NaMoPaiMo – Making the Hackney bay


When I started this series, I had just begun to add the color that will turn my Hackney from something that looks a bit like a rose grey to dappled bay. In the photo above, I’ve added the tan to the lightest areas of the coat – the poll, belly and chest. Tan colors in raw (unfired) underglaze tend to be less true to their final color—they are pale and chalky when dry—so it is hard to see in this photo except where it has begun to cover the black braids. That color will sink under the black during the final clear gloss firing.

But it will look like I have ruined all that work of dappling and detailing work for the rest of the process.

After the tan was applied, I hit most of the horse with red-brown. This is the tricky part, because I have to use just enough of this color to avoid getting a faded pink tone (red tones fade easily) but not so much that it turns opaque and I lose my dappling and end up with an oddly flat, muddy brown model. Neither outcome would be evident until the horse was fully fired, and by that point it would be too late!


Here he is with the golds and reds applied. If you look closely at his barrel where his dapples are most pronounced, you can still see them faintly underneath. I have chosen to err on the side of “muted red” rather than “flat and muddy”. After I fire this, I’ll have one last chance to double-check before I take a leap of faith.


Here I have cleaned the overspray from his pattern. Adding the gloss glaze earlier made this a lot easier. I’ve also used a damp brush to lift some of the overspray from the hocks, braids and eyes. Because those areas are black or nearly black, it is likely that the overspray would sink completely underneath, but it never hurts to play it safe. That is especially true with the reddish underglaze I have chosen, because it is a strong color. The trade-off for the fact that it is less prone to fading during fire is that a heavy coat of it might not sink properly.

This is how he looked last night when he went into the kiln. Presently he is cooling there: glaze fires usually take 4 hours to complete and then 8 hours to cool. If all goes well, he will get his final gloss firing tonight and I’ll have a new shiny pony tomorrow.


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