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In-person course

Clay portrait weekends with Karin Ort


About the Course

Take a couple of days out from your normal life to create a portrait in clay. We provide the model, tuition, clay, oh, and the perfect environment for total absorption!

Taught by Karin Ort, she will take you through the whole process creating a portrait from building your armature to preparing your model for firing. It can be as figurative or abstract as you like – the choice is yours – and Karin will help you create your artistic vision. Once finished the piece will be allowed to dry out and, once dry, will be fired in one of our kilns. It will then be yours to collect, take away and keep.

Karin has an exceptional eye for detail and is able to guide and encourage students through to reaching their creative potential.

Suitable for?

Anyone. Though we generally advise that students be 16 years old+ though exceptions can be made where appropriate.

This course is for you if:

You want to explore the wonderful, tactile medium of clay
You want to learn new skills
You want to have a go at capturing the human face
You want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in a creative environment
You love creativity
You will need to bring:

Nothing, bar a packed lunch and maybe an apron if you want one!

You will be sent an automated email on booking which prompts you towards documents that help you prepare for your time here. If this does not happen then please email James before the course.

Beyond the course:

Having completed a Phoenix Studio weekend many of our students choose to explore their chosen mediums further.

They may come on another weekend course, start coming to our Creative Monday Sessions, our midweek clay life modelling terms – one taught, one untutored (a waiting list may apply) or carry on independently at home (you can bring your pieces here for firing).

Whatever you choose, we are more than happy to help and advise you in taking those first creative steps!

Need accommodation?

If you are travelling from further afield and would like to stay in the area for your visit then have a look at our recommended list of local B&Bs and hotels.

If you will be redeeming a CraftCourses gift voucher on this course, the voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.

What's included in the price?

Inspiring and expert teaching from Karin Ort
Step-by-step guidance covering…
How to build a portrait head sculptured in clay
The importance of keen observation of the human head and face in making your sculpture
How to capture the characteristics of the face – you can work as realistically or abstract as you like!
Mutual support from your fellow makers – and plenty of tea and coffee breaks

Two full days’ teaching (10am-4pm)
Tea, coffee, biscuits/cake
A professional life model
All your materials, clay and firing of your piece in one of our kilns
Use of a beautiful purpose-built art studio with all the equipment & materials you will need
Beautiful countryside setting


James Ort at The Phoenix Studio
The Phoenix Studio
Chinnor Rd
Towersey, Near Thame
Platinum Badge
What does this mean?

This craft course provider has been awarded Platinum status for receiving 50 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.

They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.

Suitable for

  • Accommodation offered
  • Engagement, birthdays & anniversaries
  • Hen dos
  • Intermediate level
  • Parking provided
  • Public transport
  • Romantic
  • Stag dos
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • UK Holiday
  • Wheelchair users

Available as a gift

Learn about gift vouchers



The course doesn’t currently have live dates

Please contact the tutor for more information


In-person course
- - #25742

I enjoyed the weekend immensely there was such a pleasant atmosphere and i am very pleased with the outcome. I was struggling to make a face that didn’t look like voldermort’s sister. I have now created a near likeness to the model and will be able to make a presentable face on any new sculptures that i make. Course worth every penny!

In-person course
- - #25739

Please pass on rather belated thanks from my daughter and myself to Karin for a hugely enjoyable clay portrait weekend. As the only complete novices, having never picked up a lump of clay - other than in the garden - we were feeling rather out of our depth on arrival but we quickly felt completely at ease, had plenty of help and advice, a lovely model and the whole two days flew by at incredible speed - far too fast, in fact. We look forward to collecting our 'masterpieces'!

In-person course
- - #25738

I went on my first art course at The Phoenix studio a few weeks ago. I loved it. The tutor was gently encouraging with her advise, and I learnt a lot about various techniques. The studio was beautiful - light and spacious, and fully equipped with everything anyone should need! It was a lovely learning environment. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming. It was also a nice touch to have a shared table for lunch, and even some homemade cake. Im sure i’ll be returning at some point. Thank you to all involved!

In-person course
- - #21284

A very enjoyable weekend with excellent tuition in a very pleasant environment. The course is extremely good value and the major surprise is just how good a head you have created.

In-person course
- - #21283

A very enjoyable weekend with excellent tuition in a very pleasant environment. The course is extremely good value and the major surprise is just how good a head you have created.

