The Pottery Throwdown is on! Now in it's fourth season on Channel 4 (live Sundays at 7.45pm or available on 4OD), the show has some great challenges and we thought it would be exciting to take inspiration from the show each week and set our own!
We'll put the entries on social media and our followers will vote for their favourite. At the end of the series the person with the most votes overall will win a course and the two runners-up will win a workshop!
View the entries from our contestants and vote here
Challenge 1: Make a cheese dome with plate
The TV show set this as a throwing challenge, but as you'll be working from home we would suggest making your dome using a baking bowl or something similar as a slump-mould.
Our challenge is just a cheese dome, not the full set as on TV. You can decorate this with:
Underglaze colours or slips and we'll add a clear glaze
Texture, carving and/or added relief decoration and choose a coloured glaze for us to dip
Either way focus on making the decorative knob.
FYI on the TV show they were calling underglazes glazes, most of the colours being applied by the contestants were underglazes and a clear glaze was then applied on top.
The speed at which they dry and fire work on the show is not advisable so we are going a bit slower, though still pretty fast. As you will be drying work quickly you'll need to ensure that additions like the knob are fixed together really well with scoring and vinegar slip.
You will need to drop your work for firing on Sunday 17th between 11.30am and 1.30pm; it will need to be dry, ready to go straight in the kiln.
For this to be possible you will need to make your pieces during the week (before Friday) and let them dry to leather-hard by Saturday, during this drying stage wrap any smaller additions, like the knob in plastic to slow the drying in this area and make it even over the entire peice.
On Saturday you can fettle your work and apply slips or underglazes and then leave somewhere warm overnight to dry for Sunday.
Challenge 2: Make Candle Lantern 20cm High
Our challenge is to make a candle lantern just 20cm high. We're going to run this as a two week project, so that you can decorate with painting glazes and we will ensure we keep next week's challenge really small!
You will need to drop your work for Bisque firing, or arrange a collection, on Sunday 24th between 11.30am and 1.30pm; it will need to be dry, ready to go straight in the kiln.
We will return your work to you bisque fired on Wednesday 27th and you will have until Sunday 31st to decorate with painting glazes.
Focus on texture and architectural details and consider how the light will emanate from the piece.
Challenge 3: Make a Fruit Bowl (just the bowl!)
Challenge 3 is to make a fruit bowl, unlike the throwdown who also made fruit, we are just asking you to make a bowl, however...the decoration of your bowl must include fruit, it could be relief or flat decoration; multi-coloured or a paired-down pallet; an overt show of fruit or a subtle reference, but the decoration must include fruit.
You will need to drop your work for Bisque firing, or arrange a collection, on Sunday 31st between; it must be dry, ready to go straight in the kiln.
For this to be possible you will need to make your bowl during the week (before Friday) and let it dry to leather-hard by Saturday. On Saturday you can then fettle your work and apply slips or underglazes, before leaving it somewhere warm overnight to dry for Sunday.
Challenge 4: Make a Bulbous Vase
Challenge 4 is to make a bulbous vase using stretching and darts to alter a slab cylinder. This should then be burnished and decorated with oxide of a single colour. The oxide can be painted, applied using tissue transfer, dripped, splashed, printed with string or lace, or any combination (be playful and please document your process!), your vase will be fired unglazed.
To give everyone a little more time these do not need to be completely dry when they are dropped off (or collected) on Sunday, so you can burnish and decorate with oxides on Sunday morning. If you are arranging a collection we will come to you after 2pm.
Your vase will need to be slightly past leather hard before you can burnish it, so if you are constructing it on Saturday aim to complete it by the afternoon and leave it somewhere warm overnight.
The video below shows how to alter a form with stretching a darts, you can find a longer audio tutorial and an example of adding a neck to your vase here www.makenorth.org/forum2/handbuilding/building-with-soft-slabs
Challenge 5: Make a Bust of a Music Legend
Challenge 5 is to make a 30cm high bust of a music legend, without coloured slips or underglaze.
We'll fire these to bisque temperature for the challenge, so if you'd like to apply coloured glazes afterwards you will be able.
This TV episode is really useful for demonstrating the many many different ways an armature can be constructed to support this kind of sculptural build. Three additional points to consider:
1) you can leave your form to dry for longer than they did on TV before the armature is removed, so that it firms-up enough to support itself
2) try to include something with volume, as well as paper (a solid or hollow form), so this can be removed and create space for the paper to be removed, otherwise the paper will get stuck as the form shrinks, particularly if it's tightly packed
3) if you do need to cut your form open don't do it at a weak point like the neck
Challenge 6: Make a Set of 6 carved relief tiles
Challenge 6 is to make a set of 6 carved relief tiles, the size is up to you.
Role your slabs 2 cm thick and wait until they are leather-hard to carve your design, a scene that covers all six tiles and reflects you.
Three-dimensional relief, really make the most of the depth of the tiles.
Pronounced texture. We will glaze these with a single coloured glaze, so use buff or red clay and really think about how the glaze will break over the textured areas.
Challenge 7: Make an Animal Sculpture
Challenge 7, set by Micaela School: A 30cm tall decorative animal sculpture for the garden or yard
You can use different making techniques such as coiling, slab building, hand modeling or a combination.
If your figure is made from assembled parts of clay ensure that you slip and score really well. Also, the clay of your elements should have the same moisture content, i.e. be the same level of leather hardness.
To give your animals some stability you could support them internally with scrunched up paper or balloons or bubble wrap. Don’t forget that the clay shrinks when drying so don’t pack it too tightly or you piece may crack. Make sure that you can reach any of these supports and that you remove them before bisque firing.
Make sure that the walls are even thickness to prevent stress cracks.
Be aware that water that collects within hollows in a piece of outdoor ceramics may freeze. When water freezes it expands and can cause ceramics to crack after a hard freeze. So, avoid any deep hollows where the water can collect. Otherwise glazed stoneware should be safe to keep outdoors all year round.
Have fun decorating your animals with slips or/and underglazes and glazes!