last week I brought back ten bags of clay from Bath Potters, which had to go through the pugmill to make a tough grogged mix for handbuilding, with a good spottiness that isn’t too even. this is hard, heavy work and my hands and wrists do not enjoy it. added to which even the shed verandah is warm, and the workshop where the resulting mix has to be knocked up into blocks is about 35C.

1pugmill

the trusty pugmill has to be taken apart and cleaned out first, as I don’t use it often enough to keep the clay left in it soft, despite plastic bags at entrance and exit.

1open

the convenience of standardised clay sold in bags is enormous, but they are heavy bags (12.5K) and of course, mixing up a clay to use that is not standardised makes for better pots.

1reclaim

and there is a bucket or two of reclaim clay to put in with the mix as well, stiffer than you’d think despite topping up with water at regular intervals. there’s always a bit of organic matter in there too. some of that clay must have been in the bucket for at least a year.

1claybag

so, the pugmill makes a horrible racket, doesn’t have an on and off switch, nor a guard on the feeder hopper –

1gapingmaw

due caution has to be observed with that greedy maw. the operative gets basically pretty much covered in clay, especially when dealing with the reclaim bucket. sand and/or grog (small particles of already fired fireclay to brace up the pot bodies and make them behave better when fired) has to be added as well. gritty hands get sore on the lever that pushes the hopper plate down.

1claycubes

the reward – fifteen big blocks of clay from which to make some more big bottles which I’ll glaze with the suedey rusty matt ash glaze.

afterwards, a hose down, and garden watering

1hon

the garden is full of butterflies, they come for the honey-scented buddleias. but at night, the honeysuckle brings moths

1starlilies

the heavy scented star-gazer lily needs care and attention to keep off the lily beetles – worth it when it comes into flower.

1tigerlilies

these tiger lilies seem to be immune – but they have no scent

1redtigerlilies

my goodness they are stunning …

1echathings

echinaceas – not doing so well this year –

1roseroof

the little rose climbing to new heights since it was released from its pot ..

1cactus

and those good old reliable dahlias, taking up half the flowerbed.