Tag Archives: studio

Quick Tip: Catch All Tray

I’ve been super busy this week trying to judge a breed division for IMEHA while also doing the final planning and errands for a 300 person tech conference I’m helping organize. Event planning is hard work!

So I’m rather behind in both model stuff and blogging. But here’s a quick handy dandy tip. Whether you’re painting, sculpting, or working on tack, I find it’s very helpful to have a catch-all tray under where I’m working.

I think mind might be part of a tupperware- I likely scavenged it from Goodwill or a freebox. It’s nice to have not only to contain the mess, but also to catch flying bits (oh, I needed that buckle!), mix paint on, and other random tasks. It helps me to keep my table clean, since it catches most of the pastel dust, leather scraps, and plastic bits that inevitably fly about. If you’d like something a little more posh than mine, you can buy a Tabletop Tarp with foldable edges to hold your hobby projects.

Here’s two sneak peeks of current projects. I hope to have the pony finished in time for the September shows (she’s a commission) and the trotting cob will be a Christmas gift.

The conference is tomorrow, and maybe Sunday or Monday I’ll resurface.

Note Keeping

I have been working somewhat regularly on my ponies but have nothing terribly exciting to report- I’m plugging away on the Sculpting Herd, the Pastel Herd (who has a new member, the “Head Up Mare” aka Lilah) and my first ever commission (as trade for the PS Chips TB body that I’ve been torturing).

While juggling all these projects, I’ve found it extremely handy to take some notes about where I am in the project, what it needs, what it has, and what I want to do next. So I’ve got this handy-dandy notebook.

I make a section or page for each horse and that way I can keep track of things. That means less second guessing, less redundancy, and less frustration. It also makes for more accuracy, more efficiency, more focus, and more learning.

My Akhal-Teke drastic resculpt needs a lot of work, and one of the things I used my notebook for was to brainstorm and then record some of the changes I wanted to make. That way when I sit down to work on him I have a clear idea of where I’m headed. Plus, writing out some of the important breed characteristics I’m going for helps solidify the idea in my head and makes for an overall more accurate representation.

I started Typhoid Mary’s note page when she was ready to paint, since her dapple bay-going-grey is a rather complicated color (and the first going-grey I’ve done). In my notebook I can keep track of what parts are already Dull Coted, and thus ready for pastel application. This is good for when you go long stretches of time between work periods, as I sometimes do. And it’s even more important on a horse who, unlike Typhoid Mary, doesn’t have such a nice tail hand hold. On those I might not be able to Dull Cote the whole body at once, and this way I’m not confused when the pastels refuse to stick to his front legs.

I’m also keeping careful track of the colors I’m using on Typhoid Mary. I’m doing a lot of her coat in colored pencil hair detail, and I want to keep track of how I’m doing it so that the sides match up. Plus, if I ever forget how I did it or what colors I used, I’ve got it all written down.

I also use my book to keep track of who needs to be dremeled. I prefer to do my dremeling in batches, but before I started using a list I would often forget someone who needed work, and only remember after I’d put everything away again. When I keep a list, no one gets forgotten- and I only have to sweep the bathroom once.

My little notebook is definitely helping me stay on track better and taking the guesswork out of my pony progress. If only it could give me 36 hours in a day…

Brand Loyalty, or Not

Several people have asked me what I use for sculpting. It got me thinking about my brand loyalties in general. There are some hobby supplies for which I do have a preferred brand or supplier, and others for which I’m much less picky. As I outlined in a previous post, I’m a fan of Testor’s Dull Cote, Aves Apoxy Sculpt, and Krylon Primer.

On the other hand, there are some items that I use regularly which I am much more flexible about, particularly when cost or availability vary. I understand why other people are more selective. But as a cheapskate amateur, I can afford to be a more adaptable.

Acrylic Paints – For starters, I’m a terrible acrylic painter. I use them almost exclusively for details where pastels won’t work, or for painting props and dioramas. Therefore I am really not picky about my brands or the nuances between them. My paints have been acquired from a variety of sources from my college’s book store and various art stores to garage sales or my mother’s studio. So when I reach for a color, it might be Liquitex, Grumbacher, M. Graham & Co., Golden, or Ceramcoat, depending on when and how I acquired it.

Pastels – Many hobbyists swear by one brand or another, and if I had unlimited income it’d be nice to try them all. Instead, I use the set of chalk pastels I owned before I ventured into customizing (Rembrandt), supplementing with a basic, inexpensive, and hobbyist recommended set of earth tones (Alphacolor). But when I run out of a color or happen to find a cheap source, I’m willing to try what I find most easily, provided it comes in a color and price range that works for me.

Colored Pencils – I started using colored pencils after reading about it online. I wanted to try it, so I just grabbed what I had on hand- a nice, full set of Derwent pencils and some Loew-Cornell watercolor pencils. I liked the results and when I ventured out for more colors ended up buying Faber Castell Pastel Pencils and Prismacolor Verithin colored pencils. I like all of these, and they seem to have varying effectiveness depending on what is it that I’m trying to do with them. Even when I’m using them, I just keep trying one after the other til I hit the one that works. And so when I see them at the store it’s a bit like candy, and I just pick up a few more here and then- resulting in the hodge podge of brands in my pencil drawer.

