Pottery Throwdown 2022, Episode 6: Avocado Seraph

For one brief moment, I did think they were going to whip off that hessian cloth and reveal Siobhan McSweeney.

It’s 60s week, so think The Beatles, Thunderbirds and Disturbing Jelly Salads.

Going To Second Vase

For 60s week, it was all about aesthetics, with the main component of the challenge being for the potters to create something as alarmingly garish as they possibly could while using a leopard skin glaze. As for what they were making, they had to produce a pair of vessels – so that’s vases, pitchers, jugs or if you’re AJ a pair of condiment bongs

I mean, the fear of large scale drug use in the 60s walked so the Satanic Panic in the 80s could run, after all.

Nobody was quite as excited for 60s Week as Tom, who by the sounds things unsurprisingly lives in his own little 60s time capsule and was likely the only potter who didn’t have to google “60s vases” and just pick something from Google Images to recreate – you’ve all been called out! His vases were a pair of interlocking pieces, one being an hourglass shape and the other looking like a sea slug that swallowed a tennis ball

I really loved this idea, and I thought we’d see a lot more of it, just to make sure their pieces all looked very much like a pair. Anna played pretty fast and loose with her pairing, blaming it all on the fact she didn’t remember the 60s, but she did remember the 80s which were basically the second 60s. As for her pieces, one was decorated with an array of peacock avocados and the other looked like the inevitable heat death of the universe

I think she perfectly captured the 60s, in that you look at them and wonder “Why?”. Keith did have concerns about whether or not they’d look like a pair or not, but with the similar application of glaze, it’s unmistakable that they’re at least made by the same person, and I like that she opted for two very different vessels. And in her making of a jug, she was at least able to potentially redeem her handle pulling abilities after that particularly innuendo laden throwdown challenge.

And after a week in which she thought she was at risk of getting eliminated, Jenny was bringing out the big guns and attempting to throw a particularly tricky doughnut shaped vessel – which you might remember from last year in which Rich tried to convince us that cowboys regularly used doughnut-shaped clay flasks because an obscure museum in Texas has 1 (one) example. And while the doughnut throwing gave the potters a bit of a tricky time last year, Jenny, a doughnut throwing hobbyist, did it with ease

it’s honestly witchcraft how easily she did that, I am in dumbfounded awe, especially that she stayed so steady with Keith was prowling around the pottery looking like Mr. Tweedy from Chicken Run looking for any sign of a poultry rebellion

As for the other half of her sublime doughnut, it was a disc-shaped vase

Lucinda was also embracing the circular life, with what looked like a pair of M&S statement necklaces made into vases

Prue Leith would hang these from her neck in a heartbeat.

Lucinda was having the most trouble with the fact their vessels had to all be 40cm tall, but luckily there was a spare box lying around for her her stand on

but she managed to get them together, if maybe not quite getting to add all the details she wanted as she enviously observed Christine’s carvings in the drying room

and who could blame her because Christine had done it to painstaking precision

I cried just looking at that, both because it’s incredibly impressive and because it gave me flashbacks to miserably failing any sort of geometry test in year 9 maths – apparently “pay someone else to do it” is not a valid answer when a question asks you how many tiles you’d need to tile a bathroom whose floor plan looks like it was designed by Escher.

And lastly we have Nick who was very much not vibing with the 60s and within minutes of him opening his mouth to describe his design to Keith, the gentle parping of the Tuba of Doom started. He was drawing inspiration from his mother’s fashion with a pair of vases with contrasting geometric sprig details

there’s something very Aztec about the shape of them, especially the one one the right which looks like a mask that will place a 600 year curse on the family of whoever wears it.

He did seem to get a little pressed for time, and was definitely the most nervous of everyone, as he nervously glanced around the pottery to see where the ever lurking threat of Keith was

Don’t worry Nick, if you need anything to steady your nerves, Jenny has a bottle of something on her work station

day drinking is apparently the trick to a perfectly thrown doughnut.

