Pottery Classes and Workshops

Since March 2023 I have been running weekly General Pottery Classes at my studio in Sweeney, near Oswestry. The classes are open to everyone (minimum age 16) from complete beginners to experienced potters.

Glaze table at Sweeney Pottery.

The aim of the classes is to allow participants to exercise their creative freedom as far as possible, whilst also providing teaching and demonstrations for those who want it. I can provide basic projects to get you started, or you may already have your own ideas you’d like to explore, in which case I can offer guidance on technical issues etc.

The general classes will cover all the basics of working with clay, including thumb pots, coil pots, slab pots etc. They will also give you a good opportunity to have a go on a potter’s wheel, if desired. However the number of wheels available is limited and throwing is a highly skilled activity, which takes time to learn. Learning to throw on the wheel also uses lots of clay very quickly and generates lots of ‘waste’ clay (which will need reprocessing). Therefore the general classes will not be suitable if you want lots of wheel time, but they will be ideal to give you a chance to give it a proper go. I will also run Special Workshops for throwing on the wheel from time to time.

I use top quality white firing clay in my studio because it is much easier to use and gives excellent results in a wide variety of uses, as well as enhancing glaze colours. It costs a lot more than standard clays (as usually used in schools and commercial classes), but I believe that you will have a much better and a more successful experience using it. I will consider requests from students wishing to buy and use their own particular clays (but please don’t buy anything until you’ve checked with me first, and a firing charge will still apply). I will not put anything in the kiln that has been locally dug up, or has not been tested. Other than in unusual circumstances, all work is fired to a high earthenware temperature of 1120°C.

The General Pottery classes are run weekly on Tuesdays and Saturday.  Each class is 3 hours long (which includes 15 minutes for cleaning up at the end of sessions). See the ‘Book a Class‘ page for details of class times and  booking options. When you buy a block of 6 classes (or a single ‘Taster Class’) you can attend Tuesday or Saturday classes or both if desired. You will also not lose a class you have paid for if you can’t attend every week.

I try to limit places to 8 people per class, however accasionally the flexible booking arrangements will mean slightly higher numbers may attend – the studio can accomodate up to 10 people per class if neccessary. If you wish to continue with more classes at the end of a block (and many do) then please make sure that you book early to guarantee your place.

Special Classes. I will be introducing special classes for more advanced skills and subjects as demand and time permits. For example these may include: mould making, printing on ceramics & decals, throwing on the wheel, turning, glaze making, kiln technology etc. I will place notices here when these are available.

The studio is a working pottery and I therefore ask all participants to appreciate that my own ceramic work requires the production and use of a great many models, moulds, and special tools that I make and use exclusively to produce my own ceramics. These will not be available for use in the classes, and I will not be teaching you how to make pots just like mine.
However, developing your own unique style and making your own tools etc., is something I encourage and enable whenever possible. The aim is to develop your creativity, and I will always try to accommodate where I can.

The pottery studio is equipped with:
1] A Large professional front-loading electric kiln.
2] Two clay extruders (for making coils and handles etc.)
3] A large slab-roller (available for supervised use).
4] Two electric potter’s wheels including a large sit-down wheel and a small sit-down wheel (both available to classes, but will require initial supervision and instruction).
5] A spray booth for spraying glazes and other chemicals. This equipment will be available to classes, but will require initial supervision / instruction, and your own face mask, if you want to use it.
6] There are plenty of banding wheels (or ‘whirlers’) in a range of sizes for everyone to use.
The classes also have lots of ‘communal’ hand-tools to share – however I would also recommend buying (or making!) your own small hand-tools as far as possible. There are low priced small pottery tool sets available online (for less than £10) which include things like a cutting wire, a sponge, a potter’s knife and a metal kidney etc.

Please make sure you download and read the “Studio Pottery Classes Guide” before attending your first class. This is essential reading. It will save you a lot of wasted time by introducing you to many of the basics of potting as well as the workshop rules and health and safety etc. so that you can start the first class fully prepared.

Please note that in addition to the price of the classes, there will be a materials and firing charge made for all work that is fired in the kiln. Clay that is used but not fired and is suitable to be returned to the bag or the reclaim ‘bin’ will not be charged. You are encouraged to select only your best work to glaze and fire. If you wish to make very large pots or large quantities of pots then these classes may not be suitable for you (speak to me before booking if in doubt – a special firing may be possible). The General Pottery Classes and Special Workshops are not tailored for those wishing to make large volumes of stock to sell commercially, however I am open to negotiation on this and will accomodate if possible.

Firing charge for all work that is fired in the kiln. Due to huge increases in electricity and materials prices I need to recover some of these costs. This will only be charged when clay is first fired (bisque firing), any further glaze firing is included in this charge.
Bisque fired  = £5.50 per Kg

Fired clay charges will apply even if your pot fails in the kiln (e.g. cracks or breaks etc.). By following advice and using good techniques you will minimise this risk. The high quality clay used and the professional kiln also contribute to improved results, but it is a risk all potters take. We learn from these outcomes. Once work is in the kiln it’s in the hands of the kiln gods.

Please remember that this is a real working pottery studio that I depend upon to make a living, it is not a college or publicly funded or subsidised institution or a business set up just to run pottery classes. It is my dream, my joy, and I’m welcoming you into it. I built much of it by hand (several times over!).

Book General Pottery Class workshops here: