Pottery Throwdown 2023, Episode 5: Larval Nosferatu

I have a name.

I’m losing to a bird!


I’s an absolute honour that this week the potters were challenged with the task of creating sculptures of me

you all captured my likeness perfectly.

It was of course Terracotta Week which has given us such events as The 2021 Incident Which We Do Not Talk About and was retired for 2022 so this was meant to be terracotta’s big throwdown redemption with the potters having to make their own characterful gargoyle complete with roof tile perch. And no, we shan’t be going into the petty details of the fact these were technically Grotesques due to their lack of water spout – just thank your lucky stars, because where do you think the Gargoatse was going to be squirting from?

yes, I did hate that sentence as much as you did.

Your typical Gargoyle is a bewinged, horned demon and while most of the potters kept somewhat within that realm, George was shrugging off all the usual Gargoyle tropes because he’s not like other potters, he’s a cool potter and was bringing us the now seemingly annual anglerfish inspired build. It wasn’t a literal anglerfish lest it look like someone had lobbed a fish onto your roof like some sort of medieval sport played in Cornish fishing towns, he’d given it some arms and replaced the glowing light appendage with an arm holding an eye which was very AAAH! Real Monsters of him

but he was not holding back on the teeth and putting together an entire set of anglerfish denchers

who needs to fly to Turkey when you’ve got a potter?

George, rather surprisingly, wasn’t the only potter going for a deep sea creation, unsurprisingly, the other potter taking a dip into the cool, inherently erotic waters of the ocean was Lois who was opting to make a mermaid escaping from the pages of a sunken cursed medieval manuscript (we love a high concept)

it’s such a familiar look to me, I was convinced I had seen this somewhere before in one of the far too many mermaid horror films I’ve watched (I’m working through some stuff) and then it hit me like a tonne of bricks – it’s that damn Feejee Mermaid that every kid who read a Ripley’s Believe It or Not book in the 2000s was kind of obsessed with

opening to page 56, pointing at it and saying “that’s you!” was peak 2003 junior school culture.

As ever, Lois’s sculpting was incredibly good, so good in fact that Rebecca was wondering if she could slip her £20 and commission her to build the head of her gargoyle because it was stuck in that strange draconic limbo of looking slightly like a cow

Rebecca had made things quite hard for herself by opting for a two-headed gargoyle inspired by an Aboriginal legend where one head represents good and the other represents an incredibly annoying younger sibling apparently

it’s very much giving me the Henry Cavill and Jason Momoa meme

I think it’s fair to say that Rebecca and terracotta weren’t getting along particularly well and their relationship was only going to get more tumultuous, not least of all because she was denying her gargoyle the right to opposable thumbs

should have just done an armless snake like Jon who was able to order his entire Gargoyle from the terracotta snake vending machine

and of course every snake needs a fearsome name and there’s a lot of competition out there from the likes of Kaa, Asmodeus Poisonteeth and Jörmungandr. So Jon Christened his terrifying serpentine guardian against malevolence…

well, I’m sure Syril will guard the Werther’s Originals with an iron fist tail and don’t you even dare think about interrupting his Bargain Hunt viewing.

James however hadn’t found a name for his dragon because he’s still trying to tap into the whimsical silliness waiting to burst forth from his analytic accountant exterior – much like his dragon hatching from its terracotta prison

I enjoy that it looks like a novelty Game of Thrones Easter egg that would probably set you back £70.
As for why he went with dragons, apparently James just really likes dragons which I guess explains why Helen made a-

it’s been a very knobby series thus far, and all of them have come from the most unlikely of sources.
Helen’s Naturist Oboist was inspired by her own time as the Principle Oboist in the Bahamas Concert Orchestra (nakedness unspecified) – which sounds like an incredible feat but it also sounds like if you own an oboe in the Bahamas you are automatically drafted into the concert orchestra like it’s military duty

but truly the oboe was playing second fiddle in this build, because she was focusing on another all important detail of a naked demon

we’ll have to argue it out in the comments as to which fictional beastly boy has the better bum – woodwind Baal or Cellan’s Pre-drop Garden Gnome

whose booty are you backing? (this blog has taken a turn)

Also going for a very traditional devilish looking Gargoyle was Caitlin, although she had significantly less rump-related woes to take care of because the body of her gargoyle was a sort of non-commital slug-shape

the plan being to create a sort of Swiss army knife of a gargoyle, able to fight on land, air and sea

you know, just in case you have to take your gargoyle on a cross-ocean voyage and run into any of Lois’s sunken cursed manuscripts that litter the ocean floor.

Lastly we have Derek’s Gargoyle who reminded me a lot of Charlie the Chupacabra from Dexter’s Laboratory and I always appreciate a make that allows me to expunge a completely irrelevant pop culture reference from my brain

it does have quite a similar stance and face-shape to Lois’s so when we only saw them building them I did think we’d somehow ended up with two potters doing just about identical gargoyles, which given the endless scope of what a Gargoyle can be would have been quite funny.

