Pottery Throwdown 2023, Episode 6: Himalayan Wildlife Analogy

Is it a plane? Is it three perfectly painted seagulls?

Welcome to another episode of Potters vs Stairs.

I Love Lamp

Things were not being made any easier after the last week’s gargoyles with the potters having to contend with another big build as they constructed a statement bulbous lamp decorated with a continuous 3D relief of their favourite view going around it – which really begs the question about what silliness they have in store for the inevitable Bathroom Week. They still haven’t done bidets – they could bring in special guest judge and bidet enthusiast, Alan Carr


The coast was a very popular source of inspiration and not just because you could make the entire bottom half of the lamp the sea – the only potters to shun the sea entirely were James and Jon with the former kind of just shrugging and vaguely gesturing towards some trees he liked

which does feel a little bit like me deciding that the relief on my lamp would be my desktop background


Jon meanwhile was going with the Clifton Suspension Bridge because he owes his entire life to Bristol

and he is very much still vying for the judging spot on The Great British 3D Print Off as he’d 3D modelled the whole thing out beforehand

Not pictured: Siobhan kicking Rich to stop him from asking too many questions about the 3D printing again.

Going for an easily recognisable location was something of a risk because you really have to nail the recognisability of it which was why I was so worried for Derek and his Giant’s Causeway Lamp

but apparently he had learned from Jon’s terracotta snake vending machine last week because apparently the pottery also has Giant’s Causeway Piping Bags (available at all ProCook stores!)

who needs a volcanic fissure eruption when you’ve got an extruder gun and a spare 20 minutes.
Although he did get a little lost in the Causeway of it all and very nearly forgot to put his flex hole in

it’s not the end of the world if he had forgotten, because Jon has a handy solution to the problem if you remember

Jon, you will always be iconic.

Helen was a little bit concerned that her pot wasn’t going to meet the brief enough for the judges because while Caitlin worked on solving the housing crisis

Helen was sprig moulding a series of cottage facades

it’s *not* not 3D and it’s arguably more practical than having a series of huge rock formations jutting off the side of it but the judges really wanted those huge, jutting rock formations, which George was certainly providing them with in his Cornish coast lamp

in typical George fashion, he didn’t have a fully formed plan for this lamp (not everyone can be blessed with a 3D printer, I guess) so he was slightly winging the whole thing and leaving some big decisions to the last minute

I guess you could just fit it with a verse switch.

George and Helen were similar in more than coastal design, with both of them having a serious case of the butter fingers

nothing brought me more joy this episode than Helen’s reaction to having managed to come away from the whole incident without much damage

it’s clearly the luck of the naked oboist.

The sheer weight of the clay they were having to throw on the wheel was causing a few problems around the pottery – I’m sure Rebecca and her noodle arms were a little bit relieved she got to sit this one out, although Lois had a bit of a rocky start and very nearly frisbeeing her clay and causing a UFO panic in Stoke-on-Trent

but she wasn’t going to let an early stage mishap get to her



Lois was of course doing a coastal design, inspired by the sunsets of Thanet for her slightly VanGogh-y Minnis Bay lamp

this design certainly felt the most like it would be an actual lamp that you might see in a coastal town gift shop (complimentary.)

And lastly we have Caitlin who was going with a very risky build and the only potter opting for a moon jar shaped base adorned with a row of cottages to represent Crovie

the trouble with a moon jar, especially one wide enough to house a 27-cottage housing development, is that gravity is not going to be its friend as Caitlin found out when she had to tearfully sacrifice her lamp base like she was the protagonist in a young adult fantasy novel having to sacrifice their love interest to save the world

I still don’t fully understand what happened there, it sort of just… popped? So as utterly heartbreaking as it was to see Caitlin completely breakdown, it’s really quite a fascinating moment – like a snow leopard catching a baby mountain goat. But at least George was on hand, his maternal instincts kicking into overdrive

in the Himalayan wildlife analogy he’s… David Attenborough, I guess?
But Caitlin recovered extremely well after a pep talk from Rich and just generally slipping into An Extremely Scottish Mindset™ (her accent goes into overdrive when she gets stressed and I love it) and she had a fully formed, extremely large moon jar shaped lamp by the end of it all, which did have to be carried to the drying room with the reverence of an ancient religious relic

and naturally Caitlin was utterly spent by the end of the whole thing

if that doesn’t perfectly encapsulate the 2023 mindset I don’t know what does: tired and alive mostly out of spite.

