January 29, 2022

Rebel in the Making - Part 10 (sculpting braids!)

I put on the full-length BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and got to work on this boy...

I checked to make sure the magnets would grab the buried magnets, so far so good! 

I had to do a bit more epoxy to smooth over the area, let cure, and sand again. 
On to the braids!

A thin noodle of epoxy down the crest. 

Smoothed in as best I could with my fingers on one side with a little water. 
I tend to overwork the epoxy with water too early. It will start to break apart and become crumbly.
Use the bare minimum of moisture possible to get it smoothed. Once cured, I'll sand it smooth as needed being careful not to remove the newly added mane. 

Smoothing and flattening on the side where the braids will go. 

Using a sculpting tool, I carve off the extra length of epoxy.

A little more fine-tuning so that visually the length of braids will be flattering on his neck. 

Using a little water on a soft pointed tool, I cleaned up the extra epoxy off the neck. 

This is one of my favorite unconventional sculpting tools. It's a broken airbrush needle that has a tiny hook on the end. I use the thicker part of the needle to separate the braids. Since I'm going for hunter braids, I am aiming for 30+ tiny braids.

Using the same tool, I clean up the bottom of each braid my using the little hook to make the end of each braid a bit triangular and pull away the extra epoxy. The ends will get rounded later in the process.

Same tool is used to draw hair lines all along the crest.

Now I use the hook to make indentions on one side of each braid all the way down the neck. 

Repeat on the other side to form the braids.

Then using a soft silicone tip, I clean up each braid. Remove any little bits, round the ends, flatten, add hair detail, whatever you think they need. Sometimes it helps to let the epoxy cure a bit and then come back and work on them some more. 

Another noodle of epoxy is used to create the bridle path and forelock.

The same steps are repeated to create the bridle path (using hair lines) and the forelock braid. 

I dcided he needed another braid on each end. Hoping that covering the magnets with more epoxy won't cause issues when I make his other manes and tails! 

I gave him a mud knot after all. I buried a couple magnets in it as well. I really didn't want a bald horse under the exchangeable manes and tails, but I still don't know if this is going to work or not!

January 28, 2022

Rebel in the Making - Part 9

 Let the experimenting begin...

The tiny earth magnets arrived this week. They are super strong, so I am hoping they will work through layers of epoxy. Guess we'll see! I planned out where his hunter braids will be and where the magnets will fit by marking in pencil. The book in the back, Braiding Manes and Tails, is a great resource!

I used a 1/8" drill bit to make deep enough holes that the magnet will sit fully inside on his neck. 

I glued the magents in with Super Glue, then smooshed them in with epoxy, which I smoothed out after the photo. Trick is to get them facing the right side out. They are really fiddly, and the glue sticks to everything. Once the epoxy cures, I'll sand them flush with his neck. 

For the tail, I drilled the holes into the rough tailbone I had constructed previously and glued in the magnets. This time I sculpted the hair and braids directly over the magnets. 

I'm debating whether or not I can pull off a mud knot or if it will be too bulky. 

January 22, 2022

Rebel in the Making - Part 8

The acrylic rods came today, so I was able to move forward on Rebel - hooray! These are 1/8" in diameter that I ordered from Amazon. First, I used a smaller grinding bit to carve out the heel bulbs and frogs. 

I think it's nice to add a little detail and refinement to the area. 

Then I used a heat gun to both stretch his pastern to lengthen it and to position it so that the hoof rested flat on the table. Lucky for me, my Prospek tool props him up perfectly in the gait I wanted. 

I used a 1/8" drill bit to drill holes into the bottom of the 2 hooves. I used a cutting wheel to cut the acrylic rods to length and then tried them out. Happy me, they were just right on the first try! And he is even more stable than he was without them, so there shouldn't be a repeat of that one incident. This is important since he will be a performance showing horse and is likely to get bumped and jostled. 

I used epoxy to reshape his heel bulbs and frogs. 

They'll need a touch of sanding. 

But, I think it is a nice touch. 

His pastern was also filled in. 

I'm opting to glue in the acrylic rods later so they don't get messy and poke me while I'm working on him. So he's back on his temporary stand while he cures. 

