Tag Archives: tutorial

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!

Repairin’ for Erin: Straightening a Bent Leg

My friend Erin is a dedicated and accomplished hobbyist. Among other things, she is a committed and skillful performance shower…

English Performance Champion at Breyerfest 2013

English Performance Champion at Breyerfest 2013

…and makes top quality western tack:

Pleasure saddle made in 2014

Pleasure saddle made in 2014

Erin has been wonderfully generous with her knowledge, helping me learn about working with leather and improve my performance entries. So I was excited to find an opportunity to me to use my skills to help her out in kind.

Although Erin’s short foray into oil painting was pretty successful, she doesn’t do any customizing or repairs herself. Being a clumsy person, I’ve inevitably learned to repair models. Earlier this month I was visiting Erin and found several horses to kidnap and repair. I figured I could do some mini tutorials as I went.

The first horse in need is a OF Stablemate Arabian Mare who was formerly a part of Erin’s mini show string. Alas, Miss Pinto has been staying home since she developed a bent foreleg.

Ouch! That can't be comfortable.

Ouch! That can’t be comfortable.

Bent legs are a relatively common problem in plastic models and can be caused by heat, pressure or a combination of the two. You can prevent bent legs by protecting your horses from extreme temperatures (e.g. never leaving them in a hot car) and packing them carefully for any transport.

Fixing a bent leg on a show quality model follows the same general practice as bending a leg while customizing- only you need to be much more careful about the finish. Overheating an area can cause the plastic to bubble.

To make this repair, you’ll need a heat gun, a wide bowl of cool water (big enough to dunk your horse into), and something to protect your hands while you shift the leg. I use an old pair of thick socks. The plastic will be hot when you touch it, and you will burn yourself without something over your skin. Trust me.

Curious cats are optional but encouraged.

Curious cats are optional but encouraged.

The key to this is to take your time. With your hand protection on, turn on the heat gun and wave it back and forth slowly over the bent leg, keeping the gun about 3/4″-1″ away from the horse to prevent damaging the finish. Move the gun so that every side of the leg gets heat. Bends are generally going to happen between joints. Pinpoint the place you need to manipulate to fix it, and aim to get that whole area warm.

Erins Arab Mare - heating area

The red block shows where I’m aiming the heat for this fix

After a minute or so, gently try to bend the leg back into the correct place. If it doesn’t move easily, heat it a bit more and try again. Once you’ve got the leg in the position you want, dunk it into the bowl of water. That cools the leg and (hopefully) keeps it in the new position.

Erins Arab Mare - cooling

Once the leg is moved some, check your horse again. Is further bending needed?

Frances is skeptical

Frances is skeptical

If the leg is being stubborn, heat and move it again. Something you have to do this a couple times to get it right, as the leg naturally wants to move back into the bent position. Be firm, and show the leg who’s boss… but gently and slowly, so as not to damage the finish.

The final result: showable once again!

The final result: showable once again!

With only about ten minutes of fiddling, this mare now has a straightened leg. She’s ready to go back out on the show table!

 

Timely Tack Tutorials

So I’ve had blogging on my to-do list all week and failed to check it off… I shall strive for betterment in that department. Meanwhile, other bloggers are sharing brilliant tips that I am carefully cataloging for future use.

I have been keeping my tutorials page more or less up to date, and trying to organize and list all of the best model horse tutorials out there. Two of my most recent additions are particularly awesome and deserve special notice.

The first is a DIY English stirrup tutorial from Ebb&Flow Studio. This tutorial is both simple and brilliant. The finished products look realistic and lovely, and are made out of simple materials that most hobbyists probably already have on hand.

I both rejoiced and cursed inwardly when I first read this tutorial- it was only a week or so earlier that I finally caved and bought cast stirrups! I am going to NAN this coming year (more on that in future posts!) and I need a new English set for Nightfox. I’ve been making my own stirrups, but I decided to pull out all the stops for my NAN debut. (After re-reading Dreamflite Design’s stirrups review, I went with the Horsing Around ones). But I definitely plan to use the Ebb&Flow tutorial for future projects!

Nightfox in English at NW Congress. Lots of things to improve before NAN!

