a gently steaming kiln this morning, as the clay-and-vermiculite insulation on top of the arch dries off.

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I lit one burner for the bisque firing last night; by three am it had gone off, but the kiln was warm and reading 70C, so I lit both burners. at five the second burner had gone out (I do have proper burners with safety sensors, so the gas stops flowing when the flame goes out). I don’t know why, unless having the flame so low just doesn’t work on the back burner, and the front one went out because I had the pressure valve screwed right down. by eight I had enough of trying to sleep, much too beautiful a morning and there were two bumble bees in succession buzzing and bumping at the french door of the shed bedroom and needing to be let out.

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it’s too warm today to leave the back door of the kiln shed closed – here’s the view out under the deep shade of the sycamore trees. such lovely early summer weather is perfect for potting, as long as I don’t leave the clay for too long and let it dry … the last few batches of pots I have had to wet down the clay. I have reconstituted a fine old mixture from the remnant bucket; industrial crank, craft crank, St Thomas’s, terracotta crank, and all seasoned with extra large grog and sand, and even a little bit of Extramaduran earth, plus bits of porcelain and white stoneware which happened to be spotted or skinned in with the dark stuff. its making a fairly temperamental clay which is giving me some satisfactorily cracked up pots.

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new pot of the month – a pop bottle shape, which I am quite pleased with, a crumble of porcelain scattered over the new remix, and then splattered with water and rolled in.

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one of the new shapes for Salthouse, a cone.

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and a quartet of stumpy-armed spout bottles, in the pugged recon grey stoneware, which varies in its intractability, depending on how much grog and sand I have thrown in. its really a mix of 2 perfectly good and plastic clays, St Thomas’s white, and commercial clay’s white stoneware, but the pugging and the dosage of stiffener make it tend towards the awkward end of things. this lot will not stand up well enough to make a really big bottle.

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more chores – the ilex-oak ash from my Spanish woodburner has been washed twice now, so its time to dry it out. I lined my wheelbarrow, which has a hole for drainage, with newspaper and decanted the wet ash into it to dry out. the wood pigeons have been inspecting it .

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the garden is looking lovely, the first cut of the grass and the dry weather has left all the flowers standing up and doing their thing while the grass has not put on its usual spurt of growth.

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the oriental poppies have taken over the flower bed; the next thing will be the dahlias, which survived the awful winter, and loll all over my tiny border every year.

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