Raku Saggar and Barrel firing courses

New Course Dates 2022

March 26th - 27th Full

May 7th - 8th  Full

June 25th - 26th Full

September 17th - 18th Full

October 15th - 16th Full

To book please follow the link below

Abi Higgins and Alison West

Abi Higgins and Alison West 


This is an intensive firing course, where you will learn how to fire your work (your own or provided by us) using saggar,  raku or barrel firing techniques over two days. The workshop takes place at Abi's beautiful studio on the edge of Dartmoor in Christow,  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.

Raku Firing. 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 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 firing.

• Learn how to load and fire a raku kiln, load a saggar and fire in a gas kiln and pack and fire the barrel.

• Be introduced to wax 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.

Bisque fired pots can be provided at extra cost or bring your own bisque fired masterpieces. Details of how to prepare and burnish your own pots are below.



Remember that we will be firing up to 40 pots so it is really important that you keep to the guidelines below so that everyone gets a fair share.

Maximum of 8 pots each no larger than 15cm in diameter and 20cm tall and smaller if at all possible. In particular we cannot manage flat pieces such as tiles as they take too much room in the kilns. No jewellery please. We will provide a few extra pots at a small extra cost if it is not possible to bring your own. 

Any well grogged clay which resists thermal shock is suitable and we find Ashraf Hanna usually works well.  You will need to biscuit fire all your pots before you bring them.  Do make sure you don’t trap any air in your pots when making them as raku firing is much more rapid than normal firing and will expose flaws in making sometimes resulting in pots blowing up in the kiln. Also, if you make fully enclosed forms like pebbles, make sure that the air escape hole is larger than normal i.e. not a pin hole.



Fire your pot[s][ to a maximum of 980c degrees. Anything higher tends to destroy the burnish.



Get the surface of your pot as smooth as you can and then apply a fine grained slip at the leather hard stage.  Some people use a porcelain slip.  We use a slip composed of 50% body clay plus 50% porcelain.  Sieve the slip at 200 mesh to get it as fine as possible and then apply as many coats as you can. Terrasigillata can also be applied at leather hard stage should you be familiar with the technique. . 



 it is not necessary to burnish your pot, but if you are familiar with this process here are some tips:- 

Allow the slipped pot to dry to nearly bone dry.  The actual dryness which suits your personal technique varies from person to person and you can only find it by trial and error.  Try on a relatively hidden part of the pot.  If your burnishing leaves unsightly indentations, your pot isn’t dry enough.  If burnishing doesn’t produce a shine and leaves the surface dusty, your pot is too dry.  See below for a possible way out.

Now you’ve got the perfect dryness[!], burnish by smoothing the whole of the surface using your chosen tool. Different tools are used depending on your preference. Some people use the back of a spoon, some use a polished pebble.  This should give you a smooth, polished surface.  You can repeat the burnishing to improve it if you wish.  It is worth finishing the surface by rubbing it with a thin plastic bag stretched across your finger.

If your pot was too dry you can try moistening it in sections by dipping your finger in water, smoothing that on your pot a section at a time and then burnishing that area.


Workshop Location 

Courses are held at Christow Pottery in  Devon.

The Mill, Village Road, Christow, Devon EX6 7LX

Christow village is set high in the Teign Valley close to the Kennick and Tottiford reservoirs and has breathtaking countryside all around. It is a former mining area - tin, sliver, copper and manganese all mined locally. There is a church (with a notable granite tower), pub, post office, local shops, and accommodation. The Cantonteign falls are close by.  Local B&B accommodation is available nearby.

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



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

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/21514699.  https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/21472130


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


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Running Order for the Week end


9.30am - Coffee and introductions

10:00am - Choosing the pots you would like to saggar fire, raku fire and barrel fire. You will be shown how to prepare your pots with oxcides and organic materials collected around the garden for the saggar and barrel. You will then begin loading the saggar and barrel. Once completed   we can start firing!

1:00am - Lunch Delicious 

homemade bread soup, flapjacks and brownies provided.

2:00pm -  Prepare your pots for raku firing the next day - Applying slips and glazes for different raku techniques including naked raku. Glazes and slips provided but you are welcome to bring your own to experiment with.

3.30pm - Tea break and finishing raku glaz preperation.

4.30pm - Finish for the day


9:30am - Meet for coffee

9.50am - The very exciting unpacking the saggar and barrel.

Washing/scrubbing/cleaning pots - The 12.00pm - The Raku kilns are fired up  

1:00pm - Lunch provided. More delicious food.
2:00pm - Continue final raku firings and finishing pots - Advice on polishing and sealing you can do at home

4:00pm - Finish

Timings may vary and it may not be possible to fire all your pieces during the course but we will raku as many pieces as we can in the time available, with the aim of everyone completing the weekend with wonderful pots to take home!

If you are interested in our courses please click the "Book Now" button below or at the top and go straight to the booking form.