Horsehair pottery was invented purely by accident! About 25 years ago a native Yellowcorn clanswoman (Navajo) was bending down to remove debris from her hot kiln when her own hair fell against the hot pot, leaving a scorched mark of burnt carbon and smoke on the white clay surface. This incident led to experimentation with other materials and the hair from a horse’s tail was found to have the best results.
Horsehair pottery is made from white clay and bisque fired at a lower than usual temperature leaving the fired clay porous and enabling easy absorption of the carbon from the burning horsehair. The bisque is warmed up to 1300 degrees, removed from the kiln and the horsehair is applied. As it attaches to the pot the hair shrivels, begins to burn and the ash and smoke are absorbed into the surface of the pot, leaving a permanent trace of the horsehair! Once cooled the leftover traces of the burnt horsehair are washed away and the piece is then polished with paste wax to give it a soft satin finish. Every piece is unique and made by Native American artists. Because of the porous nature of horsehair pottery it is not to be used as a water vessel for fresh flowers.