Official Hiatus

I haven’t blogged in almost a month. I’ve barely had time to work on horses, let alone blog about it. But I have some solid and exciting excuses!

December was a big month- I found a new, local barn to start riding at and my husband and I finally found a home to buy after a year of looking and five failed offers on condos and houses.

My new barn is a lovely hunter/jumper stable about 30 minutes away. It’s still a bit of a drive, but that’s what I get for city living :) I love the owner/trainer and have a great arrangement where I help teach lessons in exchange for ride time. It’s very nice to be riding more often. I’m also enjoying riding different horses, although I do miss Cochise. I need to go visit him soon…

napping pony

Our new home is a condo in downtown Portland in the heart of the most walkable neighborhood with amazing food and amenities all within walking distance. I told the husband we needed to factor a little extra into our monthly budget in fact.. there’s a Blick Art Materials kitty corner from our place!

The condo also has an amazing patio that you can’t believe is in the middle of the city. It’s a big open loft-style place like our current apartment, and it also has a cute little nook which will become my studio. We have grand plans for putting in a counter and cabinets for all my goodies.

On top of those big excitements, we had a friend visiting this month and I’m leaving imminently for a work trip. In fact, I’m sitting in the airport right now! I kept meaning to post and didn’t find the time until now.

I’ll be out of the country for a week and we move pretty much as soon as I get back. Because of this, I am going on an official blogging hiatus until life settles down a bit.

2014-01-19 12.36.32

Frances helps with the packing.

If you’re yearning for more active hobby writings, I highly recommend you check out Braymere Custom Saddlery. The indomitable Jennifer Buxton blogs every day! I doubt I’ll ever reach her level of awesomeness, but I promise I will return to blogging… when I get settled again!


Peaceful Pastelling

After what feels like months prepping (actually, I guess it was) I am finally starting to put color on my two resin commissions. The two resins are Justice by Kristina Lucas Francis (the drafter) and Stacey Tumlinson’s mini Majestuoso (the Spanish).

Both horses are artist’s choice colors and they are both going to be chestnut, although very different shades. Justice will be a flaxen chestnut tobiano and Maj will be a deep red chestnut with a hint of metallic shine. At least, that’s the plan!

I am also doing my fourth attempt at a palomino on Chryselephantasia. I did a palomino earlier this year who turned out lovely and was almost effortless… and now this. She is really making me work, but I think I’ve got things right this time.

yellow ponies

The above picture is from a week ago. Chrys was still getting her main body color, and the two resins are getting their yellow-tan undercoats. It was funny working on three yellow horses for a while there.

Since then the two resins have taken a turn toward orangey chestnut.

drafter 12-29-13

As I like to do at about this stage, I also added some basic acrylics so I can start visualizing the finished horse. I blocked in Justice’s tobiano pattern too, so I know where I need to keep going on the chestnut. He’s a bit overly orange right now, but I’m pretty confident in where he’s going.

Majestuoso has a longer way to go, since he’ll be a much darker chestnut.

Maj 12-29-13

Blocking in his dark mane and tail really shows just how far he still needs to go. I love how even just painting the eyes black suddenly brings the horses to life. This guy has a lot of layers left.

Chrys is getting closer and closer- she too got her hair and marking blocked in, and I took the tape off her hooves.

Chrys 12-29-13

At this point I’m only pastelling her greys, and fixing a few boo boos in her coat. Once that’s done, she’ll be getting her whites for real. I’m pleased with how soft her coat came out (finally!) and the super subtle dappling.

I’m so happy to be pastelling again! But I’d better keep up with sculpting and prepping too, so I’ll have a new herd ready for color when these guys are done. I’ve got at least two bays and two appaloosas coming up…





My Belated Christmassy Post

We spent a lovely holiday with my family and today we headed out to the stable to visit Robyn’s family and the horses. The barn is always very festive around the holidays, with lights strung up and fir boughs on all the stalls (except for Hwinn’s stall, because she ate hers).

Barn Christmas Tree

Lolly and Jelly

The newest boarders, Lolly and her guide-donkey, Jelly, wear their festive hair ribbons.

Carrots from Santa

Pony stockings

All of the horses got peppermints in their stockings, but Little Oscar also got an extra special present- a new rope toy!

