Tag Archives: props

Building a Race Course!

I am really excited to be getting so close to finished on my race horse diorama. I am also excited that I haven’t gotten too terribly distracted during the process (at least, not by other pony-projects). This post is a review of how I did the base, complete with tote board, finish line, rail fence, and footing.

First step was to find a suitable base. I was lucky to have one handy in my box of supplies. I got this secondhand, probably at a garage sale or thrift store. I always snag super-useful things like nice wood bases if I can find them on the cheap. These are often available in craft stores, but the cheap skate in me balks at paying $6-$10 for a piece of wood, however nicely shaped.

I used a dremel to make these holes. I don’t have a drill, and a dremel makes a decent substitute for small scale projects. You can see I had to get a little creative for my finish line hole the correct size.

I first planned the base out and drew guidelines with pencils. Planning the size of the rail fence and spacing between posts was crucial, since I needed to drill holes to “plant” the posts. Similarly, I measured out where I wanted each horse. Their acrylic rod supports will be similarly planted.

I decided to build the rail fence right onto the base instead of building it and then attaching it. I hope this will make it sturdier and my measurements will remain more accurate with less option for error. For each post I inserted my square wood dowel firmly into the hole and then measured to the correct height (see the pen mark). Then I pulled it out, cut it, and stuck it back in. Voila, posts!

Mini safety pins are invaluable for model tack and props. I only wish I had more of them.

To make the top of the rail fence I simply cut a piece of the correct length (and double checked the length). Then I carefully glued it to the posts, trying to keep them as straight as possible. Then I clipped them to keep them in position while the glue sets.

Making the finish line pole was a careful balance between creativity and realism. Most poles have some decoration on top, but some of the examples I found were too elaborate for the scale or simply unattractive or impractical. I looked a a bunch and then designed my own, while is simply a wooden pyramid that will be painted red and gold. I made it by using ever-smaller pieces of balsa wood stacked and sanded. That top piece was very pesky- it’s about 3 mm long and easy to drop or loose. Or inhale.

Along the bottom are marks to remind me how much of the pole will be buried in the base (bottom), and where the rail fence comes to. In between the two I mounted a flat piece of foot that mimics a finish line’s camera.

The rail fence has been glued into the base with wood glue. The tote board and finish line are propped there, and all three are painted white as a base.

Before gluing the finish line in, I painted on the itty bitty details. Meanwhile, the fence and base get more paint.

Tote board and finish line are attached, painting continues. It starting to look like a race track!

As with the finish line, I didn’t want to have to do tricksy detail on the tote board while it was glued vertically into the base. Once I made sure everything was the right size, I used that every-useful modge podge to attach the printed tote board picture to the wooden base.

Planting grass seed

Over the painted base I’m gluing footing. The “grass” I’m using is Woodland Scenics dark green turf (fine, not coarse). It’s messy and sort of annoying to work with, but has a lovely effect. I hadn’t used it since my last diorama and didn’t remember the technique. I tried laying down glue and then scattering the turf, which is pretty ineffectual. What worked for me was laying down more glue with more turf, and then pressing it down with my finger. It looked kind of bad at first, but remember that glue dries clear! In the picture at right, the bottom right corner is where I used my improved technique, and the other areas are where I tried to simply scatter the grass.

For added detail (and because I have a TON of faux shrubbery) I planted bushes along the edge of the track. I simply lay down tacky glue and pressed my formed bushes down firmly on top.

Voila! Bushes.

I need to wait a bit before I can put down the track footing, because I used apoxie to fit each horse’s acrylic rod to the dremeled hole and it needs to dry. The track will be done in much the same manner as the grass, only I’ll use sand or another “dirt” base. I still need to decide if I’ll be permanently attaching the horses to the base or not. That would mean finishing up jockeys and bridles. Coming right up!

Horse Racing: The Tote Board

My race horse project has been literally and figuratively on the shelf for a few weeks while I have been busy with work and other crafts. Today I finally got to work on the one aspect I wasn’t really looking forward to: the tote board.

I’d been putting it off mainly because I was having difficulty understanding exactly what should be on a tote board. There aren’t many pictures and those that are out there vary a lot. Plus, all the explanations of tote boards that I found were written for those interested in betting. So I ended up doing a lot of piecing together to design my micro sized version.

The tote board is the huge, digitalized sign that sits near the finish line at race tracks. The name is short for “totalizer,” which is the automated system that runs race track betting. The main information it provides is for betters, including the odds for each horse, the “pools,” race results and pay outs.

The odds for each horse fluctuate and more people bet, so the tote board will continually update until the odds are locked in at the beginning of the race. The pools are the amounts of money bet on each horse for each placing. For example:

In the above picture, the final odds for each horse is listed next to their entrant number across the top, left to right. Below that are the pools for each entrant in each placings and to the far left are the total pools for win, place, and show.

