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The Great Pottery Throw Down

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The search for a top home potter begins with a four-day assignment to make stackable kitchen bowls from lumps of earthenware clay. Throwing, trimming and decorating are just some of the stages of the make. The potters' every move is watched over by judges Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones, while Sara Cox makes them feel right at home in the heart of the Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent.

 

While they wait for their bowls to dry and fire, the potters face two more challenges of their potting skill. The Spot Test is a chance to show off their technical ability against the clock. This week, they must make and attach handles onto twenty mugs using a technique called pulling - with mixed and amusing results.

 

And in the Throw Down, the judges test the potters' skill at the wheel. This week, they must throw as many egg cups as they can in twenty minutes. They must throw 'off the hump' - a technique which helped to bring about modern-day mass production of small pots. But which potter will make the most?

 

On the last day, the potters' bowls finally come out of the kiln and they see whether all their hard work has paid off. Who will be this week's top potter? And who will be the first to leave the pottery?

 

 

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Nine passionate potters return to Stoke-on-Trent for more tests of their skills and creativity, all aiming to be named Top Potter.

 

This week they face a big Main Make for the smallest room in the house - a decorative hand basin. The potters are using a technique which is over 15,000 years old, coiling ropes of clay, one on top of the other. But the slightest mistake and their lovingly crafted basins could explode in the heat of the kiln.

 

The basins will take seven days to make, so in the meantime judges Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones set more tests of the potters' skills. In the Spot Test the potters must add a surface design to nine plain tiles, a technique which flourished in Stoke-on-Trent's heyday. And in a fiendish Throw Down, the potters are challenged to throw the tallest cylinder they can while blindfolded.

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It is week three and the home potters are back in Stoke-on-Trent for more tough tests of their ceramic skills, each hoping to be named Top Potter.

 

They are playing with fire in their main make, when judges Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones ask them to make ten identical long-necked vases using the raku technique. This Japanese method of decorating and firing dates back to the 16th century and requires the potters to take their red-hot vases straight out of the kiln and plunge them into a bin full of combustible materials.

 

For their spot test, the potters must produce the finest decoration on three jugs using slip - watered-down clay. It is an ancient method which first enabled potters to colour and pattern their work. And for the throw down, the potters have just 15 minutes at the wheel to produce exact copies of two ornate candlesticks thrown by master potter Keith.

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I watched this episode last week when it aired so honestly, I don't remember much about the specifics except that I liked it. I know nothing about pottery but I enjoyed watching the contestants create their pieces. Hee and I love hearing people say "POTTER" in a British accent repeatedly over an hour. I wasn't surprised that Rehka was the first one sent home.

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Rehka was weak.   But she was a lovely woman and I'd totally love to have some tea with her.    

 

I think Matthew has an incredible amount of potential but I am worried that his whole I was born with clay in my hands and I can do this in my sleep doesn't give him an overconfidence that works against him.   Hopefully this result will have him working a little harder next week.

 

I love Jim and his band and his sideburns.  Totally rooting for him to stick around a long time.   

 

And I don't think I ever once considered how ceramic cups get their handles.  That was wicked cool.  

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Wow, I can't believe how long these challenges take. The wash basin required coiling on the first night (which began at 9pm and ended at mdnight), overnight drying and then trimming, another overnight drying, a 24 hour firing, glazing, and then another firing. The host said they had seven days. I'm used to the Great British Bake Off where they film everything over the weekend and then go home for the week.

 

I liked that the wash basin was a very practical challenge (not that there's anything wrong with decorative pieces like vases) and that they were given specific dimensions. I also liked that the coil technique is different from all the stuff they did with the wheel last week. It was interesting to see the different pieces that they used for their forms. I love seeing the creative process and the wide variety of ways that the contestants have for creating the same object. Sandra's freestanding bowl with just the paper support seemed a little scary on the second day when she was scraping, I was getting so nervous for her. Very nice to see Joanna offer her something she had brought to help her.

 

I know cracks are terrible, but I had to laugh when Nigel picked his up after the first firing and saw that the bottom had completely separated from the rest of his basin. It looked like a top hat without a top.

 

I liked seeing the different techniques they used to glaze their basins. I have only made one pottery piece in my life (and it was terrible!) but I have gone to several of those pottery painting places over the years, which I always found really fun and relaxing (of course, I didn't have huge time constraints like these contestants had). I was always paranoid about how many coats I needed.

 

I really loved that all the potters walked around and looked at everyone's basins, oohing and aahing. Nice to see them helping each other out when the plugs wouldn't fit. I also really loved that we got to see a mini recap of each potter's process from the initial sculpting to the decorating and then the finished product. I didn't realize the ring test meant making the pot ring. I thought they were going to fill each basin with water to check for cracks.

 

Jim's turtle basin was not my favorite. I wish he had painted the outside a color beside that stark white contrasted with the greenish glaze on the inside made it look unfinished. Congrats to him for wrangling the plug in.

 

Joanna's geology basin was really lovely. I liked all the little fossils. I wasn't crazy about Sandra's and that was even before the crack. I thought Matthew's looked a little too homemade. I also thought that since he he already used the stamps on his tiles, using them on his basin was a bit repetitive. Apparently I think the opposite of the judges.

 

Sally Jo's had a really nice wavy shap that went with the waves in the paint but the fish were too small. Jane's pansy was gorgeous. I loved the colors and the shape. I realy loved the bright blue glaze Tom used on the rim of his basin. Is the male judge going to cry every week? I'm okay with it but it's becoming a theme and it's only the second week.