Oscars Rope Toy 1

Oscars Rope Toy 2

Oscars Rope Toy 3

He liked it very much. His “uncles” were intrigued, but were really more interested in the pepperments we had.

Gabe begs

Please can I have another peppermint?

Pepperments for the mares

Mr Oscar

Last but certainly not least we tromped over to the other paddock where Cochise rules with an iron hoof. Mr. Mudball got at least four peppermints.

Cochise with his tongue out

Happy holidays everyone! And just in case you need a tutorial:

Planning Pintos

I have a new tool for planning pinto patterns and marking that I wanted to share with you all. Some of you may have caught a peek in my last post.

Consulting my notes while working on details

Consulting my notes while working on details

One of my current commissions is a pinto drafter. I had gathered reference pictures for his pattern, but none of the same horse. As is often the case, I needed to do some sketching to make a pinto pattern that combined two references into one realistically-marked horse.

My reference photos

My reference photos

I decided to look around online to find a horse outline that I could use to sketch the patterns onto. I was stoked to find this image on the UK’s government site.

pinto pattern blank

Click to enlarge

It’s meant to draw detailed pictures of your horse’s identifying marks for a Horse Passport, which makes it perfect for me uses. I modified it slightly, printed it out, and then used a pencil to sketch in the patterns.

NASD pinto planning

Now I can see where I need to adjust the reference horse pattern to fit together nicely. I’ll do my base chestnut coat first, and this drawing will guide me as I map out the pinto markings. I’m excited to have found this so I have a blank to use whenever I’m planning complex markings. And it was great to use for Ducky since I was trying to match a specific horse’s marking exactly.

And speaking of Ducky… he’s all done and wrapped up to go home :)

Ducky - front

I added his pictures to my Bay & Black gallery. I also added some better pictures of recent customs to their respective galleries. I’m looking forward to painting and posting more ponies soon!

Cold Snap

I was really looking forward to getting home and enjoying some hobby time, but weather and life had other plans. We came home to a freakish cold spell- the coldest it’s been in Oregon in my lifetime. Since cold can wreak havoc on primer and fixative, I’m limited in what I can work on.

To add to that, I can home from California with a bad case of poison oak- so bad that my whole face swelled up and one eye was swollen shut! So my downtime pretty much involved lying on the couch icing my face. Luckily, I also got some steroids to take so I was feeling (and looking) better pretty quick.

I was jonesing for some hobby time in general, but I also wanted to get back to work on the portrait horse I’m making for my trainer. I base-coated him in acrylic and I decided to try doing a bit of pastel on him and see how the fixative behaved in our freezing temperatures.

Adding pastels

Adding pastels

I figured that if the fixative did go wonky, I would only need some sanding and another coat of acrylic to get him back. Luckily, the fixative worked pretty well, so I was able to make a lot of progress on this guy.

After a few layers in

After a few layers in

At first I made him a little too red, but I was able to back it out a little and I think I got the nice red bay I was going for. I did several layers of pastel over a weekend to get his body color where I wanted it, and I’ve been using my free time on weeknights to work on his acrylic details.

Working on his intricate blaze

Working on his intricate blaze

Ducky is a somewhat challenging horse to do a portrait of because he has a very intricate blaze, and even his leg markings have pretty unique edges. I’ve been doing a lot of layers followed by buffing.

Duckys blaze

The temperatures are still mostly below freezing, but they’re supposed to come back to the usual 40′s later this week. Even with my success (and/or luck) with fixative on Ducky, I don’t want to try doing primer, or spraying fixative on a grain-prone color like palomino. So those projects will have to wait.

Detailing his markings

Consulting my notes while working on details

But I’m sure glad I was able to make progress here! Hopefully I’ll be gifting this little Ducky next week.

Casting Cones

As I documented in a previous post, my first experience with casting was not entirely successful. But I did definitely learn a lot- and enough to embark on a smaller, simpler molding task as part of my performance prep for NW Congress last month.

Back in April 2012 I was preparing to show performance at NW Expo. I needed a single cone in two different performance set ups, one in Stablemate scale and one for a Schleich. I sculpted the two cones out of epoxy, and spent way too much time getting the base to be flat and square, and the cone to be… cone-shaped.

