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.