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Horse-powered pottery

Collaboration between Art Department and Horse Crew creates distinctive art

You might expect to see Doc and Dan – Warren Wilson College’s two Belgian draft horses – plowing a garden field for the next kale planting or dragging whole trees out of the college forest in a selective thinning, but you probably wouldn’t guess the most recent student collaboration with these incredibly strong horses: crafting delicate, decorative ceramic art.

Students in three ceramics courses this semester – Intro to Handbuilding, Intro to Ceramics, and Ceramics Studio – used hair gathered from Doc and Dan to learn the art of horsehair pottery.

Doc & Dan draft horses with Horse Crew

Doc & Dan with the Horse Crew

“When the pots come out of the kiln, the horse hair is put on top of the piece and as the hair burns it shrivels up and twists around the piece and leaves black squiggly marks,” explained Professor Leah Leitson. Any sort of hair can create this effect, but horse hair is long and coarse, so it is ideal for leaving the characteristic heavy marks for which this style of pottery is known.

“The process is fun and distinctive and different in that it is quick, it can happen in one hour, whereas other types of firings are much, much longer,” Leitson said.

Students saw immediate, striking results. Explore the gallery for examples from the Intro to Ceramics course this semester.

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Major in art with a concentration in sculpture and ceramics.