Pottery Throwdown 2021, Episode 2 Recap: Cetacean Carmen Miranda

It was a ‘Say Something Hat’ Day in the Atlantic Ocean.

Week two and we’ve taken our hands off the wheel and are veering into hand building miniature buildings that would still fetch a £1600 rental fee in London!

The House That Jack Built

This week’s main challenge is for the potters to create an illuminated pottery building filled with architectural details and plenty of character that must also stand at 40cm tall. You might be thinking “That sounds VERY big?” and you would be correct because the production team couldn’t even source an example over 30cm tall

Good luck and God bless their souls.

Obviously you can’t throw a clay building a potter’s wheel so this week everyone is hand making their builds and Suz is very relieved because this is her bag and you would have hoped that this would have meant she’d know how to manager her time BUT ALAS things did not go as planned for Suz’s welcoming Scottish Castle because she only got halfway through her perforated “Gang East Wast Hames Best” slogan

and didn’t get to add a door, rendering it the least welcoming castle in Scotland – and Scotland has at least 15 haunted castles.

Traditional buildings were very much the go to for most of the potters because adding the texture and age to them using a variety of tools and oxides both showcased their skills but also intrinsically had more character to them – we’ll get to the people who conceptualised their designs during a feverish cheese dream later.
Sal opted for a Cornish Engine House

which I know all about because I watched every series of Poldark, a show that was far too invested in that damn mineshaft that NOBODY cared about – and Sal being Sal excels at the task and we may only be two episodes in but they’re going to have to start making her build things with her right hand tied behind her back or she’ll just dominate the whole thing!
Lee was also being very industrious and basing his Proper Yorkshire Mill House™ off the mill houses he sees during his dog walks – I wonder if he ever takes his tortoise with him? In order to create the thin lines of the roof tiles he has stolen his mother’s afro comb

Is it just a potter trait that they steal things from their mothers? Teaspoons, afro combs, time, energy, patience?
Historical, but less industry focused, was Shenyue making the Emmanuel College Court Building complete with a clock and two tiny little people inside representing her and her boyfriend

And while very accurate, in its unfired and undecorated state, did look alarmingly similar to Shawshank Prison. Andy and Red *were* couple goals.
Also dipping into her past was Irina who was making a very quaint little tower house that was 80% window

It was very rude of them to cut straight to her cutting our those 3 gaping windows right after Keith said “They will have to be very careful about the size of their windows because we don’t want to see the lightbulb!”.
I was very intrigued by her method of creating plant textures on her walls by rolling leaves into the clay and peeling them away

It really helped create that dollhouse aesthetic that very much rang true to Irina’s style.
Windows were also proving tricky for Hannah was immortalising her local Bristolian bakery in clay and because every bakery needs a display window, just about the entire front her building was a window

She potentially could have combated it by, like Shenyue, creating an interior detail but she was far too busy sculpting the massive dragon that stood atop the roof which she was having a little bit of trouble with and at many stages Gareth looked a bit like someone had removed all the bones from a Great Dane

He somehow wasn’t the only reptile being featured as Peter was setting about making two giant lizards to top his Gaudi inspired Tower

And it is at this point that we begin leaving the safe shores of reality and sink into the depths of fantasy and panicked insanity.

Henry is clashing to worlds together to create a sort of Bell Tower / Skate Park hybrid that absolutely looks like something I created in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skate 2

And he even made a little skateboard to go along with it which he was VERY proud of but fate had other plans for his little fingerboard…

Going more classically fantasy was Adam who was creating a Fairytale Mushroom Castle, which he brought in a whole moodboard and they rudely never showed it to us

LOOK AT THE calligraphy! Meanwhile Jodie gets a whole flipbook and PowerPoint presentation about the lighthouse she’s making. Guess who wins the episode, lads?

There’s A LOT of work going into Adam’s Fungal Palace including an entire forest of mushrooms and so many holes that it’s setting off everyone’s trypophobia

There is a lot of work going into it and so much of it is extremely delicate and after going ham on the perforations (and putting Suz to shame, rude) I was apprehensive for the integrity of those walls.

You would be forgiven for thinking the most off the wall things we would see this week were a fairy wonderland and Tony Hawk’s Castile. WELL YOU’RE WRONG because Alon ate far too much cheese one night and dreamt he lived on a whale

he sells it as a nod to global warming and the fact that we will eventually run out of land and move onto giant marine creatures. It’s very that episode of Doctor Who where the entirety of the UK lives on a spaceship that they built around a whale, and the moral of the story is DON’T DO THAT.
I can’t tell if the looks of concern on everyone’s faces are because Alon just killed the vibe of what is a very positive and loving show by talking about our impending doom or because they don’t believe for a second that this clay whale is going to support a mud hut hat like a Cetacean Carmen Miranda

His first attempt to be-hat his whale resulted in mild disaster as his hut slowly melted the minute he wasn’t looking

and he has to piece it back together amid a flurry of swearing and Siobhan telling everyone that time is almost up. How is someone with such good hair, this chaotic?

