Pottery Throwdown 2023, Episode 7: High Quality Penguin Feet Pics

So that’s what they do with the eliminated potters.

We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Danger! Danger! High Voltage!

For this week’s Main Make the potters had to take on the roles of amateur conservationists and create a sculpture of a species of endangered animal which they would later decorate with oxide glazes to give them a metallic finish and fired them in an oil drum in what I assume was going to be a statement about the pollution caused by big oil companies and then they realised they were going to be burning A LOT of… whatever fuels pottery kilns – coal? electricity? the souls of eliminated potters? gas?

The main thing the judges were looking for was realism – especially in the textured finish of their animals, which is probably why most of the potters avoided doing birds. I mean the example they had in the studio was a tumorous cockatoo that looked like it had been extracted from someone’s liver in a Channel 5 medical documentary

I just wanna… squeeze it.
That being said, my endangered species of choice would have been the Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant because without George on hand to do the Abbott’s Booby, SOMEONE would have had to toss Siobhan an innuendo bone

Helen however was doing a bird, opting for a Galapagos Penguin which at least kept the feathers to a minimum

the trouble with doing a penguin is it is quite a simple shape and as Keith pointed out, extremely recognisable and Helen was struggling a little bit with the bird veering towards Duck Town quite often which meant she had to quite literally beat it back into Penguinville

and then of course there were the eyes… OH THE EYES OF THIS PENGUIN – much like in photography, the eyes are kind of the most essential part because it’s instantly where your own eyes are drawn to, and in order to prepare for this Helen had been watching an eye sculpting tutorial on YouTube

apparently it was for extremely pissed off penguins though

I am obsessed with him and his look of utter contempt for anyone that dares gaze upon him, and I cannot emphasise enough how much the penguin looks like Clint Eastwood

The Good, The Bad and The NOOT! NOOT!

Helen wasn’t the only potter dodging The Fur Conundrum as Jon had laid claim to the only scaled mammal: The Pangolin (Do Not Eat)

it’s such a clever choice because they do already look as though someone made them out of clay

the tricky job for Jon was balancing his pangolin, because he had gone for a two legged standing position and of course there were the extreme beauty standards that we hold pangolins to to take into account

but good Lord was it charming to see the little guy slowly come into existence and despite there being a Red Panda in the room, it was Jon’s pangolin that had everyone cooing over it like old ladies meeting a baby in the park

meanwhile Helen’s penguin only filled anyone who came within 5 feet of it with a deep fear that they might have their kneecaps smashed if they didn’t pay him £20

everyone is endangered when Kevin the Penguin is around.

Most of the other potters were going with fairly well known species of animals – the only one I hadn’t ever heard of before was Derek’s Black-footed Ferret

apparently they’re endangered because their susceptible to plagues (same bestie), the main conservation effort being to put a preventative vaccine into peanut butter – please nobody tell the conspiracy theorists because there will be anti-Sun-Pat protests outside of every supermarket by April if they catch wind of this.
The main build method expected of the potters was coiling and pinching, which is a shame because I do think Derek could have just used the Ceramic Snake Vending Machines because what are ferrets but snakes in fur coats?

as such, the build was causing him a little bit of trouble as he’d had to scale it up quite a bit – the head in particular, the first attempt being abandoned for looking a bit like it Nigel Thornberry’s nose from just about every angle

he did however get there eventually, even if it did look a bit like some sort of snake-polecat hybrid from Greek Mythology

but once he’d applied the fur texture it was looking more mammalian – even if the addition of the peanut butter jar did make it look slightly like it was busking in the London Underground

toss a coin to your ferret!

While Derek was scaling up, James was scaling WAY down with his Sumatran Tiger, which even as the smallest species of Tiger is still 8 foot long and weighs 140kgs

but a tiger is also a really good choice because naturally they look quite burnished and almost metallic – their beautiful fur partly being to blame for their extremely threatened status. The obvious issue with doing a tiger at such a small scale is trying to stop it from looking like you’re just making a tabby cat, especially given the clawing-at-the-sofa-while-you’re-at-work pose he’d gone for but in order to stay on model, he had a McDonald’s Happy Meal Toy from 2003 on hand

given the scale of the build, it was essential to give the tiger some support with the tree, which is also why Caitlin was having her sloth holding onto a stick and sitting on a stump

the stump symbolising the fact sloths are endangered due to habitat loss, which was integral to Caitlin and she was determined to make it look like her sloth was painfully aware of its own decline

some animals accept their fate, others get even

Gentoo Unchained, coming to cinemas soon!

