Home potters compete to become the new champion of British pottery. It's week three and the eight remaining potters must master the art of Japanese style ceramics.
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It's week three and just eight potters remain,
so it's time to turn up the heat raku-style,
as the potters master the art of Japanese-style ceramics.
So welcome and konnichiwa, my friends,
to the Great Pottery Throw Down.
-Ryan's on the pull.
'..time was against the potters.'
-'..as they constructed clocks.'
Look at the cracks. Ah!
'James clung on.'
I'm angry because it's just a block.
'As Daniel's lack of hand-building skills...'
This is very naughty clay.
'..meant he had to leave the pottery.
'And despite Ryan's impressive clock,
'it was Elaine who claimed the second spot
'in the Pot Of The Week gallery.'
You're going to make ME cry.
'Now, we're heading east...'
'..with a Japanese Main Make in the explosive raku style.'
It's hot, hot, hot.
'A Spot Test from hell itself.'
I'll have to make it up as I go along.
'And a Throw Down that never stops.'
-I've run out of clay.
-You've done that many?!
No, I've done them that big.
'But who will clinch the third spot in the gallery?'
'And who will be walking the cobbles home?'
-Have a whiff of this. It seems to be working today.
# Making time
# Shooting lines
# People have their uses
# People have their uses... #
It's raku this week,
so I thought I'd put a shirt on to match the fiery nature of raku.
I love raku, but anything can happen with it.
Number one, just follow the brief.
I'm going to slightly stick to the brief
a little bit more than last time.
I will finish on time.
I have to finish on time!
I'm super excited about it, due to the fact I'm a pyromaniac.
'But before the raku pyrotechnics begin,
'what will the potters be firing?'
Good morning, potters.
For your Main Make challenge this week,
Kate and Keith would like you to throw a Japanese sake set.
One bottle, of maximum 25 centimetres in height, and six cups.
You've got enough clay there to throw two complete sets.
However, you must then choose your favourite to decorate and raku fire.
It's one of the most exciting and unpredictable processes in ceramics
and we want to see you embrace that and step out of your comfort zone.
Potters, you have two hours to throw your sake sets.
Time starts now.
'Traditional sake sets usually consist
'of an elegant bottle with matching delicate cups.'
The most difficult part is to get all of it exactly right.
'To produce two sets in two hours,
'the potters are free to throw as many cups and bottles as they like.'
I've thrown my balls a little bit on the heavy side.
Just because I've got big hands and I need...
a bit more clay to centre.
'But more attempts to get a matching set will mean more work.
'And more balls to slap.'
I am going to use a decoration technique
at this throwing stage that I've
never done before. I'm a little bit nervous about it,
so I made three balls of clay.
Two hours of throwing to produce two sake bottles and 12 cups.
We want to see the whole set like a family, working together,
with that character right across them all.
But also, it's a functional task.
You know, there's six cups, there's a bottle,
the bottle has to fill the six cups.
And you actually put a cup to your lips, don't you?
-You kiss it, in fact.
-You know, when you drink.
So it's got to feel nice.
I don't want to see any rough edges
that are going to be horrible to drink from.
And maybe after a couple of glasses of sake,
I wouldn't mind what I'm drinking it out of!
'These delicate sake cups are the smallest items yet that the potters
'have been required to throw.'
Normally, you cone up with both hands and use equal pressure.
With a tiny piece, you're sort of just using one finger.
The boys are going to have a lot of difficulty with big hands.
This is like making a miniature.
None of this sar-key, it's sack-ee where I'm from.
It helps having weird fingers.
I'm double jointed in my fingers, and throwing small stuff,
I can kind of twist in to the side.
'Nam's flexible fingers will conjure up a sake set with a bulbous form,
'inspired by the drinking bottles featured in his favourite films.'
You see it in a lot of kung fu movies
and it's this thing where they keep
alcohol in and they fight with it.
And it's just literally a curved form, like a fat waistline.
That's the problem when you watch loads of kung fu movies
as a kid, you get influenced by everything.
I'm not very experienced at making lots of things that look identical.
But this gauge is quite a useful little tool,
and as long as you have each of the rims kind of in the same place,
-That's just missing by half a mill.
Which I know I can just push a tiny bit with my little weird fingers.
In Japan, they have these sort of little gauges.
This is the depth of the cylinder
and this is the width of the cylinder.
So this is the height and you can dip in and see the height,
and then this can be the width.
So that needs to come out a little bit more.
'Ryan's straight-sided cups will have sharp-edged feet and will be
'joined by a traditionally shaped sake bottle.
'And he's managed to get in a bit more practice
'than his fellow potters.'
Is this something that you've done many times before, raku?
I have done a few raku before.
-Yeah, I built a raku kiln.
-You've built a raku kiln?
-I built a raku kiln, yeah.
-It was in my grandma's garden.
-Is your grandma's garden now
-Yes, I've just taken it over.
It's just a big old pottery yard.
Poor lady, she can't hang out her washing.
She's got a lovely little pony, as well,
which sometimes I steal their hair, horsehair, for the raku, as well.
-Put it on the pots.
-So you give the ponies a brush
-and then use the hair?
-A little trim, yeah, a little clip.
I've never made a sake set before.
Not something I've ever thought of doing.
Maybe after this, I might take it up.
'Last week's winner of Pot of the Week Elaine's first attempt at raku
'will see cups decorated with a slit design and a bottle with buttons on
'the neck. But their shape is still a work in progress.'
I'm going to see what grows out of the clay on the first one and then
just follow that. As usual, the clay is the inspiration.
It's how it feels.
Just going to compress the bottom.
I think I'm warming up, just getting the flow of it.
Once I've got the knack of one, two, it just all pops out like candy.
I'm just going to pull it out a little bit more.