 

Nigel's industrial theme was interesting but it's too bad that his basin separated during firing. I hated James's from the very beginning. It looked way too rough, which is a shame because when his partner showed the lovely heart he had made with the ruffled edge, I understood his style more. But the end result looked like a beginner's project.

 

I loved seeing the contestants' families! So many cute kids and funny stories (loved the one about the mug that brought Jim and his wife together being destroyed when he put it on top of his truck and drove off).

 

Another thing i like is that we get to see a lot of interaction between the contestants in the work room. We get a little bit of that on the Bake Off shows but definitely not to this extent. I also like that we get to see the contestants checking out each other's work. It's only the second week but the exchanges we have seen are hilarious.

 

James: That's a very feminine bowl.

Jane: Are you trying to say it's a bit vaginal? You clearly haven't seen enough of them!

 

I wish the show would put the contestants' names on the screen more often, especially at this early stage in the show when there are so many of them.

 

I love the spot tests. I really liked the graceful women that were shown in the example. I felt for James feeling stressed about having to design and create in 90 minutes. I am not a creative person so I need time to come up with concepts! Ha, hilarious that Nigel stamped HIS NAME into one of the tiles for a challenge that's supposed to be judged anonymously. the male judge needs to stop saying "obviously." He said it for almost every set of tiles. I liked Matthew's designs because they were so crisp and geometric but I also thought they felt a bit less creative and personal than some of the others.

 

Love the throwdown challenge too! I know they can't take it too seriously but it's so fun to watch. Blindfolded vase throwing? Love it! And I really liked that the judges were yelling suggestions to the contestants like telling Sally Jo to use her forearms more. When the judges went around to measure their vases, at first I thought that I was getting the wrong scale because I briefly forgot that they were measuring in centimeters instead of inches.

 

Ha, I loved the return of the marching band version of the classic 90s song "Twilight Zone." I was not at all surprised that Nigel was eliminated. That was a huge mistake. James got off easy because his basin was way too rough.

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Argh, I started this and lost it  

 

Loved Matthew's sink.   I think it was my favorite.    Although, I doubt I would buy it because I'd be just a little worried that all that relief pattern would be hard to clean.  Although, the glaze would help with that.   I didn't mind that he used the stamp in the big basin.   He started that first.  But I didn't like that he was able to use those same stamps in the blind test because, um, wouldn't the judges be as aware of which one was his as they would have been Nigels?   

 

The inside of Jim's bowl was my absolute favorite, it would totally look great in my bathroom and I loved it.   But I didn't like the white on the underside of the bowl.   It just isn't my aesthetic.    Still, I totally love him and his sideburns and I want him to go far.  

 

I wasn't as impressed with the tile decorations this week as I was with the I was with the mug handles last week, but I did love some of what the people did.   It is nice because you really are looking for differences in who each artist is, as opposed to trying to make everything the same.   Nigel trying to stamp his name in the tile was really, really funny.   But that finished tile looked, really good.  So I was sorry for him that it was clearly a bad idea... since it was his best one.

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It is week four in Stoke-on-Trent and just six potters remain, all striving to be named Top Potter.

 

For their main make, judges Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones set the potters a monumental task - hand-building a five-foot garden sculpture out of slabs of clay. At stake is a place in the semi-final and their designs this week are more ambitious than ever before. But building big is fraught with danger and even the slightest technical error could cause their sculptures to shatter in the heat of the kiln.

 

For their spot test, the potters must transform an ordinary chimney pot into a decorative strawberry pot by cutting holes in the original and adding pouches to the side.

 

And for the throw down, the potters have just ten minutes on the wheel to throw the widest plate they can. Judge Keith makes plate-throwing look easy, but who can match him for size?

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HEY!  I saw this in the Forums list.  I love skill competition shows! 

 

Why don't I get this?  I pay for every stupid channel in the Directv lineup, except Cloo and sports. 

 

Ripoff.

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Man, I love this show! But sometimes I wish the judges would explain exactly what they want and mean in more detail. For example, during the spot test they said they wanted the contestants to use slip to decorate the three jugs in a contemporary style and that the three had to relate to each other as a set. That was all they were told and all we were told. But then during the judging they kept talking about the painterly nature of the slip, illustrating the way the sip is, the medium of slip, the sense of action of slip, etc. - all things that I wish they had discussed (even if only to us) before/during the challenge so we knew what they were looking for while we watched the contestants decorating.

 

It was hilarious when Sandra said that Jim talks a lot because she seems like she talks to herself a lot (and makes a lot of noises) when she's in the workroom.

 

These challenges take forever! Two days to dry their vases and then a 24 hour bisque fire. Interesting that they were told to make ten vases and then choose five of those. Did they have them make twice as many so they would have more choice or just to stress them out?

 

It was nice to see Jim give advice to Sally Jo about which combinations of oxides to use together. You know on other shows, he would have tried to sabotage her by giving her bad advice.

 

I loved that this time they had the contestants do their own firing for the long necked raku vases. I am actually surprised that there weren't more vases that were dropped in the process.

 

Haha, and of course the judge cried again. At least in past weeks, it was because he was moved by the aesthetics. This week he started crying because Sandra never gave up? Dude, she was making vases, not running a marathon on one leg.

 

I was surprised that Sandra wasn't in contention to go home. She has been circling the drain from the beginning. James seemed like such a nice guy but the judges seemed offended by his fifth vase so I'm not surprised he was the one sent home. Since they briefly mentioned that Joanna dropped out of the competition, I thought this might be a non-elmination week.

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I could watch Matthew work with clay for hours. Some of this simple shallow, but it's also the joy of watching someone create joyfully. I liken it to watching Bob Ross. I don't watch him to learn.

