Pottery Throwdown 2021, The Final: A Deconstructed Flamingo

Are you happy to see me or is that a hump on your wheel?

As they say, all good things must come to and end and after 10 glorious weeks we must finally crown our Pottery Throwdown Overlord, so get your cocktails ready because it’s party time!

I want to open this by saying a massive thank you to everyone who has been reading and enjoying these recaps, which let’s face it, as someone said on Twitter, “are rambling and in desperate need of an editor or a glass of wine.” sadly my meds don’t let me drink and I can’t afford an editor because I’m living with my parents in the midst of a global pandemic.
But most of all I want to thank each and every one of this year’s potters (and Rose) for not only providing us with some of the best comfort television in the passed couple of years but for also fully embracing and enjoying the blog. I could not be more honoured that amongst the snark and jokes you could see the deep appreciation and respect I hold for your art. I’m also relieved because as the nation’s newest sweethearts you could have had me guillotined on national television #AriadneIsOverParty.

If you enjoyed the potters as much as I did, here’s a link to their Instagram profiles and then we’ll be all aboard the Recap Express:

The Potters’ Instagram Accounts:
Adam – adamceramic
Alon – oak_fired_clay
Ara – ara.moradian
Hannah – hannahruthwalker
Henry – pot_punk
Irena – irispotsoflove
Jodie – jodie_neale_ceramics
Lee – thenookpottery
Peter – woburn_sands_clay
Sal – sally-tully
Shenyue – supperceramics
Suz – suzmacinnesceramics
and
Rose – roseschmits

ON TO THE RECAP! (Grab a glass of Pinot Grigio, I insist)

Choose Your Fighter

Adam, The Face of Brighton

Has anyone had a more frustrating journey through a competition than Adam? Constantly on the verge of winning Potter of the Week numerous times (HE MADE 73 MUSHROOMS AND A CERAMIC WASHING LINE, KEITH) only to be pipped to the post right up until the semi-final with his Mermaid Tail Basin. Without a blip on his track record (excluding The Week That We Shall Never Talk Of) he, according to the BenDeLaCreme All Stars Abacus™ has an exceptional track record.

Jodie, The Welsh Wonder Woman

Nursing. Motorcycling. Open water swimming. Making Keith cry with a mere blink. Is there anything Jodie cannot do? She is the John Wick of the competition and wholesome and lovely as Keanu Reeves – some people just have it all, huh? The only one of the finalists to have 2 items in Rose’s Room of Wonders and barely a slip up along the way, she’s a formidable finalist for sure!

Peter, The Enigma, The Riddle, My Mystery To Solve

I don’t think I have ever been more fascinated by a contestant on a reality TV show than I am by Peter. The little titbits he’s dropped along the way about his childhood, his hobbies, the slightly unnecessary sex marathon joke and THAT PHOTO. It’s like the odd footprints, the broken branches and the mauled carcass of a deer that the Bigfoot hunters obsess over and I just need to make sense of them! I will be pitching “Chasing Peter: The Puzzling Potter” to the History Channel.
As for his journey through the competition, it’s been a slow burn with Peter with him sneaking in a win during the quarter-finals – he is by all accounts the bigfoot dark horse of the competition.

A Real Punch Up

For the final challenge of the series we’re throwing it back 100 years to a time of flappers, jazz and season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race’s first episode! Of course the roaring 20s are well known for lavish parties and the birth of many iconic cocktails so what better way to honour the time than to challenge the potters to make a punchbowl with 6 hanging cups and two decanters. You might be thinking “it’s a bit weird to make a punchbowl and decanters out of clay?” and you’re right, it is, as the only examples they could find of such items are cut glass

but this does also mean that everyone’s creativity is pushed to the absolute limits because beyond the general Clarice Cliffiness of art deco pottery there’s not much to crib from.