Hopefully, I'll get six somewhere similar.
I'm going to stop being so fussy.
'Whilst Elaine has found a form she likes...'
'..Freya's still got a few decisions to make.'
I practised, but never did decide on one particular shape.
'When practising, all Freya DID decide on
'was that she would create a male
'and female-formed sake set and then make a choice.'
I think the hardest thing is to get the cups to match the bottles.
I'm going to get the cups first and then I'm going to get the bottle
to match the cups, which sounds a bit backwards,
but... There's too much to think about!
Why do this? I chose to do pottery for an easy life.
This isn't easy right now.
'Even if the potters are happy with the shape and size of their
-'first few cups...'
-That's about six centimetres,
so I can probably make it a bit taller than that.
'..this first throwing stage gets a little bit harder.'
The trickiest part of this challenge is to actually get them off
the wheel in one piece.
If you don't throw the face thick enough,
you've got nothing to hold on to and you just squash it.
You've got to have, like, feather touch at this point.
Two very different cups!
Oh, my gosh.
I'm trying to be as conscious
as I can not to sort of warp it in any way.
Not bad for a first two of them.
'James's sake set will see the colours
'and designs from Japanese body suit tattoos
'adorning a straight-sided bottle,
'and cups that will hold more sake than is probably good for you.'
That's naturally the kind of shape and size that I would throw.
Because you are from the land of the giants. That's why, James.
-It's a giant sake cup, isn't it?
-This is your sake cup, yeah.
This is like throwing a miniature, for me.
Well, you're measuring against the ruler for your height?
Yes. You know, I've got a rough point...
A rough point?
-Well, a rough, by which I mean...
-A rough point?!
-That's a terrible word to use.
-We're asking for identical beakers.
We'll take that again!
Potters, you're halfway through your time now.
You've got an hour left.
I've made nine cups so far,
which is three short of how many cups I need to have made,
and I've not started my bottles.
'Rather than perfecting all 12 cups, some potters are moving on.'
Get the bottles done and then it's like a production line for the cups.
I know we've got to throw two,
but I need to concentrate on the first set.
Going to collar it in at the top and push out a belly.
I'm going to try and get a shape that isn't too complicated.
'But even the simplest forms aren't easy to pull off.'
I just lost it at the top.
So instead of trying to fix it, I may as well throw a new one.
Do not overwork it, Clover!
'Clover's having another attempt at a sake bottle
'that will celebrate kyudo,
'which means "way of the bow" - the ancient Japanese art of archery.'
Archery has been closely linked to Zen Buddhism practising and also has
this nice flow that could potentially work
quite well with a sake set.
How the sake is going to be poured out,
how the arrow is coming out from the bowl.
All could be related.
I wanted to press a shape of the bow into my bottle after it has dried
out a little bit. And then on the sake cup,
-there will be the bottom of the...
So hopefully they will bring together this magic throwing moment.
Magic throwing moment.
So I was going to give it hips and a waist.
I was thinking of the human figure.
I seem to be really female-orientated.
Four done and a bottle, so I'm way behind,
but I have already changed the shape completely.
Cos I was kind of doubting myself ever so slightly.
This one's rounder, which is a bit more me,
but I looked at my cups and realised that they're quite straight,
so I just wanted to make a nice straighter version, really.
Hopefully, that would be comfortable to hold and you just do...
Like that. And it would be...
This is just a practice, yeah.
Whilst most potters are obsessing over the shape of their bottles,
Richard's given himself even more to worry about.
What I'm looking for is to put a nice curve on one side
and if you bend the top over, it should enhance that profile.
Richard's first ever attempt at raku is all about profile,
but the sweeping curve on his bottle will create even more work.
Obviously, if you bend the top,
you're going to have problems pouring,
so if you attach the pourer on the other side, that actually helps.
Richard's the only potter throwing spouts for his sake bottles.
If you can get the movement of the pourer, as well, in an arc,
it just adds something to it.
I think, actually, the first one's form I'm the most happy with.
And I've sort of managed to recreate it a few times.
When Cait finally stops throwing cups and moves onto bottles,
their profile should be very familiar.
My inspiration are the bottle kilns around this area,
so we're making bottles, so it's a fairly obvious form to use.
And the raku process is all about firing.
Cait's kiln-shaped sake bottle will be joined by cups that are also
a nod to Stoke's potting heritage.
The sake cups, I've chosen to use the saggars as a sort of inspiration
for what they look like.
-What's a saggar?
-Saggars are basically to protect the ceramics
from getting damaged in the firing process.
Saggars are like crude pots, if you like.
But the real pots are put inside them and the saggars, then,
are built up inside the bottle kiln
and it stops all the coal and the carbon
getting to the really nice pieces inside.
And is raku something you've done before?
I've done it, I think, once or twice before.
Cait, I hate to mention the T word.
Can you please just not be running down the pottery when I'm at
-I'm so sorry.
Cos I don't know if we can take it.
We're on medication. CAIT LAUGHS
I'm already on heart pills as it is.
Half an hour left to finish throwing 12 sake cups and two bottles.
This could be very exciting, so I hope you're ready.
I've started again. I've scaled it down because I think,
having a quick cheeky look around the room, mine was way too big.
So I've halved the size of clay that I was using.
So that was a pound, I'm now doing half a pound.
Get my head down, get these bashed out.
I'll close my eyes and do it, for the hell of it.
Going to put me nozzle on.
Got six cups and three bottles and a fourth on the way.
You need 12...
Are those your cups, as well?
Yeah, yeah, over there.
Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish.
Oh, it's not high enough.
Two, four, six, eight, ten... 12 little sake cups.
One sake bottle, another on the way, and not three seconds remaining.
-Well, ten minutes isn't ideal for a bottle, but, yeah,
-we'll get there.
-Have a whiff of this.
