Thursday, December 29, 2011

Misc. Creativity

So I forgot to take a photo of it before I left it over at Mom's house, but the inside of the quilt top is fully pieced together and I'm waiting on fabric to come in for the borders and flower petals that will be put on. I do have my image of the pieces on the design board though so I'll put that up. Borders and flowers will be the same width as the squares and in the cream with dark polka dots fabric.

I also thought it would be fun to post photos of the Christmas cards I did for the families this Holiday. All are done in water colors with some bordering in micron ink pens.

This first one is for Dad. The block of the building on the left there is his current hangar. Dad used to be an architecht and contractor and is planning on doing some remodeling to the building to include office space as well as extend some of the shop space. He gets a big kick out of illustrative renderings so I thought I'd do a quick sketch up for his card.

Mom's is this next one. Mom is slightly obsessed with miniature donkeys. This one is way cuter in person.

Brother Chris has a little Toy Daschund named Sydney who is just a complete Diva. So, she is sprawled on her favorite white leopard fleece blanket with her bling color and her sparkly presents.

Chris is roommate joined us for Christmas as his family is in Missouri. He just bought a boxer puppy this year named Dyson. Chris insisted I should have put the hat in his mouth.

The next round of family cards is for hubby Matt's side. His sister (who's name happens to also be Jennifer Lee, only she spells her middle name Leigh) has a fun black lab who always is eating things. Hence ornament in mouth.

 For Mother-in-Law Karen, a cute little snowglobe. Matt used to have a tradition of buying her snowglobes for Christmas before she finally demanded he stop due to her lack of space for any more. So, next best thing was the paper version. Very spacially friendly.

And last but not leat is Jenn's daughter Trinity. That little girl is all about her pink and princesses.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Other Hobby

Most people are content with one hobby. I'm not one of them. I'll admit to being guilty of having many. Probably too many, but at least I can't complain of ever being bored. I may actually open up a second blog for this hobby I'm about to share, but until then I'll post here and see if anyone's interested in it.

I tend to be interested in hobbies that I can express myself creatively in. Sewing is one of those. My mom was the one who got me into it as it's her big thing. She used to sew my brothers and I clothes while growing up. While I've not tried any clothes yet (though I'm just about to make the plunge), I've been quilting for several years now. There is just something about a quilt made by you or someone you love that just makes you happy. Definitely one of those "feel good" things. Here's a couple of projects I've made in the past:

A bag for a friend's baby shower in her colors of pink and brown.

A "raggie" quilt for our friends' first baby.
His theme was cars/airplanes/motorcycles in primary colors.
The blue fabric is old jeans cut up into squares and the red plaid is flannel -
nice and soft for baby's skin!
(By the way the quilt is perfectly square. My photography not so much)

This one was made from a Bunny Hill kit for another friends' first baby.
This was my first attempt at applique and I love it!

There are others, but maybe I'll make another post out of those. I mainly wanted a little lead in sampling. You all get the idea. My next project that I'm working on is for my Mother-in-Law's Birthday coming up at the end of January.

One of my favorite designers are actually a local Colorado company consisting of Mom and two daughters - Sweetwater. I like there stuff because it's not so "floraly" like most fabric out there. It's lots of gender neutral prints and geometrics. They have a pattern called Pure Happiness that was designed for fabrics of their "Pure" line. I don't have yardage of the fabrics, only what's called "fat quarters (which is basically a 18" x 24" piece of fabric) so instead of using only three colors, well, I'll be using them all.  Aren't they pretty?

So I want to create a gradient effect, going from light in one
corner to dark in the opposite corner. I'll use the blue fabrics
for the bow ties. You can see the guide I made in the
lower left of the photo below.

I've got the top half of the quilt top just about fully pieced together.
Just that one last row, which you can also see in the above photo.
Below is a close in shot.

After I finish the quilt top, I'll sandwich the quilt back, batting, and top together and start the quilting. When that is finished I'll add the flowers and buttons and quilt binding. I think I'll do some blogging on those steps in case anyone was interested in the step-by-step making of a quilt. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cantering WB - finished the sculpey part!

So, still no name as of yet, though I do have a few in mind that I'm narrowing it down from. I've finished all the work I want to do with the Sculpey, baked him, and will be making my waste mold of him tomorrow!