January 17, 2022

Back in Business


I knocked him over while cleaning up my workspace, he hit the floor, and lost his ears.
After I found the biggest chunks of his ears and cooled down for a minute, I assessed the damage. I opted to work with what I had. I super glued the original ears in place and let that set. Then I dremeled around the seam. This serves two purposes: it blends away any seam and layers epoxy to lend strength to the area. There was a good chunk missing in each year, so I will have to sand down and refind where I tried to recreate that section of the ear. Sigh. I was pretty happy with them before. Sigh. I also heated up his one pastern and moved his leg to make him more stable until I am ready to add pegs. I do not want a repeat!

I couldn't find my magnets and decided my acrylic rods are thicker than I want, so had to order more of each and am now playing the waiting game. Not my morning. Sigh.


January 16, 2022

Rebel in the Making - Part 7

I started off with a light prime on his head and neck so that I could better see how things are progressing. The more even color makes it easier to see rough transitions, gouges, etc. I stayed light on the primer, more of a "revealing layer," as I don't want to sculpt a lot over primer. It's best to sand it down and apply epoxy straight on the epoxy/plastic for the best long-term adhesion. 


I marked some areas in pencil that I wanted to sand down or fill in more. 
I completely popped off the bony eye structure on the right side as it was just too bulky. 

Before I applied any epoxy, I wanted to add his tailbone. I cut a piece of wire hanger to the approximate length and then bent it so it would rest against the top of the horse and come out at the right angle. 

I made sure to drill the hole bigger than the wire so I could work inside for a more secure bond. Working upside down and using soda glue, I secured it on the inside. I then wrapped the hanger wire forming his tailbone with thin aluminum wire tightly. This gives the epoxy something to grab. I then mixed up epoxy and using an old, bent airbrush needle (any tool small enough will work), I pushed epoxy into the hole and firmly against the wire inside the body cavity. Adding epoxy will give even more strength to the tail. 

I then covered the entire wire tailbone in epoxy. The wire came out just a little to the left of center, so I used epoxy to bulk out the right side. This is a thin layer that will serve as a hard base to sculpt detail on later. If you go too thick now, it will look really thick later. 

With the messy application of soda glue behind me, I used lintless paper (the same ones I use
 to clean my glasses) to wipe off as much dust as I could. 
He got several more small tweaks, including enhanced lips, chin and nostrils.

I also realized he had no withers, so remedied that.

Now I'll let him cure overnight. I'm very excited for a day off tomorrow on MLK Day!

January 15, 2022

Rebel in the Making - Part 6

After the dremel session on his head and neck, I went to town smoothing all over with sandpaper. First with 80 grit, followed up with 320 grit. I also went over the areas shaped by my fingers, as there will always be some lumps and bumps when you shape things by hand. After a good sanding, I rinsed him and let him dry. You really want a good grip when you put down fresh epoxy and any dust will affect a good bond. 

Next up was attaching his ears. I wanted to get them on before I had any epoxy curing anywhere. I use a method I first heard about from Sarah Rose. Using superglue (never gel) and baking soda you can create a very strong bond very quickly from the chemical reaction they create. I've heard it can break down over time, so I always bury it inside epoxy. I like to get the individual-sized super glue from Dollar Tree.

I played around with ear placement and stuck them on, one drop of super glue, followed by a pinch of baking soda, then another drop of super glue, and on and on until it's firm enough I can't snap them off with my fingers. Give them a good tug to check their strength. 

I look at it from several angles. 

Then added epoxy around the base of one ear, including all the details.

Decided it wasn't right, so ripped them off. 

Followed by grinding down most of the built-up soda glue, 
gluing them on and pulling them off several times, 
and gluing an ear to my finger at least once. 

Finally happy with ear placement several hours later, 
I started adding epoxy. I touched up areas of his neck, 
then worked on one small area at a time around his ears and head.

So much detail was lost when I removed his forelock, 
that much of the bony eye structure needed to be rebuilt.

One side mostly done. 

Sanding down the seam on the front of his face also flattened out that area, so I added a bit more roundness for nasal bones as well. I also worked on his lips, trying to add some wrinkles. I think those may need to be sanded off and redone, we'll see. 

I see a lot of lumpy areas where the epoxy wasn't fresh enough to feather into the surrounding areas. I'll start by sanding, then will see if it needs a touch of epoxy or just a little modeling paste during prepping. 

You can see all the little piles of manure made with leftover epoxy after each batch I made. Now I'll let him cure, then reassess what tweaking he still needs on his head and neck before moving on to his legs and tail(s).