Mask 4 Mask

For this week’s Throwdown Challenge, the potters were being put through a decorative spot test as they had to each decorate a Venetian mask

nobody was loving this moment more than Rich – you could not convince him that he wasn’t starring in an early 2010s teen drama on the CW

he was fully invested in the Pretty Little Liars Halloween Special fantasy.
Sadly they hadn’t bussed in masquerade ball enthusiast I. Marlene King, but they did have Henry Holland

I have a soft spot for him because the first piece of women’s clothing I ever bought was a fox jumper from House of Holland and apparently he’s now turned his hand to pottery and potentially scalping zebras

if it’s good enough enough Schiaparelli…

Thankfully the potters didn’t have to make their masks, and were all given the same blank slates to decorate

of course this was just another opportunity for Jon to embrace his newfound flamboyance

we are but one challenge away from Jon trying out statement eyeliner and releasing a hyperpop album – I cannot wait, I’m ready to fully embrace The Jonaissance.

Derek was slightly sceptical of the challenge and what these masks would go on to be used for

and whoever made the decision to cut straight from Derek’s pondering of the erotic to Helen saying THIS is a chaotic genius

I mean, she had to meet that naked oboist somewhere.
Helen was going for a traditional approach and drawing inspiration from the costumes and makeup used in The Firebird ballet

the only thing they could raise issues with was that the coverage wasn’t even, but I think she had done that on purpose in the hopes it would look more flame-like but Henry enjoyed “the baroque nose shape” which sounds delightfully like what I’d title one of these recaps.

Also going for a classical approach was James who if there had not been footage of him painting the damn thing I would have suspected of having erected a cardboard cut-out of himself while he nipped to the nearest costume shop (Party Pit Stop is only a 14 minute car journey away)

it’s SO GOOD! The man is a menace, and yet despite the fact it was so good he did not win and finally his tyrannical throwdown regime had been toppled by Lois, who seemed as shocked as anyone else

truly they had all resigned themselves to James’s domination after 5 weeks of it, but it was a very worthy win, her mask was beautiful – especially the painted on feathers which gave it a very folksy feel

and Caitlin had gone for a similar floral design which also went down well with the judges

but while they all rejected modernity and embraced tradition, Derek was hoping to drag the venetian masks kicking and screaming (sexily, apparently) into the 21st century

I think the only issue really is the colours – the effect is very Robert Delaunay in his Simultanism era

but the slightly late 90s quiz show gunge pool colours (none of those words are in the Bible) do make it look slightly like a potato stamp picture a child made

potentially in prison

I don’t know, perhaps Derek’s idea of masked erotica is contemporary abstract Lil Wayne

I don’t kink shame.

And lastly we have George who was pulling from the traditional checkered effect you see on masks but giving it a modern twist by doing it in the colours of Roobarb and Custard

I like it – the judges weren’t convinced by the visibility of the pencil but I think it gives it a nice cartoonish and graphic quality – sure it could have been neater but in his defense he only had 45 minutes and don’t you dare ~”Well, James managed to do a perfect piece of vintage French chinoiserie in the same amount of time”~ – I think we have ample evidence to believe that James has the power to bend time and space – one person’s 45 minutes is another person’s 8 hours.

An Official Venetian Mask Ranking
1. Not All Heroes Wear Venetian Masks
2. James Can Has Second Place, As A Treat?
3. Igor Stravinsky Would Be Proud
4. Florals for spring? Groundbreaking.
5. I’m Flamboyant, I Go All The Way
6. Roobarb and Custard
7. Mask by Robert Delaunay, Aged 5 And A Half.

Things That Go Lamp In The Night

With their lamps having been fired, the potters just had to contend with glazing them – the initial firing hadn’t rendered any major calamities, Caitlin and George did both have a few cracks through their pieces but nothing that was causing them a great deal of concern

Oh Caitlin, you harbinger of doom, because sadly George’s lamp didn’t quite survive the glaze firing and came out with even bigger cracks

and in an underestimation of strength you haven’t seen since Hercules accidentally killed Linus with his own lyre (He deserved it for playing the lyre) George ripped his lamp in twain

he did get very upset by it, as you would probably expect, and so the mother became the mothered

to his credit though, the repair job he pulled off was extremely clean for what must have only been about half an hour to do it in

and there’s A LOT to like about the lamp – Keith was particularly enamoured by a flock of just three seagulls that George painted on in about 2 seconds

I mean, people have been spared elimination for less… but I really liked the motion he’d captured in the sea around the lower lighthouse

and Rich loved the contrast between the matteness of the beach with the shinier headlands and the very earthy looking rock formations that he’d used the oxides on

so it was by no means a complete washout for George and there was still an ounce of hope for him.

