Pottery Throwdown 2022, Episode 9: The Mr. Pinchy Spectrum

The first rule of Urinal Club is that we don’t talk about Urinal Club.

It’s the semi-final which of course means it’s Bathroom Week and as we work our way through every bathroom fixture you can imagine, they draw ever closer to sending someone insane by making them make a clawfoot tub in only 7 hours.

The Semi-urinal

I have a deep love for Bathroom Week because it has brought us some of the most impressively unhinged designs we’ve seen on the show – the teacup toilet that wouldn’t fit into 90% of British bathrooms was a particular highlight

and this year the potters found themselves having to make novelty urinals and of course the Men of Twitter were kicking up a fuss about the fact there were no men around for this challenge because men really are out there wanting degrees in rocket science for using a urinal. And from my sordid former life as a urinal-user, I can assure you, men *do not* know how to use urinals.

In order to make their urinals the potters were given a generous 7 hours and a very dense clay that was particularly sturdy due to its high grog content, which is also why pirates are so reliable.

It is an inescapable tradition that someone in bathroom week has to make something inspired by a sea creature and joining the likes of Toilet Turtle

and Adam motorboating a seashell

was Christine who was making a lobster-shaped urinal, which did come with the added complication of how to deal with the lobsters 10 legs, because the pincers are ~BiOlOgIcAlLy~ considered legs (BALL’S IN YOUR ANIMAL FACT COURT, JENNY.) Her solution to the risk of appendage snappage was to group them together to give them more stability, however it did slightly run the risk of making her lobster look more like a louse

and I’m not sure you really want to be thinking about lice when you’re having a wee.

She was of course also making her lobster look much more cartoonish and friendly looking, so you didn’t have to worry about suddenly not being able to pee because you were faced with the eldritch horror that is a lobster’s face

I did enjoy the straight on view of Christine’s lobster, as it follows the same rules as Big Barbara in that it should only ever be viewed from a 45 degree angle

I was a little worried about Christine in this challenge as it is the biggest build they’ve done so far, and she had struggled with the Sea Kale Jar challenge, but she was much more comfortable slab building a bigger build than she was throwing one.

Lucinda was however having a bit of a tough time building her, just about to-scale, Punch & Judy puppet theatre

I have to say, I do particularly love the fact her plan was to paint a Punch and Crocodile fighting over sausages in a men’s urinal – it is semiotically delicious.
And the fact Lucinda had brought in a pair of Punch and Judy ornaments gave Keith the perfect opportuniy to film his audition tape for Britain’s Next Top Puppetmaster

Siobhan trying to psychically contact Ellie Taylor to came back to take the reins <3

The biggest issue Lucinda faced was the fact so many of her slabs were flat, while everyone else had much more curved features, making them slightly more structurally sound – and meant they had less joins to worry about. But after going through her own Punch and Judy routine with her urinal she managed to get the whole thing built all the while squeaking “That’s the way to do it!” in increasingly frazzled tones, which I too have been doing all morning, so thanks for that Lucinda.

Due to the fact it was such a big build, the potters did have to come in with a very detailed plan of what they were doing, and I loved that Anna proudly showed off her diagram but because of the lighting it washed out the urinal schematics so it just looked like she was showing off a blank piece of paper

and it does make for a great meme template

For her urinal, Anna was borrowing from the steampunk aesthetic to create a very industrial looking piece

it’s an absolutely mammoth build, with the whole thing being mounted onto a clay slab which worried me a little because Hannah did the same thing last year for her basin and had some major cracks form – and also got criticised by Keith and Rich for mostly just sticking things to a clay sheet when they were looking for something slightly more conceptual. Which I perhaps wish Anna had done too, but steampunk is such a bold look that I think it was fine that she wasn’t building a canine-shaped urinal, which I did think she was doing at first when I saw her banishing her clay into the cone of shame

alas, I was not going to be able to make a Pee-kingese pun.

And lastly we have AJ who had drawn their inspiration from past trips to museums, ultimately deciding on a knight’s helmet

and thus Sir Pee-rcival was born. There was also a King Urien who was a member of the Knights of the Round Table, which I do find particularly funny but nobody remembers poor King Urien.

