Choppin’ up some ponies

I wanted to pull something Sarah said from the comments section, since it is something that I’m mulling over right now.

(1) Could casting these small pieces “on the half-shell” (split up the median) then assembling them in greenware be doable/useful?

(2) Perhaps cutting problematic legs off, probably in the triceps area and biceps area (so they “lock” better) and casting as separate pieces might be the only way around it?

As many ceramic collectors already know, earthenware horses have historically been cast whole. This is how Hagen-Renaker made their horses, and then later how Joan did most of the production horses at Pour Horse.

But European bone china and porcelain have a different tradition, one where the horses are cast in pieces and reassembled. After Joan formed Marcherware with Mark Farmer of Alchemy, she began experimenting with assembled pieces. The process makes it possible to cast more complicated horses. Horses with twisty bodies and swirly hair bits – Sarah’s specialties! It also makes it possible to cast much larger horses than we’ve done before, because the individual molds are more managable. (A whole-body mold of a traditional-scale horse, when wet, is too heavy for most of us to lift.)

But this is all a rather new direction, and we’re still learning what might and might not work. Doing it on a small-scale horse like Vixen or Taboo is something that hasn’t been tried. We don’t know quite what to expect, or which approaches might work best.

So back to Sarah’s comments. These are the things that I have been pondering lately while making (properly soaped) production molds for Imp. Having clayed Vixen up (four times), it’s really clear to me that her extreme head turn is going to make whole-casting problematic. Her body just occupies so many different planes. I don’t think she will work without cutting her up somehow.

And I had thought about Sarah’s first suggestion, which is cutting her in half down the dorsal line. This is how the horses used by military figurines are made, though of course those are typically made from injection molded plastic. And I would need to exclude her neck and head, since it would be really hard to work in that area (to fuse the two halves) without damaging her face. I’m also not sure that it will help with her because bends so much.

What I think will work with her is removing her forehand. Or rather, removing her head, neck and left leg and shoulder. That way my fuse line falls predominantly to the chest and underside of the horse (where any shadows created by the fuse line might be less visible). And I can pour the piece through the big opening of the body.

Of course, I could get lucky a second time. Maybe she will work with just an inset piece over her turned head. I’m going to pour a number of rubber copies, because I think it’s going to take some experimenting to find what will work. But she looks like the kind of piece that might push the envelope a little, and that’s always good.

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6 Responses to Choppin’ up some ponies

  1. Adalee January 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm #

    Lesli, you are a brave an patient woman to do all of this experimentation! Still, I can totally see why you are doing it- Vixen is just awesome! I don’t know that I’ll be able to thank you enough though, for the discoveries I’m sure you will make in molding her- you are going to be a help to all of us mud-hens!

  2. Becky Turner February 1, 2009 at 2:42 am #

    Wow!!! Im so glad your sharing this with all of us! now .. cant you just cast the head and neck separate ? is there a reason you want to add in the leg and shoulders too? I would think that would be more difficult on such small pieces?
    …I hope you will show us pics of all the different cut up vixens to see how and why you end up using the ones you end up using.. you know this is almost like a online mold making course with a part for problem solving..we can call it -Ceramic mold making of the equine form: problem solving 101.
    lol ok!… Im always waiting for the next post!.. you should put it all in a book someday! really.. I have not found any books on mold making for resin casting/mold making or ceramic mold making for the equine or other 4 legged animals either.. so.. all you guys who do this should get together someday and write one! or better yet make a dvd also! lol.. like ya need more to do huh? but really.. I think really is needed. because until now unless there is a collage course to take .. I don’t think there is another way to learn this except by other artists in the hobby like this… private lessons or mentoring.. or working for a company who does this type of thing and working your way up to it.. All I have found are books using busts or weird stuff, not a 4 legged animal form that is small and fine in detail. so we need a book! you can do simple mold making up to advanced with problem solving difficult to mold/cast pieces and how to go about solving the problems! lol. ok .. enough said.. but really.. thank you!
    Rebecca Turner

  3. Lesli Kathman February 1, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    Ah, I think that would be Joan’s book to write. And that would be a really good idea (hint, hint), especially if Joan includes some of her stories. She tells the best stories!

    As for Vixen, there are several reasons to include her shoulder and one leg. One is that it will give me a larger opening to pour both the pieces. Her neck isn’t really that wide, and there needs to be room enough for a pour hole. Also, that raised leg cuts across a slightly different plane, making it hard to design an inside piece that will pull free. Oh, and there’s a twist in the mane near the withers that is going to need a tiny inset mold piece. If I cut across it right, I can eliminate the need for that. Anytime you can avoid handmade pieces it’s a good thing!

  4. Becky Turner February 1, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    Ahh ok! now I understand! see I didn’t even think of the pour hole!.. Im learning so much! thanks! yea and Jon..get on that book huh? I want to hear some of those stories! rolf..

  5. Becky Turner February 1, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    woops.. joan not jon.. duh stupid sunday morning fingers!

  6. Kelly February 2, 2009 at 2:42 pm #

    A book eh – where do I sign up for the waiting list???

    Keep up the incredible work Lesli, you’re informing far more people than you expect!!


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