Saturday, 11 July 2015

My painting muse hath returned!

As anyone who knows me well will know, my creative muse is a very fickle individual.

One minute I'll be furiously drawing like there's no tomorrow, then the following day I can't draw for toffee but I'll be sculpting tiny things from polymer clay or painting up a whole host of models in an enthusiastic frenzy, then, inevitably, after a few days or even weeks if I'm lucky, the creative spell I'd fallen under would fade and I'd lose all motivation to continue. It's irritating, as I'd really like to be able to earn a living through my hobbies but the way my mind works it's not looking likely. This is why I rarely take on commissions - anyone wanting a custom from me has to accept that it could be months (or years, in several cases!) for me to get into the right mindset to get things started. I refuse to paint something unless I'm in the right frame of mind for it as past experience has taught me that if I force myself to paint when I'm not 'in the zone', as it were, things never turn out well.

This week, after a very long break from painting, my muse has finally come back and I've been churning out on average a custom a day. I know it won't last so I'm making the most of it!
My ideal painting environment is sitting at my desk with the TV on in the background - this week I've gone through several series of an animal rescue programme, a three part documentary on the origins of forensic science, several more series of 'police interceptors' and another documentary on serial killers! XD

First up is this rather insanely patterned appaloosa - I'll be showing him as an old type Knabstrupper. I'd read on a forum about someone's technique for pastelling which involved using a silicone sculpting tool instead of a brush for spots and mottling. I tried it out and absolutely loved it so I'll be using this on future customs as it's very effective. I'd love to try it out for roans...

Schleich custom WIP
I vividly remember painting his neck spots whilst people on tv
were being chased up for no car insurance and dangerous driving!

The yellowish patches weren't entirely intentional - I meant to use a whiter pastel but got my colours mixed up, though I do quite like the effect.

Schleich custom WIP

With this new technique in hand, I decided to really push the boat out and go for a heavily dappled grey. I'd resculpted the Schleich Fell stallion a few months before with a full mane instead of plaits, and I'll probably show him as a Highland, inspired by these two ponies I saw a few weeks ago at the RHS.

Highland Ponies

Highland Ponies

I wish I'd thought to turn his head when I was resculpting him though, as his offside has much nicer dapples...

Schleich custom WIP

Schleich custom WIP

Next up are these two commissions for my friend Viki.
She wasn't fussed on the colour scheme for the WB but knowing her propensity towards bay minimal tobianos I think I chose well. :P I added the dapples on a whim but I'm so glad I did as they really add a lot of depth to his colour. Obviously the flash photos aren't the best, but I'll take some proper showing off pics once they're all completely finished.

Schleich custom WIP

Schleich custom WIP

The next was the Collecta Dartmoor stallion, who she wanted painted up in the typical Exmoor colour of bay with lots of pangare and a mealy muzzle. He fought me at first and didn't want his bay layers to build up but I'm really pleased with how he's turned out - not bad for only a day's work!
He has some nice subtle dapples that look really nice in person but don't want to show up in photographs apparently.

Collecta Dartmoor custom WIP

Collecta Dartmoor custom WIP

The above photos are closest to his true colour but the flash brings out the shading nicely.

Collecta Dartmoor custom WIP

Collecta Dartmoor custom WIP

There's also a Stablemate G2 Saddlebred who was a bit of an experiment. I'd been sanding down a body I bought recently (caked in thick paint from a previous owner's customising attempts) and I just painted her on a bit of a whim really. She has much more shading than this photo suggests.

Stablemate custom WIP

The flash shows her shading a bit better, but obviously natural light will be much better.

Stablemate custom WIP

Of course now that I've posted this I'll probably wake up tomorrow with absolutely zero enthusiasm for painting again but hey-ho, that's the creative brain for you!

Friday, 10 July 2015

A hutch full of buns!

Before I begin I must apologise in advance for the incredibly annoying thing Flickr has decided to impose on its users - adding massive white edges to all embedded photos, along with a logo and whatnot. Nobody on Flickr actually likes or wants them there so I hope they'll see sense and get rid soon. It's certainly annoying me already and I've only posted once with them in place!

