Something had been missing from my life for quite a while - a red stoneware clay which not only has good working properties, but also works well with the glazes which I've developed over the years. At least half the pots I made in Wales were made with Potclays Keuper Red - I loved it. So one of the things I was looking forward to in moving back to England, was being reunited with that Keuper Red!
Sadly, no - the refractory red clays used had run out. Potclays had developed a new version of Keuper red made with a blend of fireclays and oxides, but the recommended firing range went only up to 1230 C, too far short of my cone 8/9 glazes. One year on, I opened a conversation with Potclays tech side, and it looked like it was at least worth a try to see how it might perform for me, so I got a 12.5 kg bag, made some test pieces, one 53ht cm x37w pot, two around 35cm ht, and one of 13cm ht. Fired the test pieces with a range of my glazes, and included them in a cone 9 firing with other pots made with White St Thomas (my favoured white clay). No slumping, bloating, cracking, or excessive vitrification, and some lovely colours and textures.
Straight on to stage 2 - choosing, and spending the day applying glazes to the large pots - and up early to turn on the kiln, finished by noon - cool enough to crack open the lid to take a cautious, and reassuring peek inside before bedtime, and well ready to unpack next morning.
Here are the results - and my order for a load went in today, looking forward to continuing the journey!