Saggar, barrel and raku firing weekend workshops in beautiful Devon



This is an intensive firing course, where you will learn how to firework (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 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 was 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 a 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. Accommodation is not provided but there are local B&B's/pubs where you can stay:-

Weeke Barton
Dartmoor, Exeter EX6 7HH

The Hutch and The Burrow Devon

Ali Chadwick
St John House
Trusham TQ13 0NR
01626 854385

Kennick Barn
Kennick Barn, Christow, Exeter EX6 7NZ


HYNER FARM - Christow.
01647 252 923

01647 252827

SHUTE COTTAGE - Doddiscombsleigh
01647 252 316

THE NOBODY INN – Doddiscombleigh
01647 252 394

Blytheswood Hostel,
Steps Bridge,
Nr Exeter,
07758 654840

Georgina Heart. -
01392759865 or 07734913984

Jo at Twelvetrees
The Old Barn, Dry Lane, Christow Devon EX6 7PF
07837 988619. 01647 253373


HYNER FARM - Christow.
01647 252 923

01647 252827

SHUTE COTTAGE - Doddiscombsleigh
01647 252 316

THE NOBODY INN – Doddiscombleigh
01647 252 394


The Artichoke Inn - Christow

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 8 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

All materials and tools included. Homemade lunch and tea/coffee/cakes provided.


Alison West/Abi Higgins at Alison and Abi Firing Courses

Message the tutor More from this maker All reviews


The Mill
Village Road
Christow, Exeter

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Advanced/pro level
  • Corporate days out & team building
  • Engagement, birthdays & anniversaries
  • Hen dos
  • Intermediate level
  • Seniors
  • Stag dos
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • UK Holiday


2 days (10:00am to 4:30pm)

Gold Badge
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This craft course provider has been awarded Gold status for receiving 10 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

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Matt Ward - - #39971

Alison and Abi have extensive knowledge of these types of firings and were happy to share their experience.
There were 8 people on my course which seemed like an ideal number and a nice group. I brought my own pots and probably most people who would want to do this course would have some pottery experience to get the most out of it, However, it would be possible for someone with no pottery experience to complete the course using bisqued pots which Alison and Abi sell and have a nice experience and a few lovely pots to take home.
It was really exciting to see each others pots emerge from the different firings-the results were fantastic!
So pleased with mine, completely surpassed my expectations.
The setting is picturesque and the lunches excellent
I've already ordered an oil drum on ebay to try some barrel firings of my own!
I would highly recommend this course.

Laura Grainger - - #39965

I really recommend this course and also feel it is suited to experienced potters, and those with no pottery experience. There were nice small numbers of about 8 students and we could fire 8-12 pieces. You could bring your own pots and good instructions were sent in how to prepare your pots. Or you could purchase pots. The course was well paced and in a gorgeous setting with lovely food served. I was so happy with my results. Abi and Alison are knowledgeable and helpful and I particularly liked how helpful they were in helping me select which pieces should go in which firing. I felt I received enough one to one attention to improve.
My only feedback is that I wish I could have had a go at lifting my pots in and out of the raku kiln as I wanted to try this. Perhaps an advanced class could be made for those who have attended this course?
Lovely location, be prepared for narrow roads if you are an inexperienced/city driver. Book accommodation ahead of time!

Terry - - #38255

The course was absolutely wonderful. Abi and Alison were so kind and generous with their time, their hospitality and sharing their knowledge and skills.
We were all able to produce some fabulous results thanks to how hard they worked to ensure that the course was great fun, successful and safe.
I have already recommended it to a number of people.
My partner bought me the gift of the course for my birthday and it was the best gift ever. I learned so much too.
Thank you so much Abi and Alison.

Response from Alison and Abi Firing Courses:

Hello Terry
Many thanks for this lovely review. It was great to meet you and delighted to help you on your pottery journey. Hope you can join us for another weekend sometime.
Happy potting and experimenting!
with best wish
Alison and Abi

Lee Cox - - #35521

I learnt loads on this enjoyable course about raku, barrel and saggar firing methods, not least because not everything was predictable.
Thanks to Alison and Abi, I now feel confident to try these myself and experiment till I find my own preferences.
I'm experienced in other forms of pottery and am very glad I've added to my knowledge through this course.

Maggie O'Connor - - #33777

Beautiful setting, delicious food, two very experienced inspirational potters and teachers, relaxed informal atmosphere. Each of us prepared pots for saggar, barrel and raku firings carried out over the weekend, with practical info about safety, firing methods, kilns, glazes , colouring effects , cleaning and finishing pots ,
It was exciting and dramatic , strongly recommended

Response from Alison and Abi Firing Courses:

Thankyou Maggie!

Abigail Kenyon - - #33670

Really enjoyed the firing weekend with Abi and Alison. It was fascinating to see the different results from the saggar, barrel and raku firing. It was fun to experiment with the different techniques. The setting in Devon was beautiful and the food was delicious!

Kate Reddy - - #33661

I was really impressed by this course. It was packed with information, activity and comprehensively covered the really interesting art of raku and saggar firing. Alison and Abi were helpful and encouraging at all times managing to spread themselves around a group of 7 very well . A huge amount of effort must have been put into running everything including the delicious food. The setting was in the beautiful Devon countryside which for an urban dweller was very enjoyable. I would highly recommend this course and hope to return again next year.

Elizabeth Colley - - #33659

What a fantastic course! Thoroughly recommended to anyone with or without potting experience! Abi & Alison are brilliant tutors who welcome you to the beautiful setting of Abi’s home & garden in Devon. So many exciting techniques fit in to the two days i felt like a child in a toy shop! You get to produce multiple pots in each technique & I came away with 11 pots- fired & glazed & treated in different experimental techniques & methods. Saggar firing, Raku firing, Barrel firing & Horse Hair firing all fitted into a magical two days of fun. Don’t hesitate to do this course you will LOVE it!!

Susie Parr - - #31495

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Response from Alison and Abi Firing Courses:

Thanks Susie, so delighted you enjoyed the weekend.

Peter Bowman - - #30978

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

Richard Brockman - - #30956

Friendly and relaxed weekend amongst interesting people.
Lots of different techniques explained and demonstrated.
Lovely al fresco catering.
We all went home happy 👍😀

Francine Meaden - - #30934

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!!

Leigh Mason - - #30927

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.

Stephen Williams - - #30926

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.

Miriam Farr - - #25975

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.
All the best
Alison and Abi

Clover - - #24920

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.
Alison and Abi

Robert McGregor - - #24721

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.
Best wishes,

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!
Alison and Abi

Helga Lára Haraldsdóttir - - #22967

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.

Simon Ford - - #22906

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!

Allison Strivens - - #22902

Results were amazing. Another day of fun, good food, great company and expert instruction. I’m already thinking about a return visit.

Pam Neaves - - #22899

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 your place now!

Allison Strivens - - #22877

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.

Ruth Wride - - #21982

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.

Ruth x

Sue Williams - - #15195

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.
Sue x

Martina Comber - - #14807

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.

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