 There are plenty of little tweaks this guy needs! I won't go into pointing them all out but the big ones will be cleaning up the hoofies - like sanding down a lot from that front left one and building up some more on that back left one - finishing the tail, sanding smooth the sections I worked on him in so that they all blend together fluidly with no bumps/breaks/cracks, fixing the areas where the sculpey cracked, and adding veins/details/shoes.

 Once I get the feet sized right and more even with the others I'll sculpt the bottom of the hooves on before sculpting on shoes.

 It's much easier to work on a sturdy, cast-as-one-piece resin form for this stuff than risk putting too much pressure on a sculpey piece and having it break off.    

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cantering Warmblood progress

So I believe it was one or two posts back that you saw a peek at the Warmblood I'm working on. I've probably got about 42 hours, give or take one or two, into him at this point. Don't mind the cracking. I tend to seal a freshly completed section with a heat gun before moving on to the next so as to make sure I don't accidentally bump and smudge something I didn't want to. I should take the time to just bake him and then move on to fully get him cooked instead of hardening just the top layer but well, these little tiny cracks are easy to fill on the resin master.

This side of the tail is pretty much done. I'll come back with Apoxie, which is a stronger substance that adheres to hard surfaces much better, to smooth some unworked spots out when I get the resin master copy made.

You'll see that I just have this side of the tail, the chest, and 1.5 front legs to go! Male parts I'll put on the resin master as well. Same with shoes and veins.

<3 his face! The wrinkles will calm down during the master smoothing process.

These wrinkles are better. The blob there is a chest muscle waiting to be worked in. It won't poke out nearly so much later.

You'll also notice I went with the 40 tiny hunter braids. I really debated this as the look is not my particular cup of tea. However in the end they won out because one - he's correctly braided for pretty much every discipline requiring them, and two - they'll be *very* easy to sand off for mane resculpting of the production pieces. I'm also contemplating two versions - loose mane and the braided. I would love to hear people's thoughts on this!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Playing Dr. Frankenstein

Appropriate considering what holiday is next upon us! Apparently I've been subconsciously inspired to chop something up. And I happened to spy my next plastic victim on the shelf!

Poor Ringo! There is something just morbidly satisfying about slicing a plastic into many parts and scorching it with my heat gun. Considering this was all I did in my early teens when I was first learning to customize, I'm wondering why my parents weren't more concerned.

I am in for a big overhaul with this guy. For starters, those two legs who's position is undergoing some serious changing will need the musculature sanded down near completely and redone to correctly suit the movement. The left shoulder will get the most work. The neck would just be easier to completely resculpt so I trashed that to make room for the wire and apoxie. I'll have to fill the head in too to make sure I don't trap that air where it could implode the piece. Besides the movement changes to the piece, I plan on going back and adding in the detail that was woefully lost when the mold was made. The body I'm going to try to stay more true to Kathi's lovely style, but the mane and tail will be me.

You can see a quick photoshop sketch of where I'm going with this guy. I was inspired by a photo I saw of a real Saddlebred. I believe this new pose/look will make him more versatile in the performance ring...and I do like me a versatile horse. I'm thinking I'll complete the look with a sandy bay tobiano - maybe about 70% white? Not entirely locked in on that sandy bay, but pinto definitely.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some photogenic studio updates

I'm due (long over due in fact) for a web update - not just the gallery but the in studio page as well. I don't have the time for that large of a project yet, so I'm taking the quick way out meantime with a little blurb of studio projects.

Remember several years back when I did this guy? Well, his owner and I had the most unfortunate luck of this being a rare case of a leaking resin that doesn't rear its ugly head until well after the paint has been applied. We traded the bad body back to Lynn for another and are having a second attempt at this guy. He's almost finished, just need to add more gold to the highlights and then add the dark to the other side.

Another one of my long time residents. This Lorenz is finally up on the assembly line and looking good in his dapple gray coat! Little fleabites are being added to the flank, shoulder, elbow and neck areas right now. His legs are blocked in but still need work on this side. The other side needs everything. :)

Two Reiners on commission are just about finished! The top needs his m/t and hoofies completed and I'm waiting on a Rio Rondo order of shoes to give him that finishing touch.  The bottom just needs to have his feet finished and he's ready to be sealed and sent home!

