Pottery Throwdown 2022, Episode 5: The Epicurus of Gnomes

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If you thought Garden Week was going to be a fun and sedate time, YOU THOUGHT WRONG! Strap in, there’s Gnomish Discourse to be had.

There Are Gnome Puns Left For Me

This week saw the potters taking on Garden Week, or more accurately ushering in The Garden Gnome Renaissance as this week’s main make challenge was for them to make a trio of garden gnomes inspired by time spent with family and friends -so things like holidays, festivals, sports and office meetings involving a cake ambush. Of course this did all mean that they had to have Rich and Keith dress as a pair of gnomes, with Ellie presumably playing the role of the lawn

and Keith will be known for the rest of this episode as Keith Brymer-Gnomes.

There is of course Garden Gnome discourse with Cellan hating them with a burning intensity that suggests he had a traumatic gnome-based incident as a child whereas Anna is firmly Team Gnome because… of course Anna is.

I was particularly excited to see how AJ would do this challenge given that very characterful pieces seem to be their forté and I was not disappointed when they showed off their plan and had seemingly drawn inspiration from the gnomes in Gravity Falls

I love them in all of their cannibalistic flesh-demanding glory

Flesh for the flesh gnomes!
And while I would love to give AJ the credit of inventing the Gnome Horror genre, I was not traumatised as a child by the Goosebumps gnomes only for them to suffer a gnomish erasure

They were the Weeping Angels of my childhood. She says as though she wasn’t 15 years old in 2007.

Everyone else went much less… horrific, although that does depend on how you feel about Tom revealing his gnome like the dumpster demon in Mulholland Drive

Tom’s inspiration wasn’t however inspired by a love of incredibly niche surrealist neo-noir thriller films – it’s a pity – but instead by his love of the rave scene, which is why he came dressed as the Steve Buscemi “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme

and he had quite the make on his hands with an apparent 100 pieces to build as well as a working whistle to construct for his surprisingly dextrous gnomes

Breakdancing Gnome is my personal favourite yoga position.

Tom wasn’t the only one drawing inspiration from the music scene as Lucinda was making a trio of festival going gnomes who love music, being outdoors, having a bit of a drink and a dance while wearing jazzy shirts…

yeah, her gnomes were literally just Tom

and I’m sure it helped having a model in front of her as a few of the other potters tried their best to find ways to do as little of the gnomish anatomy as they possibly could – I call this The Chris Hoy Loophole after Peter on Bake Off 2020 won Star Baker for making a Chris Hoy cake which involved having to do no hair or eyes

and Jenny was going to be damned if she had to sculpt gnome fingers, so decided to give her middle class gnome family on a skiing holiday each a pair of mittens

we all love a savvy potter.

Cellan on the other hand didn’t want to worry about having to paint eyes onto his gnomes and was giving his lost hiking gnomes each a pair of glasses which did make them look like The Three Blind Mice from the artistic masterpiece, Shrek

but while Cellan went simple for his gnomes faces, he was taking his time in crafting the most perfect peachy little bum on his gnomes

apparently gnomes are subject to unrealistic body standards too.

Sadly the glorious booty of Cellan’s gnome was short-lived as on its journey to the Drying Room, Cellan unfortunately dropped it, and while that is tragic, there was something quite delightfully comedic about this supine gnome just staring into space having an existential crisis

I have never felt more seen or represented by anything in media than I did by Cellan’s newly flatarsed gnome.

While Cellan aimed for posterior majesty, Christine was not giving her gnomes a buttcrack, no these were polite and demure gnomes – although the Judi Dench-esque leg extension her gnome was doing in her sketch suggests otherwise

Christine was of course making a trio of rollerskating gnomes inspired by her glory days when she used to be the coolest person on the cul-de-sac

sadly she was not incorporating her love of Favourite Zombie Boxset to make a set of rollerskating zombie gnomes to aid AJ’s flesh-eating gnomes in their quest for sustenance. FLESH FOR THE FLESH GNOMES.

Despite Christine’s fondness for mythical creatures, she is apparently steadfastly anti-gnome and so it was only Anna who was leading The Defensive Gnomish Stormfront with her three gnomes which were apparently the three members of the dwarves in Snow White that nobody ever talks about: Tipsy, Drunky and Blotto

and in order to make sure she got everything done, because apparently gnomes come in 60 piece flatpack form

she had made a plan, and by plan she did mean she had drawn the silhouette of a gnome like she was investigating a gnomish murder scene

Anna wasn’t *completely* alone in her defense of gnomes as Nick kind of said he liked them but didn’t want to overly commit to the gnome apologia – imaginably out of fear of being outcast from Barry which is slowly beginning to sound like a totalitarian state what with its No Space Bun Mandate. His inspiration for his gnomes was the unstoppable ravaging of Time that will one day consume us all, with his aged surfer gnomes, which he had done some very cute artwork for – which you will only notice if you can look beyond the rainbow unicorn zebra that I demand to knowmore about

I really loved this idea and the fact he had gone to extent of making it look like their beards were wet, which would work really well with the shiny transparent glaze they were having to use.