In-person course
- - #17463

My daughter and I had a wonderful weekend making a clay portrait. It was something neither of us had done before and I was a bit apprehensive at first to be able to make anything resembling a face but it was just magical, features come to life under your hands with of course the expert tuition of Karin who would just exactly help where and when it was needed. The group was really nice too, we had good chats over a cup of tea and during lunch. I got the bug for sculpting now and will do more of it in future, it is truly so much fun. Can wholeheartedly recommend this experience!

Response from The Phoenix Studio:

What a cracking review Marijke! Thanks for taking the time to write it and we are so glad that you both came to spend the weekend with us! bw,
James and Karin

In-person course
- - #15013

A Christmas Present voucher for Clay Portrait Weekend with Karin Ort from son with a sense of humour....scary! But absolutely no worries. Karin is a superb teacher, the result, a clay sculpture to be proud of, for everyone on the course, including beginners like me. And that's not all, it was a wonderful relaxed weekend, great fun, great company, great organisation. And thanks to "Emma", who sat patiently whilst we all tried, and succeeded, to capture her features in our own particular way. But then of course, Karin was there gently showing us the tricks of the trade, and the way forward. Brilliant, try it!

In-person course
- - #13630

Hey took the 2 day weekend sculpture course.
Never sculptured a head in my life!! Live model - 2 days later had a real head which could recognise. Great facilities/studio, materials, equipment and in depth instructions. Will be going again very soon

In-person course
- - #13588

I have just completed the portrait sculpture course with Karin Ort at Phoenix Studio and what a fantastic time! I would heartily recommend this to anyone remotely interested in Art, It has been on my bucket list for years, (I have to thank my partner Jacqueline for booking it) Why have I waited so long! now to book the next course!

In-person course
- - #13579

I am a beginner and thoroughly enjoyed this course. I learned a lot and was well supported throughout the 2 days. Karin is lovely and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. James' cake was excellent too!
I would definitely do the course again. Thank you.

In-person course
- - #13552

I am an experienced amateur sculptor. I have attended several sculpture courses at other venues.
I thoroughly enjoyed the course- Clay portrait weekend taught by Karin Ort. She is friendly, knowledgeable and could cope with my desire to make a sculpted head at a different scale to everybody else with ease. Her tuition is very informative and she makes encouraging suggestions to improve your work. I learned a lot. Karin’s approach is an intuitive one rather than a measured ‘sight size’ approach.
There are some really interesting, inspired pieces on site. The venue is an informal community delightful and friendly. Everything you need is provided.

In-person course
- - #8526

Clay portrait sculpting with Karin was a fantastic weekend. With zero confidence but lots of enthusiasm I created a presentable head in Clay thanks to Karin, James and the lovely model. The studio is wonderful and very relaxing, I met some fabulous people and now would like to develop further as a hobby. Highly recommend if you want to explore your creative side. Viv Mitchell March 2017 group.

In-person course
- - #8485

The Portrait sculpture weekend course with Karin Ort was wonderful!! Very warm and welcoming, in the beautiful Phoenix Studio setting. Karin, our tutor was really helpful and attentive, but also left us alone when we wanted to get on and try things out for ourselves, and happy to review and offer guidance afterwards.
The life model was really professional and worked hard both days.
Having your finished piece fired as part of the course was also a brilliant finish to a wonderful weekend.
I look forward to doing the next one again with Karin.

In-person course
- - #8343

As a portrait painter I knew this sculpture course would help with my paintings, it didn't disappoint, the studio is gorgeous in an amazing location. Karin is an excellent teacher, passionate, patient and encouraging she helps you every step of the way, thank you I loved it and am thrilled with my sculpture. I am looking forward to the next one! X

In-person course
- - #7345

This life sculpture course was the second weekend course my partner and I have one at Phoenix Studio - the first being a clay animal sculpture course with James Ort. Both this course, with Karin, and the one with James have been great fun, with very good tuition.
The studio itself is lovely too, very light and airy, and the atmosphere very relaxed, although everyone is concentrating hard.

We had an excellent life model, and Karin was able to help everyone individually as well as as a group. Although I had worked wth clay years ago as an art student, my partner is a complete beginner, and produced a good piece of work on on both weekends. Highly recommended.

In-person course
- - #6591

I have just completed a life sculpture course with Karin Ort at Phoenix Studio and it was fantastic. Karin spent time discussing techniques, equipment, scale and proportion and different clays with us, which was great for me as a beginner and the more practiced sculptors of the group. She also spent time with each of us on a 1-2-1 basis, throughout the two day course, which meant we were able to refine our work and ask questions. I can honestly say that each of us produced a piece that we would all be proud to put on display. I can't recommend this course highly enough... I'm definitely booking onto more of their courses!

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