The aim of Clay College Stoke is to teach the new generation of studio potters the skills they need to establish themselves as professional makers. It will provide a two year Diploma course, led by a practicing professional maker with input from technical staff and visiting lecturers. The focus of the course will be on teaching practical skills but we will also include research and design, historic and international ceramics, marketing, sales and business skills. The course will facilitate the exploration of a variety of styles, including genres, materials, surface treatment, as well as firing types. The individual student will be encouraged to develop their own style, drawing on practical and technical knowledge from experts in their field.
Tuition will be delivered by a small team consisting of a full-time tutor and a part-time technician, with a rolling program of tutorials and demonstrations given by internationally renowned potters and artists. The inclusion of visiting lecturers and workshops will allow students access to generations of expertise and knowledge covering all aspects of ceramics.
Students will visit museums and collections of ceramics to develop their knowledge and creativity. They will also visit clay and glaze manufacturers to understand how the materials they use are processed. Visits to established makers, small studios and modern large-scale industrial manufactures will allow students to experience many different approaches to working with clay.
It is important that students gain experience of selling and marketing their work, along with knowledge of using current methods of promoting both the maker and their work. The introduction of business skills and methods of promotion will be covered by visiting lecturers well versed in running their own businesses and in selling and marketing.
From September 2017, a two-year full-time course will be run for 14 students, with each year consisting of three 15-week terms. Weekdays will run from 9am to 5pm and students will have the opportunity to access the workshop outside these hours, including many weekends.
The emphasis will be on core skills and the use of materials. Students will be taught all aspects of design, throwing, glazing, kiln building and firing, alongside traditional hand building and decoration techniques. These will be augmented by modules focusing on health and safety, and business and marketing which will offer students the opportunity to become self-sufficient, developing their own business model to suit their work. On completion of the course, students will have the skills needed to establish their own studio or to join a work force in a production pottery.
Students can expect at least 20 hours contact time with tutors per week. Clay College will provide a creative environment to nurture an individual’s development and growth, teaching the combination of knowledge and proficiency in process and technical skills, and the creativity and awareness needed to make great ceramics.
The course will teach a broad range of throwing skills including cylinders, bowls, teapots, collaring in, lids and galleries and throwing large. Associated skills will include handles, lips, spouts and making composite forms. A wheel will be available for each student. The handbuilding classes will cover various making techniques including slab building, coiling, modelling and mould making and slip casting.
Each making project will include research and design components and will be used to teach surface treatment techniques, including slip decoration, stamps and sprigs, faceting, carving, brushwork and underglaze decoration. These practical classes will be integrated with a program of supporting classes, such as clay, glaze and kiln technology, that will provide students with a real breadth of knowledge and experience to reinforce their creative learning.
Students will learn kiln design and building, and will participate in building a kiln at the college. They will learn kiln maintenance and experience packing and firing a variety of kilns to fire their own work.
In glaze technology, students will learn about glaze theory and will get practical experience testing and developing their own glazes. The course will cover a range of temperatures and techniques, including earthenware, stoneware, oxidation, reduction and vapour/wood firing.
Clay theory will be covered, together with clay body development and slip development. Students will spend practical time developing their own clay body for a specific project, test clays and produce their own slips.
Students will be expected to maintain and use sketchbooks to develop their ideas and illustrate their progress and keep a record of their research work.They will be expected to immerse themselves in the history of ceramics and design in all areas of practice, from traditional to contemporary, studio to industrial. An international view of ceramics will be presented in lectures and using galleries and museums, including contemporary ceramics, and used to promote discussions and critiques of others and their own work.The second year will teach skills necessary for marketing work and the setting up and running of a small business. Students will have the opportunity to present and sell their work in the college gallery space as well as visiting trade and craft fairs.
The College will be running series of evening classes, workshops and masterclasses alongside the full time course. Students will be given the opportunity to help out with these and teach on the evening classes once their skill level is sufficient.
The structure of the course will follow a sequence of projects, which will combine practical skills with theory, creating an integrated approach to learning. There will be assessments at the end of the projects and at the end of the year. The final year assessment will be combined with preparation for and presentation of work for an exhibition in the gallery space at the college. Students who complete the course successfully will be awarded a Diploma by Clay College Stoke. As a new and unique course, the Diploma is currently unaccredited but the award will signify that the individual student has been able to work to the high standards that Clay College has set.
To ensure the good running of the course, a creative working environment and a positive learning environment, students will be expected to maintain excellent attendance, timekeeping and organisational skills. A respect for other people and the working environment is essential. Students will also be expected to observe and adhere to the required policies of the college.
Facilities and Amenities
A small kitchen area with fridge, kettle and microwave, will be provided exclusively for the use of Clay College, for the preparation of hot and cold drinks and light snacks. The Middleport Pottery cafe is next door and the shops and cafes of Burslem are nearby.
The College is unable to provide accommodation for students and students will be responsible for organising their own accommodation. We will be able to give advice about accommodation to students who come to Stoke for interview.