While all three of them were very excited by the project, Peter was very much in his element because apparently his entire house is art deco themed, we are sadly never shown this art deco wonderland where I now fully believe Peter and his wife dress as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and eat nothing but devilled eggs and Oysters Rockefeller every day.
Out of all of them Peter is going the most overt with the Clarice Cliff inspiration (as we know Clarice Cliff was the only potter alive in the 1920s, not a joke, just a fact)

He’s making it as an ode to his time spent at Gladstone with elements that look like the famous bottle kilns. His intention with the cups is to paint them in such away that when spun they work as a sort of zoetrope to show an animated rise and fall of the sun

It’s a very clever design element and of course Peter being my nominee for Poet Laureate quickly equates it to a metaphor of the sun gradually setting on his time on the show, you know just to make sure Keith sobs. I know your game plan Peter!

Jodie’s set was inspired by the general zeitgeist of the 20s and the advancements made in women’s rights with the Suffragette Movement and Clarice Cliff, Britain’s Only Potter. Her Feminist Punchbowl would be accompanied by a set of decanters in the shape of a flapper’s purse complete with a feather topped stopper

It’s a truly genius design – the shape of those decanters are unexpected but very obviously art deco and were made by firstly throwing a flat plate with the grooved concentric circles

and then slicing it in half and moulding it together once dry enough to manoeuvre

I don’t know why but it’s blowing my mind.
It was also very sweet to have this moment where Jodie’s final pieces on the show would be so inspired by Clarice Cliff when the first piece of pottery she ever made was inspired by the woman herself

And Jodie was 11 while Clarice was 13, SO WHO’S THE ONLY POTTER NOW CLARICE? We probably shouldn’t be celebrating child labour so much, but you know, different times.

While Peter and Jodie were very much sticking to the British sense of art deco, Adam was taking us to sunnier climes with a nod to the art deco of Miami, Florida with a deliciously camp, citrusy set

It’s a risky choice because it’s not necessarily the most stereotypically art deco (shout out to all 3 of them for avoiding mentioning The Great Gatsby by the way). The real risk is that is could end up looking like it was inspired by the architecture of the 1950s from the likes of André Morisseau, Oscar Niemeyer and Rudolph Schindler – I have a whole murder mystery screenplay about 1950s architects if anyone wants to greenlight that thrilling film.

While Jodie and Peter both opted to throw their cups on the wheel Adam had settled on the idea of slab building them to achieve an almost machine made look – this did mean it took considerably longer and when he had proudly finished three cups Jodie had finished her six despite her grudge match against the 20s and the obsession with angles, although I think we can blame that on the Ancient Greeks

DAMN YOU PYTHAGORAS!
Adam had also come to the realisation that his cups were significantly smaller than both Peter’s and Jodie’s

But with prohibition everyone was trying to make their favourite tipples last a little longer – he’s really committing to preserving the historical accuracy of the brief.

When it came to the decanters both Peter and Adam were using moulds, Peter having a fair bit of trouble with his and Siobhan doing absolutely nothing to help the situation

This is a brief pause to acknowledge that Siobhan McSweeney was an inspired choice of host and I demand we increase her TV appearances by 150%.
Adam’s moulds were causing a bit of a stir because of the fact he was making an ice cream cone shaped decanter whose base was no bigger than a 50p piece and despite Keith staring at him like slightly grumpy Elmer Fudd

Adam was headstrong and stuck to the plans without a care in the world for the basic laws of mass and gravity. Who needs ’em? It’s the 1920s! Sandra Bullock hadn’t even invented Gravity yet! Isaac Newton, whomst?

With every punchbowl needing a ladle, it was finally the return of everyone’s favourite pottery technique The Pull! Alexa, play Careless Whisper by George Michael

and speaking of ladles, Adam can fully take home the trophy for Weakest Pun of the Series

and I thought my section titles were bad!

Given the workload it was mightily impressive that everyone got everything done so quickly and in time, there was no flurry of chaos in the last minutes beyond Rose struggling to close the drying room door because of the gold fringe they’d hung up

If the general progression of this show is anything to go by I fully look forward to Rose seizing the power of being a judge next series. THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW.