These next two are sales pieces that I'm squeezing in. Ikran, above, has been getting little hairs drawn on here and there for probably the last year. He's not very high on the priority list as I'm working more on commissions and resin orders. Since you last saw him in an earlier blog post, I've added more hairing work and then a layer of oils over top of that hairing detail to set everything in. I'm extremely pleased with the way he is coming out. I love this little sculpture, which certainly helps. It's probably my favorite foal resin out there today, though Morgen's Little Man Mango is right up there with him.

 This guy however, I should have done in the next couple of days. I <3 mini's. Freshly released, he's Sarah's Little Lonestar and I'm trying a new way of painting on him. I had an idea for a "short cut" of sorts but wanted to make sure the look would still be the same and just as nice. So far, on the two horses I've tried it out on it's working out great! This means faster production, which is always a huge benefit! Still need to add the shadows and blanket on the other side and add the white markings on the legs and face. So far he's sailing along though.

And I'm trying to integrate a plastic piece in now and then too. I like the change in medium to kind of spritz things up a little anyway. This gal is more performance oriented with her neck tucked and head on the bit. I've added braids and squared out her tail more. The braids need to be "dechunkified" and some smoothing needs to happen, but after that I think I'm ready for painting. Still no clues on color for her yet. I'm thinking a medium chestnut but I'm not nailed to it. Suggestions are always welcome. :D

Also in the studio is a new sculpture project. I'm almost finished with the little Welsh pony mare, but I had to start this guy before I exploded with pent up creativity. Another warmblood? Fraid so. Why? A few reasons. One, I had a friend comment on how odd it was that while I was an "English type" rider (dressage/eventing) I had a lot of western style resins. I thought it funny when I realized how right she was. So, I'm endeavoring to give Depeche a buddy. Another reason for the second dressage oriented piece is completed business related. When I can afford to and take the time away from work, I ride at a high-end dressage barn. Let's just say I believe there's the potential for some jobs there. I very much want to branch out into bronze work and start focusing on commissioned sculpture.  So, I need a portfolio piece that showcases the recent skill level I've reached that would appeal to the buyer I'm trying to attract. 

I have been wanting to do this pose for years now actually. It's a bit different from what you normally see in the model world. He is cantering, but he's only got one weight-bearing leg at this time in the gait. There are so many trotting ones I didn't want to go that direction, and I still wanted a versatile horse for other events besides dressage so I didn't want to sculpt a very specific movement like the half-pass or pirouette. And while we have a lot of horses in the canter with three weight-bearing legs like Depeche, there really aren't mane with just one. I believe that's because of the need for either a base or pegs. This guys will most likely have two. One in his right back leg, and then one in the left front.

So, yes the update was a bit long, but in that there were lots of photos to see, I'm sure you'll forgive me. ;) There are still many more horses in progress, but their paint was drying or they were at another otherwise impossible to photograph stage.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Peek-a-Boo Peek

Remember that cute little cookie of the foal peeking through mamma's tail? Well, I got him molded and cast the other day and prepped for production molding just now! :D I've really been wanting some little item to stock for fun that was affordable to everyone or that I could give to shows as a donation piece that was readily available. Cookies fit the bill. Besides, who doesn't like cookies? Nom nom.

I'll only be selling this when copies are in stock and of course they'll go through my mailing list first. Link to the list should be on the right hand column there. I'll be asking $20 plus postage. I can tell you all right now that one day hubby will wake up to find lots of Peek-a-Boo magnets on the fridge! :D

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dainty Darcy Sales Piece

So I've been working hard on getting this gal done for my next resin sales piece. I've got two more of her sisters in the works too. This is the "flashiest" paint job of the three - a dark dappled caramel palomino sabino. I love the way she's turning out! Just need to get the eyes/hooves painted and clean up the markings on the right side! $450 + $10 shipping (int'l extra) takes her. I'll have her finished either by tomorrow evening or Friday.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Sales Piece

So, I've finally completed the moderately customized Weather Girl! She's now up on AB! Click Here for her Auction. Remember AB links can be finicky so just hit the browser's back button if it doesn't work on first click.

And yes, those shoes are "forged" and not sculpted.