Top Of The Chimney Pots

For their Terracotta Throwdown Challenge, the potters were having to make their very own chimney pots with the judging being overseen by Chimney Pot Impresario Gabriel Nichols – recognisable to some more than others

the way Helen said this made it properly sound like the two of them had a fling in the summer of ’87 when the chimney-obsessed scoundrel BROKE. HER. HEART! I’m not convinced that didn’t happen either.

Needless to say, a chimney pot is a big undertaking with the potters each being given 30 minutes and a 30 pound Babylonian fertility sculpture to make their pots out of

my little noodle arms ache just looking at it – I have the upper body strength of a broomstick, I simply do not lift, bro – I would have very much been in the same camp as Rebecca sending her clay spinning off like the world’s most lethal Beyblade

and yet, still not the most dangerous thing in the pottery given that Helen had engineered her clay into a sort of terracotta shuriken cannon

I do not blame her for trying to find away to take down James once and for all because while everyone moaned, groaned and shoved their entire bodies into orifices like fanart on The Dark Side of DeviantArt, James had barely broken a sweat and already had a just about fully formed chimney pot on his hands

Siobhan using this as a quiet moment to try and coax The Silly out of him

we’re working on it!
The only potter really giving James a run for the Throwdown Challenge Crown was George, who may or may not have been bitten by a vampire between now and the making of his anglerfish

I too would sell my eternal soul to the dark lords of the night for a taste of Throwdown Glory but apparently Gabriel cannot be swayed by a blood tithe and George ended up second

with James cementing himself as Throwdown Tyrant by winning 5 of 5 Throwdown Challenges

eventually they’re going to have to make him wear the blindfold and tie one of his hands behind his back. But George cannot at least claim to be the best rimmer

god bless whichever storyline producer is standing behind the camera telling these poor people to say “rim” as many times as they can at gunpoint.

Finishing off the podium positions was Caitlin who despite worrying about the sheer size of the clay managed to end up with a pretty decently pulled pot that looked a little bit like it was in the middle of a samba

on the other end of the league table, Rebecca just couldn’t get to grips with the clay and very much seemed like she was internally calculating if she had enough time to ninja her way onto the roof and steal one of Gladstone’s own chimney pots

but with only 10 minutes left and a distinct lack of grappling hooks, frustration was the only solution

leaving her to serve up a chimney pot that I’m pretty sure I can see the face of Sylvester Stallone in

she was quite upset by the whole thing, as I think most people would be (especially with James who seemed to blink and make a pot appear sitting behind you) but Lois was on hand to console her

all things considered, that might not be the words of consolation you think it is, but it’s the thought that counts.
Gabriel was very understanding about it and like an archaeologist picking through the remains of post-Vesuvius Pompeii praised the evidence of The Chimney Pot That Once Was as she had achieved a good and even thickness to the structure and there was some good height to it prior to the moment she turned against it like a vengeful God.

She was however only narrowly beaten by Jon who instead of turning in a chimney pot had, possessed by his new found flamboyancy, turned in a bottomless plant pot instead

James could learn a thing or too from The Silly Jonaissance.

An Official Chimney Pot Ranking
1. Our Tyrannical Pottery Overlord
2. The Best Rimmer in Gladstone
3. Wibbly Wobbly Chimney Whimney
4. Helen’s Shuriken Cannon
5. Lois’s Stocky Chimney
6. Derek’s Ill-advised Motions
7. Jon’s Bottomless Plantpot
8. An Abstract Sculpture of Sylvester Stallone

Gargoyle’s Well That Ends Well

Prior to their firing the potters had 2 and a half hours to refine their gargoyles, with some potters having bigger decisions to make than others – mostly James who still hadn’t committed to a head-shape yet so his dragon was sitting there looking like one of The Fimbles

his decision ultimately being to decapitate the whole thing and embrace his inner silly and putting the head of the Capital City Goofball on it instead

silly? VERY. Scary? Not at all, so having binged Stranger Things over the Spring, just shoved some teeth in there and made it a Demogorgon

it’s pretty cool and made the whole design a lot more interesting and unique – as Keith and Rich said, the whole thing could have afforded to be a little bigger, just to make the most of the really interesting detail work he’d done

but narratively it was a really, really strong piece and I enjoyed seeing a more spontaneous side to James – may his journey in the silly unknown continue

he’s learning from the best.

For the other potters, it was mostly about tidying up the pieces and adding any extra limbs and wings – with George having more appendages on hand than any anglerfish has ever seen

and that’s not even mentioning the 50 teeth he had to individually insert into the mouth which did end up taking up a lot of his time, so while the gargoyle was fully decorated and a sight to be behold, he hadn’t got around to giving his tile the same treatment

personally, I don’t know if the tile needed anything, the gargoyle is such a cacophony of demonic gubbins that I think any detailing on the tile may have actually taken away from it – a few claw marks might have helped give it a little bit of energy because it does look a little static, but at the same time it was busy digesting both its mate and George’s forearm

and you know what they say, you can’t fight the demonic forces for at least an hour after lunch. Let a girl just lie down.