Seems to be working today.
Potters, this is your five-minute call.
It's about refining now, getting that final shape.
If I have as many as I can done,
then I've got the choice of which ones are good, which ones are crap.
Guys, you've got one minute left. You've got to get all of these sets
in the drying room, please, in 60 seconds. Lots of you still
working at the wheels here. I'm not sure what's going on.
I'm just pressing the shape of the bubble on to the sake bottle.
-No way, is that...? Ah!
eight - careful - seven...
-..six, five, four, three,
one. You're mad. You're all mad.
I've never seen Richard move so quick.
He was like a whippet then.
I bit the bullet and put a spout on my bottle.
It looks very smart, actually.
I'm very pleased with that result.
I knew I was up against it to get a bottle out in ten minutes.
-It's a bottle form.
I'm fairly happy with my sake cups.
The bases seem a little bit thin.
Throw Down challenge next.
I was sixth the last time, which isn't great.
I don't want to be in the middle again.
I'm going to try my best and claw my way up to the top.
Whilst the sake sets are in the drying room,
this week's Throw Down will test the potters' ability to demonstrate
a skill that's been the cornerstone of Stoke's potteries since
they were founded, right up to today.
Under huge time pressure,
they'll have to prove they can combine quality with quantity.
This week, Kate and Keith would like you to throw as many rice bowls
as you can. You're going to be throwing off the hump,
which is essentially throwing each little bowl off the same great big
whacking lump of clay. Keith, do you want to show us how it's done?
So, you've all been given a 20lb lump of clay and it's already
been centred. So you can start off quite quickly,
building up the stem to make your first rice bowl.
You go down, you grab your clay,
you try and grab the same amount of clay every time.
It's a very traditional method of throwing lots of pieces out of
the same lump of clay without having to centre every single piece.
This is a Japanese wiring method
where you take the tail of the wire,
place it round the base and just let it do the work.
But just be ready to catch it.
'The potters now have 15 minutes to throw as many perfectly formed
'rice bowls as they can.'
Your time starts now.
I'm just going for consistency, trying to...
Well, I say consistency, that was completely wrong.
Just trying to go for as many as I can.
I'd be chuffed if I got five done.
Remember - quality, quality.
Remember quantity, quantity.
Can I just add in about size, as well?
We don't want any egg cups, please.
The sponge is like a giant doorstop.
This is the tricky bit, here.
Just place the tail on there.
Oh, my God!
-That's frightening, isn't it?
It's just this whole bit is just alien.
The difficulty is the trimming it off
cos I've never used that tool at all.
There's a couple that would be good if you're on a diet cos all the food
would drop out the bottom. THEY LAUGH
-But you've got a few nice ones, keep going.
Now then, if I had to go to anyone's for dinner,
it'd be yours, James. HE LAUGHS
-These are a bit more substantial.
-Big boy portions.
Big boy pots.
Seven. No holes in them.
-You're on fire.
-I'm on fire.
-Let's have a look.
-I shan't take this up as a living.
Oh, you say that, you've got four gorgeous ones here, Elaine.
Yeah, but I haven't looked around yet.
There's no chance!
Five minutes, guys, five minutes.
-There's eight on here.
-Well, there's eight...
There's a couple that are a bit dodgy.
But keep going.
They look like a sort of higgledy-piggledy family.
Daddy and Mummy bowls.
-We'll go with that.
-Yeah, positive spin.
Good colour choice.
Oh, I've run out of clay.
Oh, you've done that many!
-No, I've done them that big.
Potters, one minute left.
-Five, four, three, two, one.
Back from your rice bowls, please.
'From 20lb of clay,
'the potters had to throw off the hump as many consistently sized
'and shaped bowls as possible in 15 minutes.
'But those who don't reach Keith and Kate's high standards will end up
'in the rejects bin and not be counted.'
How many have we got here? We've got one, two, three, four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.
But I don't think that's going to hold much rice.
-That one, do you reckon, Kate?
-Yeah, it's got a hole in.
And the elephant in the room.
It's kind of more like an egg cup, isn't it?
-That one's too big, isn't it?
One of them's a little small, isn't it?
It's not as similar as the rest.
That's the runt of the litter you've just separated from its family.
Hello. Hi, Ryan.
Sticky rice? No?
Is that pulling the cord too high?
Yeah. No, yeah, just didn't judge where the cord was going through.
Oh. You are a beast.
I think there's one that stands out as smaller than the others.
So that one's going in.
-That one going in as well?
Really tough. I'm really seeing the dark side of you, KBJ.
And you, madam.
I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry about this.
'After so many of the potters' rice bowls
'hitting the judges' reject bin,
'which potter has managed' to throw the most?
In joint last place, with six rice bowls, James and Cait.
'Richard and Elaine both made eight bowls,
'putting them in joint fifth place.
'Freya is in fourth place with ten bowls,
'and in third place is Ryan with 11, leaving Clover and Nam.'
In second place, with 12 rice bowls,
First place, with 13 bowls, is Nam.
Well done, Nam. Well done.
I set out to get first in the Throw Down,
That's what I said I'll do, and I did it. Feels good.
Feels really good.
I came joint last.
At least I wasn't all there on my own.
Not ideal, but I'm not going to stress about it.
I've never thrown off the hump at all, but, yeah, trimming next.
The sake sets are now dry enough for the next stage of the Main Make...
..turning and trimming.
I can just centre the top here and turn off all this sort of
rough edge here.
The potters have 90 minutes to refine the edges
and form of both their bottles and their 12 cups.
This is good. I like doing this,
this is, like, me in my happy zone right now.
When you throw a pot, you've got it to a point, but turning a pot,
you can discover its character.
By the way you use your tools you can accentuate the various forms,
give it a much more curved belly or a foot ring.
So how you use your turning tools
defines the character of the pot you're throwing.
God, I sound like a potter. Shoot me now.
But it's not a process that should be rushed.
I've given myself 30 minutes to get them done,
30 minutes to get them done
and then 30 minutes to kind of make them a little bit more jazzy.
Spend too little time trimming a pot...
Woohoo, come back.
..and the edges and bottoms could remain dirty.
Keith is right to ask for a good bottom.
But over trimming can lead to much worse.
You've got to be really careful.
9Many times I've put holes in the bottom of my pots
cos I've turned them too much.
And there's only one way to avoid a hole in your bottom.
You can really hear it, it's like a real hollow sound. You can sense
it's just really thin. So I'm actually not going to touch that cos
if I do, it'll just go through.
Can you feel it thinner here and thicker here? What are you hearing?
It's definitely thicker here, you can hear the echo.
There it goes.
Judging the thickness of the clay is crucial, as most of
the potters are turning a foot into the bases of their sake sets.
Thankfully, there isn't a lot to do with mine.
And whilst James is being cautious...
So, I've gone from that, to that, just taken that edge off.
That's all I really want to do.
..Nam is going a bit further than a few feet.
I'm turning the bottoms and then I'll give them a three foot...
-Trying to stay honest to the form and not change too much
but also giving it a bit of characteristics.
Any word of advice would be nice.
-No, I'm kidding. I know you can't.
-Well... Yeah, conflict of interest,
you see. I can't really give you too much advice.
Those spaces are incredibly thin, aren't they?
Yeah. But I really wanted them to, just so it has that weight factor.
'As well as their 12 cups,
'the potters need to leave enough time to turn and trim
'both their bottles.'
A tale of two bottles.
Yeah, quickly becoming.
The tall, slim brother
-and the stout other one.
-Beefy, rugby player type.
-I wonder where the inspiration came for that one.
This is my masculine set and this is my feminine set.
This is more me and this is just me kind of playing it safe
and just trying to get a functional sake set,
instead of going crazy on it.
SHE WOLF WHISTLES Occasionally, I'm forced
to wolf-whistle a pot. That is beautiful.
-It's not often you can say, "I like that."
-But I do like that one.
-You'll never forget that pot.
It's one of those pots where you think, "I'll always have that pot."
HE CHUCKLES 'While Richard added a few extras
'at the throwing stage,
'Elaine's using the turning stage to start decorating.'
I'm just putting slip on.
It's just made out of clay and water.
It's a clean line, but I love the dot
at either end just to finish it off.
Such a lovely atmosphere in here,
it's a shame to give a time call in case it stresses you out,
but there's 15 minutes left.
-That has slightly stressed me out!
That was very dramatic, Nam!
-Are you happy?
-They do look like the bottle kilns.
-That's a little wide at the top, isn't it?
-I didn't leave enough time to get the walls up high enough.
Still quite heavy, actually.
I'm trying to get spontaneity.
It's not happening. My hands are shaking so much.
Time's up. Well done, ladies and gentlemen.
The first part of your Main Make is over,
so now you can go home for a few days, possibly...yeah,
go and lie in a darkened room,
but we will see you back here quite soon.
It takes 48 hours to dry the sake sets completely.
Only then can Rich take them for their first firing.
So these sake sets are now ready to go into the electric kiln for their
bisque firing, so when they apply the glaze,
and the water's absorbed by the body of the piece,
it won't turn back to raw clay.
It's fixed, it's ceramic, it's a solid object.
The bisque firing takes another 24 hours.
So when the potters return,
while their sake sets are cooling in the kiln,
Japanese Week continues with a Spot Test from hell.
Good morning, potters.
Now, your sake sets have been fired, they are ready to be decorated,
but first I think there's time a little Spot Test.
Kate and Keith would like you to pierce and cut
a design of your choice into a leather-hard Japanese lantern.
This is also known as devil's work.
You've got 50 minutes to cut and pierce your Japanese lanterns.
Let the devil's work begin.
Devil's work is a highly skilled craft first pioneered in Asia
by the Chinese Ming dynasty in the 14th century.
It's a decorative technique where holes are pierced in unfired clay.
I poke holes in clay all the time but not intentionally.
It's usually cos I'm clumsy.
I haven't quite worked out what I'm going to do yet
but we'll get there.
It's sort of suiting my like of precision.
My main problem, I think, is my hands are shaking.
With just 50 minutes to carve their lanterns,
the potters need to work quickly.
Oh, my God, is he doing it already?
But they also need to work efficiently,
demonstrating knife skills,
a fluidity of design and a lightness of touch.
I'm just using a knife at the moment.
It's not actually that sharp, which is a bit annoying,
cos it's actually harder to push through the clay.
Normally people have days doing this stuff.
We've got a few minutes.
I haven't got any sort of plan at all.
I don't have time for a plan.
I'm more conscious of it being quite a functional thing,
so I am going to try and cut away the majority of it.
It's a lantern. It has to be fit for purpose.
They've got to understand how the light will shine through that.
Well, there is the practical thing about if you have a huge open block,
you're going to see right through to the light, aren't you?
-We actually really want to see differences in scale of holes.
My design's inspired by Minami in Japan, where, in the summer,
they have fireworks.
These are just the sort of patterns that I doodle when I'm bored.
That's how I came up with it.
There is no plan. I have to make it up as I go along.
With devil's work, one false pierce, one false cut,
you can't really go back on that.
You've got to be very careful.
My goodness! I tell you, it's frightening.
Here we are in the oasis of calm that is Richard's world.
Well, I wouldn't say it was that calm at the moment.
Oh, gosh, really? That's not like you.
-Ooh, yours is like a castle version,
mine's like a church version. Ha-ha!
Oh, my God. What are people doing? They're so good, aren't they?
Potters, you're halfway through your time. 25 minutes left.
Ah, I need to hurry up.
Do not panic.
Could've been neater. Kind of hacked away at it, really.
I think I've possibly give myself a little bit too much to do in
-the time available.
-There's a lot of solid there.
There's quite a bit, isn't there?
I think I might need to be amending my design.
Some of my lines are not even going to be cut out.
And I like that. It's meant to be a lantern, right?
So let's create some flames here and there.
I just realised there's an actual scalpel.
-This is your one-minute call.
-One-minute call, potters.
Potters, you've got one minute left of this Spot Test.
-I thought we were friends, Sarah!
-I thought we were friends.
-I know, I'm so sorry.
I've just realised why mine's so messy in comparison to everybody
else's is that I've only just realised there is actually
a real sharp knife here and I've just been using a nice blunt knife,
so everything's pushed rather than actually cut.
-Literally one minute to go,
I've just found there's an extra scalpel there.
So, yeah. Bit of a shame.
No, I've cut too much.
It's not very beautiful, is it?
Let's just put some holes in it.
That'll do. They'll come out fast.
-One more door, one more door!
-..eight, seven, six,
five, four, three,
two, one - potters, tools down, please.
Step back from your lanterns.
-It's like a gazebo that's about to collapse.
-Well done, potters,
please bring your lanterns to the front of the room for judging.
'Kate and Keith will be looking for lanterns with intricate
'and well-planned designs,
'perfect knife skills and a solid structure.'
Here you go then, eight lovely Japanese lanterns for your delight.
-Happy judging. KATE:
-I like this.
I think this is really nicely cut.
It's very clean, isn't it?
-Nice use of the knife.
I should think these three carved panels would be quite stunning
on a dark night, with the light shining out.
But there is quite a lot of surface area here
that's really not been used.
Were you using your fingernails to cut it out?
It's so annoying cos it's such a great design.
You know those knives you get in the airport,
-it looks like it was done with one of those.
-A plastic knife.
There's nothing left.
It is the devil's work but, also, these have a job to do.
Yeah, obviously they've run out of time.
Or maybe they've made it kind of a feature of sort of just peeling away
-The lines of light would actually be very nice.
You think it's been left behind by accident?
That's really, really nice.
And there's a lovely sense of the design just carrying through.
They made a decision and they executed it very well.
Really good knife work.
So this is like firework night.
It's got a lovely sense of design all the way round.
Yeah. It's just a bit disjointed in surface pattern for me.
It's really, really lovely.
They're showing a nice flowing form coming up from the base of the pot
-up to the rim.
-There's strength running up through it.
The judges must now decide which potter has shown
the best devil's work.
In eighth place is this.
I could put my arm through it, couldn't I?
It's just too much taken away.
In seventh place, this one.
We just didn't think the design was great
and we didn't know if this would actually work.
Richard is sixth,
Ryan carves out fifth place
and Freya is fourth.
Third place is this one.
Whose is that?
We like the joyfulness of it and a nice execution with the knife.
And in second place today...
..this one here. Well done, Elaine.
Really nice scale of holes
and beautifully executed.
So the winner of the Spot Test is James.
Well done, James. Beautifully finished, beautifully executed,
Won the Spot Test, which was a bit of a surprise.
I'm trying to be humble with it, you know. Yes, I've had a win,
but I've got to look forward now to the next step.
I think I'll get a bit of stick for that one, just not having a look
and seeing what my tools were before I started.
I was quite lucky to still come fifth, so I was quite happy
with that, really.
It was a little bit overly light for a lantern, but it stayed up,
which was good.
Moment of truth.
The sake sets have been bisque-fired
and it is Rich's job to get them
back to the studio, ready for decorating -
the crucial stage that could decide
the potters' future in the competition.
So whose sake set are you most excited about seeing?
I can't wait to see Clover's.
I just think her design is glorious.
It even brings in the costume that the archers wear in Japan.
Richard's done a lovely spout on his.
He's the only one that's really done a kind of appendage to his bottles.
Nam, his set is so exquisite.
Those three little feet underneath.
And I'm really looking forward to seeing Elaine's.
We know she lacks confidence when she's decorating.
This might be the right challenge for her
because when you put things in a raku kiln
you can get some wonderful results.
Who are you worried about, who could we be bidding farewell to?
I'm a bit worried about James.
I think his original idea was slightly diluted.
He hasn't focused from his drawing through to making.
Cait could be in trouble.
Her lovely idea of the bottle kiln, she threw them a little short
-and they're a bit stumpy.
-We could be bidding farewell to Ryan.
SHE GASPS A million girls' hearts break.
-How could you?
-I know. Shock horror.
I loved his concept
but we're all worried about the thinness in his bases of his cups.
But he loves his grandma and she's got a rescue pony.
You can't chuck him out.
Oh, no, well, that's all right, then.
The potters now have just two hours to decorate.
But first they need to choose which of their two sake sets
they're going to finish.
Have they all come out in one piece?
Yeah, I was just hoping I've got six.
SHE LAUGHS And whilst it's a difficult decision for some,
for others, it's pretty straightforward.
That one's in two halves.
I knew when I was turning it that I messed it up.
So, my only option is this one.
-I love that little fella.
-I'm paying homage to him before
-he gets thrown in the bin.
-Poor little thing.
So was that an easy enough choice to make?
-Yeah, very easy.
-Cos I just have one.
Er, you can't go nicking other ones that you like the look of.
Oh, that looks a bit better!
-Take this one.
I'll have your set. That looks better.
They wear a particular type of clothing when they practise kyudo,
so I'm just trying to replicate the dressing.
I just drew a line with pencil.
That will define which area I want glazed on
and which one I will leave black.
The decoration is going to be really simple,
just like me, as normal,
and then this will go black in the raku firing.
Or so it says in the book.
There's a number of options that they have for decorating.
-Let's just take masking.
They can use wax resist to stop the glaze attaching to the body
in certain areas. With this piece,
there's a decision to leave no glaze on here.
And here, they have the daisy pattern that's done with torn pieces
of newspaper and it's a barrier against the other colour.
When it's unglazed,
we're going to get this amazing black and where it it's glazed
we're getting crackle and colour and shine.
This one here is a perfect example.
They've really attacked it with oxides,
a raku glaze, to get that crackling,
and it really is a pot that's just been fluxed,
melted in the raku kiln.
So, the word "raku" means happiness or enjoyment.
Yeah. And when I see these pots coming out of the raku process,
I want to be happy.
After some dodgy throwing and a poor Spot Test...
..Ryan's now totally reliant on a simple masking approach.
Where I take the masking tape off,
it'll carbonate with the combustion and then be black.
It's going to be a contrast, black and white stripes
and then I'm going to choose to keep the foot black,
so they almost look like they're elevated off the ground.
My sets are going to be black and white,
-so it's positive and negative.
-For his monochrome design,
Richard's masking the areas he wants to remain black by painting them
-The top of this will be black,
the rest will be a white crackle,
along with the majority of these will be white crackle.
Simple can give you some wonderful results.
Whilst her black and white design is also simple...
What's Cait doing?
..Cait's use of wax is heading in a more complicated direction.
Continuing with the bottle kiln,
I'm going to wax-resist away some bars to look a bit like
the iron strapping that goes around the bottle kilns.
Oh, yes, of course, yeah.
And then I'm putting in some copper wiring, as well.
You're actually going to put the copper wiring on and place that
-in the kiln?
-Yeah, and then see what results come out.
But waxing and masking to produce a black and white sake set
doesn't suit everyone.
I've got, like, a rough sketch that I'm sort of going off.
Turquoise and the red are sort of the traditional colours
of Japanese tattoos. Little sort of scales,
and I'm doing sort of tails to fish,
so it's sort of quite expressive strokes.
There's a lot of "sort ofs" here.
-I want precision.
-Yeah. Fingers crossed.
-I'm not sure about all those uneven tops there,
but it's too late now, you've got to pull it together with the design.
I've got my copper oxide, copper-cobalt oxide.
To be honest, I've never done this experiment,
but knowing what's in here, I should kind of predict the outcome.
Nam's black-looking copper and cobalt oxides should produce
metallic reds and blues in the heat of the kiln.
Putting a bit of splatter effect,
knowing that it is a random effect and I can't control it.
What happens if I add random effects on everything?
Would that make it a whole set, because of the randomness?
Or am I just being too random?
-I don't know.
-After being forced to abandon her curved sake bottle,
Freya's hoping to use colour to lift the set she's been left with.
-What are you going to do?
-Maybe I can get away with being a bit more
adventurous with the glazing.
I might do something in the middle there.
Put some copper oxide somewhere in between and some bright colour
and then it'll all kind of filter into the darker carbon
that I'm going to leave this raw at the bottom.
And then I'm going to keep working on it and just add bits and bits.
So you've got a clear design concept, haven't you?
Sort of. Yeah.
What do you mean, sort of?
There's just 45 minutes remaining to decorate the sake sets.
I'm using the turquoise base in the inside of my cup on the arrow.
It does run a little bit, so when it runs,
it will run into the centre of the cup, like this, and stop there.
I want to put two white crackle beads that'll match the rest of
the bit, with a red cord around the neck and just hang slightly.
I am trying to attach copper wire.
I'm hoping it's going to melt a bit and do some interesting stuff
when it gets fired.
So I've put the copper oxide on and I've just put a white glaze
that's going to crackle. I was thinking of adding, like,
red and blue to the palette.
Just going to ally my wax resist with the arrow.
So this is how the sake cup's going to drink from,
so it's almost like pulling the arrow.
I've decided to add just a band of red oxide in between the copper
and the white. It'll give a punch.
I can't paint, that's why I'm dipping them.
What I should do is put red on my little dots, shouldn't I?
They'd be black with little red dots on.
Basically, what's going to happen is this is going to be black
and then these are going to be organic cracks.
My wax resist design is just strokes of the brush
mirroring the flow of the shape, so that'll come out black,
the body will be white crackle.
That's a bit too light.
When you look at, like, tattoo books, it's more that colour.
That's pretty turquoise, mate.
-Oh, that's beautiful.
-Is that turquoise?
It's a bit dark.
You like your red.
I love red. Don't you? Red's gorgeous.
Oh, you need to be a, em, physicist.
Have you done this before?
I'll be glazing the bottom of my pot,
which normally is a no-no in ceramics
cos there's a very high chance that your pot may get stuck to
the kiln shelf.
Trying to decide whether it's done
or whether it can be improved.
I'd want to have a red stripey flick.
-Two minutes, guys. Two minutes.
I'm really, I'm just overthinking it.
This is the problem.
Sometimes more isn't always good.
This is transparent glaze that will crack.
I always overdo everything.
What do we have?
Adding that last little detail in.
Just cos it adds that nice movement.
Red iron oxide.
It's a last-minute decision.
I reckon it's a bit too last-minute.
It's looking fairly similar to the drawing so there is method
to the madness, even though it does look like
a five-year-old's been at it.
Just leave it. Just leave it. It's fine.
One minute left, potters.
One minute left.
But you've all finished. Have you all finished?
Even Cait? CAIT LAUGHS
Flabber and, indeed, gasted!
I think we've finished relatively early
because raku is too spontaneous for precise decorations.
It's a fairly immediate process
so we get to see the results straightaway.
I think of it as like cooking broccoli or something.
You don't want to overdo it.
The only thing I'm nervous about is actually just dropping them, really.
Totally excited about what's going to happen, but if it goes wrong,
I will be more than disappointed.
I think I should jump in the canal.
# Fire, I'll take you to burn... #
Raku is such a volatile process that Rich has had to set up the kilns
outside the pottery walls.
First, the potters will place their sake sets in the raku kiln,
where the temperature will be rapidly increased
to over 1,000 degrees centigrade,
then transfer them to bins full of sawdust
and their own choice of combustibles,
and then plunge them in cold water and scrub away the carbon
in the cleaning area to reveal their raku design.
Nice and cosy in there.
'The kiln's starting temperature is 200 degrees centigrade.'
OK, she's shutting the kiln door.
'In a matter of minutes, it'll get five times hotter.'
'The sheer speed of the temperature rise makes this
'the most brutal firing in ceramics.'
Let's do this.
'And the huge stress the pots are under can lead to explosions.'
-Let's close it.
-OK, go for it.
-Crank it up.
-'As the temperature soars,
'the potters have to prepare metal bins full of sawdust
'and their chosen combustibles.'
I'm going to supplement the sawdust with beer mats.
They are very much used beer mats.
I've no idea how it's going to come out.
-What is that?
-Just putting some dried rose
and lavender and the flower from my hometown.
-What's the flower from your hometown?
-Yes, very good.
This is silver nitrate.
It will help have more of a flaming effect on my pots.
-And what's this?
-My sister's dreads.
-Has she done it specially for you?
She's been planning to cut them for ages.
I don't know what these are going to do so it's going to be
a bit of guesswork. It's going to really stink, though.
We're at 970.
Have a quick look.
'When to remove their sake sets from the kiln
'is entirely up to the potters.'
It's quite tricky to tell.
We're at 985 degrees.
'Remove them too soon
'and their glazes won't have had time to react with the clay
'or produce raku's signature crackle.'
994 you're at.
'Left too long and the glaze will simply melt and run off the pots.'
This is your raku firing.
You decide. It's up to 1,000 now.
It's really hard.
-Go for it.
-I think I'm going to go for it.
OK, nice and steady.
-OK, good girl.
Nice and steady.
Oh, it's hot.
-Oh, it's hot, hot, hot.
Chuck it all in.
'Once the lid of the bin is shut,
'the burning combustibles starve the sake sets of oxygen in a process
'Without oxygen, carbon is created,
'turning the unglazed areas black and creating chaotic colours
'and textures where the pots have been decorated.'
They're shiny, shimmery.
Right, I'm good to go.
Absolutely no rush here, Richard, take your time.
Feeling good, let's do this!
-Sprinkle it off. Sprinkle it on.
I'm going to put it in. I totally know what I'm doing.
'Elaine has raided the family banana business for her combustibles.'
-Sprinkle your banana skins on top.
-See what happens. Put them on the big one.
Yeah, kill the gas. It's like the Krypton Factor.
'James and Ryan are the only two potters
'not relying solely on reduction.'
-I'm actually going to use my beakers out here.
I'm actually going to put them in the bin.
So they're not going to be reduced
and they will still go black cos they're still going to burn,
because I want to control the carbon a little bit if I can.
My secret weapon. Beard hair.
Nice. What are you going to do? Are you going to sprinkle that?
Yeah, I'm going to kind of throw it.
Like a bit of seasoning.
Yeah. Please work!
Oh, it's caught on it. Beard flying off there into the canal.
Ryan's hair is a little longer.
So this has come from Misty the little rescue pony.
Yes, Misty's tail.
So she's very generous.
What I've done is just cut the horse hair down so I can sort of swirl in
the pot a little bit and create some, sort of, lines.
That's the idea.
They're looking OK-ish.
As you see, the flames accentuates the copper
and that formulates in a rainbow effect.
Hello, big boy!
Right, I don't want to drop this.
Wow! Handled like a pro.
At the moment, they're covered in carbon.
So I need to clean it up first.
'The potters will have no idea how the raku firing has transformed
'their glazes until they scrub away the carbon.'
They've come out all right.
I think they're in one piece.
That inside's so lovely.
I'm not sure the banana peel did anything.
The copper has kind of fused with the glaze here.
That's quite cool.
I am fairly happy.
It's something that I would really love to put in my own house.
Ryan, what about your delicate bottoms?
-Yeah, they're all right.
They stayed put, which is good.
-You can see all the horse hair.
-Oh, it's gorgeous.
It just sort of stays, really.
I'm pleasantly surprised, I think.
Where's the beard marks?
Ah, there's a few. This one's got a bunch at the bottom.
Very nice. It's great.
Raku did the magic and the arrow does show.
But whether this is up to the standard,
among these talented potters, I really don't know.
I quite like how the copper wires worked with the glaze.
The glaze has sort of melted over it and it's held it in place.
There are times when you make a pot and you look at it, and you say,
"Yeah, that's me." I think I've done that with the raku bottle.
My piece has come out pretty much as what I expected it to do.
But then I look at other people's pieces - a lot more interesting!
A lot of people have stuck with that white crackle.
I mean, there's a totally different style within those glazes,
but mine is like a totally different style AND a totally different glaze.
So, yeah, I can't say I've played it safe.
I think the Spot Test for me was a bit of a failure.
Hopefully the sake set's pulled that back.
If the middle's there, I'll be like here.
Elaine, if you'd like to come up,
please, bring your sake set to the front for judging.
I love the way the design carries across the whole set,
from the bottle to the cups.
This red here is fantastic.
Maybe you could have done that on the whole thing
because there is quite a lot of black there.
I think the turning is good.
It is surprising how this beautifully-bellied bottle
seems to hold so much.
I think the set hangs together very well.
The cups are fairly identical.
This one's slightly larger.
