Breyerfest Custom Contest

I’ve never been more invested in Breyerfest than this year. Not only have I been helping Erin ready her performance entries for the live show (and making some last minute props!), but I also have a model of my own attending and competing! My horse Nightfox was chosen as a finalist in Breyer’s Custom Contest!

Breyer announced this contest in mid May, and (with a little encouragement) I set to work finalizing some details so I could enter Nightfox in the Performance Excellence division.

Rose City Live 2013

Rose City Live 2013

As someone who makes all my own customs, tack, props, etc., it’s wonderful to have Breyer host a contest where individuals enter horses of their own creation. I take a lot of pride in my DIY approach to the hobby, and it’s very rewarding to have it recognized.

All of the contest finalists in each division will be on display at Breyerfest from Thursday afternoon through Saturday night in the Artisan’s Gallery. Since I’m not attending, Erin will be setting up my scene (and thus making her first foray into mini performance!)

Sweet Onion Live 2014

Sweet Onion Live 2014

Thank you to Breyer for holding this contest and the judges for donating their time. I’m so honored to have been chosen and excited to have my work on display at the model horse event of the year. It’s my own little Armchair Breyerfest!

Are you going to Breyerfest this year? Send me a picture of yourself with my entry! It would totally make my day :D

Seeing Other Mediums

When I starting working on models back in 2009, I immediately latched onto pastels as my medium of choice. I had found a good tutorial online, and pastel supplies were affordable and readily available. The ease of blending was also extremely appealing to someone just starting out.

Two of my pastelled horses winning 1st and 2nd in Appaloosa Workmanship at NW Congress 2012

Two of my pastelled horses winning 1st and 2nd in Appaloosa Workmanship at NW Congress 2012

As I did more and more horses (and started trying more complex or nuanced colors) I did find some downsides to pastels. For one, the dust gets everywhere. You can only do a bit of work at a time between coats of sealer, and graininess can be an issue. Perhaps most importantly, pastels are not terribly forgiving- if you go too dark, or too orange, or get a dark mark somewhere that’s suppose to be light, it’s pretty pesky to turn things around.

Complaints aside, I really do like working with pastels. But after watching my friend Tracy paint in oils, and seeing the incredible, luminous horses she made, I was eager to try it out myself.

ES Norman - Vertical Limit AR painted by Tracy Eilers - owned by Erin Corbett

ES Norman – Vertical Limit AR painted by Tracy Eilers – owned by Erin Corbett

I’m very lucky that Tracy lives nearby and was willing to give me a lesson. It was so amazingly helpful to watch her paint and have her walk me through the basics. She also lent me her rare copy of Carol William’s Color Formulas and Techniques to study up beforehand.

2015-06-13 15.15.08


I am really, really excited about oils. I love how long you can work with them, so you can keep tweaking things til they’re just right. Perhaps the coolest thing about oils- especially coming from pastels- is that you can add and change colors easily, and even go from dark to light. It makes adjusting colors and shading ten times easier.

Oil paints may seem intimidating, especially since they require a bit of investment to get started. But they’re a great medium, and really wonderful to work with. I did not hesitate to purchase my own supplies. I spent about $120 for my basic paints, 7 brushes, brush cleaner, palette knife, and drier. Considering how lovely the horses turn out and how long those items will last me, it is well worth it.

Doodlebug in his base coat

Doodlebug in his base coat

The downside to oils is how long the coats take to dry (even with additional drier). It’s very worth it, but patience is not my strong suit. I am eager to keep working on the horses in progress, and start a few more! I don’t intend to stop using pastels by any means, but I love having this new medium in my arsenal!

Pick a Pinto

I have a number of horses that are nearly ready to be painted. Most of them already have colors, but the choice for my CM Poquito is still up in the air.

2015-06-09 13.12.56

I need some help! I posted my top six choices below. The references are mostly for the pattern- I’ll likely be doing a chestnut body color. Help me out- what’s your favorite?

#1 – speckled medicine hat

1 - speckled medicine hat

#2 – extreme medicine hate

2 - extreme medicine hat

#3 – roany overo

3- roany overo

#4 – spotty overo

4 - spotty overo

#5 – oreo splash

5 - oreo splash

#6 – belly splash

6 - belly splash

What do you think? Vote for your favorite below!

Repairin’ for Erin: Straightening a Bent Leg

My friend Erin is a dedicated and accomplished hobbyist. Among other things, she is a committed and skillful performance shower…

English Performance Champion at Breyerfest 2013

English Performance Champion at Breyerfest 2013

…and makes top quality western tack:

Pleasure saddle made in 2014

Pleasure saddle made in 2014

Erin has been wonderfully generous with her knowledge, helping me learn about working with leather and improve my performance entries. So I was excited to find an opportunity to me to use my skills to help her out in kind.

Although Erin’s short foray into oil painting was pretty successful, she doesn’t do any customizing or repairs herself. Being a clumsy person, I’ve inevitably learned to repair models. Earlier this month I was visiting Erin and found several horses to kidnap and repair. I figured I could do some mini tutorials as I went.

The first horse in need is a OF Stablemate Arabian Mare who was formerly a part of Erin’s mini show string. Alas, Miss Pinto has been staying home since she developed a bent foreleg.

