Pottery Throwdown Recap: Defunct Pickle Pots

Have we interrupted something?

It’s back! the purest show on television with more jeopardy than Bake Off in a heatwave and not a malicious bone in its body! It’s just nice people making nice things in a nice workshop. 2021 might not be so bad?

There’s been quite the shake up at the old pottery barn with Original Hot Kiln Guy Rich playing a Cersei-like Game of Thrones and usurping the judging title of Sue Pryke. Rich’s position as office workhand is being filled by the delightful Rose, who if nothing else is my pick to replace Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor

Bring back bowties with a bang!
It’s not just the judges that have been overhauled, Melanie Sykes couldn’t be bothered to bubble up and has been replaced with Siobhan McSweeney who is a gift that we need but barely deserve

It’s an inspired casting choice!

With a new lot of potters all taking to the wheels I think it’s best to give them all a bit of an introduction, so let’s meet the potters!

Adam

A delightful walking cliché of a Brightonian – he is the proud gay dad of an adorably tiny dog that he takes on kayaking adventures. It’s TV competition casting 101.

Alon

The youngest potter at 20 years and very much the jangling bunch of nerves that every university student is right now.

Ara

There were high hopes for Ara when he announced he was a retired theatre wardrobe manager because usually it’s a warning sign that they’re about to go out in a blaze of gaudy glory but Ara was much more subdued in his pottery approaches.

Hannah

Every series has a whirling dervish and unrelenting chaos and emotion and if Bristolian Hannah’s wildly flailing arms are anything to go by, I think we just found ours!

Henry

Henry has almost certainly been cast entirely because he was the one person amongst all the submission who wrote “I do circus skills” on their application form – and I for one am entirely delighted that we have our very own boyband member looking clown!

Irina

I genuinely think I would have been able to tell you that Irina was a Russian woman that lives in Essex and works for a private jet company if you had just shown me a picture of her. It’s a powerful energy she exudes.

Alanis Morissette Jodie

She’s a biking scrubs nurse that looks the spit of Alanis Morissette – if that’s not enough to get her on the New Year’s Honours List I don’t know what is.

Lee

OBLIGATORY BEEKEEPER KLAXON! But more than that, he has a tortoise named Reg – can’t wait to see him immortalised as some sort of bathtub later in the series.

Peter

I can’t tell you much about Peter because I’m still lost in that throwback photo. Is he a used car salesman or a porn director? YOU DECIDE!

Sal

I don’t know what better embodies this show than a lesbian sitting on a cliffside, watching the sunset while feeding her dogs cheese? A legend. An icon. I will die for her.

Shenyue

She’s perfect, she’s beautiful, she’s a model, she looks like Linda Evangelista. And she’s an incredibly talented potter, the stuff in her store is STUNNING, check her out some time at Supper Ceramics.

Suz

Suz apparently whiles away the hours in Aberdeenshire crafting what can only be described as the the Antiques Roadshow Underworld – LOOK AT HER MONSTROUS CREATIONS AND WEEP IN FEAR.

Say Cheese!

The first challenge for the potters is to craft a cheese set, which is absolutely not a thing and is entirely just a collection of cheese related items consisting of a cheese dome, a fondue pot and 2 pickle jars, which must be identical (and usable). The fondue pot needs a flat base thick enough to withstand heat as well as a handle and the cheese dome needs to be able to fit cheese underneath it – the do not specify how much cheese and I feel this might have benefited a lot of the potters.

Now you would think that with something like a cheese set you would go for a cheese related theme, maybe some mice? Crackers? France even. No, this is Pottery Throwdown and of course everyone has wonderfully over thought it and is making a fondue pot that is the equivalent of a Victorian family Mausoleum. Hannah is the most obviously over invested drawing inspiration from her granddad’s paintings

Keith notes the similarities to Patrick Heron, to which everyone pretends to know the artistic reference and it could not be more obvious that nobody did, and they only look like Patrick Heron’s works in that they are circular and blobby.
Jodie is immortalising her favourite road trip by making a cheese set themed around Route 66 – a mistake on her part as Siobhan looms over her daring her to sing Hotel California by the Eagles, seemingly deciding she now looks like a young Joe Walsh. But I am also hoping Channel 4 is paying attention because I would very much enjoy a Jodie the Potter tour of a America via local pottery artisans.
The last of our incredibly family focused potting designs is young Alon who is including elements relating to all of the English translations of his family’s Israeli names – it’s sweet but does come at the price of him having to announce that “Acorns make great knobs!”. He’s also pushing the envelope in terms of his forms because while everyone else is going for easier circular shapes, he is going square!

