Tag Archives: Kettil Blacksmith

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…

Palpable Pony Progress

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on the seven horses I hope to have ready for the show on March 25. They are all moving along at a lovely pace and it’s rather exciting to see so much progress.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon customizing and came to a place I don’t think I’ve ever been- done. Of course I’ve got a whole box of bodies and put-aside WIPs, but in terms of the six I’m focusing on, I was truly at a Stopping Point. Doublet and Troy Soldier (the earless twins) were both drying with new paint-matched acrylic layers. Kettil and Liam were both sanded and sculpted and wet with primer. And Lilah, Alpo and Typhoid Mary had fresh fixative over pastelled coats.

Lilah’s dark liver color is coming along nicely. This is about her third or fourth layer. I think she’s ready for some acrylic detailing before I go further with color development and shading.

Meanwhile, the feisty Fjord stallion Kettil (and his buddy Liam too) are just about ready for pastel coats. Ketil finally has his expressive mane, tail, and forelock added.

Taking photos is a great way to find trouble spots- when I’m working on him I’m mostly looking down from above or holding him. Here, at eye level with him standing on a flat surface, I can see how his hooves need leveling. One more thing to do…

Wrinkley Fun with Messo

Thanks to Jennifer Buxton’s cleverly titled post about messo, I’ve discovered a wonderful new material and technique. I made great headway today on my two in-progress sculpts using my new toy.

Messo is a mix of modeling paste and gesso. Jennifer uses Liquitex brand, but my local art store didn’t have it so I went with Golden’s Hard Modeling Paste.

The paste was about $12, which is pretty affordable considering how much you get and long it’ll last you. And I assume (and hope) that the airtight seal will keep it fresh. Since I work on small scales and I’ll be mixing this with gesso, this one bottle will probably last me about thirty years. I’m only sort of kidding.

I already had gesso on hand, from back before I discovered the joy and ease of spray on primer. I had my tools, but pretty much no clue how to start… so I just did.

For my mix, I used about two parts modeling paste to one part gesso.

Then I stirred it up with brush and let it sit for a bit to set up. This was on recommendation from the guy at the art store, who always knows his stuff. But I’m not that patient, so it didn’t set for long.

I first used the messo as a prepping material to fill little divots where I can be hard to work with epoxy. Like Jennifer demonstrated, the messo fills in little holes nicely and can then be wiped away and sanded smooth. It was surprisingly nice to prep, sand smooth, and still have a white surface- unlike when I used epoxy, which makes little grey pock marks all over my horse.

Next I tried using the messo to make the delicate skin wrinkles on my Fjord stallion reference. In my first attempt, I put down a thin layer of messo and then used small sculpting tools to put lines in. The remaining raised messo represented the wrinkles. This was great practice, but it didn’t really give me the result I wanted.

For one, I felt that sculpting down into the messo resulted in the wrong look- I’m trying to illustrate raised areas of skin, not lowered ones. And while this method (with careful drawing and sanding) can make nice little wrinkles, it didn’t make the big folds that my horse’s position dictates.

So I sanded it off and tried again. This time I used paint to show the contrast, both for myself and for the pictures.

First I painted a base color (brown) and then in red I planned where I wanted my big wrinkles to be. Then I used a brush to apply linear blobs of messo over my red lines, trying to keep a smooth shape down the whole line to make a raised wrinkle.

After I had all my wrinkles painted on to my satisfaction, I used broader, wetter strokes over the edges to sort of blend the wrinkles gradually into the neck.

Then I did an even thinner layer (mostly gesso, really) over the whole neck to blend things, fill in any little divots, and to give it a more uniform tone so I could admire my handiwork.

Time (and when I say time I mean primer) will tell, but I am much happier with the results this time. There’s plenty of sanding to do, but I wanted to make sure my thick blobs of messo dried fully. When messo is applied thinnly it dries wonderfully fast and is quickly sandable, but not so when it is thick! So while I waited I built up his mane and tail armatures and added a bit of epoxy. Here he is at the end of the day:

He also has a name, as of this evening. I was looking through lists of Norwegian names and found “Kettil,” and remembered that I’ve long wished to name a model Kettil Blacksmith after the ridiculous character in the (ridiculous) movie Erik the Viking. So here he is!

Ask the Audience: Fjords

This summer I found and fell in love with a photo of a Fjord stallion, and set about almost immediately into making a portrait of him. I am using the G3 Highland Pony, but am now reconsidering the mold’s appropriateness as a Fjord.

My inspiration

I started researching Fjord conformation and breed standards. I did learn that i need to increase his heart girth, and I intend also to enlarge his cheek bones which will shorten his muzzle. I will broaden his forehead and shrink and resculpt his ears. But now the looming question is… do I need to bulk up his entire body and legs?

Fjords are pony sized, but built more like draft horses. Their legs have substantial bone and muscle, in addition to their thick neck and chest and deep girth. Here is Prydarson, the highest scored Fjord stallion in North America:

And here is my work in progress:

I would love to get some thoughts on this. I don’t particularly want to start on a total body-building with this guy- I’ve got plenty of work left on him as is. What do you think?