Thursday, August 30, 2012

Love, er, Lane

Today, as you read this installment, you are going to learn tidbits about pottery production. It's going to happen, but it's not tough. When I look at these things, I can't help but analyze and retro-engineer (in a modest spirit of the term) how they were made. I hope it helps bring more colors to our attention. I'd love to know if there are some examples that didn't get all the steps of decoration.

More Notes on Factory Finish Colors

For purposes of discussion, this is about the A-9 running Horse mold. It is possible that the other molds were made in this color, but I have yet to see any. Black Pearl is not just black with Mother of Pearl overglaze (luster). That would be too easy. It is undecorated bisque that was first dipped in opaque gloss black glaze, and fired.

Then, it had metallic silver overglaze sprayed over the gloss black, and fired again. After those firings, the pearl luster was applied and fired. This color requires a total of three glaze firings to achieve, and at differing temperatures. How do I know this? First, the underside of the base shows the foundation layer of black gloss without overglazes. 

The white areas are where the unfired glaze was rubbed off before cooking. 
This was done to prevent melting to the kiln furniture, and "gluing" the horse to the kiln shelf. 
It's called dryfooting.

Second, a ceramics supply company, Duncan, instructs on their web site:

"If using a metallic overglaze and Mother of Pearl on the same piece, apply and fire the metallic overglaze first."

Even if the factory did not use the Duncan brand, the process is the same. That is a lot of materials and energy expense for such a low retail item. 

The finely-spotted silvery areas up against the pearlescent areas are silver overglaze.
This was probably used only on the black to help pop the contrast of the pearl luster.
The fine hairlines are age crackle in the foundation black gloss glaze.

White Pearl is not the undecorated white claybody showing through a clear glaze. The undecorated bisque was dipped in opaque white glaze, fired, then overglazed with Mother of Pearl only on the display surfaces. The base underside is just the plain opaque white glaze. One can see the dryfooting is considerably less white than the glaze. If they had only used a clear glaze for the horse, it would have been yellowish. Other factories also dipped some ware in opaque white gloss for a "bright" white decorative product, such as Freeman-McFarlin and Hagen-Renaker. More about this in a future installment.

No point in spraying overglaze on the base underside. 
Overglazes aren't cheap, and no one displays them like this.
The felt pads were added by a collector.

I don't know if these two were intended by the factory to display as a pair, but I'm sold.

Gratitude to Susan Candelaria and Nancy Kelly for making this photo possible.

It appears that loss of eartips and mane tips in the greenware stage was common. Here, two examples share the same squared-off ear tip (which may even be in one production mold) and the Black has a missing mane tip. If you look closely at the base bottom photos above, you will notice a hairline crack across the width, near the rear pourhole of each. This is a stress crack, seen frequently in all colors of the A-9 models, and it can even go up into the display part of the grass. It may have occurred during cooling of the glaze firings, because the glaze lays across it and hairline cracks over it; the glaze does not shore up to it via liquid surface tension, nor trickle into it, as if it had been a bisque crack. These are factory flaws, not acquired damage, as they are under the glaze. 

How about this unusual OF riff on the "Natural" color, combined with some gold accents. It's like a... Latte with Gold and natural base. Yummy.

Mold #1156 Photo courtesy Bev Manderfeld.

Here is yet another unusual OF White with Gold, lacking the pink or purple tones more commonly seen on this color:

Mold # H-1 version 1, 13" high. Photo courtesy Bev Manderfeld.

To refresh us on the color more commonly seen as white with gold accents (purple/pink shading), here is one without the body gold swipes.

I wonder why no brown on the base? 
H-1 version 2 (added branch between forelegs), photo courtesy Scott.

Mold Versions: Yes, There Are More

The giant molds are not to be left out of discussion this round. Here is a detailed H-11 that introduces us to its second version, as well. Why should the giants be left out of the "fun" of having multiple mold styles? 

Mold # H-11 version 2, 25" tall 

It is easy to distinguish an OF (= Original Finish, meaning "the glaze that came from a factory") Lane giant H-11 version 1 or 2 from the hobby mold by Bil-Mar. One can spot the obvious difference, the "grass" on the base, from across a crowded antique mall. Two of these are the OF mold versions plural, and the two extra-grassy examples on the bottom are the hobby mold singular.

Photo credits clockwise from upper left: anonymous OF, anonymous OF, Myla Pearce, Muddy Hoofprints.