Guiding us back to shores of sanity and reality is Jodie with her aforementioned lighthouse based on the one she sees when she is open water swimming. IS THERE NOTHING SHE DOESN’T DO? By week 4 she’s going to have to admit that she’s a trained and hireable hitwoman – CAST HER ALONGSIDE KEANU REEVES IMMEDIATELY YOU COWARDS.
In order to add a twist on her lighthouse she is planning on adding Moroccan inspired architectural detail and colours – that’s if she can get to it after cutting out 162 individual tiles! Jodie certainly isn’t one to do anything by half.

We don’t get to see much of Rose this week, imaginable because watching her heave these behemoth buildings around in her now signature swishy apron and skirt combo would be a little too nerve-racking and we’ve already lived through Alon’s construction efforts. Remind me not to live in anything he is architecturally responsible for.

Bricking It!

This week’s Throwdown Challenge is to make a set of 10 bricks, a process involving vegetable oil, sand, clay and the brute force of an extremely frustrated potter. It is then of no surprise that given previous events that Alon truly excels at this challenge and slams bricks out like he’s pummelling that goddamn whale into submission.
Henry is hot on his heels though and both of them pump out a set of bricks like they’re some kind of machine! We shouldn’t be too surprised given that Henry made this horror in his VT

Although none of them quite manage the brute force of Sal smashing clay into the mould like she’s The Hulk

Note to self: only say nice things about Sal.

Irina on the other hand can’t quite manage the strength to smash in the clay but honestly I just love the visual of a very glamorous woman in a full face of makeup trying to make bricks

It’s not the only thing she does in a full face though:

Amelia Earhart EAT YOUR HEART OUT. Honestly, what a treasure. Sadly her bricks aren’t quite so well put together

She was far from the only one struggling as Shenyue couldn’t quite get the quantity of clay right at first and desperately shoves extra clay into the mould like a vengeful God shoving plot twists into 2020

This unfortunately jeopardises the structure and stability of the brick which is why both she and Suz ended up with some very wrinkly looking bricks

While some struggled with the quantity of clay, Adam was severely over-sanding his moulds and producing bricks with very sandy frogs (which is apparently what we call the indent in a brick).

The potters were given enough clay to make 30 bricks and enough time to re-do their first botched attempts and oh boy were there a lot, as is demonstrated by Hannah presiding over her brick graveyard by the end of the challenge

A Final Brick Throwdown Ranking:

  1. Alon’s Architectural Redemption
  2. Henry’s Throwdown Redemption
  3. Peter’s Well Formed Bricks
  5. Lee’s Brick-a-rama
  6. Shenyue’s Architecturally Sceptical Bricks
  7. The Lucky Few That Escaped Hannah’s Brick Graveyard
  8. Jodie’s Broke Bricks
  9. Adam’s Sandy Frogs
  10. Suz’s Wrinkled Bricks
  11. Irina’s Pintsized Building Blocks

Painting Houses

With their houses now fired the potters were all set for painting and decorating although there were a few tragedies, Alon now has a pile of pottery twiglets

Henry’s skateboard didn’t pull through – Rose just wasn’t a Tony Hawk fan. And Shenyue’s clock has fallen off of the face of her building

Although two people trapped in a building with no concept of time does ring true to the whole university experience – York University where an hour is 3 minutes and a Science of Cinematography Lecture is 10 years.
She re-fuses the clock back to the building using her glaze and her final result does have a certain Georgian regality to it

It’s soft and effective and very warm looking when the light is on. It was also the most simple in terms of colours with most of the other potters going for more detailed and elaborate painting – especially Peter with his Gaudi-esque gaudiness and his rooftop iguanas

It’s a fun piece, especially when lit up but I do wish the lizards were more discernible from the building, they’re blending in a little too much, unlike Gareth the Dragon who has turned out (slightly surprisingly) wonderfully:

Quite why he’s covered in eyeballs like some sort of Seraphic Elder God I’m not sure.
In order to create the graffitied façade of bakery Hannah uses a pineapple stencil, I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t let her write “Shop Local, Boycott Tesco” on the roof like the original bakery though

