Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Running behind, as usual

These are the lottery horses as they looked right before I left for Boise two weeks ago. They don't look much like this anymore - everyone is much darker now - but they aren't yet finished. Soon, though!

It's hard to tell with so many of them at a rather pale stage in the photo (and with the camera flash making them even more so), but so far the plan has:
a Finn in a "red silverish" sabino
an Al-Hadiye in dapple rose grey (started out life chestnut)
a Maggie in dark dapple grey
an Eira foal in blue sabino roan
and a Pixie in bay fewspot

Oh, for more hours in the day. Or perhaps some better time management skills!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Taking a break from shiny pony making to don my horse color geek hat...

I found this guy last night. He's a Dutch Heavy Draft, which is a breed where frosty roans are really common. (That's the color of his dam there in the picture.) I certainly wasn't looking for - or remotely expecting - this color. To my knowledge, the only dilute found in the heavy European draft breeds is silver. That dilute is pretty common in the Breton and the Comtois, and is occasionally seen in Brabants and some of their relatives. Certainly nothing like this blue-eyed, pink-skinned taupe fellow!

My first guess would be that he is the "new" pearl dilute. This foal has a bay sire and a bay roan dam, and pearl is a recessive. Previously that color had been identified in Paints (where it has been referred to as the "Barlink factor") and in the Iberian breeds, but more recently it has been confirmed in Gypsy horses. Finding it in one of the European heavies would be really unexpected. At least there is a test for pearl, though, so hopefully his owners will have him tested.

(Oh, and click on the photo for a really huge version of the picture.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


If there is one thing I look forward to each year, it's Mayhem. That's when I spend a week in Boise with fellow ceramic artists Sarah Minkiewicz, Joan Berkwitz and Lynn Fraley. It's a week set aside for sharing ideas, learning new techniques and just generally being inspired. (Well, that and consume an insane amount of food.)

It has become our tradition to undertake a big project for the week. This year we had something particularly ambitious in mind. It began with an innocent enough question at last year's gathering. Sarah wanted to know if Joan could mold her traditional sculpture Stormwatch in ceramic. His complex, swirling mane and tail would have been daunting enough, but he was also a scale not usually done in earthenware. (Plaster molds absorb the water from the casting slip, and large horses require molds that are too heavy to tip and drain once they are wet.) But the idea of seeing him in ceramic was too tempting, and Joan agreed to try.

And even now, after spending a week working on one, it's hard to believe she did it. The nineteen-piece mold is an amazing bit of engineering. I have often wondered if anyone else is making complex plaster molds like these - for any application.

Anyway, at this point I'll just share some photos I took during the week.

Here is Sarah de-molding a Stormwatch. Once he comes out of the mold, he takes over six hours to clean and assemble. I should also point out that this a really rare in-focus photo of Sarah. These are typical photos of Sarah.

She is never still! I used to think I was a high-energy, bouncy sort of person. But I am just not in the same league. My camera could not cope.

No, we didn't render Joan down to make slip! Most of us who make earthenware horses use Joan's slip recipe, which is itself close to the original Hagen-Renaker slip recipe. I suspect that after staying up until all hours for days, Joan might say it was the only thing still fresh!

And here is Joan, doing what we both did all week - scritching little roan hairs in with an xacto blade. All I can say is there are a lot of square inches on a traditional scale horse!

And here is Lynn, bringing us a box. We got so excited when she arrived, because we thought she had said she brought us brownies. (We had just spent the previous night at her home, enjoying her cooking, so we had good reason to be happy about this.)

What she had said was that she brought Brownie, not brownies. We were all terribly disappointed - all out of proportion to how hungry we could have possibly been at that point. Mayhem has a way of making food seem really important. (Maybe to balance out how unimportant sleep becomes!)

Here is Sarah's enormous kiln ("Big Al") loaded up for a bisque fire. You can see the two Stormys and Sarah's two plaques, as well as an assortment of greenware. I believe this was the last bisque firing for these pieces before the glazing fire.

You can see the finished Storms here. And you can see Sarah's plaques here. I have more things to post - it was a busy week - but I fear this is already a long post to slog through so I'll save them for another time.

Monday, May 19, 2008


That's how many horse color images were on my hard drive. Or perhaps I should say that is how many I found and organized. I don't doubt there are more scattered across the various half-working laptops, thumb drives and disks here at the house. Or, for that matter, hiding in this or that unrelated folder ("Taxes/Kathman family/2005") because I didn't realize I had a new directory default when I saved the photo.

But it's a start! I promised myself that I would do this so I could more easily share my research while I was in Boise for Mayhem. I knew I had a lot of photos, but I never guessed there were more than 12,000 of them. Or that setting them up in folders by breed and then by color or pattern would be quite so difficult. ("Oh, hey... now what is this chestnut generic-looking guy in this photo and why was it that I saved him? And couldn't I have titled the file something more revealing than Carries_the_Gene?")

And as the deadline for my trip loomed, the project just took over. So this blog was awfully silent, and my family forgot what home-cooked meals tasted like. And then I left for Boise!

I am home again, though, and busy catching up on all that was dropped in my absence. I have lots of fun things to share from Mayhem, although the project we actually gathered for there will have to wait for Sarah's announcement. (It's really cool.) But I hope to post some fun pictures that don't give it all away sometime later today or tomorrow.

And if for some reason I promised you a picture of a brindle Noriker or a tobiano Fjord, it's a lot more likely that I can actually find it.