Pottery Throwdown 2023, The Final: Your New Glittery Son

That awkward moment when you make direct eye contact with someone in the supermarket while you’re holding a loose courgette.

It’s Tulip Mania all over again!

Pyramid Schemes

So this is what it all comes down to, for their final big make of the series James, Jon and Lois were having to create their very own Pyramid Vase, which sort of look like the pottery world’s equivalent of the ancient Greeks finding an elephant graveyard and assuming they’d found some sort of multi-headed, 20-legged behemoth

Given that this is Pottery Throwdown, the potters also had to make sure that each of the four segments illustrated a different aspect of their life story or personality, which Lois was very happy to mostly paint on in the second-half of the challenge, but Jon was choosing to make life easier for himself and had 3D printed some stamps

they’re going to have to ban 3D printing next series because Siobhan is about one discussion of resin quality away from throwing Rich in the pit and soaking him with a hose

Jon was very much playing to his strengths this challenge, forgoing any large amounts of throwing and focusing on slab building his pyramid vase which documented his love of engineering

his love of it and model making starting very young when apparently he decided to make a model of Puy de Dôme after he and his family climbed up it during a family holiday – which is why they never took him to the Sistine Chapel.
But of course Jon’s Pyramid Vase had to also incorporate his new found lease of life, with the whole thing being capped off with a flamboyant trumpet

I just think he’s neat. I love all the potters, but Jon has been the most fun to write about, total breakout star of the series for me.

While Jon was mostly trying to avoid the wheel, James was seeing double as he was throwing each of his segments as double-walled vessels

this did come with the added risk of being easier to crack and in some almost too gratuitous foreshadowing, every time someone mentioned how essential it was for these vases to be water-tight, they would immediately cut to James looking incredibly anxious

but that’s a problem for Future James, the current problem was that his walls were collapsing

so while the main make was going slightly awry for him, he was at least winning the Unofficial Throwdown Challenge of throwing an industrial amount of vase nozzles in only 15 minutes

Some things never change.

It was a mammoth challenge, and even though 7 and a half hours sounds like a lot, they did have to make 4 vase segments and at least 12 nozzles. James was going quite ambitious with incorporating stamps, sprigs and sgrafitto in his design that depicted his 4 main loves in life: Family, Teaching, Running and Pottery

little he did know, he was getting some good practice in with his sgrafitto for later and I did love his Generic Man Stencils

but he had run out of time to get his sprigs on, not that he was the only one cutting it close with Jon waging a sit-in protest and just about refusing to leave the drying room as he furiously finished his stamping


Lois also had a segment of her Pyramid Vase dedicated to her teaching career, but while James and Jon were both creating fairly straightforward pyramid vases, Lois’s came with a personality and life of its very own

and she was making sure that her Lady had the one thing every woman looks for in life, pockets

she was very much in her element, so while Jon babbled away in the sort of mathematical jargon that triggers my fight or flight response (it’s fight every time, it’s on sight Jon)

she was gamely potting away without a ruler in sight and just shrugging it off because what’s a few millimetres between friends

and there’s nothing you can’t really tidy up with some well executed design work.

Blue Balls

For their last Throwdown Challenge of the series, the potters were doing sgraffito, their canvas being a little more than slightly unconventional

and if you’re wondering why Rich had made giant blue balls, it was very much so that Siobhan could shout about giant blue balls

I love that for her.

As it was a very illustration heavy spot test, Lois was again very much in her element and dipping into her well of previously successful designs, by which I do partially mean Panicked Sea Creatures

which was slightly risky as the judges could quite easily turn around and tell her she was playing it safe, but then you see it and you really cannot be mad at her for it, her style is incredibly charming and so polished

Rich was particularly taken by the faded, almost tie-dye effect marks she’d made to accentuate the rolling hills of her landscape

and while Lois felt fully in control of her ball, Jon just completely disassociated as soon as the challenge began and possessed by Thales of Miletus, immediately started doing concentric circles LIKE A MAD MAN

Jon, make a terrible pun if you’re still in there!

Thank God. Once he had snapped out of his stupor, he did realise that he wasn’t even in the middle of his sphere and his lines were a little bit squibbly wibbly

but he salvaged the situation with his final ball being likened to a Christmas bauble by Rich, while also looking a little reminiscent of The Lament Configuration Box from Hellraiser – I’m sure the Cenobites celebrate Christmas

the trick was to very much not to be shy of just gouging off huge swathes of the blue slip, which is unfortunately where James got a little bit stuck, making a rod for his own back by creating what looked like some sort of elaborate treasure map from National Treasure 2: Too Much Treasure

and then deciding to mark each concentric shape with different, minute marks which I did quite like because they were a jaunty hat away from looking like a family portrait of The Amoeba Boys

but he had reached for the giant, tongue scraper a little too late and so his ball wasn’t fully scratched

but he would still definitely have the best Generic Man Sgraffito of the episode, so take solace in that.

An Official Sgraffito Ranking
1. Lois Is Gonna Lois
2. Jon’s Off Season Bauble
3. Nothing Worse Than An Unscratched Ball

Giving Tulip

With their vases fired, it was time to inspect any potential damage – and you knew someone’s was going to be pretty bad when Rose began covering them all with hessian like a nurse on the frontlines of a war

Jon, stop sniffing your crack!