Nightfox in English at NW Congress. Lots of things to improve before NAN!

The second tutorial that rocked my world this week is from Grace Ledoux (Stage Left Studios) by way of Anna Kirby of Dreamflite Design. Back in 2012, Anna wrote a lovely little tutorial about cutting lace for mini tack. She showed how she used double sided tape and a metal ruler to get very thin, very straight lace pieces. At the time, I was not making much tack and was not that motivated towards this kind of perfection. My loss!

I’ve struggled in past tack projects with getting nice pieces of lace, especially getting consistent widths of narrow lace appropriate for mini tack. When I saw Grace’s lovely thin straps at Sweet Onion, I was re-inspired and she said that Anna’s method was the secret to her lace. Then, last week, she posted a video tutorial showing the method.

I am so looking forward to using this method for my next tack project! Teeny beautiful straps will be mine!

Lovely wee straps on a Stage Left Studios bridle

Lovely wee straps on a Stage Left Studios bridle

 

How to Make Scale Jump Cups

Since I’m showing a different horse in performance at the next show, I need a different jump set up. Previously I had made jump cups and glued them to my standards- but that only allows one height of jump. I like my props to be as flexible as possible so they can be used in lots of different combinations. So I set about to make a new set of jump cups that could be reused and repositioned. And I took pictures so I could share the process.

Do note that this tutorial is only for the jump cups, not the standards. I’m using my lovely standards from Mountain Home Models. You can make your own with hobby wood, glue, and patience.

This tutorial is for stablemate scale jump cups, but could be adapted for other scales. If you’re making a traditional scale jump, I recommend that you check out this post on home made jump cups from Jennifer Buxton of Braymere Custom Saddlery and this jump cup tutorial from CK Tiny Tack.

I made the standard jump cup style, but there are numerous other styles out there that would all be accurate in for model horse performance. This is the basic style I’m going for:

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 9.45.35 PM

Standard jump cup from Dover

Materials for this project:

  • thin cardboard (think cereal boxes)
  • super glue
  • paint
  • wire (about 20 guage)
  • thin string like embroidery or cross stitch thread

You’ll also need a pair of small pliers and a wire cutter.

The first step is to cut your cardboard. For lack of better terminology I’m going to refer to the part that grips the standard as the wrapper. You the wrapper to cover three sides of the standard, or very close, just like in the picture of the real jump cup above.

jump cups - cardboard base

You’ll also need to cut a thinner piece to form the actual cups. This piece should be roughly the width of one side of the wrapper. Gently bend the strip around something round (for best results, use your jump poles) so that it forms the cup shape.

Use super glue to attach the bent cup to the wrapper. Bend or trim the cup as needed so that the edges are within the width of the wrapper.

jump cups - basic shape

Set the assembled cups aside to dry thoroughly.

jump cups - assembling cup

Next you can paint your cups. Jumps cups are commonly black, white, or silver, but they can come in pretty much any color you can think of. I went for the classic metal look, which I achieved with a mix of dark grey and silver. Leave the inside of the wrapper unpainted- this will make it easier to use later. But don’t forget the edges of the cardboard that will still be visible.

jump cups - painting

Next we start making the pins. In this scale, the pins don’t actually go through the standard to hold the cup on- they just look like they do.

First, bend you wire to make a tiny hook. Loop your string through the hook and hold it there as you bend the hook shut to form a loop.

jump cups - making pin

click to enlarge the image

Next, bend the wire coming off the loop so that it is straighter, like below. Glue the string to itself to attach it, and make sure it falls at a 45 degree angle to the pin. You can then trim the excess wire- the pin only needs to be a few millimeters long.

jump cups - finished pin

Then, attach the pin to the cup. This is tricky with such tiny pieces and the super glue, but don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries. You make need to adjust the pin as it dries so it comes out of the cup straight- in the picture below it is slanting down too much.

jump cups - glued on pin

Wait for that glue to dry thoroughly before the next step. Carefully, without putting stress on the pin, bend the string around and glue it to the inside of the cup. Avoid making it lumpy as that will make the wrapper not fit your jump standard.

jump cups - glued string

To show the pin coming out of the other side of the cup, glue a tiny scrap of wire to the other side of the cup. Again, you want to make sure it is perpendicular to the wrapper.

jump cups - glued pin end

Let that dry and voila, jump cups!

jump cups - done

I recommend that you make extras, just in case a pin pops off right before your jumper class.

