Jane Kelly’s pottery classes at



Edinburgh (1976-2007)

In 1976 Jane Kelly –not long qualified and working from her own pottery in Portobello- wrote to the Lothian Education Department to ask whether she could start pottery classes for adults in the city.  Space was found for her classes in the basement of Cannonball House at the top of the Royal Mile next to the Castle Esplanade.  It was part of an old ESB (Edinburgh School Board) school, and the main part was used as Lothian Schools Environmental Education Centre.  The Cannonball House basement was suitably damp, and was soon fitted out with equipment recently discarded from city schools. For the first years, Jane took evening classes in the basement three times a week.


With her family growing, she was not able to take day classes at first, but demand for them grew and Alison Robinson and Jean Wilson joined to start them in 1978.   Late each summer the pottery was used for the groups appearing at the Military Tattoo in the Esplanade alongside.


Around 1982, the public buildings at Cannonball House were sold and the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre opened in the old Environmental Education building in 1988.  The pottery classes meanwhile had been moved to another board school at Infirmary Street: The South Bridge Resource Centre behind James Thin the bookseller. Since then the pottery classes have involved many teachers in a beautiful light and airy schoolroom, with better facilities in the yard outside for the Raku firings which many enjoy as part of their course. With the energetic support of a class pupil, the late Val Mackenzie Robinson, the self governing Pottery Users Group was set up at South Bridge so that class members could continue to support and share the facilities in their own time.


POTTERS’ NOTES South Bridge Pottery Classes 2002

Materials –Clay, glazes and tools are provided but have to be paid for, £6 a term is the current charge.  Please bring your own apron or old shirt and take it home with you each week.

Care for clay –It’s important to keep clay damp; please be careful to seal and cover clay bags to prevent drying out.

Spills –Mop them up quickly with damp cloths.  Try to avoid brushing dry clay, or using sandpaper.  The dust is bad for you, and for others.

Marking finished work –When your pots are finished at the ‘green’ stage, leave them out to dry on the shelves by the door.  Use the special class symbol stamp, and scratch your initials on the base of each piece. Unmarked pots will not be fired.

Glazing bisque ware –After the first (‘bisque’) firing, the pots are ready to glaze.  Glazed pots should be put in the kiln room ready for their second (‘glaze’) firing.  Wipe their bottoms clean of any glaze or they will stick to the kiln shelf.  Too much glaze may drip and spoil shelves too. Unwiped pots will not be fired.

Tools –Please take good care of the tools, brushes and equipment: wash them up and put them away after use.

Wheels –Must be left clean and switched off at the wall.

Monday Pottery Classes Morning course 10-12.  Afternoon course 1-3.

Provisional term plan

September 23rd  week 1 –Welcome and enrol new students.  Plan the term programme to meet student requirements.  How to prepare clay.  Wedging.  Pinch pots.

September 30th  week 2 –Slab pots and hand-building.  Textures.  Slip decoration.  Colour.  Press moulds.

October 7th  week 3 –Coil pots. More decoration techniques.

October 14th  week 4 –Learning to throw pots on the wheel

~October 21st is a half term break, with no Monday pottery classes~

October 28th  week 5 –Turning your wheel-thrown pots.

November 4th  week 6 –The bisque firing.  All about glazes.  What they are.  How to apply them correctly.

November 11th  week 7 –More throwing tips.  How to make lids and handles.

November 18th  week 8 –Slip casting, or other topics as required.

November 25th  week 9 –How to progress.  Developing ideas.

December 2nd  week 10 –The last day.  Collecting finished pieces.  Learning some fun techniques.


In May 2007, Jane decided to retire from these city classes after over 30 years.

 She maintains links with South Bridge and the potters Fringe events there.

Jane’s busy classes continue at her Penicuik Pottery penicuikpottery@gmail.com

The last class she took at South Bridge was a Raku firing:















Summer school course pictures



Campaign to revive the SCOTTISH CRAFT CENTRE



< next one up

NUMBER 60 of the 1image024image025
 most visited KOSMOIDimage024& MAKERSimage025webpages

next one down >