I absolutely love the look of raku and have occasionally thought about learning pottery so I could do it, but this episode makes me think I should just leave it to the experts. But how exciting to put glaze on and have intentions but not really know what it will look like until the end.

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My mom loves Raku and collected it for a while when I was  kid.    So I'm pretty familiar with what it can look like.    I thought Matthew's pots were fantastic.  I was rooting for him to take this one and not at all surprised that he did.  That was just above and beyond.

I agree about wishing we knew more what could be done with the slip before we went into judging.  That said as soon as Tom did those white slashes, I knew he'd be tops because those were just so incredibly minimalistic but beautiful.   

 

Jim and his sideburns remain my favorite, entierly because of said sideburns but his Raku was so forced and eh.  I was shocked.    

Those three guys though, Tom, Matthew and Jim seem just miles ahead of the rest.   

 

There was no way Sandra was going after she made the judge cry, but I suspect she and Sally-Jo are circling the drain and will be the next two gone in some order.   

I really do love this show but as opposed to Sewing Bee and Bake off, I'm just not versed enough in the medium to say, "Oh, I think I'd try...."    And I took ceramics for a few years.  But we did very little throwing and I was crap at the little that we did.   

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It's available if you can get the BBC on-line.  But, I can't.   So, I look on YouTube.  The sound quality isn't great ... I have a hard time understanding some of what's said.  Don't know if that's because of the quality of the video on YouTube or the fact that they're speaking a different kind of English.

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I know that I say this every week, but I LOVE this show. I don't know jack about pottery but I love seeing the contestants create all of these pieces from start to finish and I really enjoy learning about different pottery techniques.

 

I liked that the main challenge this week didn't involve throwing on the wheel, just to switch things up. I thought that might have Sandra the edge to stay since she has admitted that she's not good at throwing and she said that she does a lot of slab work, but no. I think that if she had actually finished all of the sections of her big piece (instead of adding that antenna to the top), she would have stayed and Jane would have gone home. As Kate said, there is a fine line between ambition and foolishness. Creating a garden sculpture that required fifty pieces was not a good design choice. She definitely should have made those bottom pieces taller. I'm glad that she was allowed to glue her pieces together so that she had something to present to the judges. I liked the top circle and the bottom trapezoid (I think it's because I liked the cut out centers), but I didn't like the way she decorated the middle section with the red, yellow, and green rectangles. The green was the wrong shade for her theme and I didn't like that the red was so translucent. I'm glad that Keith didn't let her get away with her "I didn't have enough time" excuse by pointing out that she had just as much time as everyone else. I didn't like her response to that either ("But they're cleverer than me") which made her sound like an eight year old who was caught doing something wrong.

 

I liked Jane's honeycomb design in theory, but I agreed with the judges about her glazing/decorating choices. She should have used more of that pattern she made with the peanut butter jar and not painted the insides of her shapes black. The tope three sections looks a bit unfinished.

 

I liked Jim's fish sculpture. His style is so whimsical and fun. I hope he thanked Sally Jo for telling him to glaze the scales since Keith made it a point to say he really liked the white glaze. It's too bad that the kiln shrinkage meant his two pieces didn't slot together properly but overall I really liked his sculpture.

 

Sally Jo's nigella sculpture was interesting in theory but I didn't love the finished product. I agreed with Keith that the dark textured base piece seemed separate from the lighter colored pod shaped pieces on the top. But when I looked at each section separately, I liked them from the dark textured base to the middle piece with the glazed tree on matte, and then the pod with the divots.

 

I really liked the concept of Tom's piece. The stamped sections on the side glazed with a dark blue gave it subtle texture. I really liked the bold geometric shapes he used (and I loved the shot of Sally Jo through the hole in the circle - good job, camera crew!). I totally agreed with Kate that the bright blue line he added as a detail was painted sloppily though. It's too bad some of his pieces cracked in the kiln. But great job for his first slab work!

 

I know that Matthew is very technically skilled as a potter but I hated the way he painted his sculpture. It just looked messy, like a paint factory exploded. I couldn't believe that his paint job was what made Keith cry this week.

 

The strawberry pot spot test was so fun. I loved that when the host called ten minutes, both Sally Jo and Tom decided to add some more.  I was not at all surprised that Jim won. His whimsical monster pot was funny and unique. The little eyes peeking over the top and the tongues sticking out were so cute. He was smart to use those big thumb prints when attaching the little pots. I also really liked Tom's fluted edges which were really beautiful and the cone shapes that trailed down the side. I also enjoyed Sally Jo's strawberry design. I know it's a bit on the nose, but it was a fun design choice. Matthew's were beautifully symmetric and applied seamlessly but I didn't think they worked very well for a strawberry pot. Jane's was nice and had clean lines but it was a little boring compared to everyone else's. Sandra's looked like a mess. I don't like when the judges start talking about the story that a piece is telling, but in this case I agree because there was no clear anything on Sandra's.

 

Once again, I wish that the judges would be a little clearer about what they want. During the throw down judging, they kept saying that some of the plates were almost dishes, but I don't know what the difference is. I did love that they cut the plates in half so we could see how thick and flat the bottom was and what the angle of the rim was. Such a shame that Jim accidentally stuck his thumb in the rim of his plate as he was using the wire to remove it!

 

No big surprise that Matthew was top potter again this week. The judges really love him. I think Jane or Sally Jo will be going home this week. I'm honestly surprised that Sandra lasted this long.

