Tag Archives | Voltage

A neat comparison

I finally finished my latest project – an extensively patterned Voltage. I suppose most collectors would call her a sabino roan, but she was done from references of Dominant Whites. While the name would suggest that the horses with the gene are white, in actual practice many have breakthrough coloring that is almost impossible to distinguish from sabino.

Whatever someone wants to call her color, finishing her has been my obsession for weeks. I could really relate to my friend Sarah’s blog post from several weeks ago, where she talked about difficult projects that cause almost everything to stop. This mare was like that for me. The consolation is that horses like that often turn out really cool.

She’s also a good horse to show the difference clay makes.

These two horses are made from two different types of clay. The Lirico in the back is made of English bone china. The Voltage – the horse just finished – is made from American earthenware. Bare bone china fires really blue-white, while earthenware fires a softer, creamier white. The difference is visible if you compare the two sets of legs. (It’s even more obvious in person, but my camera tends to bleach the whites a bit.)

I had asked Joan if I could hold on to her Lirico to see the differences between the two horses. Both horses were painted with the same formula of colors. Much of their painting was done at the same time, and they were often kilnmates, so the only real difference in their color would come from the clays. (Well, the clays and firing conditions. Kilns have a mind of their own when it comes to what they do with any one piece, even when pieces are fired together.)

I expected the Lirico (left) to be cooler in tone than the Voltage (right). It was, but what surprised me was how rosey the brown tones were on the Lirico. I didn’t expect that. In person, the Voltage looks very much like she is gray, but the Lirico looks like a rosey taupe. Both are very appealing, but more different than I thought they might be!

I should add the the differences in their patterns are not due to the two kinds of clay. I was simply after two different looks with each horse. It would have been easier to create the more lacey, patchy pattern on the bone china, and the softer, more roaned one on the earthenware. That’s because unfired color can be wiped off bone china, while wetting underglaze tends to stain earthenware. But I wasn’t thinking about that when I picked the patterns for each horse. (I will next time!)

And with these two (regretfully!) going to their intended homes, I am anxious to get back to work – and to more regular blog posts.

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No tricks

Since posting the pictures of Gaudi, I’ve had several people ask what the trick was to the roaning on his coat. Unfortunately there isn’t any real trick – no special tool or technique. The pattern was created using a #11 Xacto blade, or rather dozens of those blades. (I set the blade aside as soon as it begins to dull, and that happens pretty quickly when it is being scraped against ceramic bisque.) The process isn’t really all that different from the etching some use to customize factory finish plastic horses, though potters usually use the term “scraffito”.

So there isn’t really a trick, other than training yourself to maintain a really light touch with the blade. It also helps if you work in small areas for short periods of time. The temptation to rush and the mind’s tendency to create a regimented pattern are the biggest obstacles to achieving a realistic roaning pattern. That means they take a lot longer than it seems they should, but the end result is pretty cool.

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