A Forcer of Nature

For this week’s Throwdown Challenge the potters were having to make forcer jars, with Keith Brymer-Gnomes sending the fear of God into most of the potters by at first unveiling a mammoth rhubarb forcer jar

and to demonstrate this Herculean task of claymanship was Adam keeling whomst we are all looking at VERY respectfully

apparently the secret to his arms is that he can make 150 flower pots in a single day – I can barely lift a single flower pot, I am a woman made of spaghetti and pudding mixture, doomed to a life of having the upper body strength of a jellyfish.

Because this was the biggest build they’ve ever done for a Throwdown Challenge the potters were being given 90 minutes to do it in, not that this assuaged their fears with AJ seemingly ready to throw fists over it all

and just to illustrate how demanding the challenge was, this was AJ’s face when Ellie told the potters they still had 30 minutes left despite that being longer than most of the previous throwdown challenges

I can only imagine AJ spent the entire night in their hotel room researching work force laws and how they apply to TV competition shows.

Of course with so much clay to work with, the potters had been given overalls, which I was very relieved about because I did not want Jenny spoiling her A+ University Challenge worthy jumper

not that the overalls didn’t prevent Anna from getting as grubby as she possibly could within a matter of seconds

some things are just a constant down at Gladstone, and Anna’s final forcer was very much obviously Anna’s with it being described as “naive and easy going” and having that distinctive handmade charm that all of Anna’s pieces have

and while Anna’s was very good, it was AJ who became star pupil, despite harumphing their way through most of the challenge

most of the other potters gazed on in envy as their perfect forcer took shape without much of a hitch

Christine had the biggest struggle on her hands as she just couldn’t get to grips with the sheer amount of clay on her hands, with her forcer very quickly taking the form of a violently unsafe Helter Skelter

and sensing this was an impossible task and on the verge of burning the enter pottery to ashes, she decided that she was going to downgrade the forcer once again to that of whatever is slightly smaller than sea kale, Google betrayed me and gave NO ANSWER

but she wasn’t the only one to struggle with size as Nick’s forcer was a touch on the narrow side, but featuring some well done decoration, including a threat to eat your damn vegetables

and while his was Narrow, Lucinda was seemingly attempting the physically impossible by throwing a pot larger than her wheel

which did unfortunately land her in 6th place, narrowly beating Cellan whose forcer, much like the French monarchy in 1792, had been overthrown

and rather fittingly looked like it was about to lose its head.

Tom had some shaping issues of his own, with his forcer being absolutely perfect from one angle

and from the other angle having developed quite the protrusion

it’s fine though, make like I do and only take photographs from one very specific angle

Hey, I have to make that monster of a jaw work somehow.

And lastly we have Jenny’s forcer which was very relatably described as having a good width but an evident struggle

who amongst us doesn’t?

An Official Sea Kale Forcer Ranking

  1. AJ, Kale Forcer Supreme
  2. Anna’s Forceful Naivety
  3. Tom’s Forcer But From One Specific Angle
  5. Jenny’s Girthy Struggle
  6. Lucinda’s Physics Defying Forcer
  7. Cellan’s Sea Kale Forcer XVI
  8. Christine’s Lesser Spotted Sea Kale Forcer

Gnome Time To Die

It was once again a week of mostly mercy at the hands of The Kiln Gods with the only person suffering a minor setback being Cellan, whose reinflated gnome had unfortunately been lobotomised, an effect only aided by the cold, dead eyes

but he wasn’t too put out by the development considering it was an easy enough task to just fuse it back together during The Ceremonial Gnomish Baptisms in the glaze tub

and he still finished up with three very cute gnomes who do look a bit like they could slot perfectly into Devo, who are quite honestly the garden gnomes of rock music

They’re a very cute and charming group (Cellan’s gnomes, not Devo) but they are a touch on the small side and they aren’t particularly animated – but they tell a very cohesive story, they just could have maybe used some more exaggerated facial expressions to make up for their very static poses. But I think he did have one of the neatest sculpts – the shape of them is adorable. Although I think AJ can proudly take the crown for best sculpt of the bunch with their beachcombing gnomes

they’re utterly bonkers and what I love most about them is that you can take one look at their faces and just about hear the sound that they’re making

AJ sculpts facial expressions so well, I just want them to put faces on everything – that is a direct challenge to give a bidet a face during the inevitable revival of Bathroom Week, the most chaotic week of the competition, because who wouldn’t want a bidet that looks at you like this

joining AJ in coastal gnome glory was Nick, whose gnomes came together rather fantastically

I do wish the beards had had that more sodden look that they had in his drawing but that might have also cluttered them up a bit. You can always trust Nick to give a good hand sculpt though and some of the details on his gnomes were immaculate, the fact that he had had given each of the their gnome hats a little peak and the build on the hand of the gnome doing the shaka sign was SO GOOD

but truly the star of the show was the surfing pirate

it’s a pity the glaze on the eyepatch maybe didn’t work as well as one would hope but the character is so delightfully silly and feels like something straight out of Gideon Defoe’s “Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists”.

