The Great Pottery Throw Down

The 10 artists of the Great Pottery Throw Down presented by Sara Cox, and judged by acclaimed potters Keith Brymer Jones and Kate Malone

I think by now you might have figured out that I like ceramics. You might also have figured out that I like (the idea of) watching reality shows about art and makers, but am usually disappointed in them. Well, thank you Laurie Jane Kern for hooking me up with a way to watch the BEST art related reality show I’ve even seen!

The Great Pottery Throw Down is a British show that follows a format like the Great British Bake Off, but features potters who show their talents each week in a variety of ceramic techniques. What makes this different than most of the American reality shows is that they don’t focus on creating personal drama among the contestants. The focus really is on how well the participants throw, build, and glaze their pottery.

It was a great mix of contestants from a wide variety of backgrounds and each week they had one big project focusing on a specific technique (throw 5 identical vases for raku firing, handbuild a 5ft garden sculpture, make a slip cast bone china chandelier) and two smaller projects that helped the audience learn about historical (and modern) techniques. These would be things like throwing as many cups off the hump as you can in 15 minutes, create nine tiles using surface textures, or throw a sphere on the wheel. Each week one of these was a blind judging and one was a speed trial.

Don’t know anything about ceramics or have any idea what things like “throw off the hump” mean? THEY EXPLAIN THEM TO YOU! They talk about the different techniques, what they are used for, and even give you snippets of the English history of ceramics. IT WAS AMAZING! If you get the chance, you should watch the series. I wish that we would have more of these types of shows here. The only crying was because the one judge, Keith Brymer Jones, would be so moved by the work that the contestants did, not because one called the other a name or some other such contrived drama, or sleep deprivation, or whatever they do to rile contestants up on shows like Work of Art or Steampunk’d. It was a fantastic look into how 10 different artists approach different facets of ceramic technique.

It’s Time for the 2016 YBC Challenge!

Tim McCreight - A Constant source of inspiration
Tim McCreight – A Constant source of inspiration

It’s Summer so it’s time to get a move on with this year’s Yellow Breeches Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen’s challenge. This year the theme is “Box.” I’ve been thinking about it awhile, looking for inspiration all over. I created a Pinterest Board for inspiration and I found this cool book at work.

The original sketch for my box. Of course it has morphed in the making.
The original sketch for my box. Of course it has morphed in the making. YBC Challenge Box ©2016 WTEK

Of course I can’t make a normal box, mine won’t be square/rectangle. It’s going to be wonky and round-ish. It’s also only going to be about 6″ across. You won’t see the final piece…yet. (Of course it’s not done either!) The final reveal of everyone’s pieces will be at our September Chapter meeting. I hope to see you there!

The main part of my YBC Challenge Box ©2016 WTEK
The main part of my YBC Challenge Box ©2016 WTEK
The bottom for the main part of my YBC Challenge Box ©2016 WTEK
The bottom for the main part of my YBC Challenge Box ©2016 WTEK
The pattern for the next big piece of the box (ignore what it's sitting on - that's just a prop) YBC Challenge Box ©2016 WTEK
The pattern for the next big piece of the box (ignore what it’s sitting on – that’s just a prop) YBC Challenge Box ©2016 WTEK

Scrapped Ideas

nickel scraps

Triple Shield Pendant ©2016 WTEK brass on an 18" rubber cord
Triple Shield Pendant ©2016 WTEK brass on an 18″ rubber cord

I’ve been in a slight slump lately creatively and one of my favorite ways to get out of it is to peruse my scrap pile. Jewelry made from scrap metal? YES! My junk yard is chock full of cut-offs from my bowls and sculptures that are too small for sculpture, but just right for earrings and pendants. I made two necklaces recently this way.

The first was a pendant using three oval-ish shapes riveted together. This one is made from brass on an 18″ rubber cord with a gold-filled clasp.

nickel fishThe other one used a piece of nickel I’d been eyeing for awhile now. It was a cool texture in an arched shape that wanted something special done with it. I have also been meaning to make a gorget type necklace, so I decided to combine these goals into a cool piece.

nickel fish with paperI converted a template from the Rose Bowl Trophy to act as a frame to put the nickel part on, cut them out, formed them, and then riveted the pieces together. After adding a brass chain with a hook clap I made, it was ready to be worn.

If you’re interested in either of these pieces, just email me and I’ll get them right out to you!

yet to be named gorget ©2016 WTEK nickel, brass $200.00
yet to be named gorget ©2016 WTEK nickel, brass $200.00
yet to be named gorget ©2016 WTEK nickel, brass $200.00
yet to be named gorget ©2016 WTEK nickel, brass $200.00

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