Graphic design is my passion.

Lastly we have Lois, who was doing a Red Panda

I do think the entire World Wildlife Fund would be in a lot better shape if they had made Red Pandas the face of their organisation, and Lois certainly captured the cuteness of her subject

and in order to give a little more context and interest to her sculpture, she was surrounding him with bamboo, which was causing Keith a little bit of concern given how thin the pieces were

so Lois bought some extra protection from Rose

Rose and Kevin are in it together

They’re known around Gladstone as The Clay Twins. [WHY ARE YOU BOOING ME?]

Necking It

For this week’s Throwdown Challenge, the potters were having to make the tallest thin-necked vases they could

The challenge obviously being inspired by the Thin-necked Bladderworm that plagues many canine and mustelid species, including the Black-footed Ferret which honestly it just seems like mother nature is trying to kill anyway, and if I were them I would be taking it very personally.

While most of the potters reacted to Keith throwing an extremely elegant vase in a matter of minutes

Caitlin was getting her game face on

but it seemed to work, landing in third place because unfortunately the emergency circumcision of her vase had left an unfortunate scar on the tip

James may have been The Tyrant of the Throwdown but Caitlin has performed solidly in them herself, I think she’s only finished outside of the top 3 on two occasions, and for the first time this series, James had landed outside of 2nd place as his vase didn’t have enough of a differentiation between the neck and base and was leaning more Bottle Kiln-y than anything else

his top spot being taken by Lois, who had the sudden dawning realisation that she was our new Throwdown Overlord

You either die throwing or live long enough to become the Throwdown Dictator.
I was a little surprised, but only because for most of the throwing footage her vase’s neck was looking a little girthy and leaning a little to one side

But you know, some people’s do.

Second place was taken by Jon whose neck was certainly the thinnest of the bunch which Keith and Rich made fun of him for AS THOUGH THAT WASN’T THE CHALLENGE

what is a thin-necked vase for other than housing a single gerbera in an aesthetic interior design photograph on Instagram?

Helen and Derek made up the bottom two, Derek ending up in last place not for a bad vase but because it was dwarfed by every other one, like the runt amongst a tower of giraffes

but Keith did appreciate the ratio between the body and neck, it just needed to be scaled up to Busking Black-footed Ferret proportions.

And then Helen, well, she was getting a little into the necking side of things

which led to an unfortunately short neck

Whatever floats your boat.

An Official Thin-necked Vase Ranking
1. Lois’s Rise to Infamy
2. One (1) Gerbera, Please.
3. Caitlin’s Grindr Special
4. James’s Bottle Kiln Vase
5. Helen’s Sensual Time
6. I Look Up To You Because You Let Me Down

Heavy Metallic

Thankfully all of the potters’ animals managed to survive their initial firing

which did seem like something of a miracle given that in a similar challenge we saw both Dolly Parton’s and Ozzy Osbourne’s heads explode

so with everything holding on to their noses and nobody on the extinction list, all they had to do was slather their animals in whatever oxides they wanted and then take them outside to be fired in oil drums – and because supervising 6 potters with extreme heat is more of a two person job, Kevin was on hand to help Rose

No, the OTHER Kevin

to be honest, I think just supervising Caitlin is a 2 person job


The potters were fully in control of the heat and length of time they kept it on for, which they could keep an eye on using three pyrometric cones which melt at different temperatures and which they could observe through…. well, I’ll let Caitlin explain

Remember to check your bunghole for Red Heat.

Given that it was a very new firing method that did look like it was all being conducted with flagrant disregard for local environmental laws, most of the potters underestimated how quickly the temperature would rise in the latter stages of the firing which resulted in the metallic effects being a little duller than I think they all wanted – Caitlin’s Sloth probably faired worst in that regard with the almost jet blackness of it taking it to Gorilla territory

but as far as how well the sculpture is observed and built – it’s pretty damn flawless – she’s perfectly captured the shaggy, matted quality that sloths’ fur but it was the claws that really sold the piece

they genuinely look like they have a real strength and grip on them and clearly identifies the sculpture as a sloth. Or a chimpanzee with hell of a manicure.

