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Social Clay Festival


Dates: 01 October 2022 to 02 October 2022

Time: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm


Free Entry

Key information

Drop-in workshops hosted Saturday 10am – 4pm & Sunday 10am – 2pm

No need to book, just turn up and join in for as much or as little as you like


The Farmer’s Arms, Lowick Green – LA12 8DT

Join us for a two day collaborative gathering of people using craft in a political, educational and social way.

It’ll be a weekend of hands-on workshops, making, talks, films and more by lots of interesting and creative people including Aaron Angell of Troy Town Pottery, Rochester Square, The Portland Inn Project, James Beighton and of course our very own Tom Philipson, Francis Lloyd-Jones and Adam Sutherland.

Since establishing The Farmer’s Arms Workshops, we’ve been working to foster collaborations, ideas and discussions to help folks from all walks of life develop post-pandemic networks and provide space for them to make. Social Clay is an informal celebration of what has been established to date and a chance for us to meet other people doing interesting things, to learn, exchange and collaborate.

At the moment we are mainly about pottery as that’s what we have the most facilities for, but we also do woodwork, textiles and of course, lots of food, baking, preserving and horticulture. So if you’re working somewhere in between any or all of these things, but you’re thinking beyond the product, then this festival is for you!

WANT TO JOIN US FOR THE WEEKEND? For those not living local but still wanting to get involved, we’ll also have basic camping facilities available in The Farmer’s Fields next to the pub for that weekend only – Contact Us to book.



Drop-In Workshops: 

Saturday 1st October, 10am – 4pm & Sunday 2nd October, 10am – 2pm

Encaustic Tile Making with Tom Philipson & Aaron Angell 

Join Tom Philipson (Director of Making) and artist Aaron Angell of Troy Town Art Pottery as they show you how to make inlaid terracotta tiles using a traditional 14th-15th century method of hammering clay into a frame using a raised stamp, and then filling the depression with white pipeclay. The tiles are then dried and the excess slip shaved off to reveal a perfectly inlaid design.

These tiles were originally made in tile makers encampments close to the cathedral construction sites which they served. Participants will be able to produce their own designs in collaboration with Tom and Aaron to produce part of a pavement to be installed at The Farmer’s Arms.

Press Mould Pigeons with The Portland Inn Project

The Portland Pigeon is a bespoke ceramic piece developed by The Portland Inn Project in collaboration with local residents of Portland Street, Stoke-On-Trent. During Social Clay, they’ll demonstrate how their pigeons are made and host a Pigeon Drop! when you’ll have the opportunity to buy one of these limited addition birds.

From the original sculpted birds, created by community members, Portland Inn have created two different pigeon shapes from which all birds are press moulded. Ceramic artist Alice Thatcher hosts a Pigeon Club, where residents have learned the necessary skills to press, fettle and paint the pigeons. The Pigeons are then biscuit fired to 1000C before being glazed and fired a second time at 1220C. This process means that each Pigeon is unique, and hand crafted at each stage of the making process.

Clay Finger Puppets with Rochester Square

Join Rochester Square‘s Lucie MacGregor and Frances Gibson and create your own clay finger puppets.

Encouraging families and friends to construct performative characters centred around stories relating to the three core ideas Rochester Square is grown upon – nature, clay and food. Bringing together the collaborative stories made during Social Clay, they’ll invite visitors to interact with props, a small-scaled theatre and filming equipment to bring their finger puppets to life. They’ll later edit footage collected into a short video which will be shared on social media and blogs after the festival.

Throwdown Pottery with Francis Lloyd-Jones

Ever wanted to try throwing on a pottery wheel? Or are you just interested to learn how potters create their work on a potters wheel – well this is your chance!

Our Resident Potter Francis Lloyd-Jones will be at the wheel ready to show any novice how to throw a pot.

Make Your Own Raku Glazed and Fired Pot

For those not familiar, Raku is a quick low fire pottery technique in which pots are removed from the kiln while they still have a molten orange glow and placed in combustable materials that affect the glaze and clay body to give rich varied and colourful results.

During Social Clay, you’ll have the opportunity to try out Raku for yourself, glazing and decorating your own pot and firing it ready to take home. We’ll have lots of objects made ready for you to decorate, and will host at least 2 live firings (morning & afternoon) on both Saturday and Sunday. If there is demand, we will host more.

PLEASE NOTE: This workshop is charged at £30 per pot. 



Saturday 1st October

Further programme TBA

10:00 – FILM SCREENING: Hands, Belleek Potteries (1987, 53 minutes)

Hands was an Irish television documentary series broadcast by RTÉ between 1978 and 1989, covering traditional Irish crafts. This one hour special tells the history of the famous Belleek Pottery, Co. Fermanagh, and shows traditional techniques including hand-modelling of Parian ware, slip casting and fettling.