This mold, as in the case of the A-9 Running Horse mold, has more than one mold variant with differing OF base underside. The solid bottom has a shorter forward sweep of grass, just below the fore hoof. The factory OF base of the giant H-11 comes in both a solid engraved/marked underside, a partly open underside with a wide "rind" or edge. The full open bottom is  the hobby mold by Bil-Mar. 

OF Lane full base bottom with engraving:

OF Lane partial open base without engraving:

Why retool a huge mold to change the base underside that nobody looks at?
As a potter, I can tell you, this change simplified pouring, draining, and demolding this beast.
Note that the A-9 mold also went this route, in later iterations.

The Bil-Mar hobby mold, never factory finished, was supposed to only get glazed by home ceramics hobbyists. It has a completely open base bottom.

The bottom edge is smooth, without a raised edge for dryfooting. 
This mold was intended for hobbyists to stilt one at a time, 
not for factory mass-production that employs dryfooting.

What this means in terms of mold generations, or distance from Maureen's hand, is that the solid-bottom H-11 is the oldest version. It is thus the more valuable of the H-11s, if your Lane interest is in the integrity of Maureen Love art. 

Hecho En Mexico

Getting back to one of the very first things I ever heard about these "mystery horses"... that some were made in Mexico. Guess what? Here's a non-ceramic, non-Lane example of H-1, marked "MEXICO" on the display-edge of base, and cast in solid plaster. So, indeed, "knock-offs" of the horses were made in Mexico, but they are not kiln-fired ceramic. The base bottom is solid across its entire span, indicating a solid pour. Real ceramic Lanes were made in California, as marked.

Hobby Molds

And this confirms the ring-necked 18" version of 239 was also released as a hobby mold:

While the description said 20" tall, the photo is a deceptive angle in relation to the measuring tape. I have measured a couple of these and they are 17-18" tall. If it really is 20" measured squarely down its midline, it represents an earlier hobby mold version than the 18", due to mold generation shrinkage. Needless to say, these "ring-necks" are among the least desirable of the molds. 

Speaking of hobby molds, here is the free-legged bent-knee hobby mold (similar to 239 or 1156), making a rare appearance. This time, it will be as a trophy for the Lane Challenge class, sponsored by Maggie Barkovitz and this blog.

A roany, steel gray/black cold-painted fellow.
Photo courtesy Maggie Barkovitz.

The Lane Challenge class is open to entrants of the all-ceramic model horse show, Clinky Classic, December 8-9, 2012. When the class is called, collectors place their favorite Maureen Love-designed Lane horses on a judging table. The models are assessed for condition, age, and decoration quality, and placed accordingly. Ribbons are awarded to first through fifth places, but first and second also receive a prize (this is one) reflecting the theme of the class.  This show offers hundreds of classes for ceramic horses from any factory or private art studio.

Just when I think I've uncovered the last, there is always something new. I've been attributing these OFs to the Lane Ceramics/Lane & Co. factory all this time, but a sales sheet has yet to surface. Has anyone seen these OFs on the dealer sheets of any company, by any name? The hobby molds have been recorded on their respective sales sheets. It is the OFs, with their broad range of finishes, production methods, and quality control, that need factory documentation.


Duncan Metallic Gold & Mother of Pearl Lusters:


Manderfeld, Bev. Pers. comm. 8/26/2012.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Journey to Mud

After much resculpting and brain sweats, I am pleased to share the final versions of my two classic scale stock horse meditations. I don't write many posts about my own ceramics here, but everything flows together, between old and new, when one is working (and thereby, living) in this pottery tradition. It's going to keep coming up.

In the last update on this sculpture, I shared the many versions of heads this sculpture has sported. When the body "tried on" a resin casting off of the new brown clay original Mustang head, it looked too big. I made a plaster pottery mold off the brown clay to generate a smaller bisque copy of the head. This worked beautifully! Every detail is sharp and the size is nice without sacrificing his Mustang "log head" look.

Shrunken head.

Because I didn't want a size difference between the two full body versions, I cut off the sculpey Ratrod's head and put the Mustang face in its place. When the bisque head replaced the resin, the mane and tail work began. Confession: I despise manes and tails, in life and in art. My favorite real breed is the Fjord, which is a delight both practically and aesthetically: one keeps the mane hogged (cut so short as to stand upright). I spent many happy hours trimming my Fjords' manes in both Norwegian cultural and non-traditional styles (shark teeth!). The breed also has a thick tail that can do that beautiful "cording" or "dredlock" effect. In short, I like hair to look architectural and orderly, and not wispy and flying everywhere... which is the kind of hair I have, of course. On a Mustang in action, I am challenged with not only depicting lots of hair, going every-which-way, but it also has to be relatively easy to mold for ceramic production and be mostly up off the neck, for replicable  production paintwork.

