The Great Pottery Throwdown
Series 1 – BBC
I’m absolute addicted. I binged the entire first series yesterday.
I will likely binge the entire second series tomorrow.
This is not your typical reality-based show.
This is a competition, and it’s in an area of reality shows that needs to be separated from the gaudy, no-plot, no-real concept, all drama kind of bullshit. This is a unique competition as well, since it isn’t necessarily about just competing against others, so much as learning more about your skills, teaching you new techniques, and finding strengths within your creative scope you might not be aware of.
Sara Cox is the delightfully cheerful and cheeky hostess, and I am simply adoring how easily she’s able to interact with the contestants.
Two Judges (Kate Malone, Keith Brymer Jones) – internationally acclaimed potters – so much so, that I’ve heard of them without ever throwing* myself!
(*throwing is the term used to “throw” clay on a pottery wheel – the spinny disc that does that way cool moment that Demi and ethereal Patrick in Ghost – yeah, that wheel)
So two judges assign a group of 10 competitors to a “main make”, a “spot challenge”, and then the “throwdown” challenge that Keith himself does before everyone’s eyes and they either have to replicate exactly, or conceptualise and do a version of that thing.
The Main Make is anywhere from 4-7 days long, and starts with 4-7 hours of work for the first day.
We as home viewers, are introduced to all the “potter speak” and learn terms like throwing, slip, grog, and the histories of these, what makes them up, and so on.
Each week/episode, the three challenges happen, and at the end of that, there’s an elimination and someone is sent home.
I’m not going to ruin who is or isn’t in the various episodes, other than to say I had some HUGE favourites right out the gate.
One of which is the male judge, Keith. GET IN MY POCKET! I can’t get over how truly passionate he is when it comes to pottery. I want to do pottery, because he makes it feel and seem as if it were the most incredibly exquisitely deliciously perfect life journey to walk!
I should point out, I’m quite familiar with a lot of the aspects of pottery already – I’ve never thrown before, but I have worked with slabs, greenware, bisque, and have even had the opportunity to watch someone in their studio throw before.
My favourite technique that I was very good at and managed to sell several pieces just by word of mouth, was a technique I haven’t seen yet in the show, and it’s called dry-brush. It’s a very soft matte finish that makes the ceramic (the first firing turns it from pottery to bisque, the second solidifies the bisque with the glazes into actual fully coated ceramic). Perhaps at some point in season two they will get into that technique, but I think it’s doubtful.
Okay, so I should point out, that like I said previously, this is a competition, and there are some incredibly difficult tasks these people have to do!
My favourite part of all of this, is seeing them all have one task, and their incredible creative differences, their life stories that help shape their work. The depth of their creativity, their desire to push themselves outside of their comfort zones and do something either very complex, or the opposite; vastly minimalistic.
That’s so so so hard to do, especially when it’s going to be judged by a set of strangers (who many in the pottery world esteem highly, and for just cause!)
This is intellectually stimulating, creativity inspiring, and ultimately, educationally fantastic to watch.
I was able to find these on YouTube, though if you have access to BBC, you may be able to see it on there. Not sure if it’s on Netflix though!
Before I run for today and go watch an episode of season two, I just want to say I adore Jane. She was my favourite right from the start. I want to keep her in my pocket as well. As one friend has pointed out, I must really have large pockets.
GO WATCH THE SHOW!!!!