The Throw Down experience: We hear from three participating potters

As we enter the fourth week of the Great Pottery Throw Down, we ask the participants who’ve left so far about their experiences of being on the show – and what’s next for them. Enthusiastic home potter Carole was the first to leave the show, followed by clay-mad accountant Daniel and innovative maker James.
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The Great Pottery Throw Down - Series 2. Photo: Love Productions / Mark Bourdillon / BBC

The Great Pottery Throw Down – Series 2. Left side: Cáit, Freya, James, Carole, Richard. Middle: Sara Cox, Kate Malone, Keith Brymer Jones. Right side: Daniel, Nam, Clover, Ryan, Elaine. Copyright Love Productions. Photographer: 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?

Carole: Walking in on the first day was one of the most exciting experiences of my life, other than giving birth. It was wonderful to be with other potters in a historic working pottery and meet the judges. I can definitely say that while the experience was exhilarating and sometimes exhausting, it has been one of the best things I have ever done.

Daniel: Walking onto set for the first time was a surreal experience. I wasn’t expecting to see cameras, sound people and production staff everywhere, with probably over 30 people in the studio at any one time. Once the challenges started and I was concentrating on the tasks I was unaware of the crew, except when Keith, Kate and Sara were milling around asking questions.

James: Fun! Getting used to having a camera thrown in your face in the middle of making takes some getting used to, though. I’ve talked while making before and answered questions, but this is another level!

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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?

Carole: Making is usually relaxing, but I wouldn’t use the word relaxing for the Throw Down experience. I’ve never before experienced the large doses of adrenaline that surged through my body during the tasks. Time disappeared – an hour seemed like a minute. I’m relieved to be able to work at my own pace now it’s over. 

Daniel: I enjoyed the strict time constraints as I use the same process at home. I’m always working against the clock to finish work, so I have developed the skill of making things in short bursts, which works well for me.

James: I’ve worked under time constraints before during university, but nothing as short as on the show. It’s fun – I relished the challenge and it has allowed me a certain confidence that in the future, when required, I can work at a fast pace.
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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?

Carole: Initially I felt I would have the most affinity with Kate, as she is a hand builder like myself. During the process I got to know Keith a little better and very much appreciated his throwing skills, and respected his judgement a great deal.

Daniel: It was helpful having judges from both throwing and hand-building backgrounds critiquing my work.  Keith’s comments were helpful and incisive, as were Kate’s on my hand building. Keith understood the complexities of the throwing tasks so I warmed to his comments – and hoped he wouldn’t cry when he saw my work.

James: I’ve learned not to dwell on the negatives, that you’ve got to have your critics, and that art is a conversation. I hope my work on the show allowed that to happen.
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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?

Carole: My best moment was when Keith cried over my work. The worst was when my wooden batt came flying off my wheel on camera.

Daniel: The best moment was when I pulled the handles for the three casserole dishes within the allotted time. I’ve done this many times over the years, so I was confident I could do it.  My worst moment was the clock construction. I read the challenge as making a clock from paper clay – I didn’t understand the idea was to make a sculptural form with a clock somewhere on the piece.

James: Meeting the contestants was a highlight – it’s amazing how many different styles and techniques emerged from 10 people. Another best moment was completing a clock from slabs. I haven’t slab built anything for about five years and I was proud of my adaptability. The worst was tearing through my dinner set in week one; I should have given myself enough time to make more.

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

Carole: My next ambition is to grow my teaching business, Clay with Carole. I would like to do more community projects and corporate projects as well as building up my skills for demonstrating in the public arena. I also intend to open an online shop and spend some more time making beautiful handmade pottery for sale.

Daniel: I should like to pass my knowledge on to others through pottery demonstrations and talks. But my main ambition is to write a book of tips and techniques that are not currently in any book. The book would have a twist: the pots featured in the book would feature later in food recipes.

James: To refine my skills further, begin more teaching on a larger scale and to pass my skills onto the next generation of aspiring ceramic artists. I love to teach and that’s where my real passion and future lies.


Thanks Carole, Daniel and James – we look forward to following all of 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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