thank goodness the weather has let up, as I have been outside firing and glazing for several days, and it has been a pleasure. the garden is full of snowdrops now, and there is even a glimpse of crocus petal from within the tightly furled dark green points .

I unpacked a glaze firing this morning, and then repacked the kiln this afternoon. I’ll light it tonight, unpack on Wednesday and then the last firing for the Feast installation will be on Thursday. I can only get four of the dishes in each firing, then a few other taller pots in the other half of the kiln.

in the firing I opened today there were a lot of small bowls and spoons, but there are none of those left to fire now, so the next two will be more loosely packed.

these little bowls are very useful for filling up a kiln shelf next to one of the dishes. I probably won’t use them in  the Feast, but there are plenty of exhibitions for them to go in later this year.

the spoons are definitely for the Feast, but there will be plenty of spares.

the dishes are coming along, but I wouldn’t say  any of these four have quite come up to my expectations. this is the best of the batch.

still there are eight more, so I hope I will get better results. the black clay is still deforming; even though I used the very heavily grogged version this bowl “sat down” on the shelf a bit. these don’t have a foot ring, so it is not as much of a disaster. I suppose I should expect warping when its on the top shelf of the kiln. I finished before  cone eleven had bent more than a third, with this dish in mind. it has the barium glaze on it, so I wanted the glaze to mature fully.

all the dishes have the glaze overlap and it looks like a pathway, especially when the crawling is strengthened by the double application, as in this one which has the crawling shino. this dish had a crack already, but it has opened up in the firing.

I am finding out the hard way that these dishes must have nothing that risks their integral shape, no foot rings, no cracks or splits, because gravity combines with the fluxing of the clay in the firing and they warp, a lot.

another liability when using the black clay is that fragile joints just do not work. I have made some flasks with long conical necks and fat more or less spherical bodies.  one was a disaster – made of the black clay – the join between the body and the fragile neck could not cope and it came apart. the other was made more sturdily, in my standard grogged grey stoneware mix, and survived.

this just happens to have a flange as well, but that probably would not have made a difference to the black one. I have four more of these to fire.

this is my favourite pieces from the firing. its the first time I have double dipped one of these shapes vertically and I am very pleased with the result. annoyingly it is often the smallest pieces which work the best.

the other favourite piece is this little pinch pot, hastily made as an afterthought, and put in the glaze firing raw, of St Thomas reduction clay mixed with the subsoil from my finca in Extremadura. the grit, mica and feldspar, contrary to my expectations of the piece blowing up and covering everything else with the detrius, have fluxed nicely leaving the feldspar as rounded white nodules on the surface.

I will be mixing up some clay with this in a less concentrated form when I get the time. meanwhile two more firings to go!

the photos of the pots are here