Freeing Hazel

Morgan Kilbourns Mini Hazel resin is cast with a base, which I am removing as part of this commission. She now has an acrylic rod in her front hoof to provide stabilization.

Removing a resin from an attached base is a time consuming process. It’s not terribly difficult, although I do recommend that you only attempt something like this if you are also confident doing small repairs and minor resculpting. Unless you have a way steadier hand than I do, you’ll inevitably end up having to resculpt a bit of hoof or fill in a gouge somewhere.

Hazel before- securely attached to her resin base.

Generally something like this would be done in the sculpting and prepping stage, so the resin would be blank. Here I’m doing it with the paint job largely done, so I’ll need to protect the finish. Even on a blank resin, these kinds of precautions can help keep your horse safe while you work on it.

I wrapped Hazel in several layers of cotton and then fleece, leaving only her back hooves exposed. I used rubber bands to loosely hold the fabric on while I worked.

For the next step, I got out my trusty dremel. I wanted to cut through the thick base around the hooves to get the bulk of the resin off before I worked more closely to the hooves. For something like this I often use a large drill bit and use it to gnaw sideways through the resin. A round cutting bit- especially a diamond bit- will also work.

A key thing to keep in mind with something like this is that you want to keep as much stress as possible off the parts you’re keeping- in this case, the legs. I was careful to hold the legs still to minimize the amount of vibrations from the dremel. This prevents weakening the important bits.

After some quality time with the drill bit, I had taken off the front chunk of the base and the middle bit, leaving little stumps under the hooves.

Now I switched to a diamond cutting bit (pictured above) and very carefully cut away the bulk of the stump, leaving a few millimeters of resin under the hoof. Again, be sure to hold the hoof stable and only let the dremel shake the part it’s slicing off.

You can see in the photo above that- like many resins- Hazel was cast with wire in her legs for stability. The wires go all the way into the base. As I cut away the bulk of the resin, I also had to avoid the wires. Once the resin was cut away, I snipped the wires down as far as possible.

Once both hooves were resting on just a bit of resin, I sat down with my carbide scrapers, needles files, sandpaper, and an exacto knife. I used the knife to cut through the thin resin around the hoof. As I got closer to the hooves, I switched to the carbide scrapers and sandpaper to remove excess resin without damaging the sculpted parts. I used the needle files to shave down the rest of the armature wire. Slowly I got the hooves reshaped and flat.

The last step was to add the acrylic rod to the front hoof so Hazel can balance. For this I used a small drill bit about the same size as my acrylic (1/16 inch). I carefully drilled straight up into the hoof, trying to go as far as possible without coming out the top (inevitably I failed, and had to patch the top of the hoof). Then I estimated the length of acrylic needed, cut a generous piece, and inserted it into the hoof. Then you just need to use the needle files and/or sandpaper to adjust the length, and glue the acrylic into it’s final position.

Ready to roll!

All done! Now I just need to give her a bath to get the resin dust off, and I can move on to more painting!

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