 

Other things I liked this week:

  • Sandra asking if they had half an hour for the plate throw down and then Keith telling her that they only had ten minutes
  • everyone talking about all the muscle they needed for kneading their slab clay (coincidentally, it was bread week on the Great Australian Bake Off last week so there was a similar discussion about how much work it was to knead dough)
  • the contestants giggling about how sweaty Tom was getting from kneading his clay
  • learning that the clay used in slab work is called crank and then hearing one of the potters say, "I've never used crank before."
Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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It's semi-final week in Stoke-on-Trent and just five potters remain, determined to secure their place in the final.

 

For their main make, the potters face their most technically demanding challenge yet - creating a decorative chandelier in bone china. This delicate and translucent clay was first produced in Britain at the end of the 18th century as a cheap alternative to Chinese porcelain. The potters must pour liquid clay into plaster moulds to make the pieces for their chandeliers in a process called slip casting.

 

For their spot test, steady hands are required when judges Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones test the potters' banding skills. They must paint consistent and fine lines onto plates which are revolving on the wheel.

 

And for the throw down, they have just 15 minutes on the wheel to make the largest closed sphere they can, a hollow ball of clay which could collapse at any moment.

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From what I could figure out, a dish is deeper than a plate, so they called it a dish if the rim was a lot higher than the base.

Or I could be totally wrong since they don't explain it!

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It's a neat and interesting show, but this really IS one of those shows where the casting fell down and they didn't cast a credible spread of talent all that well. I mean they're all nice people, but when you've got two guys who clearly have a talent level way beyond the others it takes all of the suspense out of the judging (and the only other who's even been close has been... the third guy). 

 

Was it really that hard to find talented female potters? I doubt it.  I wonder what happened here. Did they cast for personalities over pure credentials?

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Was it really that hard to find talented female potters? I doubt it.  I wonder what happened here. Did they cast for personalities over pure credentials?

 

They will get more contestant choices over the long term now the show is on. I don't necessarily think a lot of people knew about this show before it came up and it has already made pottery incredibly popular. My friend started pottery in Scotland as a hobby last year and it noticeably hit their pottery group when the show premiered this month. Some years are more male or female on GBBO too depending on the group.

 

I do agree there is a talent/gender disparity. The three male contestants all have decades of experience, at least a couple of them has it as part of their job/livelihood.

 

What I wonder is how they schedule their "working lives" in this. Each of the challenges is at least one week.

 

In any case, I really like this show. Every week I try to guess which contestant will make Keith cry. I am also wondering when I'll see the female judge actually do something on the wheel or demonstrate a technique.

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Matthew clearly has a huge advantage since both of his parents are potters so he has been around it his whole life, and he has plenty of experience if he's teaching pottery classes. When you compare that to some of the other contestants who have only recently started pottery as a hobby and do it on the weekends to relax from their full time jobs, it seems kind of unfair. But even if you disregard that factor, just seeing what they produce each week shows that there is a pretty big disparity between the top potters and everyone else. Hopefully next season (fingers crossed that there will be a second season!) they will be able to attract more applicants and have a more level playing field.

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I wonder if one of the problems is that they're mixing art with function to a certain extent.  There's a lot of subjectivity in the feedback.  That's of the best parts about art, but it is problematic in a competition.

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I wonder if one of the problems is that they're mixing art with function to a certain extent.  There's a lot of subjectivity in the feedback.  That's of the best parts about art, but it is problematic in a competition.

Actually while I get that objection for lets say... Bake Off... I don't know if it holds as strongly here. There are a lot of objective elements to pottery. Physical standards vs. something completely subjective like taste. It's inarguable if something is shaped wrong or has the wrong dimensions. If it has a hole in it or a dent or crack. The paint jobs veer a lot more to the subjective, admittedly, but even there I think there are at least some objective elements in terms of amount of coverage on an object (in other words if it was a difficult treatment and they budgeted time badly and had to be overly simplistic), if a line or drawing has breaks or interruptions in it, etc.

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Oh I agree there are many objective elements that they judge. I especially liked the ping test for the basins. I just think these two judges veer into unexplained subjective territory and I don't completely trust their reactions. Both judges seem to be emotional people, especially important for artists, and sometimes it seems they are moved by tangential things.

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I swear I wrote out a whole thing on Tuesday or Wednesday, but apparently I didn't.    

 

I also thought slab work was going to be good for Sandra but from the beginning her project was ambitious, seriously ambitious.  I knew she was gone the moment she tried with that pathetic antenna.  I think that might be worse than not having made the height.    It just drew attention to how little she did.  

Jane is so totally the next one gone.  She's just less than the others skill wise.   But her piece more fit the brief than Sandra's.   Plus the design was fine.  She really let herself down in the decorating department.   

 

Jim's sculpture was fun.   Jim's sculptures are usually fun.   But  I agree the glazing on the scales really made then pop. 

 

I thought Sally Jo had the best concept.   But sadly it didn't work out quite as well as I was expecting.   

I really, really liked Tom's piece.  it might have been my favorite but with all the cracks it wasn't going to be in contention.

 

I loathed Matthew's piece.  It was very industrial, post apocalyptic.   I just didn't get the effusive praise.   I'm fine with abstract, usualy but for this it was all, well how would you know if he screwed anything up.   Don't get me wrong.  I didn't think it was worse than Sandra's but I would have put it behind Jim and probably Tom and Sally Jo. 

I thought Jim's strawberry pot was a little busy.  But it was a lot of fun and I totally would have voted for that.    And I loved Tom's comment that he he wanted to buy Jiim's and stop him from being able to pot more.    Tom's was nice but simple compared to Jim.   I would have totally done the strawberry strawberry pot just like Sally-Jo so no complaints from me.    I liked it.  Matthew's was really nice.  A little simple and understated but in a good way.    Jane's was boring.   Sandra's only wishes t were boring.    
 

