after all the talk about packing and building saggars, here are some of the results of the first firing.

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the clay body becomes even more important when the firing does not involve glaze, and some of the things I do with porcelain overlay or inlay can really show to their best advantage. for instance, recently I have been smearing runny porcelain onto pots with my fingers and scraping parts of it off again, in sort of reverse finger painting, using my nails to draw into the surface, or building it up to a rough thickness. these marks need the right finishing process to make the best of them, and I think I have found it. the body of this piece is reduction St Thomas (an old fashioned clay that we used at college in the sixties) opened up with very coarse grog, and in some of the pieces, with the sand and grit from my olive grove in Extremadura. the red flashing and black carbon markings work with the physical mark-making through the porcelain on the surface, which shows up well as the colours have been warmed up by the atmosphere in the saggar, and I am very pleased with the result.

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this one is the same clay with finger-painted porcelain and it is different again. the consistency of the sawdust must have made the difference – I had a mixture of very fine, real dust, and coarser stuff almost like shavings. also where it was placed in the saggar will have had an influence on the markings.

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I placed this one upside down. the lovely warm coloured flashing around the top is in contrast to some of the other pieces which are very dark – typically porcelain tends to turn grey or black in this firing. it has porcelain inlay which has turned grey, and you can’t see in the photograph but the lower paler parts have a slight metallic lustre.

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this is a good example of the range of shades that carbon will produce on porcelain. very exciting, I think.

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another porcelain piece with great markings.

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the barium glaze works well on porcelain too, but I have this little incense burner back in the kiln at the moment for a re-fire in the saggar, to see how that goes, as I have two similar pale pieces and I like the idea of a black/grey incense burner.

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I may well re-fire this one, as the porcelain finger painting over the st thomas clay is so much more exciting in the saggar part of the firing.

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also working well is the very white stoneware which had the extremadura treatment. you can see the little white blobs of feldspar which have emerged as they melted during the firing, contrasting with the carbon marking and warm flashing from the sawdust. the lid was fired on the floor under the sawdust, which accounts for its very dark colour.

the rest of the pots are here, and I am very much looking forward to opening the current firing in two days time