Given that AJ was seemingly preparing a bathroom for glorious battle, Siobhan set her sights on leading AJ to the side of violence

which is a weird choice given that AJ has the disposition and gleefully innocent face of Littlefoot from The Land Before Time – it’s honestly uncanny

if you want to lead one of these potters to violence, clearly your best bet is Lucinda – we all saw her guillotine that badger with chilling precision.

What a Relief

For their spot test the potters were going to have to take on the intricacies of Wedgewood’s famed Jasperware, which did have Anna particularly shaken

and in order to judge the challenge they were joined by guest judges The Fates of Wedgewood and a £15,000 vase

Goodbye The Great Pottery Throwdown, hello The Great British Cat Burglary!

The Throwdown Challenge focused exclusively on ornamenting, meaning the potters would have to make and apply the relief work by themselves, which was a very intricate process that the women from Wedgewood made look FAR too easy and as soon as the potters had to do it themselves there was a lot of mumbling “that’ll do.” and shrugging as well as shocked gasps whenever they managed to successfully get one of their pieces of relief work out of its mould. With the relief work being so intricate, a few of the potters lost a few bits and pieces here and there, AJ’s notably missing an arm

Hey, it never did the Venus de Milo any harm.

Applying the relief work was as tricky as demoulding it, requiring absolute precision and patience, something they didn’t have a lot of with only 90 minutes on the clock and two vases to decorate, so it’s understandable that Christine applied hers on an almost impressively steep incline

but she was at least able to claw some points back with the freeform, contemporary design she gave her second vase

I think my favourite of the contemporary designs though was Anna’s, I really loved the simplicity and elegance of it

but she did have some issues with her other vase, mostly in that she had applied one of the borders upside down

*whispers* I think it looks better that way… My sincerest apologies to Josiah Wedgwood and his 263 year old floral border.

While AJ had struggled a little with with the evenness of the border on their traditional Wedgwood vase, as soon as they had no guide to lay it against, they managed an absolutely perfect circle

it’s extremely strong Spongebob drawing a perfect circle energy

and it did seem to shock AJ as much as anyone else

My casefile grows ever stronger.

Lucinda, sensing a urinal disaster on the horizon, was determined to succeed in this challenge, but was also worried about the fact she doesn’t make delicate things very often – which surprises me considering the children’s dinner set she made in the first episode. And she did really well in this, her relief work had certainly managed to retain the most detail, the Wedgewood guest judge and imaginably the £15,000 vase, were particularly impressed by the fact the spokes in her wheel all came out

but it was her contemporary design that they loved the most

I really like the fact the design looks like abstract dragonflies – it was a clever way to utilise the shapes they were given and she was deservedly well rewarded for it!

An Official Wedgwood Work Experience Ranking

  1. Lucinda’s Spokeful Wheel
  2. Christine’s Rolling Wedgwood Hills
  3. AJ’s Perfect Circle and Venus de Milo
  4. Anna’s Renegade Border

Urinal or You’re Out

As it turns out, the Kiln Gods are a non-micturious pantheon with no use for a urinal and thus nobody’s urinal came out of the kiln unscathed, with Christine’s lobster have just about all of its legs ripped off

AJ’s helmet being given a Glasgow Smile

Anna’s suffering a single stress fracture

and Lucinda’s puppet theatre coming out the other side looking like the San Andreas Fault Line

and with such large cracks to repair and a very intricate design to paint onto her urinal, she was incredible pressed for time but rather impressively she got it all done, the cracks may have reopened in the second firing but her artwork was still as immaculate as ever

the interior Punch and Crocodile have the same wonderfully vintage style that the pieces from her child’s crockery set in the first episode had

something about it really reminds me of the sort of artwork you’d see painted on the mural at an outdoor swimming pool which is very fun.

As for the functionality of her urinal, the water dispersing system she had rigged worked really well and I’ve never seen anyone so excited about water dripping down a urinal, but there were some issues with the drainage of the water and a slight leak, but in Lucinda’s defense, she is a potter not a plumber.