And while Nick got in a bit of a flap, Anna finished with plenty of time to spare and could have a good gossip session with Rose in the Drying Room


Orla’bout Patterns

For this week’s Throwdown Challenge, we had a Throwdown First as their final product would be fired – and this was definitely to make them look as good as possible and not because guest judge Orla Kiely couldn’t make it on the first day of filming because she was too busy arranging her bags in height order on her piano

and if you don’t know who Orla is, don’t worry, Nick doesn’t either

I do think it was a bit mean to suddenly tell the potters *after* they had done their patterns that they were going to be judged by Orla Kiely, whose entire brand is flower patterns and jolly prints – it might have made Nick stick to the brief a little more. Thus, I present to you, Nick’s journey through this challenge in 3 screenshots

the one thing going for Nick, was that his pattern was at least full coverage and very well done and if there hadn’t been a specification for 60sness, probably would’ve been in the top 3

which did mean that he got scored higher than Tom whose was just ever so slightly too sparse

which was the same critique Christine got, as she refused to paint the background because they weren’t giving her enough time

I fully support Christine in her one woman mutiny against the rules of a Throwdown Challenge. Orla did at least like the uniqueness of Christine’s pattern.

Sadly bringing up the rear was Lucinda’s, whose I thought was actually really good and had a touch of that very specific Swedish folk art style that was a very prevalent influence in 60s decor

but she had committed the cardinal sin of saying “I love patterns so this is right up my street!” when the challenge started, and really, she needn’t have told us, we could all see what she was wearing

it’s not quite a bedazzled lobster sock-brooch, but I’ll take it!

The potters did have only 90 minutes to draw up their pattern and glaze it, which would be hard enough but because they were firing them as well, they had to be dipped into the ominous vat of transparent glaze that got a particularly cinematic introduction

and in order to make sure the glaze adhered properly, their pattern glazing had to be dry before hand, which did mean Jenny, having been burned by glaze adherence issues during Raku Week, was frantically blowing her glaze dry

and it was worth it, because her piece came out really well finished, and I think it’s safe to say she might have been fairly influenced by Lucinda’s outfit

but Jenny was pipped to the winner’s spot by AJ who just became a 60s patterning machine

shout out to production who have obviously invested in a crane and were getting their money’s worth out of it this episode. But back to AJ and their pot which honestly looked like it had been machine manufactured

Clarice Cliff is over, long live AJ.

And sitting pretty in the middle of the pack was Anna and her pot of flowers

she does get dinged for the fact her glaze application doesn’t read as particularly 60s, but at least it was floral and therefore better than the burning flames of Hell.

An Official 60s Patterned Pot Ranking

  1. AJ’s Patternation Domination
  2. Jenny’s Well Blown Pot
  3. Mutiny in the Pottery
  4. Anna’s Watery Lilies
  5. Nick’s Burning Desire To Destroy the 60s
  6. Tom’s Sparse Garden
  7. Lucinda Being Unnecessarily Punished

Leopardy Jeopardy

With the Kiln Gods having played nice for the last few weeks, it was only a matter of time before they claimed their pottery oblation and as The Tuba of Doom heralded, it was Nick who was summoned to the Altar Kiln by High Priestess of Gladstone, Rose, to lay witness to the demise of his vessel

Yes, quite.

The base hadn’t entirely been lost though

so his pieces were at least still technically a vase and not a very impractical piece of plumbing

the build of them, setting aside the “blown out arse”, is really quite good – the sharpness of the handles on the left and those little nubbins on the right are a joy to behold, it’s just a pity that the glazing doesn’t feel quite as considered and is actively fighting against the design. Which Tom had similarly issues with as he went for a very graphic zig-zag that he painstakingly mapped out in masking tape

I do like the glazing, I’m just not sure it’s for these particular pieces, and as Keith said, it might have been better to go more freehanded, both to accentuate the bulbousness but also to allow his glazes to blend and melt together a little better.

