Tag Archives: restoration

Tiny Things

My Christmas gift portrait cob now has hair! Said hair needs work, but she looks a lot better than last month when she had no ears and a wire sticking out of her butt…

Kettil Blacksmith is still in the pony hospital, but he’s recovering from Brokentailitis and will hopefully be ready to hit the show ring in a few weeks.

Progress!

Meanwhile, awesome hobby bloggers are busy making tiny masterpieces. EG of Last Alliance Studios cooked up some delicious looking sandwiches and Nichelle of Desktop Stables made a whole library of wee books. Seriously, the first pictures in these two posts will give you a real double take.

Here and There and All Over

As I’ve mentioned I’m busy with a new job (wheee!) and adjusting to much less pony time. I’m still managing to sneak it in though, never you fear.

Two of the top priority projects right now are fixes in preparation for the NW Congress Live Show at the end of the month. Kettil Blacksmith had a tough ride to his last show, despite my efforts, and ended up with a broken tail. He now has a double-wired, super reinforced tail.

Since that picture was taken I’ve added acrylic to cover the epoxy patch. He looks pretty good, but still needs some pastel layers to make everything match. Hopefully (knock wood) this will be the last time that tail needs repair.

The other guy in the Horsey Hospital is Troy Soldier, who isn’t a horse at all. This wiley mule came to the Harvest Halter Live with some ear tip rubs that I hadn’t noticed. I did a quick n dirty fix with a brown marker (thanks Vicky!) and he managed a red ribbon in his breed class, but he needed a real fix. Luckily, I’ve been keeping notes on the colors I use on recent horses, so I knew what would work with a minimum of fussing.

I have some more projects on the to-do list before the show, but that hasn’t stopped me from rashly chopping off some heads and starting a new project or two. If anyone has a Chips TB head they don’t need, I’d love to take it off your hands…

Meanwhile, I’m also working on two Christmas projects. My Welsh Cob portrait is just about ready for hair. And this thing is, believe it or not, coming along…

I know of one or two of my readers who might guess what that is. Need a hint? I’m just a madwoman making a box…

Frustration –> Satisfaction

I have a busy work week before Rose City Live on the 8th, so I wanted to get ahead on packing. I am sure glad I started early, because I found not one but 4 horses that needed repairs! Argh.

I was really peeved at first (especially because it was my clumsiness that added one of those horses to the list) but then I realized that in the big scheme of things, this is not really worthy of exasperation. For one, I had caught everything in time to fix it (not, for example, the night before) and nothing needed major work.

But secondly and more satisfying, I realized I am perfectly capable of fixing all of the problems. I made the horse in the first place, so I can be confident in putting it back on the work bench for repairs. I’m happy that I don’t need to send these guys off to someone else to get repaired- I just added it to my pre-show to do list.

The four models went into the “hospital” on Tuesday, and by today nearly everyone is ready to go. Their fellows are all packed, and the other projects are nearing completion. Hurrah!

Fixing a Broken Leg 201: joints

Last month I did a quick little tutorial on how to do a basic fix on a broken leg using wire. This month I find myself fixing another leg, this time more complicated because it’s broken right below a joint.

This fix uses a similar technique, but with a bit of a tweak to make it more stable.

Required reading: How to Fix a Broken Leg

The sad (and blurry, sorry) victim:

This break was half on purpose and half not- I was intentionally repositioning the leg, but failed to heat it enough before bending and it snapped. Oops.

Because the break is right below the bent hock, I need to use a wire join that is also bent to follow the shape of the leg so that it actually stabilizes the break.

weak join

strong join

The first step in the fix is simply to embed a piece of wire into the straighter side of the break, in this case the cannon bone (just like in steps 1-2 of the first tutorial). Once the wire is fully fixed in that side and the glue is dry, gently bend the wire to match the shape of the full leg (see below).

Since my wire joiner has a bend, the hole its going to fit into, in the upper part of the break, needs to match that bent shape. I used my carbide scraper to dig out a trench in the front of the bent hock. You could certainly use a dremel, but it’s not necessary.

Here I’ve dug my trench into the hock and fixed the wire, now bent, into the model’s cannon bone.

I keep scraping until the wire nestles fully into the trench and the leg lines up properly.

The wire nestled in its new home

Here I’ve got the leg just about where I want it.

As you can see above, I’ll need to do some resculpting (including removal) on that hock joint to make it anatomically correct. The important thing here is to get the bottom part of the leg securely where I want it to be on the finished custom, and then I can worry about the details.