To affix your jump cups, just use sticky wax (the same kind you use for bits and such) on the inside of the wrappers and mold them onto the standard. Since they come on and off, you can adjust the height of your jump and make different pole combinations.

jump cups - on standard

Here’s my jump all set up with a low obstacle and my new jump flags (toothpicks, cardstock and paint). I left this set-up on the shelf overnight and neither the sticky wax or the jump cups failed.

jump cups - finished jump

Jumps are super fun to make because the combinations are endless and you can get very creative. I hope this tutorial was helpful for some folks out there making mini jumps. Got questions? Just ask!

Alpo’s Trailer: how to make a custom travel case

One of the extra little projects I managed to finish before Rose City Live was making a custom travel case for Alpo, my breakage-prone pony. He arrived at last year’s RCL with a broken tail and has been repaired and repainted three times since I made him in 2012. I’d like this time to be the last!

One of the things that makes Alpo prone to breaking is his tail, which is turned and swished. That makes the tail extra fragile. Horses with thin pieces that stick out like swished tails, long ears, or flying manes are all good candidates for custom carry cases.

I took pictures of my process to share with you. My carry case was heavily inspired by Emily Rodger’s tutorial, published on the Braymere Custom Saddlery blog. My version is adapted a bit for stablemates and a smaller budget.

First, I gathered my materials:

  • plastic container slightly larger than model
  • tacky glue
  • scissors
  • white charcoal pencil
  • model
  • foam
  • styrofoam and knife (optional)

alpos trailer - materials

Because my container was deeper than needed and I didn’t want to waste precious foam, I first filled the container up part of the way with styrofoam. I cut the styrofoam carefully to take up the space needed and glued it in place.

alpos trailer - styrofoam base

You may or may not need to do the step with the styrofoam, depending on your container and your supply of foam :D To build the rest of the case:

Cut out and glue down a layer of the cushy foam (you could certainly add multiple layers, especially for larger models).

alpos trailer - foam base

Cut a second square of foam and carefully traced around the model with the charcoal pencil. You want to leave a little bit of breathing room but still provide the secure custom fit.

alpos trailer - tracing

After tracing, cut out the shape.

alpos trailer - cut out 1

And check the fit.

alpos trailer - cut out 2

Now take another square of foam, and trace the shape of the first cut out on it. With your model lying in the first cut out, identify which part(s) of the model stick out- that’s where you’ll need to cut for the second piece. This step will depend a lot on your model and the thickness of your foam.

After tracing the first shape onto the foam and comparing, I could see that Alpo’s raised hind leg and head were both lower than the edge of the foam. The second piece of foam would completely cover those parts, so I did not cut space for them.

alpos trailer - cut out 3

For Alpo, I needed three cut outs. Other models may take more. My continue tracing, comparing, and cutting until the whole model is covered below the edge of the foam.

alpos trailer - cut out 4

Then cover it with one last piece of uncut foam.

alpos trailer - final foam

Add foam or other filler until you reach the height of the lid. You want the foam to be secure but not squished down.

Put the top on, label it, and voila: your own custom carry case.

I opted to glue the first cut out into the container. Be very careful not to get any glue where the model will touch! The other foam pieces are packed over the model and secured by the top piece and the container’s lid.

alpos trailer - all cutouts

Alpo did not win any ribbons at Rose City Live. But he did travel safe and sound there and back!

The Start of a Roan

I had planned on painting my roan draft stallion using acrylic paint to do hair-by-hair roaning. But after a couple sessions, I really wasn’t satisfied with how it was looking. At the same time, I ran across part one of a nice roaning tutorial by Amanda Brock (Rogue Horse Studio) and Caryn showed me her first roan (done with a similar pastel technique) who was turning out quite nicely.

Caryn's horse (in progress). Can you believe that's her first roan?

