After attending the spectacular but massive Rocky Mountain Spring Fling, attending June Bug was a refreshing change of pace. A much smaller show, June Bug was split into two days and I attended the first day, which highlighted minis, artist resins, customs and chinas. Don't let the size fool you; some of Colorado's best were at this show in Divide.
I brought along my modest show string and was happy to finally abandon my sofa blanket for a grown-ass-woman's proper table cloth in a dark blue that matches my logo.
In each division I found eye candy as well as a few horses that needed to come home with me, like that gorgeous HR quarter horse.
Minis were most certainly out in force, especially in the custom division, where they often out numbered the big boys in classes like CM Stock.
The custom call-back table was certainly full of eye candy. June Bug featured a condensed class list in the custom division (for example, all pony breeds of all scales showed together in one class) which meant every horse on that table was a first or second place winner vying for one of only two call-back placings: overall grand and overall reserve grand. Our judge for this division was Karen Gerhardt, well known for her china work as well as her sculpting for Breyer.
Reserve Grand Champion CM went to Tequila Sunrise owned by Teresa Fedak, a lovely custom on the Stage Mom mold.
And Grand Champion Overall CM went to my Stablemate Valegro CM, BMS Serkan.
...And Works In Progress
It's a hot spring in Colorado...the birds are signing, the sun is blazing, and I can now wear shorts while airbrushing. With the warmer weather has come an assortment of projects, from judging photo shows (more on that later), to creating my first traditional custom for the Model Equine Photo Showers Association (MEPSA), my to-do list is not wanting.
MEPSA Donation Horse
The Model Equine Photo Showers Association is a fun, old-fashion mail-in club with fierce competition and large shows (think of it as the photo show equivalent of the NAMHSA shows). Each year MEPSA holds an assortment of contests to help fund their championship show and, for the 2018-2019 show season, one of those contests is customizing a Breyer Lady Phase. This mold is a childhood favorite of mine and I wasn't content with a simple repaint--a major pose change and breed swap are in order for her.
Stablemates in the Works
While one of my sales horses is already up for grabs, I am plugging along with sculpting new sales horses.
Except for the Arabian filly.
Sorry everybody, but this baby is staying with me! On deck I have quite a few Arabians, a couple Frisians, a Criollo and a draft horse. If there is anything people would love to see in the future for sales horses, feel free to shout out in the comments section.
Expanding the Brand
Last year I designed a new logo, a major to-do item for Blue Mountain Stable. This year, the major brand to-do was a new website and professional email. I've also ordered stickers to accommodate each sold horse when it ships to it's new owner and I'm working on a branded table cloth set-up for shows.
Originally published January 14, 2018.
For those who might not have heard, #NaMoPaiMo is National Model Painting Month, an international painting challenge in February between model horse hobbyists. It was founded and is run by Jennifer Buxton and is a fun online (and sometimes in-person) gathering of sharing progress, tips and fun.
Now in its second year, I will be participating again with another stablemate custom. I've chosen a Breyer G1 Thoroughbred mare who I am transforming into an Arabian mare. My January month will be spent finishing her sculpting and prepping her for next month's painting.
While I'm at it, I thought I'd walk you through her major changes, which I also thought would be a great insight for those wanting to know how to make great little stablemate customs.
I really love the extra challenge of changing breeds. It takes a little extra work in dremeling and sculpting, but in the case of this girl it was straight forward enough. A little extra clay on the butt and crop for a straighter Arabian back, carved head for that tiny Arabian muzzle and concave profile, and a new neck.
Fearlessness I feel is the biggest tool you can use when customizing, especially these old stablemates. The G1 TB mare, like many of that time, are lovely but have wonky legs. I had to chop off both forelegs and reattach for a more correct stance. The difference is huge when you view her from the front.
And by the way, good sturdy wire and dremeling deep holes for it are crucial to re-attaching legs that will be strong.
To the Ferrier!
The feet, I find, are usually the wonkiest part of almost all the G1s, especially if they are more recent productions (from when the molds were deteriorating). A little extra clay to the hooves and a lot of dremeling of the pasterns goes a long way. Given the small size, this is often the most frustrating part of the process, but well worth it. A couple more passes and this girl will have lovely feet.
And that's the biggest elements I wrestle with when customizing stablemates. Up next, I'll discuss taking customizing up a notch with perfect craftsmanship, which I'll demonstrate as I prep this girl for painting. More to come!
Highlights form one of Colorado's largest live shows, the Rocky Mountain Spring Fling. My modest string of minis was at this show and many took home ribbons, as well as my newly debuted Little Lonestar. There was a lot of eye candy, so without further ado, here are my favorite highlights from the show.
