the snowdrops have been pushing their way up through the grass and are just showing part of their tight-budded flowers after the relatively mild weather we have been having

my glazes were all solid at the bottom of the dustbins after the intense frosts; glazing this week meant half an hour of digging and stirring for each bin before they were ready to use. some experiments; using a shino for a liner for the teapots; using shino, both the crawling one, and this more shiny and translucent liner one, on the terracottas, trying out the cheap “school” stoneware with other glazes, and firing to cone 10 instead of 11 to put less pressure on the low-firing clays.

the firing was awkward, despite getting to 999 C at just the right time – 7 am – the reduction didn’t go well; I placed the bricks in the usual position for the first stage of reduction, and nothing happened. or nothing appeared to be happening – no flame coming out of the flue, no back pressure, no sooting through the bricks at the front. it took me another hour and a half to finally push the brick in further and restrict the flue more – which immediately produced the normal symptoms of reduction. just a tiny bit more …. very frustrating. so the firing was light reduction up to 1100, and then heavy. the wrong way around.

the arch of the roof is not quite strong enough because the flue comes through it. I do feel I could do with building a different kiln, it’s just so difficult to fire it right every time.

anyhow, some pieces were the better for the heavy reduction

this went in for a second firing. the first time it was a very dull uniform grey, rather shiny. this time it has come out matt, with the paler greys and blues showing much better.

this bottle will get a second firing too now.

the crawling shino is inclined to crawl right off on a vertical surface, and in the neck of this flared vase it has provided a structure to hold a stalk or two.

a miscalculation with the spanish terracotta. firing it to cone 10 with heavy reduction puts too much stress on this kind of shape. this piece leaned against the kiln wall and destabilised its foot. the new shino I mixed up is not translucent on the terracotta here.

another flared vase completely wasted by the heat, with the old carbon trapping shino, pretty much translucent, possibly due to the overfiring of the clay body.

a flared vase made from the school clay, a more stable shape, fared very well, and the glazes have worked well – the dolomite/tin/copper glaze outside, and the new liner shino has behaved in a nicely shino kind of way. also this pot did not leak at all when I filled it with water. most of my pots won’t hold water.

sadly the teapots all leaked. even the spanish terracotta at this temperature, with the shino liner, will not hold water. it seems that the school stoneware clay would be a better clay body to make the teapots from.

the best glaze results from the heavy reduction came on the old white stoneware with the dolomite/tin/copper glaze, with some nice rusty oranges.

this bottle has a particularly brilliant orange.

the crawling shino on this porcelain washed bottle is a bit grey and bland. I don’t know if this is the over-reduction, the position of the piece in the firing, or the porcelain underneath, or the fact that the glaze is on thinner than on other pieces.

back to the snowdrops. some older little pots as planters to bring the exquisite early spring indoors.

you can see all the pots from the firing here