Course dates for this year 2019
6th -7th April. 11th-12th May. 22nd – 23rd June.
3rd – 4th August. 14th – 15th September. 26th – 27th October
Please go to www.alisonwestceramics.com for the booking form
Lots of great pots fired at our last course.
FIRING WEEKEND What to expect
This is an intensive firing course, where you will learn how to fire your work (your own or provided by us) using saggar, raku or barrel firing techniques 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
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.
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
THE BAKEHOUSE HIGHER ASHTON – Air BnB
HYNER FARM – Christow.
01647 252 923
KENNICK SAWMILL – Christow.
SHUTE COTTAGE – Doddiscombsleigh
01647 252 316
THE NOBODY INN – Doddiscombleigh
01647 252 394
The Artichoke Inn – Christow
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 8 – 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
RUNNING ORDER FOR THE WEEKEND
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
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 email@example.com
Other contact details and location map: