In Thursday night’s episode of The Great Pottery Throw Down on BBC Two, Elaine was the fourth Potter to leave the series and talks here about her experience on the show:
What age or time in your life did you start pottery and who inspired you? And can you say something about the best piece of pottery you have ever made, even if it was your first piece - and any memories that are attached to it.
In the early 1980’s I was fascinated by a BBC Programme (‘The Craft of the Potter’ ) and inspired by the presenter, Mick Casson who was a local Potter, but it was then a further six years before I was able to take up a local evening class. I was 30 and took to throwing pots on the wheel immediately.
I was fortunate to have been to schools with pottery departments and I still have one of my first pieces from junior school, a dinosaur, it’s certainly not my best piece but it may have been the small seed that is growing today.
Where do you make your pottery, do you have a shed or a workshop that you share. What is your favoured technique – hand built or thrown – or both and give reasons why?
Events over the years have led me to owning my own pottery wheel and kiln and a small space to pot at the end of the garden. Last year I took over an area made redundant by my children and now I can throw pots almost every day.
I have little patience for hand building as I love the speed that you can produce a pot on the wheel and the way a different pot grows from a ball of clay each time you start. Since the show I am now starting to appreciate the way that hand building can enhance my work and give me another avenue to explore.
Pottery is usually a relaxing hobby and a lengthy process so what was it like to be working under quite strict time constraints?
Pottery is therapeutic and each piece of work usually takes time and care to complete so working under the time constraints of being in the Pottery taught me to quickly devise faster methods of working. 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.
What is your favourite piece of pottery that you make for friends and family, and do you get any special requests around Christmas or birthdays?
I make high fired stoneware pots mainly for domestic use so friends and family who request my serving dishes that can be used in the oven. I am able to add subtle personalisation in the form of slip trailing, adding dates and simple patterns for weddings and birthdays.
How did you find filming walking in on the first day – how was the whole experience for you?
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!
Which Judge did you want to impress the most and what do you feel that you have learned from both of them?
The decisions of the judges were a joint effort and Kate and Keith brought their individual passions. So the encouragement and evaluation from judging was a major part of my development from being in the Pottery.
What do you feel that you will take away from your experience on the Great Pottery Throw Down?
I have met some wonderful people during this experience and as potters we have become firm friends. I would never have believed I could be involved in such a fun but public adventure. It has given me the encouragement to continue growing and learning within the world of Pottery.
What did you find easier or enjoy the challenge more – the Main Make, Spot Test or the Throw down?
I loved the Throw down on each episode as throwing is my passion and using methods I had never used before under pressure was challenging but great fun. The spot test was always slightly more difficult but again exciting. I struggled with the main make every time as I lack design skills. I would like to be remembered for more exciting pieces than I did actually manage to make!
Best and worst moments on the show?
The worst moment was having to leave the pottery. And putting my wet fountain in the drying room, I knew that 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 trying to assemble my fountain before judging!
The best moment was taking charge of my Raku firing and completing a Saki Set that was near enough perfect to me.
What’s next for you in the ceramic world and what are your hopes and ambitions after Great Pottery Throw Down?
Nothing can surpass taking part in the Great Pottery 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 and 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 Ceramic Degree course.
If you fancy having a go at pottery - Hey Clay! from the 7-9 April is chance to have a go for free. We are still adding more venues all the time so keep checking our website to find one near you.