All Dolled Up With Nowhere To Go

For this week’s Throwdown Challenge the potters find themselves with the eye-crossing challenge of creating a 16 piece dinner set for a doll’s house – the art deco theme being mercifully dropped, Jodie couldn’t take doing smaller angles.
I must also say watching Keith make tiny little plates was some of the most relaxing and satisfying television I have ever seen

so I will now pitch The Little British Miniature Off (credit to Lal Octavia on Twitter for the title) in which a group of miniaturists essentially furbish a doll’s house with the first episode being to make a doll house of their choice from any era they want and each week concentrates on a different room that they have to create pieces for while remaining loyal to the style they’ve chosen. I personally think it’s genius so the ball is in your court Love Productions.

Keith obviously wants attention to detail to give the pieces some character and dimension so every plate must have a mustard well (or ‘mustardy thing’ if you’re Adam) and every tiny cup needs a tiny handle – angular or otherwise.

In order to create the minute pottery pieces the potters have been given a selection of tools that look alarmingly like what I imagine a Victorian midwife was kitted out with

A magnifying glass might have helped a lot too.

With everyone desperately trying to get used to making things that could fit on a 5 pence piece there a numerous errors in fingering as they try to grant their bowls the bulbosity they deserve and we end up with quite the selection of bowls that are virtually indistinguishable from the cups beyond the lack of a handle. Not to start “definition of a bowl discourse” or anything.
Adam managed a very successful set of barrel cups and plates but his bowls were verging onto flowerpot territory

Although who doesn’t want a flowerpot of soup?

In a raging battle of Plate vs Saucer was Jodie, who despite her best efforts ended up with a set of cups that were ever so slightly too large

but she definitely had the best mustard wells of the lot and she seemed to enjoy herself during the process, or at least the drying bit where she was giving off major Princess Leia with a blaster pistol vibes

Pew-pew.

While Jodie’s cups may have been a bit too big, Peter had made maybe the tinniest ones of all

and seemingly spent all of his time making those as good as he can and was lucky to get out any plates seeing as he kept cutting holes in the bottom of them

There is but a thin slice between a doll’s plate and a doll’s toilet seat.
His plates are a little clunky and look slightly like the wheel of a car in The Flintstones

I guess we know who invented the wheel now?

Despite her best efforts to intimidate Keith and Rich into giving her the top place by wielding the heat gun like she has the best shot in all of Wales (I don’t doubt that she does) it’s Adam who takes the spot for the final Throwdown

Bless his slightly shook cotton socks.

An Official Doll Set Ranking

  1. Adam’s Generous Soup Portions
  2. Jodie’s Endless Mugs of Tea
  3. Peter’s Wheely Good Plates

Standing on a Clarice Cliff Edge

Before the potters can get back to their art deco party sets, they all get a brief VT from their loved ones, Jodie hears from her parents, Adam gets a message from his fiancé Dan as well as scene stealing pug Egg

Nothing but respect for my President.
And to the person who repeatedly keeps finding my blog by googling “is Adam from Pottery Throwdown gay?” I hope this answers your question.
Peter hears from his grandchildren and Adam and Jodie both realise that if they win they break the hearts of an entire choir of children. COULD YOU LIVE WITH THE GUILT?

Miraculously everyone’s pieces survive the firing process and the only even mild tragedy is the moment Adam accidentally disconnects one of his lemon slices

but it’s an easy to fix and can easily be glazed back on, so no major drama.

One of the signature details of Clarice Cliff’s work was the visible brushstrokes in her work which Jodie and Peter were both going out of their way to emulate and Adam on the other hand was not doing that but was building up the block colours that typified art deco Americana.
The inevitable question of “are you ready to win?” comes up and Adam utters to the completely wrong answer of “I feel like I’ve already won!” – YOU DON’T SAY THAT, THAT’S HOW SHANGELA GOT SCREWED OVER! And Siobhan tries her best to be a bad influence

Can we put Siobhan Sweeney in next year’s Celebrity Circle? I can almost taste the carnage already.

