Try your hand at throwing pots

Have you, like me, always fancied trying your hand at ceramics? Have you been inspired to have a go by the Great Pottery Throw Down?

Well, if so, you need to book yourself on to some new courses that have been started by two experienced potters in Alfreton.

Graeme McKenna and Inga Heppleston believe that the most important thing is to practise and with that in mind they have launched Parkwood Throwing courses and offer an eight week evening course or a summer weekend course. You can even try it out on a three-hour taster session.

The tutors have a passion for ceramics and in their day jobs are employed by Derbyshire County Council running Parkwood Pottery which provides skills training for  adults with learning disabilities.

The pottery is self-funding and pots thrown by Graeme and Inga there are sold commercially to cover the costs.

“After running pottery workshops elsewhere in the county in the evenings we got to the stage where we felt if we combined our efforts we could make a good job of it.

“The pottery was unused out of hours, so we asked the council if we could pay to hire it in the evenings and at weekends,” explained Graeme.

It was a bit of a no-brainer really, so of course the council agreed.

The funds raised are also ploughed back into the day centre’s coffers and Graeme and Inga have a ready- made pottery studio to use to teach the rest of us would-be potters.

Inga says that after eight two-hour sessions even complete beginners can be competent at throwing a pot and go it alone – although they are happy for people to come back and hone their skills further.

The classes are small, a maximum of five on each, so you pretty much get one-to-one tuition and all the materials are included. You just have to take an apron and a towel (definitely essential), and a notebook and pen.

When artsbeat visited the centre which is near Alfreton Hall there were four students into week four of their course and they were already pretty confident (well most of the time anyway) and some interesting shapes were being created.

“We are passionate about pottery and throwing and we enjoy being able to pass on our skills. It is great to see so many people becoming inspired and discovering that they can do it with the right help,” said Graeme.

There is a summer weekend course in July with one place left, as of going to press, and a new eight-week course starts on September 21. Go to for more details.