It's finding a way to create a piece of ceramic art that honors the memory of a special pet.
I first started this work using the "horsehair pottery" process described below, but have now begun to make
ceramic art that incorporates the ashes or hair of your cherished pet in many other ways.
This work brings me great joy and is much more fulfilling since I get to work so
closely with clients to create art that transcends something that is pretty, functional or interesting to
look at, but actually contains some essence of the animal that they shared their lives with and loved so much.
There are many forms that this type of art can take. As I create more of this art,
I will continue to update this page with images that demonstrate new, unique, one of a kind ways to create
a lasting memorial to the pet that touched someone's life so deeply.
For many of us, our pets are like children. It would be a great honor for me to help you
remember them in a special way once they have left us.
When I got a call recently from a couple asking me to make them something special to
remember their beloved dog, Jewel, I created this urn -- incorporating a small amount of the Bermese Mountain
Dog's ashes in the clay. The lid, shaped like a "J" also includes some of Jewel's ashes -- along with a
whimsical paw print -- offering another reminder of their precious gem. My goal was to glaze this piece
to match the black, white, and auburn hue of Jewel's coat, and though I was disappointed that the color's
didn't come out as ruddy as I'd hoped, the owners were thrilled and didn't want me to change a thing!
What is Horsehair Pottery? (other animal hair works as well)
Horsehair Pottery is an ancient practice that results in a unique and treasured piece
of art that often times has great sentimental meaning to the recipient.
I only learned of this type of pottery last year when a woman approached me one evening as
our boys practiced football together. She had heard that I was a potter and asked me, with great sadness in
her eyes, if I was able to do "Horsehair Pottery". As we walked slowly around the track I learned a lot about
Anne and her late horse, Buck, whom she had just had to have "put down" after 20 years. You see, Anne not only
lost her very best friend but is also fighting the fight of her life to cancer and after spending a few minutes
with her and learning about her and her late horse I was desperate to help in any way I could. As soon as
football practice was over and I arrived home I began researching the process on the internet immediately.
A few days later Anne brought me an abundance of mane and tail hair from a new young horse
whom she had recently befriended. The hair is collected from simply brushing the horse so she was able to bring
me plenty of hair to practice with.
I threw and trimmed a pot and while it was still leather hard I burnished the lower portion
of the piece thoroughly, using a very smooth stone. This is a time consuming process but it's very important.
When I was satisfied with the texture, I allowed the piece to completely dry then loaded it into my kiln.
Once the desired temperature on the kiln has been reached, (1000 degrees) I take a deep breath,
say a prayer, seriously hoping that there will be no reason for our local Fire Department"s assistance, then open
the lid to the red hot burning kiln. I apply the hair to the surface of the red hot pot. Once it touches the
pot the horsehair ignites and the carbon instantly burns itself into the clay leaving a lightening bolt and smoky
look to it. I repeat the process until I am satisfied with the overall look. Once the pot cools completely,
I brush away the ash and wax it thoroughly with car wax to give it a nice satin finish.
Since horsehair pottery is fired to a lower-than-normal temperature the pieces are quite
fragile and should only be used for display and conversation. They are not functional pieces. As you can see
from the photo here, it's a very unique and striking effect, with no two pieces ever coming out exactly the same.
If you like this effect it can be done just as art, or in the case of Buck, as a memorial
of his life with his human companion.
It can also be done with the hair of just about any animal.
So feel free to call and talk to me about creating something not only beautiful, but really special.
"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" ~ Unknown