The final result of Adam’s Art Deco Miami party set is a truly incredible feat of design

It does look a lot like a deconstructed flamingo, but what could possibly be a better descriptor of 1920s Miami?
I adore the way his cups hang and the fact they fit so snuggly onto the bowl, it really transforms it into a very impressive centrepiece. The ladle is, to me, the unsung hero of the piece –

I am obsessed with it.
The bowl looks even more impressive when it’s full too

I love that Adam was just happy they gave him pink punch – it was very aesthetically pleasing to be fair.

But while the bowl and the cups are a treat to behold, the decanters are throwing a spanner in the works because by Adam’s logic the liquid should stabilise them and Keith is all too quick to correct him in a manner that had the same energy as Bimini bon Boulash as Scat Slater

and because of a slight issue with the spout during the firing process they don’t pour wonderfully, or at all

It’s more of a… spill. They may not be the most functional pieces in the world but as a piece of art deco decor?

Nailed it.

Peter was the most overt in his Clarice Cliff The Only Potter in the West inspiration and on top of his sunset zoetrope was decorating each cup as a different style of Clarice Cliff ware, which certainly made it eye catching because her colour choices were, in the words of Peter, “Aggressive”

Shout out to the far left decanter that looks like a limited edition marmite bottle.
As one piece it is very cluttered but once you separate it out you can really take in all the details

It’s a very good interpretation of Claris Cliff’s style, and I love that the bowl and the cups are the same shape. While the shape of the cups is spot on, the handle isn’t the most ergonomically friendly and you could really see Rich struggling to hold it properly.
Peter’s decanters fitted in well alongside everything but to Keith they lacked detail and they do feel like a slight afterthought following the wow factor of his bowl

They did manage to pour most of a drink into a cup though!

And last, and certainly not least, we have Jodie with what could easily be one of the best things we’ve seen made on the show as a whole

It’s just so well thought out and curated – from the shapes and colours to the various different techniques she used to make it – it’s an extraordinary showcase of talent and craftsmanship. The clutch bag decanter is utterly genius

and the way she married the shape into the bowl with the orange and yellow semi-circle

There’s something about it that really reminds me of the background details of the illustrations and animation work of Polish artist Zdeněk Miler.
And her bowl comes with the added advantage of fitting an almost infinite numbers of jugs of punch

So it’s all round to Jodie’s when we can, yeah?

And then that was it and all that’s left to do was precariously hug on the top of the stairs

It’s just one little push Jodie.

In order to properly celebrate the final a quartet of the previous potters have shown up to show their support

I’d like to know the selection process – I imagine it was whoever was closest and could reasonably flout the lockdown rules.

And now it’s time to find out who won and the 2021 Pottery Throwdown Champion is…

Jodie!
A thoroughly deserved win with a truly incredible body of work from throughout the series and just an all round pretty magnificent person with more talent than I think she ever realised she has.
It was also very much worth seeing her win for her father’s reaction

This was the moment that I completely lost it, a proud father and it’s buckets from me I’m afraid.

And a very well done to our two runners up, Adam and Peter

Just a thoroughly lovely pair of men who deserve nothing but every success that comes their way and I cannot wait to see what comes of this for them.

And one final congratulations to Jodie

Because I cannot say it enough: what a wonderfully, wonderfully talented woman, she deserves the world and more.

And that’s it for The Pottery Throwdown of 2021! I will hopefully be here again next year and thoroughly look forward to whoever signs up next year – I’ll be nice!
Well, it’s not quite curtains yet, we’ve got a whole montage to recap

And that truly is it for a superb series of television – you should all be so proud of yourselves, I love each and every one of you beautiful people.

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