Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cleaning up the horses

As one of his many housewarming gifts, my father sent me a set of six replica Tang horses. They're small: about six inches tall. Apparently they are recognizable as Tang because of the medallions or tassels on the sides of their saddles.

They're magnificent. The golden brown one is my favorite, perhaps because it does remind me of museum horses. As I unpacked each one, I lined it up with the others along the center of my dining room table. These will be in my life for a long time.

But the horses arrived coated in clay. I couldn't decide if I'd received poorly cleaned figurines or if it was intentional. Clay was flaking off of them.

I called the store to see if they had a quality issue with the supplier, and they said it was supposed to be that way. To make them look "real." Although a real Tang horse would be carefully cleaned and preserved. They said I could wash them if I didn't like it.

So I spent the evening cleaning the six of them. I soaked and gently scrubbed them, and they looked great until they dried. This is some sort of special gray clay, probably fired onto them in some way, that won't come off. I may try to exchange the black horse, which I've washed many times but which still looks like unglazed gray dirt. It's the third from the left -- from the catalogue picture of some pretty clean horses.

I did have to wash them anyway. To soak the large "Made in China" stickers off of the tops of the bases. These horses were replicas, but they were trying really hard to be authentic.

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