Dremel Tool – In this case I actually practiced backwards brand loyalty by avoiding the Dremel brand. What I actually own is a Chicago Rotary Tool. Dremel is the most well known brand, and also the most expensive. Handily, once you’ve bought the tool itself the attachments and bits are largely interchangeable, so you can find what you need at your local hardware store regardless of the exact manufacturer.

New Toys

Today I was working on the coats of my three micro mini race horses and became frustrated with the organization of my pastels and the variety of browns available to me. So I hopped on my bike and set out to rectify the situation.

Here are some of my new toys:

The artists cups are maybe a bit of a splurge, but I absolutely love how well they help me organize pastels. I can use to store dust from individual pastels and also mixes I’ve made for various purposes. The brushes were a necessity, since my favorite stiff pastelling brushes are getting so worn that their metal bits endanger the model with each swipe (eek!). The pen is a Pen-Touch Extra Fine in white, for signing horses when the black Micron won’t show up. It’s not essential, but it will sure makes things easier.

I also picked up some new pastel colors from CreataColor. I chose Olive Brown, Van Dyke Brown, and “Bister” Brown. Hopefully that will help me with my various bays and chestnuts.

When I got home I transferred all of my horse colors from my full rainbow set of Rembrants and into individual labeled artist cups. But masking tape labels were not enough! I had to print them out and modge podge them on.

Ah, organization is beautiful.

The larger containers were a previous acquisition from Goodwil

And now I can concentrate on the current projects without the distraction of mess.

This week I will be working some heinously early shifts. I may come home at 2pm being a zombie and needing pony time. Or, I may come home at 2pm just plain being a zombie. We shall see…

Ponies in Their Places

I think I can finally say that all of my hobby stuff in unpacked, organized, and moved in. I’ve got bits and pieces all over the apartment…

In the hallway…

The ponies on their new wall shelf above the books, with my horse book collection starting off to the left and my other Horse Shaped Objects below.

In the bedroom…

WiP horses congregate on my dresser. A few more are packed up while I concentrate on their friends. Hopefully this very public set up will help keep me motivated and focused.

Supply shelving at the end of the bed.

In the closet…

Above my clothes, the closet shelf is 85% horse supplies.

and under the bed.

More extra supplies and my body box are under the bed in slide out plastic containers

Phew! It feels good to have that done. At this point we are mostly moved in. We still need to put up wall art, organize the camping supplies, and buy and add a few new things. But it’s getting there. I’m very happy to have a lovely space to work in the main room, on our beautiful kitchen island. We may also be getting a counter-height bar table that I could potentially also use.

And (hurrah!) our lovely little balcony… there’s definitely some more photo showing in my future.

It’s starting to feel like home.

Cheap Thrills: Tack Catalog Reference Sheets

Like many people, I rely heavily on the internet to provide me with references for horses and tack. But I also like to have pictures in hand. My numerous horse books are excellent sources for pictures and information. And I’ve discovered a great way to acquire tack references- for free!

Some tack companies that put out catalogs will send you one, free of charge, in the hope that you will buy something. If you don’t buy anything, they’ll stop mailing after one of two, but that gives you lots of reference to look at and leaf through for ideas and inspiration.

Want to request a catalog? Here are some options:

Since I’ve been cutting down on clutter, I wanted to go through my catalogs and organize the references that I really wanted. So I cut out and sorted the pictures I wanted, and then stuck them to old photo album sheets. You can get these for cheap at Goodwill, although you may have to buy the album that holds them too. I just find the cheapest album with the most sheets (I use them for recipes, too).

Here’s one for the many varieties of figure eight nosebands:

Thank you to Jennifer Buxton for pointing out that I goofed I grouped figure eight nosebands and flash nosebands together under one heading.

Now I can keep these in a binder and have the organized references at my finger tips when I need them, and without the excess pages of wormers and helmets and other such that I don’t need to keep around.

Cheap Thrills: Hobby Storage

In anticipation of and excitement for our move to a new apartment this summer, I started a purging and reorganization of the studio this week. I was so excited I got up early to get to Goodwill for containers. And I was rewarded to be able to condense many of my disorganized boxes into this:

They’re even labeled!

I only wish I had a “before” picture to compare…this is MUCH more condensed, organized and practical!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love to find plastic containers to use for hobby things at Goodwill or similar thrift stores. If you shop often you can easily find what you need and at a fraction of the item’s price new.

My main goal with this reorganization was to divide my hobby stuff into activities, so that all of my pastelling tools were in one container, prepping and sculpting in another, etc. Before I had too many little boxes, and I’ve transferred to fewer, slightly larger and more orderly containers. I’m particularly happy with this find, which now holds my pastel and colored pencil supplies.

I added the horse to cover a bit of damage on the top of the box

I was lucky to find the perfect container. Handily, you can sometimes make a thrift store find into the perfect container- with a bit of creativity and work. I had been using a bead container (easily found at Goodwill for half off the new price) for my tack. The only problem was that the divisions in the box weren’t quite right, and I couldn’t fit in my sticky wax or my smaller container of micro mini tack (it has little tiny pockets, perfect for those ridiculous .5 inch saddles). So I took my dremel and a large file to it and made it better.

Perfect! There’s still room for plenty of tack and when I finally do run out of space I’ll be able to find a similar container on the cheap and if necessary, modify it to fit my needs.

My deep love for storage containers may be a little over the top, but it sure does keep things orderly around here- and wherever my craft area will be in the new place.