This is an intensive firing course, where you will learn how to fire work (your own or provided by us) in saggar and raku firings over two days. The workshop takes place at Abi Higgins Ceramics’ beautiful studio in Christow in Devon and is run by Abi Higgins and Alison West.
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 to 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.
Over the weekend you will –
• Learn how to prepare your pots for raku,barrel and saggar firings.
• Learn how to load and fire a gas fired raku kiln, load and fire a saggar in a gas kiln and load and fire a barrel.
• Be introduced to resist techniques, sacrificial glaze (naked raku) and reduction glazes with demonstration of applying terrasigillata slip.
• You will be instructed by two teachers, so plenty of help and advice throughout the weekend.
Small groups, of no more than 8, mean more in-depth tuition and guidance to explore your own ideas. Bisque fired pots can be provided at extra cost or bring your own bisque fired masterpieces.
Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.
All materials and tools included. Homemade lunch and tea/coffee/cakes provided. Local accommodation recommended.
This craft course provider has been awarded Gold status for receiving 10 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.
Together with three friends, I recently participated in this workshop in the beautiful Devon village of Christow. Despite our different skill levels (from professional potter to evening class enthusiast) we all really enjoyed the workshop and learned an enormous amount about alternative firing techniques. Abi and Alison engaged with each of us at exactly the right level and were encouraging and helpful to the more tentative members of our group. Despite being - importantly – very safety conscious, they both clearly enjoyed the fun, drama and surprise of these different techniques, as did we.
The weekend was well structured, culminating in an exciting naked raku session plus a demonstration of how blow-torching can transform a copper washed pot. The pots we had brought along were given a new lease of life by these different firing techniques, and we were all really pleased with the results.
Abi’s wonderful mill house was the setting for the workshop. We applied the glazes in her studio (made Covid-secure) and the various firings took place in her kiln shed, or completely out of doors. Luckily, the weather allowed us to sit outside in Abi’s garden for coffee, tea and lunch. The home-made soups, brownies and biscuits were absolutely delicious.
Being a fan of open water swimming, I was delighted when Abi encouraged me to take a dip in the mill pond by the house - the cold, clear water constantly topped up by Dartmoor streams. She even placed a ladder to make it easier to get in and out. Strangely - even though taking a dip seemed an ideal way of passing the time while the flames and smoke did their work -no-one else joined me.
I would highly recommend this course. It was very sociable, really interesting and great fun. I will never forget seeing the glaze drop off the naked raku pots and am now keen to experiment more with that technique. We all definitely feel more confident doing alternative firings, thanks to Alison and Abi.
Response from Alison and Abi Firing Courses:Thanks Susie, so delighted you enjoyed the weekend.
As a non potter I attended as the unglamorous assistant of a ceramicist thinking I might not get much out of it - but I was wrong as the 2 days were excellent and enjoyed with a great group of people. Abi and Alison were great and must have been exhausted with all the setting up and continuous questions being fired at them. There hospitality was great with homemade lunch both days and plenty of tea and coffee. Thank you
Friendly and relaxed weekend amongst interesting people.
Lots of different techniques explained and demonstrated.
Lovely al fresco catering.
We all went home happy 👍😀
Amazing course! My mum and I attend a weekly pottery class at a local college but wanted to explore the world of Raku firing. This course couldn't have been better! Abi and Alison are both amazing potters and have so much knowledge and experience to share. We explored a range of firing techniques using various materials to bring out beautiful colors, designs and textures. The course was held in beautiful Devon with lots of open space making it easy to distance from the other participants. We all wore masks and I felt very comfortable that everyone else was being 'COVID safe'. Highly recommend this course, I will certainly book on again soon!!
This course was brilliant from start to finish. Abi and Alison were great facilitators and we all quickly went from strangers to a chatty, friendly group.
It was certainly an action packed weekend but it didn’t feel at all rushed.
We were all at different levels in our ‘pottery journey’ so it was nice to share knowledge and skills.
Lunch was homemade and delicious and the setting gorgeous.
Abi and Alison were extremely generous sharing all their knowledge and I learnt loads and some really good ‘hacks’.
Thoroughly recommend this course whatever your skill level.
My second time doing this workshop. Not that I didn’t learn anything two years ago, it was just that it was so good the first time I was determined to return and introduce a friend of mine who was just beginning her pottery “adventure”. I can only say it was even better the second time around - and on top of everything we were blessed with lovely weather.
Abi and Alison are not only knowledgable and experienced in their craft but are friendly and patient and always engaging. They had made strenuous efforts to keep everybody safe in these strange viral times and to put everybody at ease.