 I think Tom, Jim and Matthew are all well above the rest but  I found that with the first season of bake off and moreso the first season of Sewing Bee.    I think the overall quality of the applicants for both shows increased as people became more aware of the shows and what would be expected from contestants of said shows.  If this gets another series, I suspect the quality overall will jump and the difference between the top contenders and the mid level contenders will be less, but we'll see... hopefully.  

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It is the grand final and the four remaining potters have just three tests left before one is crowned the winner of the Great Pottery Throw Down.

 

For their main make, Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones serve up their hardest task yet for the potters - a mark of how far they have come. They want each potter to make an original twelve-piece tea set out of porcelain, a true test of a potter's skills. The teapot is the toughest item to make, with a body, spout and lid, while the white and delicate porcelain is known as the trickiest of all clays to work with.

 

The other tests don't get much easier. They face a spot test from hell when they must cut intricate and decorative designs into leather-hard porcelain vases using a technique known as 'the devil's work'. For the final throw down, they have just 20 minutes to make three high-shouldered jugs - one of the hardest shapes to throw at the wheel.

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I still love this show but I feel like every week I say, "I don't see what the judges see in Matthew."   Except in raku week. He rocked raku week.  But seroiusly, the sloppy, sloppy, sloppy job he did rimming those plates should have had him out of contention for top potter.   I get it wasn't somethng he'd done before but he put out plates that had big blobs on them.   The heck.    

 

I liked his Chandelier fine but I thought the one quilted pattern got boring after a while.   I did like that the had the slits that you could see the light through.

 

I thought Jim's pieces were a little heavy and would have been better served by being hung on a third tier to help break them up a little.   And I agree with his final assessment that he should have hung his flowers at an angle to show off their detailing better.  But overall I liked his piece.  

 

I'm not sure what the issue was with Tom's chandelier.  Or I'm not sure what story anybody else except maybe Sally-Jo was telling so I'm not sure  I saw Tom's story being watered down.   I thought he did a really nice job hanging his.

 

I liked the leaves on Sally-Jo's a lot.  And  I liked the slits she cut through the wings to let the light through.  But the wings overall made it a little hokey to me and I wish it was just the various feathers.   

 

Jane's.... sgh.  I really hoped her idea of gettng the waved effect had worked.   And I really did like the jelly fish  a lot.  But that piece did not work and she was the right one to go home.

 

Plates.   I thought Matthew's were unforgivably messy.  Sally-Jo's improved so I thought she deserved second.  At least she tried.     I don't know why Tom edged his plate off the edge but I did think it was a nice even job.   Tom and Jane both had brilliant edging and I'd have given either the win.

 

Spheres: Sally-Jo didn't complete the brief here and Jane made a statue of  a sphere.  Tom's egg head was a little messy but honesty it was a very close run thing between Jim and Matthew.    

 

 I thought we were going to miss out on Keith tears this week but he snuck some in right at the end when he told Sally Jo she was in contention for top potter....   Although,  I still don't know if you should be in contention if you don't complete the brief on one of the challenges.  

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Jim was above the rest in both the mini challenges, but his chandelier was underwhelming. He lost the Top Potter title because of it. I did not love Matthew's chandelier either, but I agree that he really knew the material and the way he decorated did amplify the light.

 

The ladies have been struggling to stay in the competition. Tom was more medicore this week too which is a bit disappointing.

 

If Matthew wins, it'll be rather anticlimactic in a bad way. I get that he is the most experienced and technically proficient in many ways, but there has been times where I've been underwhelmed by his work and oddly enough, his personality. It's funny because like his students, I do agree that he has cool hair.

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If Matthew wins, it'll be rather anticlimactic in a bad way. I get that he is the most experienced and technically proficient in many ways, but there has been times where I've been underwhelmed by his work and oddly enough, his personality. It's funny because like his students, I do agree that he has cool hair.

 

I love Matthew's hair.   Really expected him to be my favorite because he was the cool teacher with the cool hair.   

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I'm in the opposite camp - I like Matthew in spite of his dreads, not because of them. He clearly has a lot of experience and knowledge, so it was nice that this week's main challenge (slip casting bone china) was something that none of the potters had done before. I couldn't decide if I was annoyed or amused by Tom constantly checking to see what Matthew was doing this week. I can't tell if Tom's taking the piss or genuinely in awe of Matthew's knowledge and skills, but he has made several comments to/about Matthew. I'm mostly learning towards good natured ribbing. Matthew's knowledge and technical skills are really high but every week I find myself wondering why the judges love his work when I dislike it.

 

I really liked the banding spot test. I wish they had let us watch the process more. Interesting that Matthew came in last place. He made a lot of mistakes - the color changed over the set of six plates, it was really obvious where he stopped/started. But I liked that his reaction was that he wanted to go home and do it some more. I actually thought Jane should have come in first. I think Jim being assigned the lighter yellow color helped the appearance of his bands.

 

LOVED watching Keith demonstrated how to make a closed sphere for the throw down. I don't mind the host walking around and talking to the contestants when they're working on their main challenge over the five hours that they're in the work room, but I really hated her distracting them during the throw down. That challenge required a lot of concentration and they had a huge time constraint so I didn't want her bothering them. I was surprised that Tom's beehive shaped "sphere" ranked higher than Jane's.