In progress cones

In progress cones

For NW Congress I needed at least four stablemate cones. But I didn’t have the time (or patience) to sculpt four more. Plus, I knew it would bug me if they didn’t match. But since the cone has one flat side, I realized that I could do a one-part mold and cast a few more relatively easily.

One part molds are simpler because you only have to pour rubber once, and you don’t have to worry about two parts fitting together perfectly. It’s also easier to pour the liquid plastic.

To make the mold, I took a little plastic cup (like what you’d eat yogurt or fruit out of) and lightly glued the original epoxy cone to the bottom, pushing it down so it was flush with the bottom. I didn’t want the cone to move around when I poured the rubber, and any little imperfection caused by a glue lump would be easily correctable by sanding (it ended up not being an issue at all).

making cone mold

I waited for the glue to set and so that the cone was firmly affixed to the cup. Then I mixed up my liquid rubber and poured it into the cup, making sure to cover the whole height of the cone. After it set, I had a nice little cone mold:

cone mold

Once the mold was done I poured my liquid plastic into it. I thought it might be hard to get it exactly full, but the flat base of the cone made it pretty easy. I recommend pouring from something that you can squeeze to make a kind of spout to control the pour. Handily, any little extra plastic that left on the top was only a very thin layer, so it’s easy to remove after the plastic sets.

I poured four cones, and with a bit of sanding and paint I had a lovely set:

set of cones

On the left is the original epoxy cone, and one the right are my four plastic copies.

The cones are great. I used them in a bunch of my performance set-ups at NW Congress, and I certainly will use them many more times. And if I need more, it’s not hard to make some!

cones in english games

I used the cones in English Games to mark the finish line in Red Light Green Light .

Cones are amazing useful for performance showers- almost essential, really. In fact, while I was working on this post, Jennifer Buxton wrote a post on her blog all about using cones in performance. She also mentions a great (and inexpensive) resource for buying Traditional sized cones. And as usual, a bunch of fun pictures too :)

Getting Antsy

I’m still in California hanging out with family, but I’m starting to get antsy and miss my plastic ponies :) I have so many exciting horses in progress and I’m eager to get back to work on them.

Poor Chryselephantine is being repainted AGAIN. For those of you counting, this is my fourth attempt to get the golden palomino I’m looking for. I bought some new pastels just for the endeavor, and so far so good- but time will tell.

Drying after a layer of pastel and fixative

Drying after a layer of pastel and fixative. I’m trying to preserve the paint on her hooves, hence the blue-tape booties.

The portrait horse I’m doing is getting his chocolaty base coat in acrylic. Normally I would do a bay with all pastel from a white base, but I wanted to hurry him up a little. Plus he’s a gift for a non-hobbyist, so that perfect workmanship-winning color is less important. He’s a gift for my trainer since I’m leaving her barn (for one closer to home) and so I want to have him done soon.

Ducky 11-24-13

Ducky is a slightly CMed G1 Seabiscuit with a new tail, new forelock, gelding parts, and corrected legs.

I finally got up the courage to start adding a new mane and tail to my beautiful Doodlebug resin. He’s getting a short, tack-friendly mane and a flowing tail. He’ll be a bright chestnut… in a million years when I finish sculpting him!

Sharky 11-23

Quick-drying epoxy under a desk lamp

I’m continuing to rejoice in my beautiful new primer and getting these guys prepped. The Gallus and Majestuoso are commissions and the Wee Wyakin and Rivet are mine. Rivet still needs some sculpting work, but the other three are getting very close to painting time.

primer herd 11-24

The primer herd drying on our kitchen island

With all these guys going, my in-progress cupboard is quite full. I’m stoked to get back to working on these, and hopefully have a few done in time for the spring shows.

I’m a little late on the announcement, but Anna Kirby at Dreamflite Design is running a Black Friday weekend sale on her stablemate English saddle tutorial. If you want to make your own tack, I highly recommend this tutorial! For this weekend it’s only $5 for a full color PDF! Get the details on her Facebook page.

I won’t have much to report til I get home on Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll quickly get back into a routine… including plenty of pony time!