The whole two days were a joy. Exciting, and inspirational. It’s given me so much more confidence now, to improve on the techniques and skills learned and to advance with a raku kiln of my own. I cannot recommend the experience too highly.
No doubt I will be back for another ‘booster’ session in the not too distant future. It’s worth it for the food alone!
Thanks to Abi and Alison.
Wonderful setting for a course, I enjoyed meeting both Abi and Alison and learning some new techniques in raku. I had not tried naked raku before and having prepared my own pots prior to the course I was interested to see how they came out. It is certainly a technique I will try in the future.
It was a shame that the weather was disappointing (it rained all day on saturday) as we had to spend a lot of time outside. The lunches and homemade cakes were a triumph!
Response from Alison and Abi Firing Courses:Many thanks Miriam, it was a pleasure to meet you and hope you are enjoying out some new techniques.
It was a great weekend in Devon for me. Apart from two full days of learning a variety of alternative firing techniques, I also enjoyed excellent hospitality from Abi and Alison. It was like a craft retreat holiday for me! The course is suitable for a wide range of abilities, from total newbies to potters with some firing experience, we certainly had taken a lot home. Highly recommended!
Response from Alison and Abi Firing Courses:It was lovely to meet you Clover, so much fun and laughter and potting talk, very pleased you enjoyed it so much.
Thank you Abi and Alison for a wonderful weekend - truly inspirational. Yvonne and I can't wait to try more raku firing.
Thank you for sharing your expertise in a friendly informal way. The weather was also superb, enabling us to enjoy good food and share ideas with new friends in your lovely garden.
Response from Alison and Abi Firing Courses:Thanks so much. A great pleasure to meet you both and look forward to seeing you in Chagford too!
Thank you Abi and Alison for the excellent and wonderful weekend doing raku, saggar and barrel firing.
The course was certainly worth coming to England to from Iceland. I have taken with me a lot of information on saggar and barrel firing. Everybody on the course produced interesting work and I am certainly happy with my 12 pieces I managed to take back to Iceland in my hand luggage.
Well done you two, you have impressed and inspired me with your talent and professionalism. The lunches, the environment in lovely Devon and the group of people were also fantastic.
Such a great weekend learning under the instruction of Abi and Alison. Our group was an eclectic mix of professional potters, enthusiasts and in my case beginners. It just suited everyone!
The skills we were able to take away with us are simply amazing, I had no idea I was to learn so much in a matter of days. The excitement when the finished product is revealed was just another aspect of the weekend I was not expecting.
“Well done guys”! Just a beautifully designed and executed course that would suit anyone and the homemade lunches were to die for!
Results were amazing. Another day of fun, good food, great company and expert instruction. I’m already thinking about a return visit.
What a busy, fun packed weekend we've had! Lovely setting and great guidance in the techniques of Saggar, Barrel and Raku firing. It was amazing to learn, experience and reveal the effects from the different firings and be surrounded by lovely people sharing a love of ceramics.
Wonderful food, beautiful surroundings and knowledgable fun hosts too!
Highly recommended if you're visiting Devon or a local pottery enthusiast, don't just take my word for it...book your place now!
Everything is well explained, questions answered knowledgeably. These ladies know their stuff. Thoroughly enjoyed my time at The Mill. Food was fantastic.
Looking forward to seeing the results of our efforts. Highly recommend this course.
This was my second visit having enjoyed the course so much last time. Learned hands on from these two lovely creative and talented artists. Abi and Alison share their ideas and experience with humour. I am so pleased with the results which I took home. Great group of potters to learn with too.
Hope to see you again sometime.
Hi Abi and Alison
Just to thank you both for such an informative and wonderful course at the weekend. It was just so nice to get away and meet like minded people since being a potter can be a lonely profession. I came away on a high determined to get back in the studio again but of course that will have to wait until after I get back from my holiday and with this weather it can't come soon enough!
Good luck with the next course.
Even though I have never done any pottery, I enjoyed the course very much. I learned a lot, especially that pottery and firing techniques are not an exact science. The outcome depends a lot on timing, experience and, last not least, "luck". Everybody produced some amazing pieces to take home. Both Abi and Alison are excellent teachers, they are enthusiastic, patient and explain very well. They provided lot's of tips and tricks and encouraged an exchange of information between the participants. The course took place in the lovely Devon countryside. It was an overall very inspiring experience and I would highly recommend it to anybody who is interested in pottery and learn more about firing techniques.