Course dates for 2024

June9th-16th – From the ground up (Full – contact us to join waiting list)
July1st – 6th – Non firing week
August 4th – 11th – Potters Invite Club (no places available)
You can request to have your name on our waiting list in case of places becoming available

Summer School Course Details 

Our aim is to develop your potting skills, decorative techniques, glazing and firing skills. We endeavour to foster an appreciation of form, its subtleties, and variations as well as developing an awareness of the long history and richness of pottery. All this in an enjoyable atmosphere, where the experience of the routine in a working pottery and our “from the ground up” way of doing things will ensure you go away with a sense of achievement. We are passing on the knowledge we have acquired over forty years of potting, both in the UK and enriched by experiences working and observing techniques across four continents.

In the course of a week, the full scope of a potter’s cycle will be covered, from clay mixing to firing. Individual tuition combined with excellent facilities and our working methods will make this an experience to remember.

The June week is a departure from our long-running courses in that it is a non-firing course. No pots will be fired or taken away. This is to remove students from any attachment to the pots they are working on so as to develop their critical judgement while applying themselves to gaining and refining their making skills. There will be 5 full days of making all kinds of pots, including large pots and a wide-ranging discussion of clays, charters and handling. No lunches will be provided during this week.

Course Schedule

After an initial tour of the pottery on Sunday morning, 9.30 am start, you will begin the first of four making days. While tutoring ends at 17.00 hours, the studio remains open until 20.00 hours so the energetic can practise. There is a wheel for each student, plus some spare. Teaching is by group demonstration and by individual coaching. All manner of pots, from humble egg cups to giant storage jars, lids, spouts, handles, etc. will be demonstrated. Decoration at this stage can involve alteration of form, adding clay and working with slips. Students work at their own pace on individual projects, taking from the demonstration those elements that most suit their particular aims and objectives.

The workshop is closed on Thursday so pots can dry. This gives students a day off to visit other pottery in the area or to walk the hills and swim in the sea.

On Friday morning you will be finishing your pots and preparing them for glazing. All the glazes are prepared at the pottery using a mixture of our own and commercial materials. In the afternoon Jennie demonstrates and oversees the glazing and decoration of pots. She uses brushes, trailers and sponges with glazes and oxides. After glazing Douglas conducts the packing of the kiln. All of the pots will be once fired, an established specialty of our work here.

Friday is also the day for making raku. Using clay mixed here at the pottery we will spend part of the day making raku pots, both by hand and working on the wheel.

Saturday is full of action and excitement. Participants take an active part in the firings, often building and firing a raku kiln as well. We usually fire two kilns: the new 2 chambered wood-fired kiln to stoneware temperature, and a raku kiln, also wood-fired. The raku pots are glazed, decorated and fired. As with the whole course, the firing process is very much hands-on and a chance to discover for yourself the ancient and modern arts of the potter. Our experiments with Kakishimi firings are continuing and we hope to be doing more such firings during the summer weeks.

Sunday morning is a moment of high tension as the kiln is opened and your still warm pots unpacked. The finished pots are an opportunity for more lessons to be learnt and delights to be savoured. After coffee and farewells, students take their leave around midday.

Coffee breaks are usually taken out in the garden. Lunches are no longer provided, as Jennie has finally retired, however some of our B&B providers will make packed lunches and there are local cafes available. These arrangement choices are all up to students making for themselves. Good evening meals can be found in a variety of interesting pubs within easy reach.

We can arrange bed and breakfast accommodation for you. Our students stay in private homes and farmhouses in or near the village. Alternatives are camping, hotels and inns (Lists can be supplied on request).

The fee for the 6 day courses, which includes all finished pots, tea and coffee, is £730. The Non firing week £610. A non-returnable deposit of £150.00 is payable on booking, the balance being due one month before your date of arrival. Cheques (in sterling) should be made payable to J. D. Phillips. Electronic payments are preferred.

Ground breaking weekly courses since 1970’s

Holistic intensive approach to pottery

Douglas started his ground breaking weekly courses in the 1970’s, pioneering the holistic intensive approach to pottery. He built on his training at Harrow and worked with the likes of Michael Cardew, Mick Casson and Gwyn Hanssen and his studies of the workings and production of indigenous potters in many parts of the world. 

With the energy of youth, he covered what others thought was an impossible span of the potters experience, history and techniques in the long days of summer. The students responded to his enthusiasm and came from all over the world to take part. 

Douglas Phillips established the pottery in Queen Camel in the late ’70s with the aim of making beautiful and useful pots of all kinds and sizes; also to continue with the summer school he had started in Devon. The summer school, with its strong international following, had become a corner stone in Douglas’s working life. The enthusiasm of these students, who travel often thousands of miles, to spend one week or several or a whole summer, to work long hours learning from Douglas, was very uplifting. In partnership with Jennie, and with the help of many assistants, the studios, kilns, clay mixing etc, quickly became a reality.

Unique idea

The summer courses are based on the unique idea of completing a potters working cycle each week. Using the well tried traditions of millenniums, including once firing in wood-burning kilns, has proved very appealing to aspiring potters (and to people who just wanted to get their hands dirty in a creative way) who continued to beat a path to Queen Camel in increasing numbers. Student numbers rose to 120 in one season, coming from 11 different countries. Wonderful though it was to have the world come to their door, Douglas and Jennie were feeling their energies and time for potting running low, so scaled back the number of weeks of teaching and varied the format.

Over the years they have held advanced 2 week courses, workshops on porcelain, salt glaze, kiln building and glaze technology. Numerous master potters have been to the pottery in Queen Camel to demonstrate and give workshops and this tradition continues. The list includes David Leach, David Eeles, Mike Dodd, John Maltby, Sven Bayer, Clive Bowen, Nigel Wood, Caroline Whyman, Walter Keeler, Colin Pearson, Mike Bailey, Jane Hamlyn, Paul Stubbs, Kevin Crowe, Christine Ann Richards, etc