 

I liked how compact Jim's chandelier was. The leaves and flowers added heft and weight so that it didn't seem too thin, but I agree that the way he hung the flowers hidden among the leaves was not a good choice.. Tom was smart to punch holes in some of his pieces to let more light through. He did hang the pieces well but I agree that the design seemed to meander and lose its way as it got lower. Similarly, Matthew was smart to lightly score the pieces to allow more light to shine through, but I disliked his actual chandelier design. Jane's jellyfish chandelier was an interesting concept but I agree that having most of those pieces on the bottom the same length was not a great choice. I liked the texture on the pieces of the lower secfion. I really liked Sally Jo's feather themed chandlier  Loved the wings at the top. I was a little worried when she said that it was starting to look like wind chimes.

 

I was kind of surprised that Matthew was top potter again. Jim came in first in the spot test and the throw down and the judges liked his chandelier. Matthew came in last in the spot test and second in the throw down. But like the Great British Bake Off, the showstopper/main make seem to carry much more weight than the other two challenges. Not surprised that Jane has finally been eliminated. I thought she did pretty well this week so I thought Tom might be sent hom.

 

I can't believe there's only one more episode left. I am going to miss this show after the final airs next week!

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For this first season, it may be that they got whoever was available and willing to "play".  Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.  Matthew may be coming on strong now but he was almost eliminated in episode 1.  It's a learning experience for the judges, too.  They're trying to be objective but, in the end, art is always subjective.

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This series has been great and it's just now that I'm beginning to appreciate the personalities of the various potters.  

 

Jim, to me, seems a little smug.  He knows he's got top-tier skills.  But, it's good to see that he doesn't win everything.

 

Tom's expressions this week were priceless.  Just wish we could have those little bubbles over his head to let us know what he's really thinking.

 

Sally Jo is good but has seemed a little pushed by the time constraints.  She has good ideas and, with a little more time, her execution might be better.

 

Gotta love Jane.  She really enjoys what she's doing and it shows.

 

Matthew ... each week he looks like he's going to a meeting with his bankers.  What's with the three-piece suits?  And why is he not covered with slip and clay by the end of the day?  

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I was happy with the outcome.  In some ways. I want to mesh all four of the finalists together.  Matthew's tea set looked like stoneware - a bit odd for porcelain - but I still liked it.  Jim's flowers were beautiful, but his technique was off.  I really enjoyed Sally Jo's imprints and glaze choices, but the formation of the pieces was off.  I like Tom's work, but it's just not quite as memorable.  I disagree with the judges about the glaze on the ridges of his teapot.  I thought the amount he did was quite effective at providing shadow/depth, creating a richer 3D effect.  

 

I am terrible with names so apologies for not using his, but I really enjoyed the kiln master (I don't think that was his title either...).  Being shallow, he was easy on the eyes, but more so, it was obvious how much thought and care went into firing all of these pieces.  He truly was saddened when pieces cracked during firing.

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Loved Matthew's sink.   I think it was my favorite.    Although, I doubt I would buy it because I'd be just a little worried that all that relief pattern would be hard to clean.

 

 

I had the same reaction. The sink was beautiful, but I kept thinking about dried, congealed toothpaste stuck in the crevices, hee.

 

Poor Nigel was an obvious boot, and he was so good natured that I was sad to see him go. But at least Gromit will have his dad back home with him soon.

Edited by Corgi-ears

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Yes, I loved that they finally let Rich talk about the contestants' pieces this week! It was nice to hear his opinions (like when he talked about how he loved Sally Jo's use of color) and his explanations about what happened in the kiln that caused some of the cracking we saw. I loved that he was obviously not just some guy shoving pieces into the kiln. He got to know their work as well as the judges.

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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That tea set challenge in 4 hours was killer.  All of the potters showed remarkable skill in getting pieces made in that time.  What bothered me, though, was the hostess of the show, Sara Cox.  She just couldn't leave the potters alone to do their work.  They showed remarkable restraint in not telling her to zip it and get out of their faces.

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I totally agree. I already dislike when the judges or hosts come around to ask questions and poke around while the contestants are working on a challenge. At least on a show like Project Runway, they can stop cutting or draping fabric without really impeding the construction process but I really hate it on this show because the contestants are using a pottery wheel or trying to get things done when the clay is at the right consistency. Stop distracting them! They know they're on camera so they can't just say, "Go away! I'm trying to concentrate!"

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14 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

According to this article, S2 of The Great Pottery Throw Down was filmed over the summer so hopefully we will get new episodes in the next month or so!

Oh excellent! (When I saw there was a new post, I was afraid it was going to be about it's cancellation!)

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When I realized it had been almost a year since S1 aired, I was afraid it had been cancelled too! I was so excited when I found that article. I still miss The Great Allotment Challenge so hopefully The Great Pottery Throw Down lasts longer. I saw that TGPTD just started airing in New Zealand so I took it as a good sign that they're showing it outside of the UK. 

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For the brand-new series of The Great Pottery Throw Down, hosted by Sara Cox, ten home potters return to Stoke-on-Trent and compete to become the new champion of British pottery.

The judges, master-potter Keith Brymer Jones and ceramic-artist Kate Malone scrutinise their work over three gruelling challenges. For their Main Make, the potters throw and decorate an identical sixteen-piece dinner set.

Testing their technical prowess in the Spot Test, the potters must sponge decorate a coherent design across a pair of jugs. Hardly easy at the best of times, they must also do it in front of a special guest judge, one of the UK's most popular ceramic designers - Emma Bridgewater.

Their final challenge is the Throw Down, where the judges examine the potters' skill at the wheel, and they must throw the tallest cone they can in just 15 minutes.

