Josh Trimmer likes the idea of combining two interests in his life. As a client at Rosewood Services Inc., he loves riding horses at Rosewood Ranch; he also enjoys the ceramics program that Rosewood began nine months ago. It’s fitting that he and other clients at Rosewood are able to combine aspects of both programs to create something truly innovative: Custom horsehair pottery.
Custom horsehair pottery is the art of firing pottery, then using a special technique to burn in hair from the tail of the horse immediately after the piece is removed from the kiln. The hair is consumed by fire and it twists and turns to create unique lines and marks throughout each piece.
When grooming the horses, clients bag up the extra tail hair and then utilize the hair in the pottery pieces to create unique works of art.
"Horsehair pottery is harder to do than regular pottery because the pieces are so hot when you take them out," said Trimmer. "It’s harder to do but it’s more fun."
Added fellow client Mary Minear, "Once the pots come out, we put the hair on but sometimes the pots are too hot, and they crack if they are too hot."
The clients are discovering the science in art. Ceramics instructor Erin Rupp describes the experience as a trial-and-error process for her and the clients. Though they’ve shattered many pots in their experimentation, since starting the special process five months ago, they’ve also created amazing artwork that can never be duplicated.
"Once the hair goes on, we have no control with the final look," explained Rupp. "Sometimes the temperature adds smoke marks, sometimes it’s affected by how cool it is in a room, or what temperature you pull the piece out at. If it’s the third pot getting pulled out, it won’t make as heavy of a mark with the strands as the first two pieces. The hotter the piece is, the straighter the lines. It’s all very interesting for our clients to discover the different effects."
More horsehair pottery is in the works. Rupp instructs four ceramics classes two days a week to accommodate all of the clients who are interested in pursuing the art form.
Rosewood sold several of its horsehair pottery pieces at its annual rodeo last month. The artwork will soon be for sale at two locations in downtown Great Bend: Rosewood Furniture Gallery, and Kustom Floor Designs. While each piece is unique, Rupp said a wide selection of pottery pieces will be available to match any customer preference.
"The essence of horsehair pottery is that no two pieces are alike," said Rupp. "Every person has their own taste — it just depends what they are looking for. Something simple may intrigue somebody, or something with heavier horsehair marks may be more interesting to them. Our collection covers the spectrum."