It’s practically the pottery equivalent of being a 4Chan edgelord but entirely more wholesome and less likely to involve insane conspiracy theories.

In the sort of family related limbo is Circus Clown Niall Horan, Henry who is basing his on his favourite picnic spot WHERE HE DEFINITELY ATE WITH HIS FRIENDS BECAUSE HE DEFINITELY HAS FRIENDS. I just really enjoy his thought process of “You eat cheese. I eat cheese. I ate on the beach. BEACH CHEESE SET!” – I love and support him in all his ventures. In order to create a texture on the handles that evokes a look and feel of rock he is carving it out with a teaspoon which he stole from his mother and is very worried she is going to notice. Does his mother only have 1 teaspoon? Or does she have a set that she counts into the draw and locks it up at night because Henry is prone to cutlery thievery? He does look the type

Strangely he isn’t the only one going for a seaside theme as Adam sets on making a maritime cheese set complete with a whale’s tail and barnacles because nothing says “eat my brie!” like arthropods!
Opting for a different form of “maritime” is the eternally delightful Suz who if nothing else is the Bake Off Laura of the competition and looks like she spent more time eating the clay than moulding it

Of course being a Scottish woman she is basing her’s off of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. She has given herself a lot to do, most of it being in the decorating phase which we’ll get to later.

Shenyue is theming her cheese set around the particularly disastrous ski trip she went on with her boyfriend during which the only enjoyable moment was allegedly a shared fondue and she has subsequently banned skiing. We are kindred spirits, I had a particularly bad camping trip on The Isle of Wight during gale force winds with my family and have subsequently refused to go camping ever again and have developed a phobia of canvas.

Shenyue might be the model of the competition but it’s Irina who is making the fashion statements, I can’t wait for Sock Brooches to become an actual thing

It doesn’t really surprise me to learn that the woman who wears a diamante lobster on her ankle bling also lives in what I can only describe as the home of the wealthiest of the Sylvanian Families

Put her on The Great Interior Design Challenge IMMEDIATELY! I want to see her turn a two bedroom flat in Barnsley into some sort of pastel pink Fabergé nightmare!
She is, predictably, making a rose themed cheese set because she loves roses and now that she lives in Essex she has grown FOUR WHOLE ROSES BUSHES! In Russia, only the hardiest of roses would grow. Which sounds like a rather sinister adage.
He rose crafting does leave a little to be desired

It’s slightly more sea coral than rose bush but close enough for the first challenge! They’re also a bit thin on the edges which, ironically, causes the new Kilnster on the Block, Rose a great deal of concern.
Also going for a very classic design is Peter who is hoping to channel the Jazz Age with his art deco finishings, unfortunately his “elegant female sculptures” are less Chiparus and more Pack Horse

An attempt was made.

Then we come to the Pottery Throwdown Staples which are the themes we see time and time again – for better or worse. Lee is setting about making a beekeeping themed cheese set which he has carving into the classic Bee Hive shape

And then covering it with bees and topping it off with a Queen Bee Knob

Sal is also channelling her domestic life and making a cheese set to honour to cheese obsessed dog, Charlie and honestly her tiny little dog sculptures might be some of the best sculpting work we’ve ever seen LOOK AT THEM

I would buy just that immediately.

And then we have Ara who is going for the weirdly recurring theme of a zen garden because he just really likes concentric circles and geometry. It’s a simple but effective design that, maybe he’ll jazz up later… (he doesn’t).

With everyone’s cheese sets sculpted it’s up to Rose to watch over them as she heats them to insane temperatures and prays they don’t crack!

