I have a BFA in ceramics and would recommend the wire option. You can get a high fire wire that will not melt in the kiln, but the clay will shrink and crack against it and it is really only recommended for small embellishments or handles not armatures.
I believe that the horse can be constructed purely from clay as long as it is done carefully - you can make anything from clay as long as you do it at the right time. There are a couple of options. Your student can make the legs separately and attach them after firing. so for instance make a place to insert the legs and then glue them with an epoxy after firing. or if they work slowly and carefully they can make the legs and maybe the bottom of the belly as well first and allow them to get leather hard they can then support the rest of the sculpture. However, once they get to leather hard I would recommend wrapping them in dry cleaning plastic wrap to prevent them from getting too dry and cracking. once the rest of the horse is complete, if you allow everything to dry together at the same rate, the horse should stand on its own. if it all possible I would also think about constructing a base or a slab so that the horse can be easily moved until
----- Original Message ----
From: Diane Davis <email@example.com>
To: TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 8:59:17 AM
Subject: [teacherartexchange] wire frame for clay?
I have a middle school girl who wants to make a clay horse standing, with one foot up.Easy to draw, not so easy to make in clay. I suggested she needed a wire frame, as the horses legs are so delicate and the weight of the clay so heavy. Can she use a coat hanger? Or will it be too brittle in the kiln? Is there another way to make something heavy stand up on thin legs? Is there an inexpensive wire I can get at home depot?