Tag Archives: prepping

Primer Revelations

I’ve always struggled with priming horses, and I thought it was just me. But now I’ve seen the light.

It turns out I was just using the wrong primer. Primer with crappy coverage. Krylon Primer. I told Tracy of my primer woes and she recommended Rustoleum Primer. I picked some up yesterday and today my life was changed for ever. *Cue choir of angels*

Primer Heaven

I can’t believe how long I’ve muddled along with Krylon. This Rustoleum Primer is amazing. It’s night and day. The horse actually turns white when you prime it! And as a giant bonus, this primer doesn’t smell nearly as much.

primer horses

My beautiful new primer with my beautiful primed horses!

I am so excited! I shall prime everything and everyone in my path! Thank you Tracy!

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!

Neverending Prepwork

The appy sporthorse and the pinto pony have both gained another layer of color. Meanwhile, I am sanding, sanding, and sanding some more to get Sleipnir ready to paint.

That’s my pile of used sandpaper… from one side. All those pieces makes for a lot of little seams. I’ve finally got both sides done and a couple teeny holes patched, so hopefully is ready for final priming. Fingers crossed!

Patches the Eight-Legged Horse

Sleipnir has a new nickname. Because he is made of so many parts, getting him fully prepped and smooth has been quite a task. Every time I look at him, I find new places that need filling and/or sanding. Last night I sat down and circled everything I could find that needed fixing.

Oy! I’ve got my work cut out for me. After some time with the sand paper and epoxy, he began to earn his new nickname, “Patches.”

It’s the rare epoxy-loosa!

Then I had some leftover epoxy (and time) so I made a bunch of ears for my collection. Ears don’t use much epoxy, so it seemed to take forever to go through my extra. But I used it up before it dried and now I have quick a few more ears for next time someone needs a transplant.

Upcoming Projects

Sleipnir may be getting the most press, but he’s not the only horse in progress. I’ve got a little herd of horses just about ready to be painted.

These two are getting their primer coats. The G3 Warmblood is a commission and will be a black appaloosa. The Roll resin will be a roany chestnut. He’s been kind of a pain to prep and prime- every layer brings out more little imperfections. But he’s getting there.

These ponies are all made of that rubbery plastic that sometimes gets sticky, so after they were fully primed they each got a couple coats of modge podge. That seals them so I won’t have an stickiness issues later. The Shetland (top) will be a chestnut pinto, the Dartmoor (middle) will be a black leopard British Spotted Pony, and the little Toob pony doesn’t have a color yet.

I should add that if you want to create the modge podge seal over the primed horse instead of over a finished paintjob, you’ll likely need to apply a layer of fixative (Dull Cote, Krylon Matte) to provide some tooth for the color to stick to.

I’m really excited to get painting. Sleipnir has a lot of little issues that need to be addressed first, but I’m hoping to start him with this batch. I have some cool ideas regarding his paint job.

Adventures of a First Time Stripper

Is there any blogger who can resist a racy title when talking about stripping paint off model horses? I obviously cannot.

Before this recent foray, I had never needed to strip off a previous paint job from one of my bodies. I was usually working from an original finish horse, and the few times I wasn’t I just sanded down the original paint job until it was smooth enough to re-prime.

But I recently found myself with three models in need of stripping: a Breyer SM with a thick lumpy acrylic coat, a multi-media Schleich with layers in acrylic, pastel, and modge-podge, and a resin with a mediocre acrylic paint job. So I finally started paying attention to all the discussions of technique.

After a little research, I decided to try to Oven Cleaner technique. And of course, to chronicle my trials here for whoever else might want to give it a go!

To strip a horse using oven cleaner, simply stick the horse in a bag, spray liberally with oven cleaner (I used the recommended brand Easy Off) and wait. After an hour or so, remove the horse and scrub with a toothbrush under warm water. Repeat until clean and add time in the bag as needed.

Tools of the trade

WARNING: Oven cleaner is made of nasty chemicals. It is smelly and if you get it in a cut it will burn. Avoid inhaling it, getting it on your hands, etc. Keep away from children and pets, and wash your hands!