Challenging Chalices

While the potters wait for the cheese sets to fire it’s time for the first real Throwdown in which they have to make as many clay chalices as they can in 15 minutes. And yes, a clay chalice is just an egg cup with a superiority complex. Or are egg cups just port chalices with an inferiority complex? Things that make you go “Hmmm?”

It’s obviously a flurry of chaos as everyone begins wildly spinning chalices into existence and while everyone seems to be perfecting the art Shenyue is light years ahead with 6 and absolutely no care for quality control and by the end of it has a veritable army of wonky chalices just screaming out for the sweet release of death

Keith obliges many of their wishes and squashes them into his Bucket of Broken Dreams.

In order to hurry everyone along at Shenyue’s cyclonic pace, Siobhan spends most of the time just screaming “HURRY UP!” at every potter she can. It certainly helped, although the more she yelled I think the more lapses they had in quality control as this one managed to slip into Alon’s submissions

That is still basically a block of clay!
Sal on the other hand has only one token chalice destroyed for being a touch leaning and on the other end of the spectrum they basically have to hold Keith back from destroying all of Henry’s submissions which are basically just cylinders

If the challenge been to throw a line of plumbing, he would have been in with a shout! His weren’t the only ones lacking a stem as Hannah has the same problem but she threw more than he did and Henry is all to pleased to take up the bottom spot in this throwdown

He is nearly joined by Lee who makes a particularly flaccid chalice

but it’s still not as sad a sight as Keith tearing through Irina’s family of Russian chalices like the Bolsheviks did the Romanovs.

Suz meanwhile really pushes the concept of a chalice to the limits and produces what I believe to just be a series of fancy soup bowls

Or at least just a very generous serving of port – it’s 2021, some of us need it.
The rest of the potters had fairly good turn outs and either had rims or bases that were just a little thick or a little thin – there’s room for everybody!

The Throwdown Ranking:

  1. Sal’s Champion Chalices
  2. Jodie’s Fat Rims
  3. Shenyue’s Chalice Army
  4. Adam’s Thin Rims
    • Irina’s Family Massacre
    • Alon Despite the Odds
  5. Peter’s Thin Based Cups
    • Ara’s Loose Sense of Quality
    • Hannah’s Stemless Approach
    • Lee’s Flaccid Chalice
    • Suz’s Fancy Soup Bowls
  6. Henry’s Artisanal Plumbing

Paint Me Like One of Your French Cheeses

It’s a bit of a miracle really – not a single one of the pieces has smashed or cracked in the kiln – we’ll put this entirely down to Rose being some sort of Super Potter. This doesn’t mean we are entirely without tragedy as Suz finds out that her pickle jars are now entirely decorative because they cannot be opened. Alon almost joins her in this particular… pickle… but he eventually manages to force his circular lid out of his square jar… Worrying that he is an architect now that I think about it.

In order to make up for her now entirely defunct pickle pots Suz sets up about doing some very elaborate decorating, drawing on a series of swashbuckling caricatures of a suitably weepy Keith

Cabin Boy Rich

Which is a fanfiction I am currently working. IT’S SMUTTY.
And the of course Siobhan whose pirate persona suitably looks like she got dressed at M&S

Given the amount of work she had to do in order to draw it’s no wonder she ran out of time and served up a severely underpainted cheese set

It’s a good learning curve for the first episode – attempt something outlandish that will at least get you praise and see how much you can accomplish in the time and scale it back in subsequent challenges.
Her partner in Pickle Pot Peril, Alon, meanwhile is concocting a potentially lethal mixture of manganese

It’s a staggering 60% manganese, which is so much that Rich actively takes a step back when Alon tells him this. It’s certainly one way to win the competition. He’s hoping that the high quantity will give his acorn knobs a wonderfully burnished gold look and it certainly pays off,

Look at it glisten! And Alon has the most delightful little freakout about them

What a purely delightful soul.
It’s just unfortunate that in his final glazing his already troublesome pickle jars fused shut and become mere decorations – not that anybody even uses pickle pots nowadays, what is this? Ancient Rome?