Honestly, it was fun to transform a horse into something that was still a Weather Girl, but at the same time completely different. I don't know if I'll suddenly switch from painting resins to completely customizing plastics, but it was a nice change of beat. I have a Valentine here in studio who I've done some slight customizing to. I want to finish her at some point. Maybe next month. Too many commissions I've got on the table to get completed this month to fit her in. :) There's also a Breyer Classic scale Hanoverian and a Stone Trad. Paloose that I have big plans for. I might even have to push Valentine down the line a little to make room for that Paloose. He's going to be something. :D

That's all you'll get from me for now. Back to painting and casting and cleaning and website updating! Oh my. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Showing up

So, I'm hosting my first live show on Saturday and as usual have a bunch of little things to do as I come down to the wire. First order of business - firming up table and chair delivery to the hangar. Second, print ribbons, judges sheets, and extra show packets. Third clean/organize room (and the rest of the house!!) for guest judge's arrival so she doesn't run away. Four - finish plaques for trophies and buy raffle tickets for donation items.

I've just come to terms with the fact that nothing "work wise" will have a snowballs chance in hell at getting any attention this week. On the plus note, the painting for the plaques by Kitty Cantrell are painting up really nicely. I've got the three Arabian Stallion plaques done (woots):

And am 2/3 of the way through on the Arabian Mare and Foal plaques. These things are about 7 1/2" tall and are so so nice to paint! I've already told Kitty that they are going to become an annual thing for trophies for my show. They're just too perfect not to use. And frankly I'd rather have one of these than a rosette. Kitty does sell these two if you're not attending my show and still want one. They are $50 PPD I believe - see them on her website:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cookies and Customs

So, I've been wanting to do a medallion forever. I had a first attempt with this guy a few years back:

And I had an idea pop into my head while hubby and I watched a movie for a second one. A little foal hiding behind mamma's bottom and peeking through her tail. A few hours later I had my piece! Meet Peek-a-boo!

Worlds different from the first one, huh? Peek-a-Boo is roughly 2" wide by 4" tall. I'll probably be selling a few of them later, but she's not high on the priority list at all.

Next up is the custom part. I meant for that to be plural too, as the tittle suggests, but I forgot to snap a photo of him finished so I'll just plant in a little teaser description and let you look forward to him later. Here's the Weather Girl custom I'm working on with a much nicer, and much less orange background. ;) She's *almost* ready to paint but still needs some tweaks here and there. I will hope to have her up for auction next week on AB. I abhor bases in all fields - sculpting them, painting them, looking at them - so I went with a thin acrylic rod on the front hoof instead. She's quite sturdy even for being narrow.

 Can't wait to be able to put that bay paint job with chrome on her! Yum! And that teaser I promised. I have a stunning Gomez by Deb McDermott that has been in the works for a while. As with most of my own pieces they usually don't get worked on unless I have left over stuff that needs to be used. So, while cleaning resins, any surplus of Apoxie mixed went towards the customizing of Gomez. Nothing in terms of position, but a lot in terms of decoration and hair. His tail is customized and was shortened, which meant an acrylic rod to support him. Then I took off his mane on the one side and added a double french braid to the neck so he's got those gorgeous locks on both sides now. I couldn't stop there. I'd been eyeing all these fancy Spanish parade horses and of course was inspired. So, to that gorgeous thick Spanish hair, I added roses and ribbons. The end result is AMAZING. So much in fact that I'm going to keep him in my own personal collection for a while. That's no small thing. I never hang on to horses any more as I can't afford to keep my own work. If I keep it, that means I'm loosing the money I could have made from a sale. I currently have one horse in my personal collection right now and this boy will make it two.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Weather looks good!

So, I'm doing something I have not done since my early teens. I'm customizing a plastic model. There is something about melting plastic and chopping off heads that just oozes nostalgia for me. I'm assuming, but I think *all* painters and sculptors start out doing this. By taking that beat up body and playing Dr. Frankenstein on it. But the end result is amazing. It's almost mind boggling to me that we can take these horses and totally remake them into something else.

