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Horse Hair Pottery


2013/04/03


Braided Horse Hair Bracelet with Sterling clasp.

Horse Head ornament.

Porcelain stitched lip vase with a braid and a feather.
Anna Whitworth hand crafts horse hair pottery, made of porcelain clay thrown on a pottery wheel. The pieces are kiln fired and then brought to a high temperature in outdoor wood firing. Horse mane and/or tail hair is then applied to the exterior while the piece is still at a high temperature. The veining design on the outside is the decorative result of this technique. She also makes horse hair jewelry, such as braided bracelets, and ornaments, such as the horse head ornament.

Anna creates pottery with dog hair, too. Many of her pottery pieces are made to honor a beloved equine or canine friend, or as a memorial keepsake for companions that have passed on.

When Anna was in art school, she happened upon an article about hair pottery. Intrigued by the technique, she asked her art teacher how to do it. The response was – you know the elements involved, go figure it out. So that’s what Anna did, and she’s still learning about it. “I learn something new every time I make a piece,” she said. “The original creator of this technique was a Navajo woman. She was making a piece of pottery and some of her hair fell into it. She noticed the results and started experimenting with various types of hair.”

Anna has multiple markets for her craft. She goes to art shows; she goes to Pow Wows, specifically making items that appeal to Native Americans; and she does custom work for horse people. “Two years ago I met an Elder at a Pow Wow. He told me that some tribes used to do it to honor horses killed in battle. This was a full circle moment for me! This tied everything I’ve been learning and doing together,” Anna remarked.

A high honor for Anna is memorializing animals. Sometimes people come up to her with a bag of their horse’s hair they’ve been saving for years and ask her to use it in a pottery item. “I do some grief counseling, too,” as part of the process she said. “I get as much out of this work as I put into it. I could never return to the corporate world!”

Anna has been involved with horses her whole life, and her pottery work orders help her keep her own horse. She has a five-year-old Palomino Quarter Horse, Shining Royal Bliss, on whom she rides western dressage. Her dressage trainer is Jenni Hogan of Chapel Hill, TN. She thoroughly enjoys riding western dressage and finds its expansion remarkable. “It’s really fun to watch western dressage evolve.”

Anna lives with her family – husband and two children – and maintains her studio in middle Tennessee – in Chapel Hill, south of Nashville. In addition to her affiliations with USDF, Central Tennessee Dressage Association, and AQHA, sheis a certified PATH, Int’l. Therapeutic Riding Instructor. She has a program that teaches children acceptance of disabilities; how to interact with people with disabilities.

Her designs can be seen and purchased at http://www.fromearthtoart.org/.

Disclaimer: No horse was harmed in any way to acquire hair for this technique.
 
Photos:
Horse Head ornament.
Braided Horse Hair Bracelet with Sterling clasp.
Porcelain stitched lip vase with a braid and a feather.

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