First try.

Second try.

Third try, pieces missing yet.

As with the heads, fourth try is the charm!
This is "Silverheels".

How I love a little chunkster of a feral horse. The chunkier, the better!

Hair is blown off the neck clean on this side, making decoration or masking of the ware simple for production color.
I love the expression here: pursed lip, kind eyes, and ears trying to scope all sounds, all around.

A little bit challenging to glaze on this side, but makes for gorgeous color contrast, too.
'Cause, I already see him glazed in my head.

The Appaloosa "Ratrod" and the Mustang, "Silverheels", were sculpted for a client. She has already made the first ceramic test for a proposed OF (production) run. This is glazed and produced by Marge Para, a ceramist who constantly pushes and improves her techniques. The hoof glaze detail work alone is ambitious for OF. I'm so proud to see her current glazing on this fellow. Look at that snowflake!

Glazed test Ratrod and photos by Marge Para.

This is the scoop direct from Marge:

"...OF very similar to the above photos, a tribute to my husbands first horse, lots of fond memories of that little buckskin Appaloosa. I am not sure if I will have any OF's at Breyerfest, I'll be at the Artisan Gallery at the C/HIN with some, they may be OOAK colors. But he'll be there for sure!"

For those attending BreyerFest, and planning on visiting the Artisans' Gallery, Marge's table is right next to mine, at the counter-tops on the left, as you enter the ballroom at the Clarion (HIN).

What a journey these two sculptures have been! They certainly left their hoofprints on me, testing and pushing me to grow.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Three Giants, Born of Earth and Sky

Leave it to Greek mythology to give one a literary parallel when it is most needed. The three giants that defeated the Titans were the Hekatonheires: Cottus, the Striker; Gyges, the Big-Limbed; Briareus, the Vigorous. I could not have come up with more fitting names for the three giant molds in today's post. They were the children of Earth (Gaia) and Sky (Uranus). These giants are indeed composed of earthenware, and compared to their puny 1:9 scale counterparts, they do seem to be partly of the sky. Or, rather, in it.

This fellow must be our giant Striker, Cottus.

24.25" tall x 15" wide, mold # H-114, photo courtesy D. Whitley.

Here is Gyges, whose limbs are, indeed, thicker than the others.

24" tall x 18" wide, mold # H-11.

Reviewing the April post about the Giant OF Lane Love horses, there was palpable excitement about the confirmation of the existence of both Giant Facing Right and Giant Facing Left (Leg-Out). I had mold numbers, and everything! Within 24 hours of posting that doozy, I found a third Giant mold while surfing the net. It's almost become a tradition that new data appears in my inbox, or is under my nose at the flea market, the day after I click the Publish button, so this Giant didn't utterly destroy my village. I'm used to it.

I dub thee, "Briareus", you vigorous beast.

24" tall x 16" wide, mold # H-114

Hey, that's very familiar. Didn't we just see two slightly different 14" versions of this guy? Yes, apparently the Mustard glaze isn't the only big-and-little set Lane produced. Here are the wee versions, again. The giant has different mane and tail details, foreleg attachment, base, and facial profile. It is a derivation, not a whole new sculpt by Maureen's hand.

The 14" tall mold version is numbered 1155.

What is even more familiar is his mold number. Yes, he has the same mold number incised as the version from which he is derived. The moldmaker forgot to add the next number, perhaps? Or maybe this H-114 replaced the Leg-Out Giant?

To review, the underside of the Leg-Out Giant # H-114.

Now, my big pal Briareus was in an online ad for sale, at a proper price for his size and condition (not mint), but he had also had a giant downside. He was in Fargo, ND and the seller would not ship. Heck, the seller was reluctant to even speak more than a couple words on the phone. How to rescue this piece and bring it to collector awareness?

Enter the awesome power of the model horse collector network. I had just completed a custom glaze commission for collector in a neighboring state. I sent her an email asking if she knew any hobbyists in the Fargo, ND area who might be able to pick up and ship this mighty fellow. To my astonishment, she wrote back quickly and introduced me to MaryJo Rust.

