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Constant pHorse

Kathie Belly

My horse, "Constant pHorse," was a collaboration between Caldwell Manufacturing Company and myself. They wanted a custom design to showcase their hometown and the products they manufacture. Caldwell is the world's largest manufacturer of counterbalances for vertically sliding windows. At our initial meeting, I learned about Caldwell's history and received a box of parts. "Be creative," they said. I liked the challenge and a chance to be creative.

Their enthusiasm inspired two designs. The second design, my favorite, is the one, by popular vote, Caldwell decided on. Because horses have always inspired me, for their beauty and strength, I felt compelled to express this thoroughbred first as a replica of a real porcelain gray. Ten base coats of white primer were followed by warm, gray markings to highlight muscles. Sponging in shades of ultramarine blue, red, yellow, and iridescent mica powder, mixed with white and silver acrylics, helped to give the top coat a realistic dappled effect. The stylized saddle area is a three-dimensional window overlooking High Falls from one view and the Rochester skyline from the opposite side. High Falls is the original site of Caldwell Manufacturing. The statue of Mercury is silhouetted against Rochester's skyline and fireworks illuminate the night sky. I tossed glass beads into the acrylic dashes of fireworks to catch and reflect light. I wanted the saddle (window frame) to follow the contours of the horse's body and used 70 yards of upholstery burlap strips to form the frame, sealing each mitered strip with sculpt and coat (a theatrical sculpting and bonding medium). The frame was then painted with silver metallic acrylic.

Products depicting balances and springs follow the legs and cross the body. They are painted in metallic silver and gold. One leg is wrapped in a three dimensional spring, covered in aluminum leaf. The tail resembles another product with silver metallic spirals, cascading down from a three dimensional cylinder, covered in aluminum leaf. The stylized bridle is one of the first designs manufactured and patented by Caldwell Manufacturing. An auto repair shop applied the final two coats of clear finish.

I found the Horses on Parade project very fulfilling as an artist and enjoyed the creative process, the camaraderie of my fellow artists, and the enthusiasm of our community.