Ouch! That can't be comfortable.

Ouch! That can’t be comfortable.

Bent legs are a relatively common problem in plastic models and can be caused by heat, pressure or a combination of the two. You can prevent bent legs by protecting your horses from extreme temperatures (e.g. never leaving them in a hot car) and packing them carefully for any transport.

Fixing a bent leg on a show quality model follows the same general practice as bending a leg while customizing- only you need to be much more careful about the finish. Overheating an area can cause the plastic to bubble.

To make this repair, you’ll need a heat gun, a wide bowl of cool water (big enough to dunk your horse into), and something to protect your hands while you shift the leg. I use an old pair of thick socks. The plastic will be hot when you touch it, and you will burn yourself without something over your skin. Trust me.

Curious cats are optional but encouraged.

Curious cats are optional but encouraged.

The key to this is to take your time. With your hand protection on, turn on the heat gun and wave it back and forth slowly over the bent leg, keeping the gun about 3/4″-1″ away from the horse to prevent damaging the finish. Move the gun so that every side of the leg gets heat. Bends are generally going to happen between joints. Pinpoint the place you need to manipulate to fix it, and aim to get that whole area warm.

Erins Arab Mare - heating area

The red block shows where I’m aiming the heat for this fix

After a minute or so, gently try to bend the leg back into the correct place. If it doesn’t move easily, heat it a bit more and try again. Once you’ve got the leg in the position you want, dunk it into the bowl of water. That cools the leg and (hopefully) keeps it in the new position.

Erins Arab Mare - cooling

Once the leg is moved some, check your horse again. Is further bending needed?

Frances is skeptical

Frances is skeptical

If the leg is being stubborn, heat and move it again. Something you have to do this a couple times to get it right, as the leg naturally wants to move back into the bent position. Be firm, and show the leg who’s boss… but gently and slowly, so as not to damage the finish.

The final result: showable once again!

The final result: showable once again!

With only about ten minutes of fiddling, this mare now has a straightened leg. She’s ready to go back out on the show table!


Anyone for a trade?

I’m really excited to be back in my studio and working on some more tack plus a whole pile of beautiful naked resins. Most of them have planned colors and even names… I just gotta get painting! Once done, these guys will actually double my resin show string!


That said, I’ve got my eye on the new stock horse mare that Sarah Rose is working on. She fun, correct, and performance friendly! You can see pictures of her on the Rose Studios page. I’m excited to say that I’ve already arranged a paintjob-for-blank trade on her- a friend is purchasing two Moxies; I’ll paint one for her and keep the other as payment. Perfect!

That deal is already claimed, but I’m interested in a similar arrangement for Adelee Hude’s new Lippizan stallion Adagio. If you’re interested in having me paint your Adagio, check out my MH$P ad for trade details.


This weekend I wrote about my wonderful studio. I’ve been feeling particularly appreciative of it in these last few weeks, since I haven’t been able to use it. In February, a week shy of our one year anniversary in the place, we had to move out of our condo while some emergency repair work was done.

The upside is that we are getting new floors. The downside is that we had to move everything out of our place for over a month, and live out of a rental. As you might imagine, productivity on hobby goals has dropped considerably.

My current work space looks more like this:

rentalspace 1

At least, that’s the Before picture. After a few hours of work it usually looks something more like this:

rental studio 2

Either way, it’s not optimal. I have a lot of things I want to get done. In particular I’m trying to finish a saddle set for the NW Expo show in a few weeks… I’m gonna have to step up my game in order for that to happen!

The good news is that we will hopefully be moving back into our home next week. I can’t wait to be back in my beloved studio and crafting away madly!

I love my studio

When we were looking for a home in 2013, I dreamed of finding one where I had room for a dedicated studio. Not necessarily a whole room, but a space where I could organize and keep my supplies and always have a nice place to work.

In early 2014, we moved into our beautiful new condo. It’s a open loft style space, and in the corner was this strange little alcove.

studio progress 1

We don’t know what it was supposed to be, or how previous occupants might have used it. But we knew what is was for- my future studio! A few months after moving in, we worked with a local company to turn the alcove into a studio.

studio progress 2

First in was the storage cupboard. Then they started putting in the support for the table top…

studio progress 4

And added awesome, perfectly sized drawers.

studio progress 5

Last but not least was a lovely butcher block top. The whole installation took only part of a day, and then my beautiful studio was ready!

finished studio

I spent a wonderful weekend obsessively organizing all the drawers and cupboards. I also ordered a custom wood box from a lovely artisan on Etsy in which to store my horses in progress. That way they were safe from dust, kitties, and whatever else I was working on.

horse box

Next I needed the perfect lighting. I looked at a million desk lamps in various styles and prices and finally found the perfect one at a stupendous price- a simple, LED gooseneck light from Amazon. It even has a built in magnifying glass for when you really need to work on something fiddly! I also bought some stick on LED tap lights to shine down from the bottom of the cupboard (visible in the picture above).

Finally, the studio I had always wanted was realized!

studio moved in

I love, love, love my little studio. It’s pretty, organized, and just the right size. I love being able to jump right into hobby fun without having to drag out all the supplies from storage and set up on a table. It’s wonderful to have this dream come true.