George’s partner in cracks and mutual mothering, Caitlin, ended up with a much more intact piece

which really set Keith off – he often cries, but very rarely does he bawl and this was very much a lesser sighted bawling

to be fair, Caitlin had overcome quite a bit of adversity with her piece, and the final result was extremely charming – her collection of coastal cottages was so cute

the whole thing is a delightfully twee little Deathstar

two proton torpedos to the flex hole should be enough to destroy the whole thing!

Everyone else ended up with pretty much fully intact lamps, which is something of a miracle given the perilous lamp-laden pilgrimage they all had to make to the kiln for their glaze firing

whose idea was it to put a pottery upstairs anyway?

As we’ve seen a few times (this series alone) working with the glazes and trying to premeditate the intensity and evenness of the colours is very hard, Derek probably suffered the most and in trying to get the intense, almost charcoal-y colour of the Giant’s Causeway had accidentally gone a little bit too dark

I won’t lie – the dead-cut from him saying “It turned out slightly darker than planned.” to a shot of the lamp looking Darth Vader’s helmet did make me cackle – there is a drag queen in that editing suite (my favourite Lucy Daniels book.) The thing really saving Derek though was the quality of his build with all of his fixtures remaining intact and it all seemed crack free

and Rich quite liked the way the light worked on the tops of the black surfaces

Lois’s lamp was, to the judges, a tale of two halves with the lower half being a little bit too dark but the top half being pretty much perfectly executed

the colour combination and application technique really do give the effect of a sunset – and the smoothness of the wind motif is VERY satisfying to look at.

James had gone for a very similar shape to Lois’s, and I do think the two of them had the best shaped lamps of the bunch

it’s good – as Rich pointed out, trees and foliage at this scale are always going to be tough to make look convincing – and he did a mostly good job with it but I do feel like the piece needs a little detail to be a focal point of the whole thing – a cow on the hill, a hot air balloon, three perfectly painted seagulls? It just feels like it’s lacking a little bit of the whimsy that a bulbous table lamp with a 3D relief inspired by your favourite view kind of calls for, but they do have to come up with like 10 potential makes for the whole series, you’re going to phone one or two of them in.

The judges did pick up on Helen’s slight lack of 3D elements when it came to the relief work

but along with Lois’s, it does feel the most like a lamp I could actually see in someone’s house because it doesn’t look like it would take up an entire side table or be used to off your second husband for the inheritance money – Oh officer, he was always such a klutz, I warned him not to buy the 15kg lamp of the Giant’s Causeway but he simply had to have it for the entrance hall, you see it matches the Portoro marble floor so perfectly…
I think I’ve convinced myself that Derek’s was the best lamp, it just depends what you need it for.

Lastly we have Jon’s lamp which was extremely charming

it does have the slight look of something you might put in a child’s nursery – which is not a bad thing by any means. It’s bright and sunny and looked particularly good with the light throwing the slightly raised balloons into further relief

I’m not surprised Jon did so well, hot air balloons are after all… flame-boyant

sorry, I made Dorian Electra gifs, I couldn’t stop at one – I have no self restraint.

An Unofficial Tablelamp Ranking
1. Sunrise, Sunset
2. He’s Flame-boyant
3. The Twee Little Deathstar
4. Technically, It’s 3D
5. I Can’t See The Wood for The Trees
6. The Cornish Earthquake
7. Midnight on The Causeway

Potter of the Week was a bit of a toss up between Jon and Lois – based on personal opinion, I think I prefered Lois’s lamp but I was very happy to see Jon getting it because his plan had come together so perfectly

Welcome to the Jonaissance.

As for the elimination – this was a rough one because it really came down to being either George or Derek (both of who are firm blog favourites, HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME OF BIAS!) so they were going to kill one of my darlings and unfortunately it was time up for George but at least he got to do it in a cool hat

I can’t say I fully agree, I think Derek has dodged a major bullet but I get that his build quality was better so obvious there was merit to keep both of them – and if you want to follow George, you can find him at LodgePots on Instagram.

And so, 6 potters remain:

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

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

One thought on “Pottery Throwdown 2023, Episode 6: Himalayan Wildlife Analogy

  1. Harriet

    Flame-buoyant! It’s perfect, thank you Ariadne. And I did love Jon’s lamp, he captured Bristol wonderfully.

    I was so sad to see George go, I really warmed to him, and especially after that wonderful hug for Caitlin.

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