I am seeing that the trend in the market right now is for customized plastics. My guess on why that's the case is because it's a wide open market that has not been oversaturated yet. Not with really good pieces. As mentioned, it's more of a novice field still. But, wanting a change, I think a lot of the top artists are going back to their roots. Especially now that we have such wonderful bodies to work on. Also, they are cheap to get a hold of. Cheap compaired to a $200-$500+ resin anyway.

So who's my victim? Breyer's latest plastic - Weather Girl.  She'll be what I would term a "moderate custom" when all's said and done; which means that you'll still guess she started life as a Weather Girl, but she's had a *lot* of work done. My inspiration? A photo of an Arabian hunter pleasure horse. Here's where I am so far:

She's sitting on my drafting table and only able to stand right now by leaning on something - in this case a jaringly orange and distracting box of Baking Soda. The right elbow is still bothering me. I think it needs to be moved back towards the body some more. The angle to the shoulder isn't helping so I'm actually going to fix that first and see if that's the whole problem there. Besides being straightened, the left front leg hasn't been touched. The left hind leg works where it was (woots) and there wasn't too much to do on that back right hind. I did straighten the canon as it was really messed up, probably due to a mold flaw. Her tail, when attached will look something like the drawn in one: braided with the extention for some crazy length. I'm hoping it will be enough to support her so I don't have to add pegs or a base. Her mane will be a running braid (french braid) that will enhance the shapely ness of her neck. I love how regal and feminine she's looking already! Despite the fact that I don't like them, you'll never see a top level hunter pleasure Arabian go in the ring without pads and weighted shoes. So, I'll be adding them as well. To finish her off I'll add an absolutely glowing dappled red bay paint job with golden highlights and lots of chrome. That will be the part that's most fun to me. :D

Friday, June 17, 2011

An artist's words - long

I had originally thought to post some completed and in progress photos here, but as I started writing this I changed my mind. I will save that post for another time. Today I feel compelled by some unknown force to get some things out. I usually do not like to blab out feelings or thoughts publicly as I tend to think that makes me seem whiney or like I'm trying to grab attention, but it seems like one of those rare occasions when I'm being prompted to. Warning, there will be a lot of "I's" in this post. ;)

The thoughts of mine have a lot to do with the hobby's demands vs. the artistic liberty and expression. It also has something to do with the customers vs. the artists. It seems to me that our happy hobby world has turned into one of conflict in recent years. I'm noticing more and more trends of "ganging up" on pieces or people. Customers vs. artists seems quite appropriate. And I do mean that to swing both ways too - artists vs. customers. I think there has been a lot of unreasonabilty (yes I made up my own word) from both parties. Customers feel wronged by artists who take forever to get them pieces - whether it was known they'd have to wait or not, and artists feel bullied by customers who are being overly demanding, rude, and don't seem to care about paying for what they have purchased.

Frankly, I think we need a little more understanding and well CARING between both sides. Artists have to care enough for their customers to not make them wait for years on pieces purchased. I understand that painted pieces can take longer depending on the detail, but I will be the first to admit it is most definitely unreasonable to expect people to wait years for an unpainted resin. If you can fill the order, wait for more casts and then take more customers. I am changing my practices as I can to make sure I can comply with my own words. More on business plans down the post. Customers need to have a little more understanding, need to put themselves in the professional artist's shoes. So many times they are just plane rude and unreasonably demanding and when they aren't absolutely groveled to by the artist they go public and go bashing. Also, they will spend so much money on other things with time payments, but when the artist says it's time to pay the balance of a piece owed the customer, who has been nagging with e-mails to get it done, get it done, suddenly disappears. They don't seem to understand that artists pay their bills with those funds and it's not just "extra money".

These are just stereotypes that I've been noticing and of course does not apply to everyone. It's just something I'm coming across more and more though my own experiences as well as the experiences of many others I've talked to - on both sides of the fence. I do not believe either side to be right. Customers are not evil. They feel genuinely wronged, but I think have taken that to mean that they are going to bite back even harder than necessary to "teach someone a lesson." Instead, it just reinforces in the artists' minds that they are victims. On the other side, the artists have gotten used to making people wait and have grown comfortable with that, which isn't right either. We get scared to say "no" to an order as that means food on our table and money in our pockets to pay bills, but that just means that we create a backlog that becomes a mountain to climb over for us. As usual with an argument, Both sides need to meet in the middle. I'm going to make the effort on my end, and I hope others will start to do the same.

