Tag Archives: repositioning

Enthusiastic Dismemberment!

Since coming back from the show I’ve been full of inspiration and enthusiasm for more customizing. This poor pony has been in this uncomfortable state since early 2000.

Unfortunately for him, sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.

But roughly 24 hours later…

He’s only barely horse shaped, but at least he has all his limbs reattached!

Neck and Neck

Now that I’m finding a bit of time here and there to be working on models again, I have to remember where I was when I left off! I am lucky to have Laura Skillern’s excellent three part tutorial on necks (Necking, Off With His Head, and Recapitation) because I suddenly find myself in progress on a bunch of tricksy necks.

Her explanation of the movement of neck bones was particularly helpful, because it showed me-before I got any further-how incorrectly short my head down mare’s neck is:

I knew something looked funky…

Laura’s tutorial helped me to see that really it should sort of look “too long” because the neck vertebrae are all stretched out in that position, creating length. I did this quick mock up of the necessary changes:

If only moving parts was this easy in epoxy!

I realized that the correct neck design also requires that the withers come forward a bit. And while I’m dremeling her to pieces, I’ll be bringing her supporting hind legs quite a bit more under the body to support her weight realistically. Sigh. This poor mare…

I’ll be tackling her when I have ample time to give. Meanwhile, I’m sanding and smoothing and fixing little nit picks on my next crop who are waiting patiently in their primer for the beginning of color.

Necking with Laura

Apologies to Laura Skillern, but she started it with her post title and I could not resist. Her post is a great introduction to sculpting horse necks, and all the things that can affect shape and size. And she says there’s more on the way!

I’m particularly excited about these neck tutorials because (prior to packing up the studio) I was working on a major neck resculpt for a stablemate whose in-progress title is “Head Down Mare.” Her front half is the G2 ASB and her back half is the G1 Morgan mare. She is on her way to being a snoozing mare.

This picture is rather outdated (for one, her topline is now level) but it shows the basic idea.

I’ve had to totally redo her neck, which is a first for me. Here are my two main reference pictures:

Image by © Gunter Marx Photography/CORBIS

I’m eager to get back to work on this sleepy gal, once I have established my new studio space… and gleaned more sage wisdom from Laura!

Oh, the carnage!

Is there no mercy?

Wouldn’t this pair of halves look nice with a pair of wings? But I have other plans…

On the Cheap: tools for customizing

When I first started customizing, I was daunted by the number of tools I felt I needed. I have now, slowly, acquired most of these items, but I made do for a long time with various substitutes. And there are still many tools that I use in my studio every day that can be acquired inexpensively and even free.

Tools for Working With Epoxy – I am always collecting new sculpting tools, because so many things can be used for working with epoxy. All of my sculpting tools were acquired secondhand- at flea markets, thrift stores, or from around the house.

Some of my favorite sculpting tools. All of these were acquired secondhand. The tweezers and scalpel I can recognize, but I have no idea what the other items were originally designed for. But they are great for sculpting ponies.

My strategy (besides constantly trolling thrift stores, which is less of a strategy and more another hobby) is to look at objects with a critical eye and ask, “how can I use that for something else?” (This strategy is also great for finding prop making materials, but that is another topic). My sculpting tools look like random objects and/or junk, but they are all extremely useful now that I’ve shown them their true calling.

Tools for Moving Body Parts – the crafting heat gun (made for embossing, I believe) is a nifty item that does work very nicely for heating up plastic pony parts in order to move them (tails, legs, ears, etc.) But a lower cost, around the house technique is to simply use a candle to heat the desired part. The trick with a candle is to move the horse slowly back and forth over the flame. If you hold it too still or too close, the plastic can melt and bubble, which, trust me, makes for a lot more work in the long run.

Another good use for a candle is for inserting wires into plastic, for example to start sculpting a tail or to repair a leg. You can heat up the horse and the wire and then shove the wire into the body. It melts the plastic in it’s way and usually stays nicely lodged into the horse.

I used the candle and wire technique to elongate this Safari Arabian Foal’s legs.

One more tip about using a candle: always move the largest part that needs to be moved first, such as the neck before the ears. Because larger parts take longer to heat, you will usually end up melting and deforming the smaller parts if you try to heat the large areas second. When you heat up the smaller areas second, the heat won’t be enough to deform the large area you just worked on.

Tools for Amputating Parts – Chopping up a model horse and putting it back together is really, really fun. A dremel tool can be a huge help in this process, but there are other methods. One way, which can be a bit messy but works nicely to take off ugly tails, is to melt the part at the joint (for a tail, at the dock) and then simply twist it off with a pair of pliers. Another great tool is your run-of-the-mill serrated bread knife (get one at Goodwill) which saws nicely through chunks of plastic. Files, both large and small, can also be used to remove or reform body parts.

If you do decide to buy a dremel tool, don’t. That is, buy an off-brand rotary tool. I got a fabulous tool with all the attachments I could want from Harbor Freight Tools for $20. I just bided my time and mangled horses with bread knives until Harbor Freight had a big sale and I had a good coupon. For nearly any larger hobby purchase it really pays to shop around and clip coupons.

Happy hunting!