To clarify, horse number one is running at 7-1 odds in this race (the “to one” is implied). The total amount of money bet on him to win is $7022, with $3262 bet on him to place and $1728 bet on him to show.

This tote board also shows each horses odds. The numbers to the right may be pool totals. On the left is more information commonly seen on tote boards: the track conditions, time of day, post time, and time of race. Track condition can effect the race and specific horses significantly, so it’s an important thing to know. On different days the track may be fast, slow, muddy, sloppy, or even frozen. The count down to post time reminds bettors how much time they have left to get their bets in.

This photo shows one of the most important pieces of information on the board: the results and payouts. Results are usually listed up to fourth place, and the payouts for each placing listed. In the last race the winner was horse number 8, and a bet on him to win yielded $103 (an unusually high payout- he must have been a long shot). Notice that the board includes the race number (11) and also denotes that the results are Official. This means that any photo finish has been resolved, no jockey has claimed a foul, and no steward has raised an enquiry.

Along with the basic payouts, tote boards will often display probable payouts for exactas (a bet on the first two placings, in order), trifectas (win, place, and show, in order), quinellas (first two placings, any order). The board may also include the fractional times for the race (also known as “splits”). These usually include the times for a quarter mile, half mile, three fourths of a mile (6 furlongs), and a mile. The final time is also usually listed.

After doing the research to better understand the tote board, I designed my board with the information I wanted. I wanted track conditions, time and post time, listed odds, race number, and unofficial results (my horses will be positioned crossing the finish line).

Thanks to my husband (who jump started the design and provided technical support) I now have this:

Next step: print it out and mount it on wood. And build a little railing…


Jockey Evolution

I am busy this weekend with fun activities and also judging a division for MHOSS, so I probably won’t have time to finish up the race horses this weekend. But the jockeys have evolved from water striders into, well, little jockeys.

Next time I have time to work on these guys I’ll be adding reins and stirrups, gluing on the jockeys, and then starting on a rather complicated base. Whee!

Off Topic, and yet…

I have quite a few hobby heroes whose blogs I follow, and one of them is the amazingly resourceful Christine Sutcliffe aka Elrenia Greenleaf of EA Equestrian, Equinox Stables, and Last Alliance Studios. What impresses me so much about Christine’s creation are the scope and creativity, particularly in her use of materials. She has several fully created yards for her horses.

A couple weeks ago I was blown away by yet another creation- a background for science-fiction photostories. I myself do not collect sci-fi figures or do photostories, but there is a lot to admire about and glean from Christine’s work.

She took a bunch of materials from around the house and made this totally realistic space ship wall.

How cool is that?

WOW. Just wow. And all those parts are plain ol’ household items. Check out this tagged flickr post to see what each and every bit was in its past life.

And if you still aren’t impressed, check out this prosthetic leg she made for one of her figures.

Photo and notes by Elrenia Greenleaf, posted on her Last Alliance Studios blog

I love the ballpoint pen connected to the coffee stirrer. Priceless.

A bit off topic, yes, but any hobbyist can learn a lot about creative resourcefulness from Christine’s work. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create cool props and dioramas. But when you see some random item that could be something else in miniature, keep it in mind for your next project!

Cheap Thrills from Desktop Stables

Nichelle of Desktop Stables posted pictures of a lovely jump she just finished, featuring home-made but awesome looking jump cups made from recycled pop cans! I used a similar technique when I made jump cups on a micro mini scale, only with very stiff paper.

Of course, jump cups and standards are optional

Tack! Props! Photos!

I am oh so proud to say that all tack, props, and customizing in these pictures was done by me! It was my goal when I got back into model horses (as an adult) to make it about crafting and creation more than collecting (and the financial aspects of that). Sure, I spend money on materials, but I make a huge effort to stay inexpensive, use cheap ingredients, and always do as much as I can myself. These pictures are the result of hours of work but the materials in them are not expensive: I used scraps of leather from a book-binding friend, natural material from outside including dirt for bases, paper towel for the saddle pad, paper for the jump cups, etc. This approach to the hobby makes it all the more fun and challenging for me.

Well, I’m not going to finish my palomino ASB by Saturday (I’m not even going to try), but I’ve got some lovely performance set-ups and that is something oh-so new and exciting. I still need to print references and pack (eeks!) so this will be the last post until I return on Sunday. I’m hoping to have some tutorials, etc. posted in the next month.

Live show bases nearing completion

Props drying in my kitchen window after being fixed with hairspray

My props for the performance division of the live show are coming together well, and *knock wood* at a lovely pace. My natural trail diorama still needs the trees added and the fallen log, as well as painted edges. The little brown square is nearly done except for the background picture, which needs to be mounted. I did finish the dressage base, which I am pleased with.

The dressage fence is glued to the base while the letter and plants are not. I wanted them to be movable and replaceable- after all, my minis may not always be cantering past A and the potted plants will double as jump decoration for the Show Hunter set up. I still need to figure out jump cups, but I have some grand plans…

Back to work!