a let up in the cold weather melted the snow on my big skylight and allowed me to warm the workshop up enough to work.

I have an exhibition date to work towards, the 30th April 2011, and that always helps. there was some clay left over in a rolled out and still plastic state from the last batch of making, the same clay that I made the stoneware stem bowls from, so I continued in that vein, but made tall vases with flared tops, impressed with round marks by the steak tenderiser.

then I fished out some of the orange terracotta clay from Spain; it is almost two years since I was given it and it has stiffened up, I need to use it. I can get some more in April as I’m going to spend a month there. it is the best clay for handbuilding I have ever worked with, full of crunchy grit and really plastic.

it fires to stoneware temperatures, ending up much darker, a rusty brown. I sprinkle a mixed grog plus some gravel from the finca as I roll it out, to stop it sticking and give it more texture. even when I re-wedge the offcuts it still behaves perfectly.

the consistency is still refined enough to take these scratched lines nicely.

I am trying to work the surface in a way which is less about decoration, more about working with the form.

rather than pinch the cut edges of the lip, I tried cutting them at an angle and leaving them untouched.

but after making a few of these shapes I started to look for something different, using the same paper templates but in different combinations.

not so easy. these have the base made from two of the flared pieces put together and then comprehensively bashed into a softer shape. stability is the most difficult aspect. I may have to go back to making a spherical shape from 2 press-moulded pieces and then adding three little feet.

next I pulled out some reconstituted grey or pale buff stoneware clay – not anything like so nice to use, and I didn’t even try anything ambitious, going back to bottle forms I had been working on in the summer, and then some open shapes, but continuing to define inside or outside with the scratched lines.

slightly more outré, these are very simple, might be good for simple abstract flower arrangements.

after that I opened a bag of terracotta crank, also a clay that handles well, but not up to the standard of my spanish clay.

back to the cone templates, and a wide bottomed cone combination form which certainly has no stability problems.

now the bitter weather is back, below zero daytime temperatures,

the skylight is covered in a thin layer of snow, and there is knitting design stuff to do. I shall be back in the workshop in January, snow or no snow.