The latest Throw Down departures: Elaine, Nam and Cáit

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The long-awaited television programme 
The Great Pottery Throw Down is back on British screens for its second series. Each week, we explore issues and topics related to the show on our blog. 
This week, we ask the participants who’ve left so far about their experiences of being on the show and what’s in store next.

Enthusiastic home potter Elaine was the fourth person to leave the Throw Down. A surprising twist saw no potters leave during the following episode – and so two makers were sent home during the quarter final the week after: self-styled ‘ceramic Banksy’ Nam and the ever-quirky Cáit.…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Photo: presenter Sara Cox, Keith Brymer Jones, Kate Malone - (C) Love Productions. Photographer: Mark Bourdillon
Photo: series presenter Sara Cox with judges Keith Brymer Jones and Kate Malone. Credit: Love Productions / Mark Bourdillon

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How did you find walking in to the studio on the first day? What was the whole experience like?

Elaine: It’s a long time since something has made me nervous but walking into the Pottery on the first day was like going on a first date! I soon got into the swing of filming and loved every minute of it, but the nerves of walking into the Pottery each time never went away.

Nam: I loved it all – I made great friends I’ll keep forever, including the production team behind the scenes. The first day seemed so unreal. Seeing all the cameras and being in the studio was amazing!

Cáit: I was very excited to get to meet Kate, Keith and Sara, but also a little nervous and uncertain about what it would be like. It was an exciting, funny, experience to be both potting and making a TV show. I really enjoyed discovering how it all gets put together, how many people are involved, and what roles they play. It was also great to meet the crew, who were fab.

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Credit: Love Productions / Mark Bourdillon / BBC

Credit: Love Productions / Mark Bourdillon / BBC
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What was it like working under strict time constraints?

Elaine: Pottery is therapeutic and each piece of work usually takes time and care to complete, so working under time constraints taught me to quickly devise faster methods of working. This meant sometimes sacrificing the finer points of what I was trying to achieve, but it was exciting and gave me the opportunity to try a process that I would not normally have attempted.

Nam: Pressure sucks, but I like it as it made me stronger.

Cáit: The time constraints were unreal! In the Throw Down challenges I just had to laugh because it felt so far beyond me! However, I enjoyed the challenge of being pushed so close to my limits and learned a lot from finishing things that I’d have probably thrown in the recycling bucket long before they were fired or decorated had I been working at home.

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Credit: Love Productions / Mark Bourdillon / BBC

Credit: Love Productions / Mark Bourdillon / BBC
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How do you feel about your feedback from the judges?

Elaine: The decisions of the judges were a joint effort and Kate and Keith brought their individual passions to the table. So the encouragement and evaluation from judging was a major part of my development at the Pottery. 

Nam: Sara was the coolest! Keith was great, and Kate scared me a bit at first. I wanted to try to impress Keith through my practice outside the show too, and to shock the ceramic world somehow one day.

Cáit: I wanted to impress both judges, and valued their different experience and advice. They gave us such detailed and in-depth advice during the process – I learned a lot from them. Keith’s advice while we were making a double-walled vessel enabled me to achieve something (if even a bit wobbly) I’d never managed before. Kate’s guidance and feedback during the process helped me to discover that decoration is something that I can do, and enjoy!

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Credit: Love Productions / Mark Bourdillon / BBC

Credit: Love Productions / Mark Bourdillon / BBC
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What were your best and worst moments?

Elaine: The worst moment leaving the pottery, and putting my wet fountain in the drying room when I knew it was sadly lacking. This was then reinforced when part of it disintegrated in the kiln after firing and it went fast downhill from there. I even lost my normal contained composure while trying to assemble my fountain before judging! The best moment was taking charge of my raku firing and completing a sake set that was near enough perfect to me.

Nam: My worst moment was making Russian dolls. Why would you hand build them?! My best moment was getting awarded Pot of the Week for my raku sake set.

Cáit: Getting my owl clock out of the kiln in week 2 was probably the highlight of the series for me. It had been such an ordeal making it when hadn’t gone to plan, and I was so worried that it wouldn’t survive the firing. However, I learned the value of decoration that week. Applying appropriate glaze decoration, carefully and sensitively can make the world of difference. We’d been asked to make something that represented us, and that stylised owl (a creature often considered wise, that makes funny sounds) which had been made in slight chaos, with lots of energy, right up to the wire in terms of time allowed, but decorated successfully (along with the irony of the fact it was a clock!) rather effectively represents quite a lot about who I am! The most stressful challenge for me was throwing the two 60cm vases in week 5. I really felt I’d failed in the making of that vase, but was pleasantly surprised with how the pit firing came out.

 

What’s next for you after The Great Pottery Throw Down?

Elaine: Nothing can surpass taking part in the Throw Down – it was a once in a lifetime experience. I used to joke that I would like my pots to be in a major retail store one day; the Throw Down has given me the confidence to expand my skills, improve my work, continue to aim high and hopefully get a place on a ceramics degree course.

Nam: I’m planning on becoming a master of raku before turning 30. I want to shock and shake the ceramic world, because it’s too quiet at the moment and it needs someone to stir it up. My goal is to make everyone think ceramics are cool!

Cáit: We’ve all been planning visits to each other’s spaces to be able to continue learning from each other. I plan to bring my ceramics and teaching qualifications together to do pottery teaching. I hope the Throw Down inspires more people to have a try at working with clay, appreciating hand made pots, and experiencing the satisfaction that comes from creating something with your own hands. I’d love to see ceramic courses starting back up and offering people the opportunities I had.

 

Thank you Elaine, Cáit and Nam – we look forward to following your futures in the world of ceramics.

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Watch Series 2 of The Great Pottery Throw Down on BBC Two from 8pm on Thursdays, or catch up on BBC iPlayer. Can’t watch it? Follow us on Twitter @ceramicreview, where we’ll be live-tweeting the action as it happens. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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