On the final day, kiln man Rich Miller will remove the potters' dinner sets from the flames. The heat is on as they all want to win Pot of The Week and get their ceramics into The Great Pottery Throw Down gallery. But whose dinnerware will be the first to be displayed and who will be leaving?

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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It is week two and the nine remaining potters face three more tough challenges, set by judges Keith Brymer Jones and Kate Malone.

In the throw down challenge, king of the wheel Keith demonstrates how to build a double walled pot, but against the clock, which potter can produce the goods?

Their spot test is handles, and the potters get to grips with pulling to create handles for a set of three casserole dishes.

And finally, the main make challenge this week is to hand build a large clock, slab rolling large amounts of clay to shape, then raw glaze and fire them to produce beautiful ceramic timepieces. But whose clock will win pot of the week and take their place in the winner's gallery? And whose time will be up and have to leave the competition?

Ha, it's like they went out of their way to freeze frame the most hilarious facial expressions for the video screencaps!

Clips:

 

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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Yay, I'm so excited that this show is back! As soon as S1 ended, I was worried that we wouldn't get a second season. Are the opening credits new? They didn't look familiar to me, but I also couldn't remember what they looked like last season. I always love close ups of clay on a wheel.

One thing I really like about this year's crop of potters is the diversity. I expect hippies young and old, as well as art student types, but it's nice to see a cage fighter, an accountant, and a model who all love making pottery too.

Heh and the inadvertent dirty talk is back. "I liked Clover's jugs quite a bit." "He's obsessed with cracked bottoms and messy bottoms."

I love the return of our kiln man Rich. He knows what he's talking about so I really enjoy seeing him assess everyone's pieces throughout the process. His predictions are usually correct. But man, it made me so nervous to see the potters carrying their pieces on boards while they walked down the stairs! I felt so bad for everyone in general when he explained the carbon trapping problem.

Wow, they were not messing around with the first main make challenge - a whole dinner service? Four regular dinner plates, four side plates, four bowls, and four beakers (also known as mugs without handles)? That's a lot to throw in four and a half hours and paint in two hours! I totally get the concept that the only way to make sure that all four of each item are the same size is to weigh the clay first, but when Freya said she isn't good at math, I thought but there's no math in reading the numbers on the scale!

I love that Clover was inspired by a comic book to begin pottery! I've painted pottery a handful of times and one thing that I don't like is not being able to see the way the color will look as I'm painting it. For that reason, I give Clover bravery points for using oxides. It looks SO different when it goes on versus how it looks after firing. I liked her shapes and I disagree with the judges - I liked that she watered down the oxide to create a lighter colored effect.

I know about Civil War reenactment enthusiasts in the United States, but I didn't realize there were War of the Roses reenactment enthusiasts in the UK. I agree with Kate - Richard the pub landlord has a really steady hand to letter all of his pieces.

Daniel the mortgage advisor scared me a little when he started cutting the edge of his plates. He gets points for using bright yellow which was so cheery.

Poor James! I felt bad when he wired through the bottom of his plate. His ceramics and glass degree makes me think he will be one to watch. When he said that he loves clean lines and industrial shapes, I was really looking forward to what he would create. But I disagreed with him when he said that pieces that look too perfect seem mass produced so you have to drag them off the wheel to make them a little off center. I don't need my dinner plate to have character, man. Ryan mentioned that James was making his pieces very quickly so I was surprised to see that he didn't make a new plate after he wired through the bottom of one. I really did not like his paint splatter decoration. That is the kind of shit we did in elementary school art projects. And double demerits for flinging his paint around so haphazardly that he got some on Ryan's plate!

I couldn't believe that Freya made ten plates and she was STILL making more plates before deciding on the final four. I liked the ombré effect she used to paint her set.

Nam the cage fighter is fascinating to me. I love that he is inspired by the toys and video games from his youth. The bubble technique he used on his dinner set was really fun to watch and I liked the effect it created. I think his set would have looked awesome with or without the carbon problem.

Oh, Cáit, all the lavender talk is doing nothing to dispel the hippie potter stereotype! The judges kept pronouncing her name as "coit" but the article about all the contestants said it's pronounced KAW-itch. I checked on forvo and I'm still not 100% sure. For what it's worth, her parents are Irish, she was born in Zimbabwe, and she grew up in Scotland so maybe that accounts for something? I'm glad she doesn't take things too seriously and she can laugh at the absurdity of getting her final beaker into the drying room at the last second, but I hope she doesn't turn out to be a procrastinator who freaks out and whoops and runs in at the last second every week. The orange and blue colors were striking, but she was short two pieces due to different mistakes, so I feel like she won't last long.

I had no idea that banana exporting was such a specific business so I really want to hear more about Elaine and her husband! I had to roll my eyes a little when she said she didn't know how the others had time for chit chat. Painting your plates doesn't require your mouth (unless you're holding a paintbrush in your mouth - hell, Nam was blowing bubbles and he still had time to chit chat!). It's called multitasking, Elaine. Her painting wasn't the best but she threw some great pieces.

Ryan is already causing a sensation on the internet. When I read one of the articles about how everyone's gushing about him, I thought heh, I bet girls won't find it charming that he lives with his grandmother if he were an ugly 30 year old man. I love the fluted pie edges he did on this dinner set, which created a feminine/fluid feeling. The bubble technique worked really well The end result was an ethereal watery feel. I'm really impressed that he's the least experienced (he's only been doing it for two years) but he kicked ass in all three challenges. I really love this aesthetic so I can't wait to see what he does next week!

