Tough stuff: The Great Pottery Throw Down Final

The Great Pottery Throw Down 2015 promised to challenge and showcase the work of ten of Britain’s most passionate home potters, and that it certainly did. Here are some of Ceramic Review‘s highlights from the Throw Down final that focused on porcelain tea set making, cylinder decoration and jug throwing

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Contestants

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After fifteen gruelling challenges, during which 500 hand-crafted,
beautiful items were produced, four finalists remained
to tussle for the title of Throw Down champion:

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Major Tom - technical discipline

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Tom Knowles Jackson,
who proved his technical ability from the show’s outset.

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BBC/Love Productions

BBC/Love Productions

Sally-Jo Bond, 
whose eye for colour and form caught our attention early on.

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Jim - beautiful design

BBC/Love Productions

Jim Ranson,
whose animated, hand-painted work drew the judges in throughout.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.46.33

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And Matthew Wilcock,
whose affinity with clay and glaze earned him the

title of Top Potter three times in a row.

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V&A - porcelain

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The Throw Down final saw the potters being given their
toughest challenge yet: to produce a twelve-piece porcelain tea set.

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The judges were careful to point out the unforgiving nature of porcelain;
the skill and patience it takes to work with this material.
They were looking for technical skill, design, but also character
from the finished pieces.

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And so, it was time to face the teapot…

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Matthew - porcelain

BBC/Love Productions

Matthew risked a decorative touch at the throwing stage, commenting:
‘Porcelain collapses, it cracks, it does everything you
don’t want it to do. 
It’s your worst nightmare as a potter.’

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Sally Jo handbuilding2

BBC/Love Productions

While Sally-Jo opted to hand build, rolling
patterns into the raw clay with textiles.

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spot test

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As the potters waited for their pieces to be
fired, 
the judges set them a devilish spot test…

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And we shared some of our porcelain favourites over on Twitter.

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glazing

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It was then time for tea set decoration:
the potters were given a selection of glazes and oxides to work with,
before the pieces were reduction fired, ready for the final judging.

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Tom jug

BBC/Love Productions

Meanwhile, the last throw down test saw the potters
tasked with making three jugs in 20 minutes…

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exhibition space

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And at the Throw Down exhibition space,
we saw some familiar faces.

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casulaties

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The tea sets were taken from the kiln,
with a few inevitable casualties…

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And it was time to assess the finished pieces:

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Jim tea set2

BBC/Love Productions

Jim’s flair for design shone through with
his hand-painted floral set…

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Jim tea set detail

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In fact, its detail brought tears to both judges’ eyes,
despite a few technical faults.

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BBC/Love Productions

BBC/Love Productions

Sally-Jo’s cobalt lace set was commended for its intricacy,
but had a few too many cracks.

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Tom tea set

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And Tom’s tea set was praised for its
tonal changes – between rich turquoise and sage green –
but its decoration was a little too austere.

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Matthew tea set 2

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While Matthew, whose set contrasted the traditional
and contemporary, impressed with his bold
use of glaze, and strong, engineered ceramics.

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As the judges deliberated, we shared some of our
Throw Down highlights…

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winner announced

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Before the contestants and their families
gathered round for the result.

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Matthew was announced as winner of the Great Pottery Throw Down 2015,
having ‘married design with great technical ability’,
showing an almost ‘sixth sense’ for ceramics.

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He was given this brilliant ceramic cup,
thrown by Keith and decorated by Kate…

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mother and father

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And closed emotionally in saying:
‘I thank my mother and father for introducing me to clay’

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Matthew tea set

BBC/Love Productions

Our congratulations to Matthew, and to all ten contestants.

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We asked whether you’d like to see a second series,
and received a resounding ‘yes’, over on Facebook.

Here’s hoping.

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The Great Pottery Throw Down aired this autumn on Tuesdays on BBC2 at 9pm.
You can catch up on all episodes at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06nwm7b
Find all of our
Throw Down blogs here: www.ceramicreview.com/cr-blog

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