What is even more amazing is that MaryJo, a plastic collector with a self-admitted fear of clinkies, was quick to volunteer. When she arrived the first time at the seller's, she discovered that the horse was not mint. The ad did not mention damage, so she dutifully returned home and described it in detail, via email. When I gave her the go-ahead to purchase, even with the flaws, she went back and bought him without asking me to send funds in advance. When people talk about heroes in our hobby, and the community spirit  that is at the heart of the collecting network, MaryJo leaps to my mind as one of those heroines! Who takes on such a Herculean, or Heraclean,  feat for a stranger, across the country? A model horse collector, that's who!

Meanwhile, I received these photos of a custom glazed hobby mold of the giant Bil-Mar #524 Large Rearing Horse from collector Myla Pearce:

She wrote: "I just can't imagine how hard it must have been to clean these huge pieces when green and then firing them. This guy is glass smooth and the green colors are so pretty and colorful. I just can't believe how BIG he is!
"I'm so glad you have this blog, I would have never known about these pieces otherwise.

"I found it while surfing ebay. At first I thought it was the smaller version then realized the whole piece was different, but there is no denying that head is a Love sculpt. :-) I was thrilled to discover it was the huge version! Since I just lost my Friesian stallion and this was a gorgeous glossy black like my boy I decided to treat myself to this piece in his memory."

And here is an OF Lane 239 version 2 (17") in a glaze that is new to me.

Recalibrate your retinas at your leisure. While you wait, here is the range from Mustard to Caramel on H-1 versions 1 and 2.

More OF colors have come to light, and I'll save sharing those for the next Lane update. I am going to have more time for blogging after BreyerFest!


Pearce, Myla. Pers. comm. 5/4-5/2012.

Yeah, I know it's Wikipedia, but that is it, in a nutshell.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nataf Flesh and Clay: Part Two

Back in February, I posted some research into the real "Nataf", known among ceramic collectors as a very large San Marcos era Hagen-Renaker Designer's Workshop model. More information has found its way here, via blog readers and recent personal library acquisitions. Cindy Turner even surprised me with an original San Marcos pricelist!

I love the format of a blog, in that I can endlessly add and correct data, and it keeps a running record of when and how new data came to our collective online awareness. Nothing is ever set in stone, we are always learning. You, as collectors and readers, help make this blog happen, with submissions and email notes.

An unusually Toasty Nataf, yellow in tone, photo by author.

Even-tempered as I am, finding this gave me a chill. The text in the middle of this Nataf stud ad variation is very close to my posts' titles. I never saw it before this week; it did not inspire the original Nataf blog post title. I found this in the WMHC Hagen-Renaker Research Materials file just the other day, while pulling xeroxed sales lists for recent post subjects. 

On the same photocopy page from the WMHC file, is this Nataf ad that I had not seen before:

Collector Sally Clow mailed me this fascinating part of a document, the original government sale of the entire herd at Pomona. Here's a little backstory on why the U.S. government even owned Arabians, in the first place. Picking up where that story ends, it doesn't give a firm date of the sale. This document shows the government sale list revision is 9/47, however another source cites the sale as in Fall of 1948. This makes more sense, going by Nataf's 1948 birth year. 

Courtesy Sally Clow.

If you read closely, the lot for Nataf describes him as having markings! At the time, he was still a gray young'un, with a star, pink snip, pink spot on lower lip, a right fore white sock with a white (shell or pink) hoof, and half-stockings on both hinds. These recorded markings are significant because none of the HR Nataf models had so much as a striped hoof! This may be because pale or striped hooves would have been blacked for show, and a white horse would no longer show white markings. A pink snip and lip spot would have been extra labor the San Marcos pottery just didn't elect to reproduce. The muzzle and hoof markings may not have even been made known to the factory. Another portrait model, Swaps, was produced with such extra pink markings, but Swaps was produced at Monrovia and San Dimas, under different direction. Everyone does things differently.

And here is Nataf in the Spring 1985 Hagen-Renaker sales sheet, for contrast.

This was a retail pricelist from former HR dealer, Chris Cook.

Keeping this update short and sweet, let's close with an old show photo of a OF matte Nataf with outstanding shading.

Photo courtesy C. Greene.


Arabian Horse Association

Benuish, Alison, ed. Hagen-Renaker Research Materials: 1949- Present. N. pag. Salisbury, MD: WMHC, 1995.

Clow, Sally. Pers. comm. 2/11-3/15/2012.

Greene, Cheryl. Pers. comm. 4/6/2012.

Hammer, Randy. "Kellogg: A Man Who Loved His Country." University Library. Cal Poly Pomona. Special Collections Home. Collections. University Archive. 3/3/1982: 5/5/2012.