The Horsehair Pottery Process

Horsehair pottery, like raku, is intended for decorative use. Because it is not glazed, it will not hold liquids and it’s not considered “food safe.”

You can, of course, use a horsehair bowl for utilitarian purposed, like holding loose change or dried flowers.

How Horsehair Pottery is Made

2014-08-09 16.12.09 Soft clay is formed into bowls by throwing on a potter’s wheel.  The bowls are then allowed to dry.

The pots are sometimes burnished at this stage with a smooth stone to create a polished surface.

2014-08-18 17.58.44 Next, the pots are fired in a kiln, to a temperature of approximately 1800° Fahrenheit, and allowed to cool.  This produces a hard, durable form called bisqueware.  (Note that some potters skip this step, and place the unfired pots directly in the raku kiln, below.)
2014-09-06 16.47.12 The pots are fired in raku kiln, again to temperatures in the 1800° range.  The kiln is opened while the pots are glowing hot.
DSCN1314 Wearing protective clothing and using long tongs, the potter removes a pot from the kiln and places it on a pre-heated brick.
2014-09-06 15.29.11 Working very carefully, because the pot is extremely hot, the potter lays individual strands of hair from a horse’s tail onto the pot.
2014-09-06 15.29.52 The hair crinkles and burns, and the carbon is “trapped” into the still-hot clay, forming intricate patterns.
2014-09-09 13.13.00 Once the pot is cool, it is scrubbed clean to remove the ash from the horsehair, and given a protective coating of wax or lacquer.