I wasn't sure about Carole leaving the fluted edges of her plates on top of the supports she had made out of towels and cling wrap, so I felt justified in my worry when Rich the kiln man said the plates might end up sticking to her supports. She was so prepared with her decorating plans. She had sketches, special sponges she created for different elements, etc. The problem is that her throwing wasn't great and her painting wasn't great either. I'm not surprised that she was the first eliminated.

The sponge decorating spot challenge was really fun to watch. I have no idea who Emma Bridgewater is, but all the contestants seemed impressed by her so I'm glad that the show was able to get someone big in the industry.

Heh, I had to agree with Richard when he described James's as "a bit busy." That's an understatement. I thought it looked busy AND messy. He did say that he was inspired by graffiti, so mission accomplished? I know they're allowed to be creative, but I didn't like that he had paint running down his jugs when it was a sponge challenge (to be fair, he also used the sponges, but still).

I liked Richard's yellow sunflowers with the rust colored accent petals. While I agree that there was a lot of white left on the jug, I think that sometimes less is more (with apologies to Freya who told people to stop saying that). You don't have to cover every inch of pottery with paint. I really liked that he kept it clean and simple. I'd take that jug over James's graffiti jug.

I was unsure about Carole's sea-inspired theme when she was describing it, but I loved the way she used the paint to create motion. Even though she didn't do anything too literal, she evoked the feeling of waves crashing.

LOVED Ryan's jugs. He used different sponge techniques which were beautiful on their own as well as together. I really liked the muted colors he dabbed around the middle of the jugs. The bold red dots were a great contrast both in style and in color. Using that scratching technique (I think he said it was called scritti?) was a nice addition to the red dots, especially on the handle and the inside of the spout. I love that he also decorated underneath the jug.

Elaine's multicolored flowers were nice but, as Keith said, conventional and flat aka boring. She used the same technique on the flowers and the dots so she needed to bring something else to her design.

I wasn't sure how Freya's would turn out when she said, "Sometimes more is more" (heh, which I totally agree with!), but it was very visually interesting. As one of the judges said, she managed to make it look multidimensional like there was a background and a foreground with those painted on cut out sections.

I liked that Daniel did a background before adding the bunnies and other shapes, but I had to laugh when they asked if he ran out of time and he immediately said no, only to have Keith say, "You should have said yes."

I initially thought that Cáit's was going to be a disaster when she sponged on too much paint and it started running so she started wiping and scraping at the clay, but her yellow and green design turned out much better than I expected. It wasn't super creative, but the precision made it very geometric which I liked.

I really enjoyed Nam's video game inspired theme. I liked that he used a lot of different colors and bold shapes.

I really liked Clover's galaxy theme.  I agreed with the judge who pointed out that even though the two jugs weren't identical, they clearly belonged together. Sometimes space themes can go a little tacky but I think she had a good combination of concrete things (one of them had a planet) and abstract (the colors).

The tall cone throw down was fun to watch. Keith made it look so easy when he demonstrated. Even if Ryan's hadn't been the tallest (and he only beat Elaine by half a centimeter), his had the best cone shape. It looked so perfect!

I'm so happy that this sweet little show is back on my tv. I know nothing about pottery so it's really educational (especially with the history lessons) and it's visually appealing throughout the episode (unlike shows like Project Runway where only the finished product is visually appealing - even though I like that they include the creative process, watching people cut fabric isn't visually appealing).

Biggest disappointment: they're now awarding "pot of the week" instead of "top potter" (which always made me giggle).

ETA: You guys, Keith didn't cry once in this episode!

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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6 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

ETA: You guys, Keith didn't cry once in this episode!

 

I think you're mistaken, didn't he start to tear up a bit at one point.  I think it was over Carole's decoration or something in the spot test challenge - I remember being surprised that *that* was the point that got him emotional (but I can't remember the specifics)

I wonder if this week was a one off or if they've stopped doing the spot test as a 'blind' judging,

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On 2017-02-05 at 2:39 PM, Ceindreadh said:

I think you're mistaken, didn't he start to tear up a bit at one point.  I think it was over Carole's decoration or something in the spot test challenge - I remember being surprised that *that* was the point that got him emotional (but I can't remember the specifics)

I wonder if this week was a one off or if they've stopped doing the spot test as a 'blind' judging,

He did get teary and sniffly when they evaluated Carole's cone in the throw down. He really admired how she got through it and closed the cone since everyone knew how difficult throwing is for Carole.

I wondered about the Spot test not being blind either, but they also had the guest judge. I think we'll see at least one more guest judge so methinks it won't be blind when they have the guests.

Very quickly, I have to say I like most of the contestants. Not crazy about Freya's personality right now and I think that's her youth. I do love her set at the end though I didn't like her pattern in the jug set. Is it like every series where we'll have a contestant who practically grew up by their parents' wheel?

Style and current favourites from this episode (i.e. things I'd own happily): Ryan and Clover. I love their more minimalist sets, but beautiful. There are some seriously good throwers like Elaine and Daniel.

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It's week three and the eight remaining potters must master the art of Japanese style ceramics.

In the Throw Down, the potters have 15 minutes at the wheel to make as many rice bowls as they can. They must throw 'off the hump' - a technique which helps potters mass produce small pots very quickly.

For their Spot Test they must carefully pierce and carve an intricate design into a lantern using a technique known as 'the devil's work'.

And finally, in the Main Make, the potters must throw a sake set consisting of one bottle and six identical cups. They fire them using one of the most thrilling techniques in ceramics - Raku. Originating in 16th century Japan, this risky and volatile method of firing requires the potters to pull their burning sake sets out of the kiln before plunging them into a bin full of combustible materials.


Clip:

 

 

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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