Tag Archives: tools

Nail Polish Alternatives

Since I’m working to complete a couple model repairs before the show this weekend, I decided to finally graduate from using nail polish to gloss eyes. I knew there were other products out there, so I went to Blab and asked around.

The lovely folks there gave me lots of ideas for inexpensive products that do nice glossing and don’t ruin brushes (yay!) The following were recommended to me:

  • Liquitex gloss varnish
  • Games Workshops clear gloss
  • Delta Air-Dry PermEnamel
  • Deco-Art Triple Thick acrylic gloss
  • Delta Ceramcoat gloss varnish

I headed down to Michael’s to see what they had available. The two that I found were the PermEnamel and the Delta Ceramcoat varnish. They didn’t have PermEnamel in clear, only colors, so I had an easy choice and purchased the Delta Ceramcoat gloss varnish for a reasonable $3.49.

I used it on Lilah’s new and improved eyes and I’m very happy with my purchase. The stuff goes on really easily with the brush of your choice and cleans up nicely too. It’s thin enough to not glob on, and you can always do multiple coats if you want more. My only regret is that I didn’t ditch the nail polish method sooner!

The repaired and updated Lilah, ready to be packed in her personalized bag for the show.

My New Toy

Thanks to a post by Anna Kirby, I realized I really need to be sealing all my tack items with leather sealer. That prompted a trip to Tandy Leather, which is not too terribly far away but still a bit of a trip.

So of course, while I was there I had to browse around. Just in case.

I’ve always wondered about the special skiving knives that some people use for thinning leather, and the guy at Tandy let me try one out, which is just what I needed. I hate to buy something I find out it’s not going to work the way I hoped. But this thing is awesome! It cost $14.99, but for someone who really hates skiving, it’s great.

The thing I really like about it is that it thins a large area (well, in terms of mini tack, anyways) not just a little bit like I can do with an exacto knife. I found myself still using the exacto and sandpaper to neaten things up, but overall this skiver thing is pretty darn cool.

Before…

…and after!

It’s true that I could have achieved similar results from my old all-exacto method, but not nearly as fast or as easily. Hurrah for new toys!

Play-Doh is Fun Again

Sara Gifford of FriesianFury Studio did a lovely blog post about using Play-Doh way back in February, but I didn’t have a reason to try it until recently. My resin drafter has a nifty little acrylic rod in his hoof to help him stand, and I needed to protect it from primer.

So off I went to the store to get some play-doh. At first I only found the big packs with many different colors, but then I found this handy zip pack for only $1.99.

I took a little piece of play-doh (man, even this small bag is going to last me forever) and smooshed it over the acrylic peg so it was completely covered. Then I primed him like normal.

After I was done priming, I simply pulled off the play-doh, with the acrylic rod safe and sound and clean.

I won’t have a frequent use for play-doh, but I’m really glad I got some. It’s one of those tools that is the perfect choice when you need it- you just don’t need it very often. But I’ll definitely never struggle with painter’s tape again. Those days are over!

Thanks for the great post, Sara!

My Teeny New Brush

Since I had a couple roans and appaloosas coming up I decided to head down to Blick’s Art Supply and finally get one of the teeny brushes recommended by the amazing artist Jamie Baker. Jamie does the most fabulous roaning, even in Stablemate scales.

But being me, when I got to the store and found the brush (Escoda Optimo Kolinsky Sable Reservoir Liner, Series 1310, size 2) I couldn’t help but price it against other similar brushes. And when I found one half the price that looked just as nice and small, I bought that instead. At $10, it’s my most expensive single brush.

My new brush is the Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold II, Series 101, size 00. I’ve been using it on this roaning leopard appaloosa, and I really like how well it works for hair details. Of course, perhaps the Kolinsky brush is better- maybe even twice as well. But I’m too much of a cheapskate to find out. Maybe when this one retires I’ll spring for it. Who knows?

Detail

This guy still needs marking and hooves done, and looking at these pictures I see a couple other things to work on. But I’d say he’s 95% finished!

It was really nice to be working predominantly in acrylics, as I am on this appy and on Sleipnir, since I only have to wait for the paint to dry instead of the hour plus I have to wait after putting fixative over a pastel layer. When I have the time to devote, it’s nice to get so much done in one sitting. In fact, Sleipnir is officially finished… pictures coming soon.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

I love to rave about my dremel tool, but there is another tool that I always use before I start drilling into a new horse: a sharpie marker.

Using the dremel is fun, but it’s easy to get over excited and do too much cutting, which only results in more work in the long term. The opposite is true too: I’ll get out the supplies to make a few cuts, put everything away, and realize that the horse needs even more dremel work before I can move on.

After doing one of the above far too many times, I’ve finally settled down to the sharpie routine. Especially for a drastic custom, this can be a crucial step.

So that this:

Can become this:

And now I’m at it again, with a not quite so complex customization. The new guy, all marked up:

So hopefully this weekend he’ll have an after picture too. Or at least, a fun frankenhorse look.

Splitting a Schleich in Half

…is honestly a big pain in the butt, and a task I won’t be repeating if I can help it. But if you really must know, here’s how I did it.

Unlike Breyer and Peter Stone horses, which are made of hard plastic and hollow, Schleich horses (and similar brands) are made of a softer, more rubbery plastic, and they are solid. This makes is much harder to cut through them, because there is way more material to go through.

If you have a Jigsaw you should just skip all this and head to the tool box. But I only have a dremel, so that’s what I used.

The first thing I tried was using an abrasive metal brush tool to strip away plastic where I wanted the model to split. The brush is not very big, however, so although it works well against the rubbery plastic I could only make about a quarter inch dent into the horse.

I needed to somehow get rid of and/or weaken the plastic still firmly holding the middle of the horse together. So I got out a cutting bit…

and starting drilling holes through the remaining plastic (a straight up drill bit would work for this as well).

After drilling a bunch of holes all the way through the remaining plastic, it was weakened enough to pull apart.

You can see the “star” where I drilled through the middle:

The second model, for whatever reason, needed quite a few more holes drilled, but finally he too was able to be pulled apart.

I’m just glad that part of the Sleipnir project is over with and I’m on to the fun stuff now!

Rasps and Their Various Uses

One of my favorite tools is this large, heavy duty rasp:

You can buy them at hardware stores, but knowing me I probably got it at a garage sale or thrift store. I don’t remember.

This giant file has many excellent purposes. For one, if you don’t have a dremel (or are too lazy to get it out) you can use this to file down large areas on a horse, for example if you are slimming their barrel. It leaves big marks which you’ll want to epoxy or sand over, but it’s useful it you need to get rid of a lot of material quickly.

I also use the rasp to keep my other tools in good shape. When my fine little dentist’s tools end up with hardened epoxy all over them, a few rubs on my big rasp takes them back to the finessable sculpting tools they should be.

Finally, the least obvious use for my file: getting super glue off your hands. I use super glue a lot when I’m customizing, and too often I end up with glue on my fingers.

Aaaargh!

Even if I do avoid gluing fingers to each other, I still end up with a nasty callous of dried glue. I absolutely hate the feeling, and it doesn’t go away quickly… without help. I simply rasp the gluey spot on my skin, and soon enough it’s gone. It doesn’t hurt, since you’re just sloughing the glue and the very top layer of your skin. Much better!