Sandy Schulz of Earth and Wheel Pottery gets regular notes of appreciation and heartfelt hugs from horse owners. Like a horse owner’s connection to their horse, Sandy connects with the earth. She says pottery grounds us, reconnecting us with spirits and nature. The natural firing and decorating of each horse hair pot brings the Earth closer. Sandy knows that her pottery is filled with spirit and travels to each owner to bring peace.
Sandy’s life path actually took her into public education for 15 years as a teacher. In the meantime, she took tons of pottery classes, discovered the pottery wheel, learned about firing methods and honed her pot throwing skills. After leaving teaching, taking a job at a nursery and turning the dreaded “Five-O”, Sandy decided to take her pottery seriously. She went part time at the nursery, sought out college level instruction and a mentor, saved money for a kiln, kicked their cars out of the garage and filled the space with her pottery studio.
Sandy was first introduced to horse hair pottery traveling the Southwest’s scenic highways. She brought home finished pieces to research the pottery’s history, talked with artists and finally located a book horse hair pottery. Sandy threw pot after pot to develop the perfect shape. After much trial and error she perfected a basic shape in three sizes. Since she didn’t own a horse, the first horse hair for the first pot came from a client of a chiropractor friend.
A booth at a St. Louis art fair beside Meadow Crest Farms, a horse rescue organization in Catawissa, Missouri, cemented Sandy’s connection to horse hair pottery. The rescue ranch owner bought a pot for a student that was moving away. She and her students had secretly snipped a bit of the horse’s tail hair before the family left and asked Sandy to create and ship the pot. Sadly, thirty days after the student received the pot, her horse passed away from colic. No doubt healing spirits were embedded in that piece of pottery. Horse hair pottery was truly Sandy’s connection to nature and the earth.
All the pots for horse hair pieces are thrown by Sandy, using each piece to reconnect with the earth and its calming energy. Her pottery remains unglazed to maintain an earthy, authentic feel and spirit.
The creamy white pots are reheated in her kiln to 1300 degrees. She carefully removes the pot and places it on a stone for “decorating”. A single strand of coarse horse tail hair is gently placed on the hot pot. The hair strand immediately burns into a black vein onto the pot and the residual smoke leaves a milky gray stain. She repeats the process until she’s happy with the result, making each pot completely unique.
In the final step, Sandy pulls out a soft cloth and rubs the pot to remove loose residue. With each gentle swipe the pot begins to soften and polish. Leftover horse hair is braided for the pot’s neck. Your horse’s name, the artist’s name and the date are written on the bottom of the pot.
Sandy also often teaches students, shares her self-learned techniques with other potters and promotes young artists.