11:30 – FILM SCREENING: Clay Fever (2018, 42 minutes)

Clay Fever is a performance of selected correspondence between studio pottery collector Bill Ismay and celebrated slipware potter Micheal Cardew. It documents their 25 year friendship with sensitivity and humour and was filmed as part of the Restating Clay conference held at COCA, York in 2018. The play was commissioned by Helen Walsh, curator of ceramics at York Museums Trust using her doctoral research into Bill Ismay’s archive and collection.

Bill Ismay was a librarian based in Wakefield and over many years amassed one of the most important collections of twentieth century studio pottery. His collection is now housed at the Centre of Ceramic Art in York.

Micheal Cardew was a potter credited with reviving the English slipware tradition in the early and mid twentieth century. He worked with Bernard Leach in the 1920’s and then set up Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire which still produces domestic pots today. He sent 20 years from 1945-65 in West Africa, first at a college in Ghana and then set up his own pottery with the intention of creating a self sufficient village from the production of pottery along side the traditional potters of Vume on the Volta River.

Playwright Bridget Foreman, directed by Paul Burbridge, Micheal Cardew played by Robert Pickavance, Bill Ismay played by Robin Simpson, Commisioned by Helen Walsh, curator of ceramics, York Museums Trust

14:00 – FILM SCREENING: Hands, Carley’s Bridge Potteries (1980, 26 minutes)

Part of the Hands documentary series, this film features the workings of Ireland’s oldest pottery, in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, founded by two brothers called ‘Kerley’ in 1659. The process starts with the digging and curing of clay. We see Paddy Murphy, whose family has worked there for generations, hand-throwing flowerpots, and large decorative earthenware vessels with his strong, skillful hands. The dry pots are stacked in coal-fired beehive kilns for the dramatic firing process. From start to finish it takes a week.

15:00 – TALK: James Beighton Explores Social Clay in Middlesbrough (FIND OUT MORE HERE)

Joining us from Tees Valley Arts, James Beighton will talk through examples of how historical ceramic practice within his own home town of Middlesbrough supported social change, and in turn, provided inspiration for contemporary social practice amongst artists. James will examine the 19th century Linthorpe and Middlesbrough Potteries as well as the Scoria brick manufacture and how they have provided inspiration for contemporary projects including New Linthorpe (2014-2017) and The Exchange (2022) by Layla Khoo.

19:00 – POTTEROAKE in The Stable Bar (FIND OUT MORE HERE)

Croon with clay at the world’s only, world famous POTTERAOKE brought to you by The Portland Inn Project. Hosted by Gladys and Mabel, choose a clay related song from our karaoke list and sing your heart out while throwing a pot on the wheel. The winner takes home a weeks supply of Wigan Salad (crisps and peanuts).

Sunday 2nd October

Further programme TBA

10:00 – FILM SCREENING: Hands, Clay Pipe Works (1983, 26 minutes)

Also part of the Hands TV series, this documentary captures the craftsmanship of the Irish Fireclays and Stoneware Company in Lossets, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, makers of industrial clay drainage pipes. Made from quarried and milled shale, the film follows the craftsmen through the entire production process. We also meet the Kiln-men who supervise the firing of the largest beehive kiln in the British Isles at Kingscourt, Co. Cavan.

11:00 – Adam Sutherland Talks Social Clay (Details TBC)

14:00 – TALK: Learn About Salt Kilns with Francis Lloyd-Jones

Salt firing is a very old technique which relies on salt in vapour form to act as a glaze, reacting with the clay to form particular surfaces and finishes.

Here at The Farmer’s Arms our Resident Potter, Francis Lloyd-Jones has recently adapted an old electric kiln into a gas fired salt kiln to provide workshop users options for various firing techniques. Join him for the inaugural kiln opening to learn more about salt firing and how he and the workshop team adapted the kiln.

15:00 – FILM SCREENING: Clay Finger Puppets with Rochester Square

To celebrate a weekend of making with families and new friends, Rochester Square will screen a short film developed in collaboration with weekend workshop participants that brings to life the clay finger puppets and their stories created over Social Clay.


Dates: 01 October 2022 to 02 October 2022

Time: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm


Free Entry

Key information

Drop-in workshops hosted Saturday 10am – 4pm & Sunday 10am – 2pm

No need to book, just turn up and join in for as much or as little as you like


The Farmer’s Arms, Lowick Green – LA12 8DT

Website by Farm Factory