Ignoring the weather, battening down hatches and sheltering the burner with kiln shelves, I'm hitting the ground running in 2014. I have one of my clay bodies made up ready to use but am still working on some of the others, most of which have to be opened out with grog. This is smashed, crushed and seived from a high alumina refractory clay I have.
I fire this up over 1000C - just enough to bisque it, remove all plasticity and calcine any stray pieces of limestone that are (unfortunately) in it. As long as this happens the pieces teun into calcium oxide and do their expansion and crumbling up when they are added to the wet clay (rather than when glaze fired!)
A lot of the clay I use is highly compacted and very hard. This is one of the few clays I have found that I can use almost as it is, with no additions - though it needs a lot of work with the hammer before adding water to slake it down. I have managed to dry out these clays, which makes them easier to slake - no mean feat in British weather!
The final Clay For Today is this unpromising gravelly looking stuff. It is a crushed and slaked carbonaceous ball clay that actually fires quite white when all the carbon burns out. At the moment it feels completely non-plastic but with a lot of kneading it becomes quite a reasonably useable clay.