The only potter to suffer any real damage during the process was Derek who broke his ferret’s tail as he put it in, which is unfortunately because Ferrets are 99% tail

but he was still standing (extremely) tall by the end of it all

I think he’s pretty swell – sure it’s not an exact likeness and I might guess every other kind of rodent-esque mammal including Roland the Rat before I got to ferret but LOOK AT HIS LITTLE WORRIED SOCK PUPPET FACE

that’s the same face I pull if I think about the fact I have a skeleton for too long.

Jon definitely got the best effect out of his oxides – I think a smoother, flatter surface was the way to go with this challenge as it gives the light more of a surface to bounce off of so the effect was stronger

it’s perfection, there are truly no notes and I think the only reason Keith didn’t weep at the very sight of his little face is out of fear that the thing might come to life like that weird scene in Pokemon: The Movie where Ash got Jesus Christ’d by a crowd of weeping Pokemon and their clones

and we can’t have Gladstone being declared a site of ecological importance with only three episodes left to go, you can’t just change something like that…


Jon may have had the best metallic sheen of the bunch, but I think Lois definitely had the best mark-work with the burnished gold being a very good imitation of the Red Panda’s distinctive face markings

the whole sculpture in fact was really good – especially the tail which looked genuinely lightweight and fluffy

and despite the fact it looks like I could sink my hands into some really plush fur, my favourite part might have been the bamboo leaves that she’d attached by hooks so they had some movement to them

I just think that went the extra mile and finished the whole piece of really nicely.

James, having experienced 4th place and resigning himself to not getting Potter of the Week because of it, decided he was just going to experiment and went a little bit Jackson Pollock with the oxides

and whatever oxides hadn’t been used on Derek’s Ferret Kaiju, were slathered on this tiger, so while James’s tiger was certainly burning bright, some of the fur effect had been lost as he hadn’t sponged it off

Personally, I really like the more abstract texture that the slightly running oxide glaze gave the tiger because it reminded me of the action figure of He-Man’s Battle Cat, Cringer

that was the most masculine my childhood ever got.

And lastly, but certainly not least we have Helen’s Kevin who was even stouter by this point and looked more like an Italian patriarch than ever before

I didn’t think anyone could make a more sinister penguin than Aardman’s Feathers McGraw who I genuinely used to have nightmares about

and yet here I sit looking at a penguin that looks a bit like he’s daring me to make one wrong move or I’ll be sleeping with the fishes. The malice baked into his eyes aside, there is quite a bit to genuinely appreciate about Kevin, I LOVED his slightly podgy belly which may have been something of a happy little accident, but it genuinely looks like when a male penguin sits on the egg while the female in the pair goes on a 3 month trek to the nearest ASDA to get the fishfingers (I’m not David Attenborough)

so while the eyes say “filial cannibalism, when?”, the body says “loving dad bod”. And the feet say “High Quality Penguin Feet Pics CLICK HERE!”

I genuinely think the feet were one of my favourite parts of any of the sculptures and Helen should be really proud of them – the texture and size of them is perfect.

An Unofficial Metallic Animal Ranking
1. Our Superior Leader Kevin, I Definitely Don’t Have a Gun Pointed At My Head.
2. Pango Win
3. Turning Red (2022)
4. Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright
5. A Touch of Sloth
6. A Very Big Snake In A Very Big Fur Coat

It was a tough decision this week because I think Jon and Lois could have both won it (and I think a joint Potter of the Week would have been very deserved) but ultimately it was Jon’s pangolin that took its place in the Throwdown Gallery

Kevin will be trying to steal him using a set of robotic trousers.

And then it was time for the inevitable – as much as they wanted to add some jeopardy with Helen’s Kevin, I think we all knew that it was Death by Ferret for Derek this week

I have LOVED him on the show – I think he’s exactly the kind of potter and personality that makes the show so fun and special so he will be a very missed presence for the next 3 weeks – but you can follow him on Instagram at Derek.Harbinson where he spends much less time screaming in terror

one for the road, kids.

And so, 5 potters remain

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