Helen also had quite a big attachment job to do, having opted for a rather large set of almost butterfly-like wings for her naked oboist which made him a significantly less naked oboist

buns out or not, he was still a rather magnificent gargoyle

I love what she ended up doing with the face – accentuating the brow and really taking back the eyes was a great choice because for a while it did look a bit like the naked oboe player was very worried about what the naked trombonist was doing

the only thing stopping Helen from getting Potter of the Week was the fact her gargoyle had suffered quite a few cracks and his hands had had to be glued back on at some point

given that they didn’t mention that there was as much hot glue on him as the average Drag Race contestant’s self-sewn garment, I imagine the breakage happened between staining the piece and judging, so she couldn’t really be blamed.

The other hurdle in Helen’s run for Potter of the Week was Lois and her pretty damn phenomenal medieval siren

the hollow eyes really give it the effect of being from the deep sea creature AND if she were to put it in her garden, I’m pretty sure the wrens would waste absolutely no time in taking up residents in there which would give a very literal meaning to the term “bird brained” [WHY ARE YOU BOOING ME?].
Keith and Rich were particularly impressed by the amount of effort she’d put into it and all the little details including the little boobs

I’ve never felt more represented in a piece of pottery – I too enjoy luring men to their deaths on the jagged ocean rocks and wear an AA cup.

Come the refining process, Rebecca was still a little conflicted over her piece and the fact it had survived her attempt at suffocating it

she was mostly realising that it was considerably smaller than she needed it to be but I was glad to see that after spending some time with it and mocking its innate bovinity

she at least seemed content with that she’d made by the end of it

and her piece was very charming – he looked like something from Zog which I think is very cute

it’s perhaps not the most “gargoyle” of the bunch but she’s always said her personal style is a little more simple and childlike and I appreciate that I can recognise a lot of Rebecca’s own style in this, which is what’s so nice to see in the hand-building challenges.

Caitlin was dealing with gargoyle body issues of her own and fretting over whether or not Gus would ever not look like a slug and you know, sticking wings on something is always a pretty good method of de-slugging it

I love trans coded Gus the Gargoyle.
And with Gus being taken from slug to beautiful butterfly, it was only a matter of making him look less like the Gruffalo in fancy dress (I know the struggle) but Caitlin had an Un Chien Andalou solution to that too

plus, scars are ~sexy~

I LOVE his face, it’s very reminiscent of the Oni from Japanese mythology with his squishy face, the protruding lower fangs and the earring

she did a really good job of sidestepping any potential pitfalls in this challenge as hers could have easily ended up reading quie ordinary but she gave some real character narrative with her design choices.

While Caitlin may have been trying to distance Gus from anything too slug-like, Cyril required no such treatment and all Jon really had to do imprint him with the scaled patterning and attach the head frills

I lowkey think this might be my favourite Gargoyle of the bunch – I think it would be easy to say there’s not that much work going on but I think the fact the head is standing so upright is a testament to his build quality and I LOVED the scaling he’d done on the head

it’s just incredibly well observed and I don’t think they made a big enough deal of it. I’m also charmed by the fact he reminds me a lot of Kingseeker Frampt from Dark Souls, you know if Kingseeker Frampt didn’t look like someone had stuck a set of denchers into a boa constrictor

he’s my favourite man-devouring snake. DM me for a complete list of my favourite man-devouring snakes.

Jon may have been keeping things relatively simple and paired back to create a sense of the uncanny, Derek on the other hand was throwing monstrous spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck and it turns out all of it stuck, giving us something of a larval Nosferatu

there’s a bonkers amount of stuff going on it that reminds me of so many things – I’ve already mentioned my favourite Chupacabra but there’s also Marceline from Adventure Time in there

it’s the low-poly Man-spiders from Runescape that they haven’t graphically updated in 18 years for some reason (yes, this is a call out post)

and yet it all kind of works – there were quite a few beakages, especially with the added insect legs (which may have been gilding the grotesque lily) but out of everyone, I enjoyed his incorporation of the apex roof tile the most

as Keith pointed out, it gives the whole thing a lot of energy and a sense of realism. We also have to acknowledge that his gargoyle was more than fit for purpose considering Siobhan didn’t once creep up behind him and shout in his ear.

There were quite a few contenders for Potter of the Week this week – had she not had so many cracks in hers, I do think Helen would have snatched it but ultimately Lois got her second win, thus equalling James in the tally

but with every win, comes a loss and it was a particularly big loss this week with Rebecca finding herself de-roosted

given the reactions from everyone, it was clear she’d become an integral part of the Throwdown experience for this series and she was a lot of fun to watch and I’ve enjoyed all of the pieces she made – so if you want to follow her, you can find her on Instagram at RebeccaNorris.Designs.

And so, 7 potters remain:

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