Jenny had also had a bit of glazing trouble, although hers was a little more intentional as she had tried to create a “chiffon effect” for her legs-akimbo gnome, with the dappling maybe distracting from what was actually a very good build

I really think that her sliding gnome is a fantastic build, if maybe a touch stiff, I think if she had managed to get a little more flow into the beard it might have looked a bit more like it was rushing down the hill at breakneck speed

The furiously determined facial expression does rather tickle me though.

Tom had no trouble with movement with his breakdancing gnome which could literally be repositioned and moved around

that’s some very clever sculpting, as were the other two gnomes, once you get over the fact their hats set off your trypophobia something fierce

as Keith said, there s always something new to notice when you look at them, I particularly enjoy the tiny little cap hanging off the top of the right gnome’s traditional pointed hat. I don’t know if the sculpted whistle read too much as a whistle, but it certainly worked and Keith got a real kick out of tooting it

I will not be making a blowing a gnome joke.

While Tom’s gnomes were based off of his friends, Rich pondered whether Lucinda’s gnomes were inspired by her family members because “they sort of resemble you!” at which point the editors decided to cut from Lucinda to the gnome with a honking great big nose

You’re rude and I love you.

But it doesn’t matter too much because apparently there’s nothing that Lucinda loves more than a big old nose

Rhinophilia is a new one to me, but whatever gets you going in the morning, we don’t kink shame.

Back to Lucinda’s facially well-endowed gnomes though, and they were rather cute and quite frankly, I would love nothing more than to be a carefree festival-going gnome right now

Look at him, look at how at peace he looks, truly there are no thoughts, only vibes. He is the Epicurus of gnomes, a true gastroGnome, if you will. And his partners in gnomish hedonism were similarly lovely

You come for the Pottery Throwdown recap, you stay for the Greek philosophy refences.

Lucinda’s guitar-playing gnome had suffered a bit of a crack to his base, but at least the base matches the butt now. Christine’s rollerskating gnomes had managed to stay utterly crackless though and were throwing some serious shapes

her decision to forgo a base on her standing gnome had made it a bit precarious as we found out with Keith trying his best to stand it, only to have it fall over and almost give Christine a heart attack

every episode brings us closer to Keith shattering something in front of its poor creator’s eyes and I’m not sure I’m ever going to be emotionally ready for that moment, can we line the plinth with crash mats ahead of time, please? Given the fact Keith spent so much time trying to stand the noodly armed gnome, he unfortunately didn’t have enough time to cry over Christine’s gnomes but he did almost squeeze out a few for the beauty of Anna’s sack

somehow this show just keeps plundering new absurd and unexpected innuendo depths, meanwhile Bake Off is still flogging that soggy bottomed horse. That was rude of me, I shouldn’t be so mean about Matt Lucas.

Her gnomes were the most traditional looking of the bunch and of course had that distinctly handmade finish that Anna does so well

I was worried that with there being so much texture to them that she’d struggle to give them readable faces but she pulled it off remarkably well, there’s almost a sort of ape-like quality to them, with their very rounded ears. They’re not my personal taste, but if I were a gnome person, I think I’d rather like these absolute menaces and Keith Rich seemed rather fond of them too.

An Unofficial Gnome Ranking

  1. AJ’s Gravity Falls Fanclub
  2. Lucinda’s Trio of Toms
  3. Nick’s Gnomes of GnoMontanita Beach
  4. Tom’s Small-time Ravers
  5. Tipsy, Drunky & Blotto
  6. Christine’s Throwback Gnomes
  7. Jenny’s Gnomish Ski Holiday
  8. Cellan’s Lost Boys

I think everyone did pretty well this week but it was hard to deny that AJ hadn’t hit a homerun with both a very impressive plant forcer and their very unique take on garden gnomes so rightfully they were given Potter of the Week

and with the only misstep coming from Cellan, whose gnomes were still very good and I thought might get us a week with no elimination, but sadly My Pythagorean Prince was this week’s eliminee

FUMIN’ but at least he managed to nab himself a spot in Rose’s Room of Wonders with his clock and if you want to see what he makes in the future, you can follow him over on Instagram at _Cellan_.

And so, seven potters remain

And if you’ve enjoyed this recap of the Great Pottery Throwdown’s Garden Gnome Week and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.

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