HORSEHAIR POTTERY AND YOU

Standard
  1. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5274020/03.tif
Go to the above link and see my horsehair platter!

The technique uses hairs from horses. I burn the hairs onto the pot’s surface to create lines. Hair is set upon very hot pots that are just out of the kiln. This then creates carbon on the surface. These carbon markings are permanent. I do not glaze these platters, but do seal them with a two part tile sealer. They are for decoration and would not be used for serving food…well, other than a plate of fruit, unpeeled perhaps.

The Process

  • The pottery piece is thrown on the wheel, then burnished or smoothed. The smooth surface accepts the carbon markings and shows them off to the best effect.
  • The piece is fired to about 1300°F an electric kiln.
  • The platter or pot is taken from the kiln using long tongs and protective gloves. The hot pottery is place on a non-flammable surface (such as a kiln shelf or a concrete floor) and the selected hairs are dropped on.
  • Once the piece has cooled, it is washed to remove hair and residue. It can then be sealed to further bring out the markings.
Things to Know About Horse Hair Pottery

Horse hair pottery requires a porous ceramic body in order for the carbon to permanently mark the surface. Due to this, it is best to under fire the clay. The clay should contain grog or sand to make it most porous.

ABOVE: Lightening is like horsehair in the way it streaks black and white across the sky. Horsehair is of course reversed, black on white.

These  clay bodies suited to this work is often rough and difficult to burnish. To get a smooth surface, cover the piece with terra sigillata.

Note again,horse hair pottery is decorative and not functional ware. It is somewhat permeable and could only be used for a fresh-flower vase if a glass insert is used inside.  Some objects can be glazed with a low fire glaze but these may craze and not be completely permeable to liquids.

Horse tail hairs produce stronger lines, as they are coarser than mane hairs. Mane hairs produce finer, more subtle lines. Feathers and coarse dog hair can be used too.

Well, off to make something… thinking of a lawn sculpture. We potters call it a totem, though it may be quite modern and have no animals like a Pacific NW Indian totem pole.