Clay Animals with James Ort – Dates To Be Confirmed

Clay Animals with James Ort - Dates To Be Confirmed

Spend two days learning how to make clay animals using a contemporary technique that is loose, expressive and breaks all the rules!  The course is great for beginners and experienced artists alike.  And the best part is that you can make pretty much whatever animals you like too.

James Ort has been teaching this popular class for years now.  He specialises in a form of contemporary clay modelling which pushes clay to its limits. The technique is fast, easy to learn technique and with it comes life, energy and grace to the creations.

Over the two days you will be given a series of demonstrations that show you the key stages and principles of the technique.  The rest of the time will be spent making your own pieces with James’ guidance and support every step of the way.  Once completed, your masterpieces will be dried out and then fired in our kilns.  You will then need to return for a later glazing session to bring colour and life to your pieces.


DAY 1:

Wall-mounted portrait heads.

Make pretty much the head of any animal of your choice be it mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian! You will make an armature and then be adding clay by breaking down the head into key muscle groups and shapes.

DAY 2:

Four-legged standing mammals.

The more challenging part of the course is making a four-legged standing mammal. You will learn how to make a armature using a range of materials and techniques, after which you will add to what you learnt the day before.


Bring your pieces to life with colour!

Once your masterpieces have been bisque fired in the kiln, come back and James will teach you how to best apply the underglazes. These sessions will most likely be at least a month or so after your initial course dates and there are various dates to suit your diary!

This fun course includes:

  • Informal, relaxed & attentive guidance for every student, provided by James Ort
  • Step-by-step demonstrations covering…
  • How to build an armature for wall mounted animal heads and four-legged standing mammals
  • How to apply the clay to best capture the animal’s anatomy and features
  • How to create expressive facial features and give your piece character
  • An outline of the firing process in our kiln room
  • How to glaze your work using underglazes on a separate session after the two day course

Suitable for?

Anyone regardless of experience.

We generally limit the age to 14 years old+ though exceptions can be made where appropriate. Please contact James Orts and ask.

What is included in the price?

  • Two full days teaching (10am-4.30pm)
  • A printed course handout outlining the technique’s main principles
  • Clay, firings and glazes
  • A glazing session once your pieces have been bisque fired (keep reading for further information on this)
  • Tea, coffee, biscuits/cakes
  • Use of a beautiful, purpose built art studio with all the equipment & materials you will need
  • Beautiful countryside setting

This course is for you if:

  • You want to explore your creativity but lack the confidence to do so on your own
  • You want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in a fun, creative environment
  • You want to experiment in clay but aren’t interested in pottery
  • You love animals
  • You’ve watched the Throw Down’s sculpture challenges and thought ‘I’d like to have a go at that!’

Pre course prep

If you have signed up for the course or are considering doing so then you just need to do a little preparation beforehand.  In a nutshell you need to collect reference material of your chosen animals – various angles, the more photos the better.

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. You will also need to email James a picture of your chosen standing animal at least one week before the course starts.

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 recommend B&Bs and hotels.  Click here for the list.

Return Glazing Session

Once you have made your creations on the course, they will need to be dried & bisque fired before they can be glazed.  This means that you will need to return at another time to glaze your work, then another after that to collect the finished pieces.

You will need to book yourself onto one of the following planned glazing days, there are two time slots per day (10am and 1pm):

  • 13/14th August 2022
  • 6th September 2022
  • 22/23/25/26 October 2022

Glazing typically takes between 3-4 hours to glaze but this depends on the artist! Once you are booked onto the course you will be emailed further information on how to book a glazing slot.

Beyond The Course

Having completed a Phoenix Studio course many of our students choose to explore the medium further. They may come on another course, start coming to our Phoenix Art Club Sessions, or carry on independently at home. We are more than happy to help and advise you in taking those first creative steps, help connect you to the wider creative community. You can also bring any pieces you make at home to the studio to be fired in our kilns.

£330 per person, including...

your tuition, your return glazing session, all your clay, materials, glazes, firings, tea, coffee, biscuits & cake


We normally redirect you to James’s website to book this course, but it is playing up right now!

To secure your place, please email us using Places are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.


James Ort

James is the main tutor of this course. He is a wildlife artist. He has always loved animals and his late Grandfather, the Ladybird Children’s book illustrator Brian Price Thomas was a big catalyst for both his love of wildlife and art. His main passion is sculpture, where he is equally drawn to ceramic and wire.

James also has been the manager of the Phoenix Studio for over a decade now, having moved up to Oxfordshire from Brighton where he worked in conservation.

Lois Constable

Lois is James’ cousin and for some time now has been doing a fantastic job in helping James to manage the studio. When she’s not busy keeping the Phoenix Studio inbox from overflowing, she also likes to be creative – it’s in the genes! She really took to making clay animals, showing a natural aptitude and understanding of the technique. On this course she will be helping to keep James on the straight and narrow, ensuring that the day runs smoothly and advising students when is necessary.

At the end of the course we are confident that you will come away with two pieces that you can be happy with and have a great sense of pride & achievement.  Who knows, discovering ceramics may change the course of your life – it certainly has mine!

James Ort – Course Tutor

I fell in love with this course straight away. I have always been creative, but to be given expert guidance by James to create not one but TWO fantastic sculptures, left me wanting more. I feel very privileged to be part of this fantastic experience and studio family. Now being able to work along side James is a dream come true!

Lois Constable – Course Assistant

We get wonderful feedback from the people who attend this course.  Here are just a couple of testimonials:

Had a really great time on the two day course with James and was amazed and very pleased at what I was able to produce as a newcomer. The turorials were inspiring and James and Alison were very patient and great fun to be around. And such lovely surroundings at the studios – a perfect way to spend a weekend!

Ciara Murray

A great creative weekend. The studio is beautiful, well equipped and in a wonderful location. The resident chickens roam around the large wild lawns and we were even lucky enough to have lunch outside in early April! The tuition was brilliant. James and Alison were very thorough and made you feel very comfortable and confident. It was amazing what we were able to create in a matter of hours. James and Alison were always on hand to give instruction, suggestion and encouragement, and always in a relaxed, informal and very friendly way. The weekend was very social with a really supportive atmosphere. I will DEFINITELY be going back.

Nikki Windridge

£330 per person, including...

your tuition, your return glazing session, all your clay, materials, glazes, firings, tea, coffee, biscuits & cake


We normally redirect you to James’s website to book this course, but it is playing up right now!

To secure your place, please email us using Places are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

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