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Fantastical Beasts of the Maison Dieu and How to Make Them

That’s what Ceramic Art Dover is offering this weekend (Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26th, 11am to 4pm) with a variety of fun, free clay-based activities for all ages, in collaboration with Future Foundry and the Maison Dieu (Dover Town Hall).

Inspired by the Maison Dieu’s 800-year-old art and architecture, create your own fantastical beasts in clay at the nearby Biggin Hall using hand-building, throwing, Raku-firing, and casting.

Visitors can assist in the creation of a massive installation of fantastical creatures and grotesques at the sculpture table, create their own design to take home, or try their hand at the potter’s wheel with the assistance of experienced potters. You can also glaze a tile for our community window and use our stamp collection to make a one-of-a-kind plaster cast.

The flaming Raku glazing and firing demonstrations in the courtyard garden of Maison Dieu House, adjacent to Biggin Hall, will be one of the highlights. Visitors can glaze a pre-made pot while watching it be fired in the kiln. Raku firing is a dramatic and unpredictably unpredictable technique. When the pots are white-hot, they are removed from the kiln and placed in metal bins containing organic matter, which catches fire. Raku’s fiery, flaming process produces distinct black, smoky, cracked, or iridescent effects.

Last but not least, there will be a Community Throwdown Competition (Saturday only from 3-4pm), in which volunteer teams will compete in a timed throwdown challenge. Why not participate or come and cheer on the teams?

The organisers are looking for four-person teams with no or very little experience throwing on a pottery wheel. There is no maximum age, but a lower age limit of 11 years ensures that everyone is tall enough to operate the wheels. Prizes and medals are awarded to the top teams.

Visitors to the Maison Dieu can take a family-friendly building tour or pick up a spotter’s guide to find dragons, grotesques, historic characters, or plants and flowers in the stone carvings, stained-glass, and decorative scheme designed by Victorian Neo-gothic architect William Burges.

In the Maison Dieu’s Stone Hall, there will also be a ceramic market exhibition featuring work by potters from Ceramic Art Dover, as well as a display of finds from the recent Stone Hall archaeological dig, including fragments of 13th century stained-glass, window tracery, and glazed tiles.