february alternates between sharp frosts, wet snow and heavy rain, here near the North Sea coast. so far at least we have escaped the heaviest snow falls, but the lanes are lethal with black ice some mornings. the birds seem to think it’s spring already; the thrush trying out the new season’s songs at the top of his tree; the woodpecker is drumming on sunny mornings; the robin is singing, and the wood pigeons are cooing already. strange to hear such a summery sound when sawing up wood of a frosty morning for the wood stove. I seem to spend as much time sawing as making pots.

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icy puddles have strange angular structures, frozen solid.

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pheasant and deer tracks are frozen into the mud, and in this corner the sun can hardly melt the frost.

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I always love leaves bejewelled by the hoar frost.

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this beaker also bears the marks of the frost. I was glazing pots on a freezing cold Sunday, and I put it into the kiln straight away after glazing it. then I left the kiln open for a couple of days as I hadn’t got enough pieces to fill it at that point. the glaze on the beaker froze, and then dried. I have three beakers like this. a nice bit of serendipity.

I opened the kiln on Friday 6th February, but this is the first moment I’ve had to update the blog. I was very disappointed with some of the pieces I had made in the super white stoneware. its a very boring clay, rather smooth and full of molochite, which is a grog made of porcelain. but its easy to work with and I have a lot of it. usually I use it as a top layer, with a crank under, which gives it more interest. it seems that it is not so good with the shino glaze as the coarser white clays, or even porcelain.

however, looking at them more closely, I am finding more subtle interest in the way the glaze surface is starting to break up. I made four beakers in it and raw glazed them with the shino. they went in last, next to the flame on the top shelf.

the little stars of surface disruption are rather pleasing. the surfaces of other three have opened up into slits, and the clay underneath is stained orange by salt in the glaze. but one of the dishes had shed the thickest part of the shino; it was hanging off in frozen sheets. the small bowls are fine.

the black clay, even though it was on the bottom shelf, still distorted so that this bowl sat down on one side. you can’t see it in the photo. I have decided to make bowls and dishes with no feet for the installation; it makes them more plate-like, and saves this bother of the bowl sitting down over the foot ring.

however I think the black clay works really well with the wood ash and clay glaze, and I will be enthusiastically using the black clay with this and the barium glaze for several of the installation pieces.

here is the barium glaze on a beaker in the black clay. the purplish/pinkish cast is due to the oxides in the clay. I am very pleased with it.

the rest of the firing is here