While Lucinda busied herself with patching up a crack that threatened to devour Gladstone, Christine had to work on a way of reattaching her lobster’s de-appendaged appendages, but luckily for her she wasn’t having to paint a man fighting a crocodile for some sausages in the back of her lobster, instead in order to give Rich something aim at because now we know Keith prefers to sit down AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WITH THIS INFORMATION I DIDN’T WANT MR. BRYMER JONES, she painted what I assume are lobster eggs, unless lobsters are known to exclusively horde red M&Ms

and while Christine had reattached her lobster’s limbs, The Kiln Gods were having absolutely none of it and promptly re-severed them

At a certain point you do have to wonder if Rose is perhaps a lobster serial killer.

Christine however refused to admit defeat in the face of decapod adversity and took a drag queen’s approach to the solution and just hot glued them onto it, meaning she and Lucinda did have to stand holding the “hands” of her lobster for a few minutes

and I’m glad she at least got everything reattached because her urinal was cuter than any urinal deserves to be

I’m glad she managed to land on the right side of the Mr. Pinchy Spectrum

the fact she had taken the time to ensure that the tail of the lobster covered the waist pipe garners her a large amount of praise, as does the view from… well, “your stance”

as Rich admires that “the lobster looks like it’s nibbling the pipe”

to which Anna lets out the wickedest cackle I’ve ever heard and I’m glad *someone* did

my favourite thing though was that, in the grand tradition of dressing like your piece, Lucinda had forgone dressing up like a puppet theatre (although I no doubt believe she has the clothing to do so) and had instead decided to show solidarity with Christine’s lobster and its plight for limbs

True friends dress like friend’s urinals.

While AJ’s helmet had a few cracks, their build definitely came out the cleanest – the biggest concern that Keith and Rich had was about the size of the opening, which again was more of Rich’s concern BECAUSE WE NOW KNOW FAR TOO MUCH ABOUT HOW KEITH BRYMER JONES URINATES AND I DON’T LIKE IT. And to be fair, it does look a bit shallow, however that might also be something of an illusion with the entire interior of the helmet being painted black

it’s a bloody impressive build, and just such a clever idea – I hope AJ is prepared for every Medieval Re-enactment Village in the UK to commision them to make bespoke helmet-shaped urinals, especially after Keith only just fell short of crying over the beauty of AJ’s flush.

Anna may have had quite a large crack in the back slab of her urinal, but given that her design had that aged industrial look, the crack, while somewhat covered up and repaired, didn’t actually look out of place once it was all finished

as the judges said, it might have benefited her to maybe make the pipes and the stonework at the back more distinct from one another, but she really nailed the steampunk aesthetic without making it look too contrived and forced – which is something Anna always does so well, she’s a very organic and intuitive potter and designer.

An Unofficial Urinal Ranking

  1. Sir Pee-rcival of the Urinal Table
  2. Christine’s Lobster Therm-ordure
  3. Anna’s Steampunk Potty
  4. Lucinda’s Urinal Punch-up

Given the fact bathroom week always brings a bigger build than any of the potters have ever fathomed, they all did remarkably well – the fact everyone got something mounted on the wall alone deserves applauding, I mean think back to Week 2 when everyone as struggling to hang a clock on the wall, they’ve all come so far!
And because of the cleanness and ingenuity of their build, AJ does once again rise to glory as Potter of the Week

and with three episode wins, that does put AJ in a very good position going into the final.

Sadly, there did have to be someone that didn’t make the final and with Christine’s and Lucinda’s urinals suffering the most build issues and having a few functionality concerns it ultimately came to a decision between the two of them, with the potter just missing out on the final being Lucinda

she’s been a wonderful addition to the cast this year and the things she’s made have always been as vibrant and interesting as she is, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing about her journey on the show and if you want to see what she goes on to do and make, you can follow her on Instagram at LucindaLovesey where she has been doing delightfully strange things with tiny little clay hands.

And so, 3 potters make it to the Final!

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

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