I’ve had an intense fear of horse heads for many years. No, it has nothing to do with The Godfather. Nor was there any actual trauma that prompted this phobia. It was just that one day, I happened to be on the other side of a fence from a horse, a nice horse, who happened to be eating a carrot, and the horse swung her head to the side. And the air around her head sort of went whoooooosh. It’s like when you see a branch fall from a tree, and you realize that this thing that usually seems so light and gravity-defying and effortless is actually incredibly heavy and can crush you to bits.
It occurred to me that, if I happened to be in the way of this horse’s head, or frankly any horse’s head, and it hit me, that I would fall down dead immediately.
Now, I mentioned that I’ve been taking classes with the brilliant Sara Swink, and she’s been having me do all kinds of exercises that lead to delving into the dustier, creakier, danker parts of the mind (where horse heads, and towers, and eggs, and brokedown things lurk), and that’s all well and good. And then I was doing my meditative antique store wandering with Sylvia, and I happened upon a cookie cutter of, yes, a horse. And shrugged to myself, and made the work.
Well, here they are.
I used that Georgie’s Silver Falls porcelain again, and bisqued them plain, and then I thought to myself, I need to smoke the ponies. Sara even had a teeny aluminum bin that I could use. And by the time I left the 4th of July picnic at my parents’ house, I had a trunk full of wood chips and shavings — mesquite, walnut, hickory, oak, etc.
For the uninitiated, smoke firing is sort of like raku, except usually with raku you are working with hot hot hot bisqueware right out of the kiln. Here, you take your cooled bisqueware, wrap it in newspaper, layer it with wood shavings, and light it on fire!
It makes you feel pretty cool when you do this. But then you do wonder if a) you might set your house on fire somehow, or b) your neighbors might not think all of the smoke is so great. Then you again contemplate the virtues of building a taller fence around your backyard. In fact, you contemplate all sorts of things, since you are out in the yard with this smoky can for, oh, three to six hours. Just depends on how hot the thing smolders, and how full it is, etc.
I was very pleased with LOVE the result. I think the patina is so good. The porcelain was still plenty porous enough to pick up a nice variety of tones, and the colors were emphasized with a rubbing of beeswax. Also, not having an actual glaze on the surface meant that it was much easier to keep the perforations open and, therefore, much easier to sew them down to the surface (which is tyvek, by the way, and I know, I didn’t think it came in black either).
I liked the smoke firing so much that I’ve actually already done another one (what?!). But that’s for another day.