Purple Mummified Ponies

Can’t you hear them? “No! Don’t leave us like this!!” And they would have a reason to worry, since I’ve left them encased in bubble wrap for years now.

When this piece was produced by Marcherware, I was asked to produce four pieces as a guest artist. The pieces were to go to caster (Mark Farmer), the finisher (Joan Berkwitz), the sculptor (Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig), and myself. Since the other customs were done in groups of three, these would be the only one-of-a-kinds from the run.

I finished one, a pale silver dapple, fairly early on. (Early is a relative term with me.) But the other three have been here waiting while I fell into the trap of believing that they would never look as good with a current-day glazing as they might in some future “when-I-know-even-more” glaze. It’s a really bad habit. I’ve been working with underglaze for ten years now, and the detail and finesse we can achieve now is amazing compared to what we could do then. What if I later saw these guys and thought, “if only I had known how to…”? Like I said, bad habit.

I decided it was time to get off the fence and glaze these guys. Even a someday-surpassed finish is better than three identically white horses. Besides, if I worked hard, I could finish them in time to hand deliver them to Joan and Sarah when I saw them in Boise!

Here they are with their hooves, manes and tails painted. The hooves were already painted when they got mummified. I always do those first so I can be sure I have a painted “canvas” to detail later. I’ve picked out some complex patterns for each, so they are going to get a lot of what I think of as “preparation” firings. Those are firings of bits that need a color or some basic shading down so I can add things on top.

I also plan to take full advantage of the fact that, unlike with earthenware, underglaze on bone china is impervious. I can scrape it, mask over top, or even wipe paint off from it, all without causing any damage.

The first guy with the dark mane and tail will be loosely based on this guy, Pusher’s Coat of Colors. (Check out the link for lots more really neat pictures of him. He’s always been a favorite of mine.) I want to try some new tricks with getting softer, more true-to-scale roaning on him. I also wanted to go a bit darker with him than I have done on some of my previous sabino roans.

And this is Pratt Sully Fire. I had chosen him as the reference for Sarah’s Lirico back when I first got the bisques. I have always loved the idea of leopard-patterned Spanish horses.

My original thinking was to tone down the “loud” in his pattern by making his base color champagne. This would also give me a chance to do some greenish eyes. Yet when I pulled up Sully’s site, I found more recent pictures of him, including the one above. I really liked the effect of his stained, but mostly pale, mane against his darker pattern. Adding this to a light base color wouldn’t have the same effect, so I opted to go with a warm chocolate black instead. This would not only let me play with some staining on the mane, but also on the haloing of the spots.

Here is a close up of the initial mane tones. Eventually I’ll go back in and add some silvery-chocolate streaks for accuracy (a leopard that loud shouldn’t have an all-white mane) and interest. But this kind of coloring really plays up the detail Sarah put in his mane.

These guys are back in the kiln, this time with their pink areas done. I’ll post again when I get to the next step, and it will make sense why the pink needed to go on at this stage.

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