First Victim: Breyer Stablemate

This guy was easy to strip. His acrylic coat was so thick it was begging to come off, and after only about an hour in the oven cleaner he was ready to go under the sink.

I barely needed the toothbrush- the power of the oven cleaner and the pressure of the running water did most of the work. I used the tooth brush in the crevices, but my model was soon restored to near OF condition:

Victim Two: Schleich Pony

I was a little bit worried that the oven cleaner would eat away at the soft rubbery plastic of a Schleich horse, so I didn’t leave him long in the bag the first time.

He was soon back in the chemical bath, however, because even with some serious scrubbing this is all the progress I made at first:

I got a little braver and left him in for longer, reminding myself that if I’m gonna ruin a body it might as well be a cheap one that I have no specific plans for. It ended up taking quite a while to get him relatively clean- I estimate that he spent 5-8 hours in his chemical bag total. I don’t know if the issue was his modge-podge sealer, or the multi-media coat, or what.

He didn’t clean up quite as well as the Stablemate, but certainly well enough to reprime and repaint. I stopped using the oven cleaner on him when I noticed that I was actually stripping of his original finish paint. But the plastic itself seems fine, with no evidence of the melting or warping that acetone can cause.

Ready for a new identity!

Victim Three: Resin Stablemate

At first the paint job on my newly acquired “Roll” resin seemed nice and smooth, and I considered sanding and painting him over without a full strip. But upon closer examination I saw that the thick acrylic on him was obscuring some of his detail, particularly in his feathering. So into the oven cleaner he went!

His first foray yielded promising results:

Besides the toothbrush, I found my fingernails to be useful tools.

Although the main areas of paint came off easily in big pieces, he needed a lot more chemical therapy to get down to primer and into detail areas. Even when I declared him stripped (after maybe 8 hours total in chemicals, and multiple scrubbings) he still had some residual paint and primer in cracks and crevices, which I’ll just have to get in the prepping stage.

But happily, he’s now much cleaner and ready to start his next adventure. And to my great relief, I don’t seem any damage at all to the resin from all the chemicals. Despite assurances from other hobbyists, I had worried.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my new technique. It’s definitely nice to start afresh, and the oven cleaner makes it pretty painless, albeit somewhat time consuming. The price was right, too- Easy Off ran me about $6, and the can is still pretty full even after all the liberal spraying on these three horses.

Next time I think I’ll be braver with the soaking times, and invest a few dollars in a hard-bristled toothbrush to use instead of the soft used ones I have.

Priming Textured Models

My early customs had base-coats of painted-on gesso, but as soon as I discovered the joys of spray primer I abandoned my gesso for this fast, smooth, easy alternative. Recently I’ve only dug out the gesso for use in making messo to use for wrinkles and veining.

For most models, you can’t beat spray primer for smoothness and ease.

There is one situation in which I prefer gesso as my primer, and that is when the model in question has a textured coat (such as many Schleich and Safari horses or the Breyer Stablemate Donkey). Unless you want to spend hours sanding, customization of these models requires embracing all of their fuzzy glory.

The main reason I quickly moved away from gesso is because the application left the model with brushstrokes and showed plainly under pastels. But when you’re starting with a textured horse, brush strokes in gesso can enhance the existing texture and add further hair detail while still providing a nice base coat. Plus, you avoid the smelly spray primer, which is always nice.

For this textured Schliech Shetland Pony, brush strokes only add to his cute fuzzy look.

It’s lovely to not have to worry about brush strokes as you work. The only thing you really need to remember is to reflect the hair patterns- you want most of your brush strokes to go vertically down the horse, not horizontally, always following the hair growth around areas like the flank and belly. The muzzle should be smoother to reflect the shorter, softer hairs, and of course the hooves should be as smooth as possible.

Like spray primer, gesso is sandable when dry, so don’t be afraid to redo an area if it looks wonky. Gesso texture will show under pastels, so make sure you like what you see before you start adding colors.

Fuzzy ponies in various stages of priming with gesso