Safe Shipping 101: Micros

How to pack your custom micro model horse for safe shipment.

I thought I’d do a quick overview of how I pack my models for shipment. Micros make up the majority of what I ship (followed by stablemates). So I figure, this is a good place to start as packing any size is usually pretty similar to this.

With micros, legs are the most fragile part (especially the resin ones and even more so, the black resin ones) and you want to make sure you protect them so they don’t bend, warp or break during shipment.

Fimg_20160912_090626irst, protect the finish. I always make sure to wait at least a full week after the final seal before packing up a model for shipment. I also never leave models packed up. I always try to pack the day I’m going to ship, otherwise, at most, a day or two before, but no longer than that. I cut a small piece of soft unbleached muslin to add a layer between the finish work and the packing material. This will prevent anything from sticking to the finish like fuzz and the like.
Make sure your muslin is soft and very tightly woven as to not show a pattern. It should almost feel like a thin pillowcase or sheet. It’s also important that it is unbleached and natural. You do not want any dyes or chemicals against your horse either because they could react with the finish work of your model. A good brand to use which I used to get online is the crafty cuts brand when Amazon had it as a cheap add-on item. However, for some reason the price bounces all over the place now and can get really pricey for only 2 yards. The last cut of muslin I purchased, I went to Joann’s to feel theirs to see if it would img_20160912_090721work and if the price was better. It was worth the trip! I purchased I think 3 yards with a coupon for around $4. It was also a thicker, better quality muslin as well.

Some models I also like to add some padding between the legs if they’re thin or wide apart. If you have some extra muslin, take a small bit and fold it up. Place that between the legs before wrapping. Otherwise, after you wrap it in the piece of muslin, take a little wad of toilet paper or shop towel and place it between the legs to give just enough padding. Not too snug! Just enough to absorb some shock. (Do not put the toilet paper or towel against the this after you’ve wrapped it in muslin first).

Next, I gently wrap that in a shop towel. These can be found at your local hardware store or anywhere automotive stuff is usually sold. I got mine at Costco. They are basically like paper towels but they are softer, more “padded” and not very lint-y.


I then place the little blue package inside of a small plastic container and add a couple of pieces of tape to make sure the lid stays put. I believe these are salad dressing containers and can be found at your local supermarket or usually anywhere that carries storage containers. I get mine at Dollar Tree when I can because they are the cheapest there. When they’re out of stock, I get them from Stop & Shop which are a bit more pricey but still well worth it! I HIGHLY recommend these for resin models (if they fit). You don’t necessarily need them for pewter ones, however, some pewters (like the one pictured) have thin and bendy legs so it’s best to err on the side of caution with these. Make sure they fit snugly inside the container with no movement. Not tight! Just snug enough so when you shake it, it doesn’t move around inside.

Next step…bubbles! Add some bubble wrap around the container then layer some packing peanuts in your box, place the bubble wrapped containers on that, then fill in the rest of the space with more peanuts so it’s again, all snug, but not tight once the box is taped closed. I used a 7″x7″x6″ Priority Box here for two micros packed this way (I would also use this same sized box if I were just shipping one. Sometimes I can get away with a smaller box depending on the micro inside so use your best judgement).  Once all is said and done, with full insurance and signature confirmation, a micro or two usually costs me around $12 to ship priority or about $9 First Class in a similar sized box. That may sound pretty pricey for a micro  shipment (especially when you offer postage paid sales like I do most of the time) but in my mind, it’s well worth the extra out-of-pocket expense to assure my models arrive safely and to the correct recipient!

Happy, safe shipping everyone! 🙂


Quick Dappling Tutorial

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how I do dapple greys. I’ve been meaning to create a video but every time i try I just get so side tracked because of the back and forth and multitude of layering it entails. MANY hours can go into a dappled piece for me so it’s tough to film every aspect. I’m hoping this quick shot by shot tutorial will help at least explain my methods. While not dapple grey, the procedure is the same.

First step, airbrush the base coat.


Next comes the very first layer of dapples. Sketch in the dapples where you see fit. I did so with oils here. I like oils in that they are softer than acrylics and you don’t get brush strokes with thin layers. This step can be done with acrylics but I just find oils easier and they work better for what we’re going for.


Next, once those are dry, I shade over all the dapples I just did. I used oils here but you could also use pastels/pigments. It’s like doing another layer on the body. This part is kind of nerve-wracking because you are essentially getting rid of everything you just did! But don’t worry, it totally pays off in the end! You should end up with faint dappling now.


Now, repeat! Keep layering on those dapples using the previous layer as a guide.


Again, shade them back with pigments or oils and repeat the process over and over again. Eventually you’ll build up enough depth to where you can stop. This is the part of the process that is tough to show because there is a lot of back and forth and technique changes from dapple to dapple making each one unique. This is where you make it your own style! It usually takes about 6-7 layers before it’s time to think about calling it. Knowing when to stop is another tough part!


I hope this tutorial helps explain my process and helps you get started! Don’t be afraid to just dive in! You never know until you try! The key thing to remember is patience…and trust. Trust that while it may look bad now, it’s all part of the process and will eventually get to where it’s going and build up to the final product. 🙂 Have fun!