Caryn’s horse (in progress). Can you believe that’s her first roan?

Inspired, I washed the acrylic roaning off my resin and started to work on him with pastels and pencil. He already had a sealed blue-grey-brown base coat, and I started in on some white pastel using Amanda’s stippling technique. I also added some hairing detail with colored pencils. I was all ready to start doing some serious hairing with white charcoal when I dropped him on the floor. Sigh.

I was actually pretty lucky- all he lost was an ear. But it took me another few hours of work to get him whole again.

Building a new ear using Sarah Rose's super glue and baking soda technique

Building a new ear using Sarah Rose’s super glue and baking soda technique

After shaping his new ear, it took a few coats of acrylic to get it somewhat matching again. Then finally, using my white charcoal pencil, I started adding individual white hairs.

hale - hair roaning started

It’s crucially important when doing hair-by-hair roaning to a.) keep your pencil very sharp and b.) keep references handy. I’m using multiple hair growth charts (download them here) as well as close up pictures of flanks, armpits, and other tricky areas.

Keeping the pencil sharp enough to draw hairs on a stablemate scale resin requires a lot of sharpening. I used a regular sharpener plus sandpaper. You have to do it almost constantly, and that means you go through a lot of pencil.

When I started roaning, I had two full sized pencils.

When I started roaning, I had two full sized pencils.

Happily, there’s an art store within walking distance so I was able to pop out one afternoon and buy six more pencils to use.

hale - charcoal pencils 2

I’ve got a whole collection of nubbins now, but I’m done with the first layer of hair detailing.

Even with all the sharpening, it’s basically impossible to get all the little hairs quite right. To keep things from being too stark, I go over each section with a medium-stiffness brush, keeping with the direction of the hair growth. It smudges the drawn hairs slightly and takes off any excess dust, which softens the detailing in a nice, more realistic way. I seal each layer with Dull Cote before moving on to the next. As with pastels, the sealer “pushes back” the color a bit which also helps prevent any stark lines.

On his neck and shoulder, the hairs have been brush-softened and sealed with Dull Cote. The starker hairs on his barrel have just been drawn in with the pencil.

On his neck and shoulder, the hairs have been brush-softened and sealed with Dull Cote. The starker hairs on his barrel have just been drawn in with the pencil.

I’ve been finding time to do a bit of work every night, and by today the first layer of hair-by-hair roaning is done. I need to do a bit more blending in some areas, but I’m going to give him a break for a bit so I can come back with a fresh eye. I also might work a bit on his acrylic details so I can better picture how his coat color will look on the finished horse.

I’m still working on a name for him- I’d like to find something from French Brittany, since the Breton breed is from there. It’s an area highly influenced by Welsh and Gaelic language, which is always fun.

Crafty Christmas Progress

This last weekend was my last free one before the holidays, so I took the opportunity to sit down and make some serious progress on the remaining hand made Christmas gifts.

This is what my tabletop studio looked like for most of Saturday:

table 12-8-12

On the left you can see the mid point of a little project I did for my grandmother. I used this cool tutorial from miniatures.about.com to make a miniature Christmas Cactus for her. It’s about 2 inches tall. I loved the fact that I had all the materials already on hand from my other craft projects. I learned some good techniques that will be applicable to the model horse hobby, too.

2012-12-10 11.58.36

One of the ones that’s been haunting me is my 1:48 scale Dr. Who figure. He and his TARDIS have been scary epoxy blobs for a while now, but no longer! They have taken shape, and with some paint they are looking downright delightful.

On Saturday, the doctor looked like this:

dr who 12-8-12

And by Sunday, things were looking positively Who-tastic.

dr who 12-9-12

It’s always fun to paint something other than horses once in a while, since I get to play with all my colorful acrylics. By Sunday my table looked like this:

Wheeee!

Wheeee!

As you can see, I still need to do some miniscule writing on the TARDIS, but Sunday was coming to a close and I wanted to get some fixative on there before I do any more painting. I don’t know when that will happen, or if my eyes will fall out of my head, but I feel a lot better about having this done by Christmas!

Did I mention he’s tiny?

dr who scale