Well, the good news is that no-one was sent home because the judges decided that a seven-day interruption to the filming schedule meant it wouldn’t be fair.
The potters were pushed hard though, having to make bone china flowers in the challenge, and then bulbous pots for a naked raku firing.
Raku is a (relatively!) low-temperature firing and can be used to produce a variety of results. The work is made using an ‘open’, groggy clay to help protect against thermal shock. There are several different treatments that can then be used to give different effects. The work can be bisque-fired and then glazed, plunging the pot into combustible materials when it’s taken out of the kiln and cutting off the oxygen supply by covering it. This can result in some amazing colours and crackling in the glaze, and the blackening of any areas of bare clay. A bisque-fired burnished pot can also be covered in a thick layer of slip before being put into the raku kiln. When removed, and nestled into combustible material, the outer layer of slip contracts and cracks open, allowing the smoke to enter the cracks and turn the clay black. This outer layer flakes off, revealing the black patterns.
For this week’s challenge, layers of terra sigillata (very fine slip) were brushed onto the greenware and then burnished to a high shine, before being dried and bisque-fired. After firing in the raku kiln, it was taken out and combustible materials applied to the surface, rapidly burning off to leave black marks. The potters used feathers, hair, sugar and other organic matter. Alon stood out by using a method called obvara, plunging his hot vessels into a liquid consisting of water, yeast and sugar. The results from this treatment are softer and more muted, often in tones of browns.
Everyone did very well, but it was Hannah’s work that really stood out for the judges, and she was awarded Potter of the Week. Well done Hannah!
Next week is Music Week, so get ready for busts of musical legends, and mini musical instruments!
Will you be watching? Make-along with the show, and send us photos of your work, to be in with a chance of winning over £100-worth of prizes! See more here