Anyway, moving onto a more pleasant topic - bunnies! :D

When Julip launched their latest range of adorable latex animals several months ago I knew I'd be needing a few for my own little yard and pre-emptively constructed them a hutch to live in. I hadn't bothered to check how big they actually were so it was a bit of a risk in case I got some and they didn't fit but luckily I'd made it just the right size.

As seen in my previous post, I bought myself four bunnies from the Lake District Live last weekend and I doubt they'll be my last, they're just ridiculously cute.

From left to right: Teasel, Smudge, Sooty and Barnaby

Smudge is the crafty one, always plotting his next escape attempt...

Teasel was half wild when he was adopted and is still very wary of people.

The other two are perfectly friendly and approachable and are easily the most popular out of the four.

I didn't look at any actual plans for the hutch and simply eyeballed it from photographs of real ones I found online. It's certainly not the most efficient way of making things but I liked the kind of 'rough and ready' look it ended up with.


 It's nothing more than stained balsa wood with a roof covered in black felt and some wire mesh I found lurking in one of my scrap drawers. The door has a working hinge made from a metal pin and some thin metal cut from a tea-light holder. The ramp was made later and just leans against the opening, though I added a couple of strips of wood underneath so it hooks over the edge.

 Located right next to the feed shed, I reckon the bunnies get more than their fair share of treats...



They've also made friends with the resident guinea pigs - all made by myself a few years ago from fimo. I'd quite like to make some more to sell as I remember them being quite popular when I sold a few at a live show.

Bunnies and peegs!

Although the playmobil(?) fencing makes an admirable enclosure for them, I'd quite like to make them a proper run so that may well become a future project...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Lake District Live 2015!

I don't often get to go to live shows as I live so far from the regularly held ones in the UK - everything's always on waaaay Down South and it's very expensive for me to travel there and back as I don't drive. Last year I had great fun at the Lake District Live held by fellow Julip collector Stacey, and when I heard she was going to hold it again this time round I leapt at the chance to go.
Luckily for me, Julip newbie and stablemate expert extraordinaire Heather lives even further north than I do, and very kindly offered to give me a lift down with her. Despite having never actually met before, we soon discovered that we had a lot in common and there was barely a quiet moment the entire car ride!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Copperfoxes are here at last!

Nearly six months ago, Becky Benfield of Utterly Horses announced that she was launching a brand new model horse company - Copperfox.

Frustrated by a lack of accurate British breeds represented in model form, she sought to address that through a completely new range of models. Funds for some of it were raised through a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, raising £31,106 in a month! I contributed to it, firstly because I wanted to support such an interesting and potentially amazing new venture, and secondly...because I got horses out of it. :P Controversy erupted after the Kickstarter was completed, when Breyer contacted Becky and offered an ultimatum: either halt production on Copperfox, or Breyer would pull the plug on supplying Utterly Horses with their models. It can't have been an easy decision to make, as Breyers account for a significant proportion of UH's sales, but she made the brave choice to carry on with Copperfox and give up the Breyer contract. I can see why Breyer would feel threatened by a little competition, but for a company with only three moulds to be such an issue seems a bit OTT, especially when you look at how well established Breyer is in the hobby. Oh well, Becky definitely has the determination to make it work!

I went for the 'Blanfords Fox Package' which entitled me to two models hot off the production line. I chose the bay Welsh Cob sculpted by Kelly Sealy and the bay Exmoor, by Harriet Knibbs. 'Founding Foxes' (aka Kickstarter supporters) also had the choice of an exclusive colour - dappled buckskin - but I decided against it as the bays were far more appealing to me. I'm rather glad I did now, as the dapples turned out rather...interesting on the buckskins I've seen so far on facebook. 

The Supporter's Pack I received with the models was really nice - a handwritten letter of thanks from Becky, certificates for each of my horses, a lovely little Copperfox pin badge, (which is now stuck to the wall of my desk so I can see it when I work) a copy of The Model Horse Magazine, some typed out tutorials including a saddle making guide, complete with pattern, and a few other bits and pieces. (my favourite being a pastelling tutorial with a 'copper' coloured pastel included. XD)

They have done an exceptional job so far, and although there are issues with the factory's ability to paint dapples and a little bit of QC when it comes to rough seams and things, for a fledgling company's first release I honestly couldn't be happier with my models and I can't wait to see what comes next for Copperfox. All through the production of these, Becky was very good at keeping everyone updated with progress, and when one factory couldn't manage to paint them to her standard, she immediately switched to another, so I get the feeling she'll be striving for even more realism in the future.