Speaking of fusing, Ara was the most unfortunate potter. Already opting for a very simplistic design and not adding any colour to it he had to make sure that the functionality of it was SPOT ON and he went a little ham on the glaze and ended up fusing his poor cheese dome shut like some sort of cheddary prison

It was pretty obvious how this was going to end the moment this happened because nobody stands in the way of Keith Brymer Jones and his gouda!

Hannah was also concerned that her cheese dome has fused to the plate like the Sword in the Stone because she was a bit slow getting hers glazed and ready for re-firing and had to rope in a lot of the other potters in a sort of hurried communal rim cleaning session. However, Keith manages to lift the dome from the cheese plate

Which now makes him the King of England, I believe?
She was really unhappy with the decorating of her plate and I think she was being overly harsh on herself – you can clearly see the elements of her granddad’s painting in the colours and patterns

Could it be bolder? Sure. Is it still a lovely, complete set? Absolutely.

Jodie was also a bit worried about the colour of her set, mostly because the orange glaze she was using would turn her red rock canyons into peach canyons, and Peach Canyons is my new drag name. But it worked out super well for her

It’s immediately evocative of the Arizona landscape and is more then enough to bring forth the first of Keith’s tears

This bodes very well for the rest of the series.

Irina’s glazing on the other hand was a little wishy-washy

It doesn’t look new, it sort of looks like a sun bleached antique someone on Bargain Hunt buys and loses all their money on and Tim Wonnacott mocks them mercilessly for. And it’s a miracle that those roses stayed as intact as they did!
Sal had similar issues with her glaze but the fact that the rest of it was so perfect didn’t make it as jarring

I cannot get over how good those dogs all are and I am determined to hunt Sal down and get her to make me 10 of them!
Lee’s bee sculptures were similarly cute, even if his Queen Bee did look a little bit like a character Nintendo got halfway through designing before axing because she made children cry

A feminist icon!
But it’s the delicious honey colour of his set that truly stands out

He couldn’t have hoped for anything better! I just wish the bees had been as lively as the rest of it!

Having significantly less success in his sculpted knobs is Peter who was aiming for the elegant figures of 1930s design and ended up with…

it looks like some sort of Iceland party platter snack that he forgot in the oven. The colours of his set do all look very nice together, but Art Deco they are not. But his at least has functionality if nothing else.

I had half expected Shenyue to just scrawl “I HATE SKIIING!” across hers but she was going for a more of a night time, celestial vibe with hers

It’s perfectly lovely but as Keith said it lacks certain level of pizzazz and surprise – if she had speckled in some of the metallic glazes it would really have lifted it all to another level.

Simplicity was key to Henry’s design thought which turned out surprisingly well given the general aura of potential disaster that surrounds him at all times

I think the contrast between the blue glaze and the white unglazed handles works incredibly well. The cheese dome is entirely too small, you could barely fit a Babybel underneath that thing!

And lastly we have Adam and his barnacles

I don’t know why this one confuses me so much – I just can’t compute whales and cheese. But also barnacles perturb me, I’ve been surprised by one too many pimple popping videos on Instagram to know that nothing good comes of anything that looks like this

But they’re very well sculpted barnacles!

An Arbitrary Cheese Set Ranking:

  1. Sal’s Gouda Dog
  2. Lee’s Brie Hive
  3. Jodie’s American Government Cheese
  4. Hannah’s Cheesey Moment
  5. Adam’s Gorgonzola and the Whale
  6. Henry’s Cheddar Cliffs
  7. Shenyue’s Moon Cheese
  8. Alon’s Golden Acorns
  9. Irina’s Cheese By Any Other Name
  10. Peter’s Art Deco Cheese Dream
  11. Suz’s Maritime Mishap
  12. Ara’s Cheese Jail

And so the judges have to delibate and Rich has to come to terms with his new found responsibilities

Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

It’s inevitable that the fatale combination of slightly boring and entirely unfunctioning would mean that Ara was going home and he is very swiftly enveloped into an almighty group hug

I find myself desperately wanting a group hug myself now. It’s been so long.

but we still have to decide on a Star Potter and the honour has to go to Sal for her adorable dog knobs

She’ll be a hard one to beat!

NEXT TIME

More compromising positions!

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