Nick may have had the worst accident in the kiln, but Anna was tempting disaster with her jug that looked like it might disintegrate if you looked at it too hard

and all that was left to do was glaze the hell out of it and pray that that managed to hold it all together, which of course Anna did in the messiest way possible

and I was worried for her because while Nick’s vase was half an arse short, Anna’s pieces did look like this before they were fired

and her reaction when she walked into the pottery after their second firing, didn’t fill me with confidence as to how this would end for her

and her pieces will obviously be the most divisive of the bunch but you know, at least they’re conversation starters

there’s a lot to take in here, not least of which is the fact that her jug looks like a Hell Swan whose last mournful honk will herald the end of our universe as we know it – but it’s all the more a feat of a build, it just looks like liquid clay. Her vase doesn’t quite have the same elegance and certainly feels the weaker of the two pieces, but I might be a bit biased because I don’t like the way it’s looking at me with all of its eyes, like some sort of avocado seraph.

Lucinda found herself the most pushed for time as she gave herself a mammoth task with the amount of glazing she was having to do – the leopard glaze being achieved by layering brown and white glazes was a time consuming process as the best of times, and Lucinda’s pieces looked particularly enormous

but she got it done and setting herself such an ambitious task certainly paid off in the end

I think they’re divine, there’s something very Mexican feeling about them in her colour choices and their chunky lugs, which thankfully she wasn’t having to thread with a heather branch this week. My favourite part of them though was the coppery-gold she put around the rim

that strikes me as a very well observed piece of 60s design, but sadly did draw attention to the very small lip she had give her jug

that is a white man’s lip, and Keith was, well, getting a bit lippy about the whole thing

this is the same man that quite frequently cries over a well observed teacup – there are two ceramic wolves inside of you, which one shall you throw?. And speaking of Keith’s tears, he was gone the moment he took a single glance at Jenny’s pieces

they’re phenomenal, and quite possibly two of my favourite pieces that have been made on the show – her colour choices, the glaze placement, the embellishments on the front, it’s all absolutely perfect

and nothing made me happier this episode than when Jenny first saw them and how utterly in love with them she was

but she had stiff competition from AJ’s Bert and Ernie vases

the sphericalness that they managed to achieve on both vases is really quite impressive and I love the playfulness of the yellow one looking distinctly upside down and thus being doomed to a life of constantly having guests ask why you’ve got your vase upside down.

And last, but certainly not least, we have Christine and her two vases

I think out of all the pieces, even as much I think Jenny’s were an absolute feat of craftsmanship, Christine’s are the ones I would most like to own, potentially because they’re the most functional looking (How exactly does one use a doughnut vase?) but there’s also a remarkable effortlessness to Christine’s work, I think in the hands of many other potters, these two vases would’ve looked overwrought and a bit like the floor of a Roman discoteque, but Christine just works magic with glazes.

A 60s Vessel Ranking

  1. Jenny’s Doughnuty Feat
  2. Christine’s Faux-tiled Vases
  3. AJ’s Condiment Bongs
  4. Lucinda’s Pseudo-Mexican Vessels
  5. Anna’s Hell Swan and Avocado Seraph
  6. Tom’s Conflicting Zig-zag
  7. Nick’s 60s Hecatomb

Given that she managed to reduce Keith to his most weepy state, it was an unsurprising win for Jenny

the very even spread of Potters of the Week, is making for a very exciting competition. But sadly with Jenny’s rise, someone must fall and while Anna went risky with her lurid glazing, Nick was undone by the Kiln Gods and it’s his turn to leave the pottery

I honestly had Nick as an easy pick for the final, especially after he made that boat in the third week, and if you want to see the amazing things he’s been making, you can follow him on Instagram at NickRobattoCeramics.

And so, 6 potters remain at the mercy of the Kiln Gods

And if you’ve enjoyed this recap of the Great Pottery Throwdown’s 60s Week and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.

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