Originally published February 20, 2018.
After the prior article on craftsmanship, I thought it would be great to have a super short but super illustrated look into why craftsmanship is so important to prepping. Consider this a mini tutorial for sanding.
Before I sprayed my NaMoPaiMo mare with primer, I honestly thought this girl was super smooth. But look! The first coat of primer showed that I couldn't have been more wrong. While not bad for the first pass of primer, clearly she needs more sanding, especially around the areas where I added epoxy.
It might take you several rounds of sanding, priming, sanding and priming. I've had prior customs that took that much work. I was lucky with this girl; after a couple hours of meticulous sanding and a second coat of primer, she was ready to go. Look at the difference!
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Sanding and priming is a love-hate relationship, but good results is why it's worth the extra effort.
Originally published February 17, 2018.
"Why doesn't mine look as good as that horse?"
"Why didn't mine win?"
Do questions like these sound familiars? While a number of factors affect the answer (especially to the question, "Why didn't I win?"), I am going to share with you one of the biggest factors I almost always see that distinguishes great customs from sub-par and winners from those that just placed. It's a little secret my art professors drilled into me, so it will help you in other areas of art too.
The secret is excellent craftsmanship.
And how do you get excellent craftsmanship? With a lot of care in details, process, and technique. It also means putting a lot of effort into the not-so-pretty parts of creation, like prepping. What helped improve my customs and what I always see in winning models is excellent craftsmanship in prepping all the way to painting, and it's the prepping I usually see people over-look. While it's tempting to hurry to the fun stages of creation, your model will suffer for it.
Don't under estimate the power of prepping! If you want to start making winning customs, excellent prepping craftsmanship is your first step. Without it, your sculpting may look rough and your paint job will most certainly look pebbly.
My first biggest step is to smooth out as much of the epoxy as you are sculpting. In the case of the manes and tails, be sure to have a brush on hand that you can dip in rubbing alcohol or water to help smooth out the little chunks created from your sculpting tool.
My next biggest step is sanding the model all over with several types of fine-grit sandpaper (you'll probably need to shop the automotive section to get the really fine grain you need to insure perfect smoothness for your paintjob). I recommend a couple different sheets in the 600-1000 grit range.
And lastly, be sure the dive into those nooks and crannies! Fold your paper in half or into little triangles to help you reach, or get diamond-crusted files like this one below for the really tough spots.
That's my customizing secret for the day! Best of luck to all you customizers!
Originally published August 22, 2016.
Each custom I attempt involves a little more sculpting, both additive and subtractive, than the last. It is both exciting and challenging to tackle a project a little more complex than anything else you have done, but it's the secret to growth.
This girl has been just that, both exciting because she is my first jumping custom and challenging because her neck presented all sorts of proportion and biomechanical problems.
Drastic customs in general are challenging, and to help you with your's, I'll walk you through some tips with today's post. Consider this walk-through a sort of mini tutorial.
Step 1: Never Be Afraid to Dive In
Make a plan. Grab your reference, mark out your cuts and areas to resculpt, and then just dive right in. If you aren't fearless, all you will acquire is a desk full of half-finished or, worse yet, barely attempted customs.
Step 2: Always Be Open To Criticism
Sometimes you can become too focused on your work. I emphasized the back and spinal position so much that it came as a surprise when fellow hobbyist's pointed out the extreme awkwardness of her neck. But I'm so glad they spoke up and glad I took the time to rework her because, as these next few photos show, I was headed down the wrong track.
Step 3: Don't Get Comfortable With the Reference
Good reference is a must for every custom project, but never trust it. Why? You'll miss things. I got so caught up with the length of my mares neck that I never saw the other problems until fellow hobbyists pointed it out. Even, even then, it took a while to get past "but it's the exact same length as the reference!" to realize that the problem was actually the shape of the muscles.
Reference is great, but don't get so focused that it leads you astray.
Step 4: Never Be Afraid to Remove What You Started
The other problems with the neck? Too thick and the muscles over emphasized. Make friends with your sandpaper!
Step 5: Know That Every Project Has Its Growing Pains
Sometimes ugliness is part of the process. I have never rescultped this much of the head (it was almost an original sculpture at this point), so I put on more clay knowing I could always sculpt it down to the correct size later. But until then, she looked a bit mule-ish!
Step 6: Always Check Your Work From Multiple Angles
This is a big one. After all, our works aren't flat. They need to look good from every angle to be realistic. I had a 3D professor constantly remind us of "multiple reads," reminding us to ask ourselves how did our work "read" from multiple angles. Hold up your custom, spin them around, take photos, whatever you need to do to check proportions and details.