Once the wire sits fully in the trench and you have the leg positioned how you want it, just fix the wire into the trench using superglue and baking soda. It sometimes helps at this stage to have an extra hand, or rest your horse upside down in a cup so you can hold the leg in place while still applying glue.

Once the glue is dry, make the fix even more secure by filling in the surrounding area with your epoxy of choice.

Ta da!

How to Fix a Broken Leg

One of my acquisitions from the last show was this free but broken G3 Stock Horse. Since I already had the dremel out, I fixed up his leg so he at least could stand on the shelf and await his customization. I took pictures so I could do a quick little tutorial on how to fix a broken leg.

Step One
Use a dremel to make a hole in both pieces of the leg. This break is at the pastern, so I drill up into the cannon bone and down into the hoof. Go as deep as you can without puncturing the outside of the plastic. This is easiest using a small diamond dremel bit, but you can use a carbide scraper to dig a hole into each piece if you don’t have a dremel on hand.

Step Two
Insert a wire into one of the holes as deeply as possible. Use as thick a wire as will fit. Secure the wire in the hole using super glue and just a touch of baking soda. The glue-and-baking-soda resin should only fill the hole and not spill out. If it overflows the hole you’ll need to sand it back down, otherwise the leg will end up longer than it was originally.

Step Three
Trim the wire so that when you put the two pieces together they are snug and no wire is visible, as seen below:

Now you see it...

Now you don't!

Step Four
Using just a touch of super or tacky glue, secure the exposed wire in the other side of the break. Make sure the sides are snug and that the hoof is positioned correctly. Stand the horse up to double check stability.

Voila! My horse has four legs again. He’ll still need some epoxy and/or modeling paste to smooth over the break, but it’s secure.

Strategies for those Pesky Acrylic Paints

I have tried to paint horses entirely in acrylics before but it’s always ended badly. I find it extremely difficult to blend acrylics properly, let alone get them to go down smooth. The reason I fell in love with pastel finish work is because both shading and smoothness are pretty inherent in the medium. It’s great.

But pastels are not very good for fixing chips or mistakes in finish work. With my recent rash of restoration cases, I’ve been forced to use acrylics- and, to my delight, to get better at using them.

Four strategies helped me in my endeavor to fix the finish problem or chips on Alpo, Doublet, and Troy Soldier.

First: Have plenty of applicable colors on hand. Any base color that might be a part of your horse’s lovely coat can be relevant. While doing these repairs I was constantly surprised by what colors worked and what didn’t. I was very happy to have all these different colors on hand in these great Ceramcoat bottles. I lucked into these at a garage sale for a pittance, but now that I know their awesomeness I’d be happy to pay full price for them. Besides, these little bottles hold a lot of paint and keep it neat and fresh much better than paint tubes, so they’re a good investment. Having so many easy to use, pre-made horsey colors made color matching much easier- and less wasteful too.

Second: Keep track of what works. I use my handy-dandy notebook to write down what base acrylic colors I’m using on the horses so that I can recreate the mixes- or another useful hue- when I go back for more layers or additional repairs. (When I saw the photo of Alpo below I immediately noted on his page “left front hoof needs filing!”)

Third: Work quickly in small batches, with water and a rag close at hand. Acrylics dry very fast, so it’s important to remove applied paint immediately if it doesn’t match. Happily, wet acrylic is easily removable if you act fast. I brush the offending area with water to liquidate the applied color. Then I soak up the water and pigment with a larger, dry brush, which I wipe clean and dry again on the rag. Depending on how much pigment you are removing, this may take a few repetitions. Be careful not to let it leave a line of color around the edges of the area- you may need to scrub the remaining pigment a bit with the wet brush to pick it up.

Fourth: Blend beyond the repair. The goal of finish restoration is of course to repair the part that’s damaged. But if you only put your acrylic patch there, even the best color matching is going to leave a funny shape. You want to concentrate your pigment on the problem area, but use that same color watered down to blend into the rest of the horse. Alpo had a weird “rain rot” mark in his pastel work, outlined in red below. That’s where most of my pigment went, but I brushed thinner and thinner acrylic over the rest of the purple-outlined area as well to blend the repair into his body.

Speaking of acrylics, here’s Lilah with some of her acrylic detailing mapped in. The orange in her mane and tail is a bit garish, but even with that toned down I think she’ll be quite a stunner.

Pony Problems

If all goes well, I’ll be headed to a live show at the end of March. I’d like to have some of my in progress horses done by then, but various problems are setting me back. Arg.

My ponies have problems:

grain

cat attack

rain rot

gravity

A month seems like a lot of time now, but I’m sure it’ll go by very
quickly.