Which brings me on to my next topic of business plans. At least this one will have some pictures to go with it! :D What's a blog post without photos after all?  Getting through current orders is obviously the priority. However, new things always need to be happening in order to move forward. An artist needs their own time to creatively express themselves as they see fit otherwise the creativity leaves them and they become more or less machines. This leads to an unhappy artist, which I believe leads to a fall in work in regards to both time frame and quality. I have noticed lately, that I have not been expressing myself completely, most particularly in the sculpture realm. In that ever present worry to keep money coming in for bills, I've tended to try to please the customer base entirely - a hobby as a whole. I've now learned this is impossible for the hobby as a whole is fickle. While there are generalizations, these can change at a moment's notice. What makes one piece more special than the next? I will tell you right now it's not correctness. I've put my mind through a blender trying to decipher the mystery of "how to create popular pieces" and have finally realized something. One, I will never solve this puzzle. Two, I have worried so much about pleasing everyone else and conforming to their opinions - only to have that same piece bashed by the ones who's opinions I was ruled by, that I've lost my own creative expression.

My solution? Instead of creating the performance horse or the show horse, the ideal standard of a breed, I want to pick a piece that completely inspires me. I was surfing the Internet one night find mustang foal photos to use as reference for the foal that will complete the "family" of Llanura and Sencillo since I've been asked to do so. I was reaching the end of the image search when these gems popped onto my screen.

The breed is unknown, though I suspect Welsh pony. It didn't matter. I felt some creative voice yelling out to me at that moment to do only what I wanted and sculpt these two - without trying to make them the perfect ideal of a set breed, without trying to make them show groomed or performance ready. Sculpt them as is, "faults" and character and all. As of today, I'm almost 50% finished with her. Here's where the photos come in. :) Yes. I know. Finally. Some are with flash, some are without; as I could not get the desired image with either. Both reveal different perspectives.

My full on portrait of this momma mare. Her back is NOT too long, for those of you who can only see hobby portions, which rules that the back must be short in order to look good. She does have that dropped back and tummy, as all broodmares do.

Don't mind the strange gap in her tummy. After I bake her, I'll remove her from the armature and sculpt over the piece in the middle there, giving me a complete, uninterrupted body with no sign of armature.

And here we'll get a close up of her cute little pony legs! I'm just enamored over how the chest and it's wrinklies came out. I'd wanted more of the skin look rather than the hobby's preference towards deep sharp muscle grooves. The area behind the elbow isn't finished btw.

More wrinkles! It's amazing how many of these things those crestier (as well as the more fat variety) will get when turning inside. My cresty-necked Morgan gelding gets some that look very much like these.

Still several things to fix - the big ears being the most notable. And of course there's the fact that she has no other side yet. She also has no teeth. I'm waiting until I get both sides of the head complete before trying to put those in. No particular names for this gal coming to me yet, though I know I want to keep it simple.

Back to the business plan. In hopes of keeping up with orders, I will only be selling her painted. That's right. No unpainted orders will be taken, no pre-orders will be taken, and *maybe* only one or two commissions will be taken. Most of you know, but I am a one shop woman. I do the sculpting, the painting, the molding, the casting, the cleaning, the shipping - I do it *all*. And the amount of labor and time it takes me to cast and clean things is substantial. So, I decided that with this gal I was going to get rid of a lot of that time by doing a lot less casting/cleaning. Instead, I'd use that time to paint, which honestly is so much easier on my hands.

Will she be the first of many that will only be sold painted? I sure do hope so. But don't worry, I won't be ousting unpainted sales completely. Just limiting them more. And my goal with unpainted sales, when they do happen, will be to have pieces available in hand for sales. While the $50 deposit and balance due when ready to ship method has been working I still want to eliminate the wait completely. When it comes to resin sales, I want to get to the point of when you pay I ship. No wait. While I'd like to quit the deposit sales cold turkey, I need to get a little ahead so I can order supplies up front for molding and casting, which means more likely a gradual transition to these sales. It's coming soon though! I've actually been working towards this since the beginning of the year. It's a slow process, but I'm sticking firm to my goals. I think you as the customers will be appreciative of them and where I'll be going in the future.