I'm loving this little reaction here at the rim.
But this is looking fairly bland here.
I really like this little tiny bit of resist here.
And I think it is really masculine.
There's a toughness about it which I haven't seen you do.
There's a bit of dripping coming back around the rim.
-Just a bit heavy.
-This copper wiring that you've put round here, it is beautiful.
But it is very, very subtle.
It's a shame there isn't more of a reaction.
I also think the brick ovens, if you look at them,
there's a height that was missed.
That bottle kiln could have come up just to accentuate
-that lovely bottle shape.
-But if I went into a top Japanese restaurant
and they served me sake from this, I'd think it was pretty cool.
I really love the way the raku is really shown to a very high degree.
It just looks like true alchemy and it's fantastic to hold.
You've done a fantastic job.
And I'm really liking this base.
You've got a really competent control over the turning.
It's pouring nicely.
And it's really nice on the lips.
It looks just slightly under-fired.
I think you've probably taken it out a bit too early.
The glaze hasn't quite melted to its optimum condition.
They're sort of flat at the top and they're sort of round at the top.
I think it could've been executed a lot better.
Obviously, there's a slight drip.
I'm not filling them to the top
because you wouldn't have that much sake.
It's not brilliant to drink from.
I have to say, it's a very definite, constructed design.
It's absolutely brilliant.
You've taken the essence of raku, you can see the control in there.
This... This is fantastic.
The inside, you can see the horse hair,
you can see you tickling the horse hair.
I think there's so much movement and so much geometry
and I think that's really, really well done.
One thing I do love is this.
This is fantastic. This has been applied to this bottle
but it looks like it's grown out of it.
It's kind of got this throat, hasn't it?
And it bends back and it's in sympathy, actually,
with your design.
-It's a lovely pourer, lovely.
Uh-oh. We're missing a bit.
Cups could've been smaller.
The spout could've been higher.
More volume in your jug and less volume in your cups.
For me, the cups, they're a bit on the shallow side.
It would've been nice to see a bit more depth.
It's very striking that you've got this arrow.
It's been wonderfully executed.
And then you've got this fabulous rainbow here,
going through all sorts of colours, actually.
You have turned under the bottle
but there could've been more weight taken away.
You could've been more concise and I feel that was
a slight waste of time.
While the potters take a well-earned break,
the judges have two difficult decisions to make.
Let's start off with the good stuff.
Potter Of The Week, who's in the running?
For me, Nam is up there.
The reaction he got with his glazes, the shapes, everything,
it just all came together in that volcanic way that raku does.
High in the running really for me, as well, is Freya.
She's made a really elemental, complex and finely-thrown piece.
And let's not forget Ryan.
The delicacy of those cups that he's done.
I think his experience meant that he treated them very gently.
And sadly, someone's got to leave us.
-Have you made up your minds?
-Well, it's tight, isn't it?
-It really is hard.
Cait, if she'd only just thrown it slightly thinner.
One minute more, another few centimetres up here,
it would have been a contender.
For me, James hasn't really used the true essence of raku.
He's used no oxides whatsoever.
I heard, "Sort of, sort of, sort of," with James so often
and it's frustrating.
If only he had shown the same discipline and clarity
that he showed at the Spot Test.
And let's not forget, the whole thing is slightly under-fired.
Well, potters, there's been much fiery debate
but the judges have made their decisions.
So, let's start with the good stuff first.
And Pot Of The Week.
-Over to you, Keith.
-So, the Pot Of The Week this week is...
The bottle form and shape is fantastic
and it's a really true representative
of the raku technique.
-Now for the more difficult part,
because somebody has got to leave the pottery.
And the person leaving the pottery this week is...
Oh, we're going to miss you so much.
Bring it in!
I was kind of ready to go, you know, I've done what I set out to do.
I've stuck to my style.
I knew it was going to be a toss-up today, to be honest with you.
He did so well in his Spot Test
but he just really left us no choice at all.
His raku just wasn't representative of the raku technique
and it was such a shame.
But I'm really surprised that I'm here and James has been sent home
cos I think his sake set was much more functional than mine.
When you're in a class and your best friends aren't sitting next to you,
you just... You've got no-one to mess around with.
So now, I suppose, I can just knuckle down a bit more.
Nam's Pot Of The Week, it would stand up, for me, in any exhibition.
Nam's sake set is the third piece to make it into the gallery.
He embodied raku and the essence of raku with this great whirlwind,
this great whisk, this great galaxy of oxides.
I feel excited and happy in a way.
But there's a sad, deep sorrow that my friend James left.
So I came here as quite a good potter,
I'm definitely leaving as a better one.
But I'm pleased with what I did, so I can leave on a high, for sure.
'..it's Garden Week...'
Roses are red, your face is, too, a little bit.
'..and the potters face a pretty thorny Spot Test...'
We've got to make a dozen, that's mad.
..a Throw Down that pushes them to the edge...
..and they grapple with almost 300 kilos of clay...
-I don't think I've ever thrown something as big as this!
..to produce epic water features.
Blood may flow on this one.
I think the neighbours are going to be like, "Harold, we're moving!"
It's week three and the eight remaining potters must master the art of Japanese style ceramics.
In the Throw Down, the potters have 15 minutes at the wheel to make as many rice bowls as they can. They must throw 'off the hump' - a technique which helps potters mass produce small pots very quickly.
For their Spot Test they must carefully pierce and carve an intricate design into a lantern using a technique known as 'the devil's work'.
And finally, in the Main Make, the potters must throw a sake set consisting of one bottle and six identical cups. They fire them using one of the most thrilling techniques in ceramics - Raku. Originating in 16th century Japan, this risky and volatile method of firing requires the potters to pull their burning sake sets out of the kiln before plunging them into a bin full of combustible materials.