But even with her stencilling and Gareth the Dragon standing proudly atop, nothing could quite distract from the fact the front window was just too big and showed far too much of the bulb within

As mentioned before Irina’s windows are also much too big and it should come as no surprise that Irina decided to paint hers like something one of the Sylvanian Families would own

I can see a family of quaint humanoid rabbits living very comfortably in there. I did really like some of the smaller details such as the climbing rose bush

But sadly the roof texture was completely lost as Irina was stuck in a state of perpetual glazing, forgetting which pieces she had glazed and re-glazing them until they were but a very well shellacked piece of pottery.
Lee had similar textural woes, he used the hessian sack to create his brick-like texture and unfortunately the end result was a little bit too uniform for Keith’s liking but the sheer amount of windows deserves commendation

As does the little detail of his pond, that he was very proud of, and the “McSweeney & Sons” sign atop the door

McSweeney & Sons does sound like a delightful mid-afternoon BBC drama in which a family solve petty crimes in a small rural village. Your nan would love it!

Adam was also adding a nod to Siobhan in his, less successfully, but cute nontheless

He wasn’t the only one dropping an H, I wrote last week’s whole recap without putting the H in Shenyue’s name – so no Alon, it wasn’t her writing it and trying to put you off the scent, I was just a fool!

Adam’s whole piece is truly a work of art:

HOW? How did he do all of that? How did ever single one of those mushrooms survive the firing processes? The man is a wizard. And Keith rudely doesn’t cry over it! IT HAD A POTTERY WASHING LINE, WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT KEITH?

Sal on the other hand did manage to reduce Keith to tears by… leaving the door open slightly

It has a real sense of life and energy to it

it looks like a model you would see in a Museum – kind of sad there wasn’t a little pottery dog this time but I can forgive and forget.
The brickwork on Henry’s Dali-esque Skate Tower also caught Keith and Rich’s eyes

It’s very good but I am slightly mystified by the giant jutting ship prow that NOBODY addresses! And sadly he didn’t get around to repairing the dearly departed skateboard, RIP little fella

Desperate to redeem herself over last week Suz was firing on all cylinders during the decorating phase and actually managed to finish! Well, we say finished, there was still no door and her perforations stopped halfway but it was fully painted

I mean, it would have been hard to not finish given that most of the process for everyone consisted of slathering 70% of the building in iron oxide and hoping for the best. This did mean it was a nice change of pace when Jodie’s blue Welsh Moroccan Lighthouse came along and reduce Keith to another puddle tears

But in all fairness to Jodie, the colouring on this is superb and extremely elegant. I’m not entirely sold on the Moroccan-ness of it, to me it reads much more Delft.

And now we must once again turn our attention to architect and whale whisperer, Alon who is determined to continue his reign as The Most Chaotic Potter – it’s a feat considering there’s someone who actively learned circus skills in the room. During his decorating process the unfortunately gentrified whale that has now become the foundations for a house makes a desperate bid for freedom and somehow didn’t shatter into pieces in the process

A pay rise to the cameraperson for that expert zoom and focus pull, you are my hero.
Instead of glazing it like a normal person he has decided to first of all cover it in a clay slip – and I’m not going to pretend I really know what it is (other than a bad idea) because apparently last week I pretended to know things about pottery and got several abusive comments from Madelaine Hanman Murphy from Leigh-on-Sea for it.
The end result of the clay slip is… not exactly attractive but is certainly interesting:

Could I see this as a very interesting and thought provoking piece in an art gallery? Absolutely yes. Could I see it in someone’s house? Not with the ominously glowing eye, no

And I think this show does lean more towards wanting something domestic. Although if your interior decor suits Adam’s Fungal Fairy Playground, maybe rethink your lounge?

An Arbitrary Pottery Building Ranking

  2. Wales Goes Moroccan
  3. The Poldark Mine
  4. Peter’s Gaudy Gaudi
  5. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skate: Park Build
  6. The University Prison
  7. McSweeney & Sons Mill
  8. The Doorless Castle
  9. Revoke Alon’s Architect License IMMEDIATLY.
  10. Gareth the Dragon’s Bakery
  11. The Sylvanian Family Mansion

It was a tough fight for Potter of the Week this time with Adam, Jodie and Sal all putting in a very good effort but ultimately they decided that the polish and style of Jodie’s Welsh Moroccan Hybrid Lighthouse was the best piece of the week.

And then it’s a decision purely between Irina and Alon and with Alon finishing first in the brick challenge and Irina being a firm 11th place it was her who got the axe this week

And it is her turn to be consumed by the almighty group hug.



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