Who is trans potter Rose Schmits? Meet The Great Pottery Throw Down’s brand new kiln girl

Rose Schmits

The new series of the Great Pottery Throw Down aired on Channel 4 Monday night (10th January), with a brand new pottery technician: Rose Schmits, a deeply talented transgender woman from the Netherlands.

If you’re unfamiliar with the format, it’s basically clay Bake Off, with contestants competing to be crowned Britain’s next top ceramic superstar. Each week they’re asked to transform lumps of clay into beautiful pottery, with various challenges and twists thrown in for good measure.

One key player on the programme is its largely behind-the-scenes pottery technician. Previous technician Rich Miller has been promoted to judge, leaving a vacancy that Rose Schmits moved to fill. Rose oversees the final firing, with the contestants taking their final pieces to her kiln towards the end of the programme and entrusting them to her expertise. They won’t see their creations again until they unveil them in front of the judges.

Rose Schmits
Rose welcomes the contestants to her kiln (Channel 4)

Who is Rose Schmits?

When she’s not appearing on Channel 4, Rose uses her considerable talent to make ceramic artworks about transgender identity. Her artist statement on the Studio London Pottery site reads:

“Rose’s work takes inspiration from the traditional Delftware ceramics from her birth city of Delft, the Netherlands. In her practice the pottery process becomes a metaphor for the trans experience of the changeability of bodies and identity. She turns one body – a ball of clay – into another: a vessel.  The often tendril-like pieces explore the malleability of bodies and express an ability to break with historical convention and expectation. Her work shows the beauty that can be found in a trans(formative) experience.”

On her personal website, she writes:

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“My ceramic practice is a way for me to delve into my identity as a trans woman from Delft, the Netherlands. Using the Delftware pottery technique to create pieces that reflect my experiences as a trans person having altered my body and identity allows me to gain ownership of the struggles of transitioning as well as remember where I came from.

A porcelain teapot made by Rose Schmits
One of Rose’s porcelain creations: a “monster” teapot.

“Being from Delft I see the iconic blue and white ceramics as symbolic of a constrictive past, both my personal past and a societal past. Breaking with the traditional designs of the pottery and use the techniques to make pieces that are bodily, phallic, queer and looking like growing tendrils, imposes ‘transness’ onto a traditional past. My ceramic pieces embody my experience of acknowledging my origins whilst fully celebrating the ownership over my body and identity the trans experience has given me.”

Rose announced the news she had joined the Great Pottery Throw Down on her Instagram page, writing: “Super excited to finally announce that I am the new pottery technician for the Great Pottery Throw Down! With kiln man Rich promoted to judge I am following his footsteps as kiln girl Rose! I cannot wait for everyone to see the amazing work all the potters made starting Sunday January 10 on Channel 4.”

The Great Pottery Throw Down airs every Sunday on Channel 4. The potters and judges have been living in a bubble in order to make the show, following the lead of Bake Off. The first challenge was to make a cheese set, including a “cheese dome with a sculpted knob”, matching pickle jars with “well-fitting” lids and a fondue pot with “good clean rims”.

It really is a strange new clay world.

You can watch the Great Pottery Throw Down online at All4.