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The Great Pottery Throwdown

I popped along to Eastnor Pottery the other weekend, to pick up my latest set of fired pots, a stack of five serving bowls. The decoration is very simple, but really surprisingly effective, I think. I’m pleased with them anyway.

While I was there, Jon the Potter asked if I would mind changing the date of my next session as he now had a waiting list for the original date. Since I hire studio space at a vastly reduced rate compared to his regular course participants, I’m always happy to be flexible. He reckons that the sudden spurt of interest he had in weekend throwing courses was due to the advanced publicity for the Great Pottery Throwdown, which started this Tuesday on BBC2. If that’s the case, I’m sure he’ll get even more interest now that the series has started airing, as it’s very good publicity for amateur pottery.

The format is the same as the Great British Bake Off, but with clay not cakes. Ten amateur potters from across the country compete in a series of tests, with one eliminated each week. I actually saw the call for participants for the programme, and thought about applying for maybe half a second. I’m very glad I didn’t go through with it, as it really looked hard work with very long days. I have done all of the skills that were examined in this week’s programme – wedging, throwing and turning a set of kitchenware bowls, pulling mug handles, throwing egg-cups from a large lump of clay, decorating, and glazing. I reckon that technically I’m probably about as good as the second or third person from the bottom of the group. But whether I would be able to replicate that skill under time pressure is another matter entirely.

There has been quite a lot of comment on-line about how innuendo-ridden the programme was – worse apparently than Bake Off. As soon as I saw that they were pulling handles, I knew that the tone would go down-hill; the activity is frankly obscene! Whenever I’m pulling jug handles in the pottery, I have to sit myself in a corner and make sure I don’t catch anyone’s eye, or I’ll dissolve into giggles. 

I’ll definitely be watching the rest of the series, and will hope to pick up some ideas and inspiration for the next time I’m at Eastnor.