Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sue Adler and her horse hair pottery

Sue Adler in her studio.
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Sue Adler first came across the horse hair pottery at a class given by her teacher, Sea Cliff potter Donna Ferrara. Horse hair pottery is created by a unique process of heating a stoneware pot in a kiln to over 1000F, taking it out of the kiln when it's very hot, and draping long single strands of horse hair over it. Hair instantly carbonizes when it touches the super hot pot and leaves distinct black pattern on the wall.

Sue always had a curiosity about pottery but has not tried it until she found Donna's ad in PennySaver. She had already practiced her hand at watercolor, drawing, and quilting. AAS degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from Farmingdale State College did not come amiss in the attuning of her eye to shape and beauty. Pottery had proven to be as interesting as expected and she delved into it with a passion.

Pot heated to 1000F draped with
horse hair.
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Sue continued taking classes with Donna for 5-6 years, attended pottery workshops, joined Long Island Craft Guild and Potters Counsel. Her father found a potter's wheel at a garage sale thus laying a foundation for Sue's own studio. Over the years she organized her comfortable workspace, lined the walls with shelves storing pots at their many different stages of production. She built herself a raku kiln out of a galvanized garbage can, then acquired a large kiln and a small raku kiln for 2-3 pieces. The latter was a great addition, it enabled her to fire at any time of the year (with her first garbage can kiln she was limited to summer months when thermal shock was less of the issue) and allowed her to work on a small batch of pots, important when working on custom orders, not a small chunk of Sue's orders.

Horse hair pot with blue banding.
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
The chance encounter with the horse hair pottery was a godsend. It enabled her to celebrate horses through pottery. Ever since she first seriously rode one at the age of 15 her life revolved around them. At 17 she bought her own horse, she trained and looked after horses, she successfully competed in the lady side saddle division in the National Horse Show at the Madison Square Garden and at the Hampton Classic. She now works full time as a horse farm manager.

Horse hair pottery.
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
With her first horse hair pots she made gifts to her friends. Eventually she build a following in the industry. Many horse lovers want to have a meaningful memento of their beloved animals - a beautiful, carefully handcrafted pot with the permanent imprint of the tail hair. Sue is touched every time she is asked to make a custom pot.

You can find more information about Sue on her website She also has her own YouTube channel

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