019

9.30am – Coffee and introductions

10:00am – Prepare pots for saggar firing. Participants, you will be shown how to prepare their bisque-fired pots . Collect materials and begin preparing the saggars. Also choosing pot for the barrel.

1:00am – Lunch – Homemade bread and soup provided

2:00pm – Complete loading the saggar and the barrel and start firing
Prepare pots for raku firing – Applying slips and glazes for different raku
techniques including naked raku. Glazes and slips provided but you are welcome to bring your own.

3.30pm – Tea break

4.30pm – Finish for the day

Sunday  2019

9:30am – Meet and coffee

9.50am – Unpacking kilns/washing/scrubbing/cleaning pots – Raku kilns fired up 12:00am – First firings

1:00pm – Lunch provided
2:00pm – Continue final raku firings and finishing pots – Advice on polishing/sealing at home

4:00pm – Finish

Timings may vary and it may not be possible to fire all your pieces during the course but we will raku as many pieces as we can in the time available, with the aim of everyone completing the weekend with at least a few wonderful pots each!

If you are interested in our courses please email me at abi@abihiggins.co.uk

Other contact details and location map:

http://abihiggins.co.uk/contact/