Jon’s base had a suffered a few cracks, but it was James’s that was causing the most concern with his double walls trying to wrench themselves apart

he was hoping that the glazing process might reseal them because they did look quite thin, however it was not to be with his base being particularly leaky

it’s a nightmare of a round to have your one build misstep take place but the judges did at least like his pyramid vase as a centerpiece – it was a shame that we never really got to see it with the tulips in because I really like the positioning and proportion of his spouts

I think the top two tiers work really well together and I love the flow between the two of them, the other two feel slightly jarring in terms of size and perhaps the sprigs that he hadn’t found the time to add might have balanced them out a little more, but the flow of the pattern is really well managed between segments, I just wish it was a tad darker to stand out more from a distance, but up close it was very dainty

the juxtaposition of James and Lois both doing quite floral, traditional looking decorations and Jon speaking in engineering tongues was one of my favourite parts of the episode

Jon was choosing to forgo a completely blue and white vase because we’ve made him into an unstoppably flamboyant freight train, which has apparently manifested itself into a tiny little glittery peacock

that’s how peacocks are born: one hatches every time a middle aged man finds out it’s ok to be a little bit flamboyant. Take care of your new glittery son, Jon.

He was choosing to also incorporate red and yellow as a nod to the colours of an archery target because he always feels like the victim loves archery

my only qualm with this is the fact I wish he’d decorated the spouts a little bit, because it’s all feeling a little too central and because his spouts are so big it makes it feel a little sparse – even just a ring around the tip of each one. But given that he’s very self-deprecating about his artistic abilities, what he had done by hand was very nice and felt stylised rather than amateur to me

and I loved the nod to his previous successes with the hot air balloon sprigs, but my favourite detail was the slowly fading out brickwork on the legs of the base

although I did also like the maths equation he’d glazed on which just looks like numerical spaghetti to me

My C in GCSE maths feels VERY ATTACKED.
As for its tulip housing abilities, it was mostly alright – you would need to be Joannes de Laet if you wanted any hope of adequately filling the spouts with enough tulips during the height of Tulip Mania

and the ones at the top are lying a little too horizontal, but who could blame the flamboyant trumpet from wanting to jettison anything that’s stealing its thunder


Lois seemed to get off completely scot-free in terms any cracking, which was fortunate for her given that she had an entire small woman to completely tattoo in her usual style which she was taking the time to pre-sketch

but she got there and it was definitely worth powering through the 4 and a half hours of pent-up wrist cramp

it’s honestly spectacular and you just look at her and know it’s a winning piece. What I like most about it is that it feels distinctly feminine without falling into anything stereotypical in terms of its shape and silhouette. And there’s so many different inspirations going into it – it’s a little European, it’s a little South-east Asian, it’s a little bit Mesoamerican and it all works so well together, and the little details are great – the hands clasping over the section where her arms would be, the section about her family being on the belly

the base section having a window shaped like a pelvis

ok, that might just be me but you bet I would go on a three paragraph diatribe about the importance of it if I were having to write an essay on this piece, which I could easily do, I did once write a 3000 word essay on how the piano in Glee is a phallic symbol (put film students in jail, please) but it feels so well thought out and designed, and she only got better once she was festooned in flowers

she’s easily one of my favourite creations to come out of the show, and a really spectacular finish to Lois’s already glittering track record.

An Unofficial Pyramid Vase Ranking
1. This Is A Potential Mother
2. Jon’s Engineering Monolith
3. James’s Leaking Family

It was a very strong final – and it should be, between the three of them they had 8 Potter of the Week titles – Caitlin is the only non-finalist to win Potter of the Week this year, which is wild, and we have no choice but to stan our pottery titans

but there can only be one top titan, and in order to usher in the new Reigning Potter of Gladstone, the vanquished had returned – including George dressed as everyone’s third favourite bear, Rupert

naturally Rupert comes after Paddington and the time Tom Hardy posted this picture on Instagram

but does of course just pip Bear, Cocaine to the podium finish.

And very deservedly, the winner of The Great Pottery Throwdown 2023 was Lois

she really excelled and her body of work over the last 10 weeks has been nothing but hits, she really, REALLY deserved it and I’m thrilled for her.
Of course, there’s also a big well done to both Jon and James who also did spectacularly well.
You can follow them all on Instagram here:
Lois: Lois.Gunn
Jon: Royon_Ceramics
James: James_Stead_Ceramics

Before we get to my favourite part of the series: The Alternative Montage, I’ve loved writing the recaps this year, as ever this blog keeps me sane which given the state of the world means it’s doing A LOT of heavy lifting, and I’m thrilled people have enjoyed reading my absolute nonsense so much and if you want to support the blog, you can make a small donation over on my Ko-fi HERE.


and there we have it – the class of 2023 is call wrapped up! Once again, a huge congratulation to Lois

and thank you to all of the potters who made it such a good series

TOP: Caitlin, Christophe, Derek, Fabiola
MID: Fliss, George, Helen, James
BOT: Jon, LOIS, Rebecca, Vithun

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, The Final: Your New Glittery Son

  1. Meels

    Thanks for such a great series of blogs! My partner and I were super surprised that James is basically a professional potter … is that even allowed?!?

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