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Online | Handbuilding Ceramics | Form and Texture with Denise McDonald

Course overview

Join tutor Denise McDonald online and be introduced to some hand building approaches to making pottery. We will work together on projects using the techniques of slab building, coiling and pinching to create functional vessels in the absence of the wheel. We will learn how to make paper template designs for slab forms and discuss a little about using slump and hump moulds to form and support work. We will also explore decorating with texture, applied either once the piece is made or as an integral part of the construction process.

This class is conducted online from our Zoom Art Room and does not use the pottery wheel – you just use your hands, fingers and simple tools for hand building to create functional ceramics.

What to expect

Students will learn techniques and make 2-3 finished works over the 4 sessions.

Is this course right for me?

This short course is suitable for anyone from absolute beginners to more experienced students who would like to learn creative approaches to handbuilding ceramics.


Students should have a bag of earthenware clay (approx 6kg is sufficient), water, a wooden rolling pin, small sponge, stiff bristled artists brush and some basic tools such as a clay knife for their first online session. Further simple materials will be suggested by Denise for subsequent sessions (such as paper, pencil, ruler, an upturned bowl to act as a slump mould, objects for making texture etc).

If you do not have materials you can purchase the following for collection from Art Est.

Keane Clay White Earthenware 37

  • 12.5 kg bag - $30
  • 1/2 bag - $15

Pottery tool set - $15

Chrysanthos underglazes - $3 per 30ml pot
Colours: Cobalt Black, White, Mandarin, Terracotta (dark pink), Light Blue, Turquoise, Cobalt Blue, Apple Green, Citrus, Art Grey, Qiokeli (chocolate brown), Royal Purple, Rocket Red, Bright Blue, Light Jade

Will my vessels be fired?

Bisque firing of up to 3 finished pieces is included in the course fee. Students wishing to fire lots of pieces or excessively large works will need to discuss this with their tutor and additional charges will apply (approx $7 per piece). Works must be made of earthenware clay (not stoneware)in order to be fired in our kiln loads.

Students wishing to glaze fire their work can book in for a glazing session to held in our ceramic studios at a later date.

From 1 June, some classes will return to studio based learning. Other classes will continue to be delivered online in our Virtual Zoom Art Room. The venue is listed with the class details.

If you are joining a Zoom Art Room class, you will need the following:

• A desktop, laptop, tablet or ios or android smartphone
• An internet connection – broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
• Speakers, microphone and webcam (wireless or inbuilt)
• Download the free version of Zoom to your device
• Check and test everything before you enrol, and double check the day before your class

Fees for adult classes exclude art materials.Click here to see a list of local art supply retailers.

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