Anyway, what's a post like this without pictures? I braved the high temperatures (well, for Scotland anyway. :P) and soggy front lawn to take these...

Presenting the first of my Copperfoxes...

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG11

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG3

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG1

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG6

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG5

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG9

He's an incredibly dynamic sculpture and if he didn't keep falling over on the grass (it's on a slight slope and that didn't help him balance with that peg-leg!) I'd have taken even more photos. XD

On that note, he comes with two pegs - a metal one and a clear acrylic one which he has in now. He cannot stand without the peg, though I suppose you could make him a base if you reeeeally don't like pegs. Personally I like them so it doesn't bother me, and he's quite stable on a shelf. They're a lot heavier and more solid than Breyers - Becky mentioned on Facebook that it was a deliberate choice as she wanted them to feel like quality, which they really do.

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG sfgfd

Paint-wise, I'd have liked to have seen a little more shading on the face and for his mane to be hand painted to avoid over/undersprayed areas. His socks were a little streaky in places but only if you really looked for it. He did have a couple of rough seams on his chest and under his jaw, but you don't see them from the side so it isn't really an issue for me as I don't get to live shows and much prefer photo shows anyway!

Both horses have really nicely painted chestnuts and eyes (although I'd have preferred a darker iris colour personally but that's if I was being really picky) and my mum, who is totally not horsey at all had a good long look at the chestnuts before I told her that they were supposed to be there. XD

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG7

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG10

EA Fantastic Mr Copperfox - Welsh Cob - stallion - OF - EG sfgdgfd

Ok, next up we have...

EA Kick Start 'Er

EA Kick Start 'Er - Cob x Exmoor - mare - OF - EG6

EA Kick Start 'Er - Cob x Exmoor - mare - OF - EG

EA Kick Start 'Er - Cob x Exmoor - mare - OF - EG5

I don't think the mould makes a particularly good Exmoor so I'll be showing mine as a cob cross to account for the massive head and neck. XD

I've seen rather a lot of negativity associated with this mould which is a real shame as she's actually really lovely in person. Ok, perhaps not perfect in terms of anatomy or conformation, but she reminds me of several ponies I've known at riding schools over the years - not made for the show ring, but brilliant fun to learn on. I wanted both horses to have names appropriate to their origins, and her one is obviously a play on 'Kickstarter' but also a nod to that kind of stubborn schoolie who'd really rather not move at all during a lesson, or spends most of a hack with her head down, munching at the grass while the poor kid on board flaps away uselessly with their legs in a vain attempt to get her moving. :P

While I think the cob is my favourite sculpture of the two, there's just something really nice about this pony. I keep picking her up - there's something very tactile about the sculpture - and she really appeals to me despite the flaws.

She didn't turn out as mealy a bay as I expected which is a little disappointing but at the same time, it's a nice shade of bay anyway, even though it's actually a bit more yellow toned than these photos suggest.

EA Kick Start 'Er - Cob x Exmoor - mare - OF - EG7

How could you not like this face?!

EA Kick Start 'Er - Cob x Exmoor - mare - OF - EG3

She has no mould flaws at all that I can find, and aside from a tiny bit of mane overspray and some on her feet (which does bug me a bit, it has to be said) she's pretty much perfect.

Flash brings out her 'true' colours, though it's really more like a cross between the photos above, shot in full sun, and these ones, in daylight, shot inside.

Copperfox Exmoor - Trifle

Copperfox Exmoor - Trifle


Here's some terrible phone photos of size comparisons with some similarly sized Breyers.



She's a bit bigger than the Breyer Haflinger in all ways, but they're close enough in size to match nicely.

The cob is a bit bigger, but not by a huge amount which I think surprised some people who were expecting him to be significantly larger. He's scaled to about 14hh I think, and the pony to 13hh.


He's a good size match with Flash, and with colour too!



He looks absolutely tiny next to Salinero though. XD



No flash in natural light.

 Copperfox Welsh Cob - Celtic Warrior

Copperfox Welsh Cob - Celtic Warrior


Copperfox Exmoor & Welsh Cob

I don't really have space for more Trads, but these two are really small so I think I can see myself gathering a few more in future...