Snapshot Tutorial – Sculpting Hair

I was in the process of customizing my Sarah Mink Flower Medallion and thought it might be a good idea to take a few step by step snapshots of the process of sculpting the mane.
For this project I used Magic Sculpt. First I sketch in where I want the mane to go:


Then I block in with noodles and chunks where I want the mane to be:


Next, I take a large clay shaper and refine the motion and levels:


Then I take a smaller color shaper and add in more detail. Doing basically the same thing as I did with the big shaper but just refining each section:


Finally I take a soft brush and brush over some smoothing solution to get out any imperfections:


You may want to go back and forth a little with the small shapers and/or tools, smooth again, etc. until you’re finally happy with the end result 🙂


(P.S. Pay no attention to the topline of the mane there. Had some extra epoxy left and started that part. Once those little pieces cure, I’ll have to go back in and fill in and finish up between them).

Stripping Paint Off of a Pewter Miniature – Guaranteed Value Oven Cleaner Test


Normally when I go to strip pieces I use fume free Easy-Off oven cleaner which costs me around $8/can (I used to get the spray bottle which was easier to use but they no longer made it anymore and they switched to the cans apparently). When I was at the supermarket picking up a new bottle, I noticed this “Guaranteed Value” one for only $1! I thought to myself, are all oven cleaners equal in the area of stripping paint? For $1, I’d be happy to find out! So I grabbed both and waited until I had something to strip to give it a whirl. That day came today when the little gaming miniature I ordered needed it’s beat-up, paint job removed! Since I’ve done a tutorial on using Lestoil to strip, I decided to document a tutorial on how to use oven cleaner to do the same while also testing out this other cleaner. So here goes:

What you’ll need:

Rubber gloves
Your victim
Easy-Off or Guaranteed Value Oven Cleaner
Ziplock bag
Scrub brush/toothbrush
Baking soda
Liquid soap (dish soap is probably best but any soap will do really)
Respirator mask (for safety)

IMG_1346   IMG_1354

I did this part outside seeing as the fumes can be pretty potent from the cleaner and it was a nice day out so I took the safer option lol. However, I noticed that this one was less ‘offensive’ than the Easy-Off but was a bit more fume-y I guess? The smell was nicer and more mild but the fumes that came off were more potent if that makes sense. Easy off is a nose explosion of lemon and chemical and I do have to wear a mask at all times for that one.

First, don your gloves. You may want to get ones that go down your arms because I accidentally got some on my wrist and it started burning! 0_o so I ran inside and washed it off quickly. So this one also seems a bit more caustic than the Easy-off since I have touched the Easy-off before and never had it feel like that.

Next, spray the model really well on all sides with the cleaner. (Do not do this on or near a “good” surface).


Once sprayed, place in the bag and shoot the can in the bag for  a bit until there’s a good amount of foam in there. I also notice that this brand has much better foaming action than the easy off as well. It’s much thicker foam and stays foamy longer. (If your bag is too small for the piece, stand it in an old bucket, etc. You may need to keep reapplying when the foam dissipates and drips off the model. The good thing about the bag is that eventually most of the foam will settle and your piece will be sitting in the ‘juice’).


Next, flatten the foam and contents in the bag down towards where your piece is so it’s all covering the piece.


Then fold over the bag so all you have is the pocket of cleaner encompassing the piece.


Wait…..mine took about 2 hours. Best to keep checking on your piece every hour or so to make sure the cleaner is not eating into it. Remember, this was a test on pewter so less cahnce of the cleaner eating into it. I have yet to try this one on resin though but I have used Easy-off. Easy off will start to eat the resin if you leave it on too long so I’m sure this one would as well and given how my skin felt when I touched it, probably more so!

When your’e ready, take your piece over a sink or garbage pail or what have you and start scrubbin’! I use a nail brush I got at the dollar store. Old toothbrushes work well too and the toothpics can be used to get in any small crevices like manes, tails and muscle grooves.


Once you’ve scrubbed off all your paint, rinse the piece. Apply some soap and rub around.


Then take some baking soda and sprinkle it on generously. Create a paste with the soap and rub it all around getting in all the crevices and creases. This will bind with any residues on the piece and help clean it off. It also gives a very light polishing to it. Rinse and then repeat as many times as you see fit. On the final rinse, apply ONLY the baking soda, no soap. This will get off any residue from the soap that may be on the horse. Then do your final rinse.


Voila! And there you have it–a nice, clean piece!


Overall this $1 oven cleaner worked REALLY well. I don’t know if it was because of the paint used on the piece or if it’s that good but all I can say is it worked! Very little effort in scrubbing and it got all of those crevices. I only had to use one toothpick for around the tail where I couldn’t get the big brush. I’m super impressed!! I do notice that it does leave a bit more of a film than the Easy off does but I still have to prep this piece anyway and wash again so it should be fine after that. I actually prefer this one over they Easy-off! Looking forward to seeing how it does on materials other than pewter though. But so far, for pewter, this will be my go-to now!

My Sculpture Workshop Adventure!

As many of you may know, I recently attended a sculpting workshop given by Shelley Hunter (hosted at Leslie Hudson-Tolles’ beautiful studio in Cleveland NC). I had an absolute blast and learned SO MUCH. This is just the start of my big transition from animation over into what I plan to be my new profession.

Anyway, so the reason for this blog is PICTURES! So here are some of the shots I took while I was at the workshop.

My horse in stages of progress:

And that’s not all. While I was there, I visited Maggie Bennett’s studio in Durham, NC! Morgen Kilbourn also stopped by to hang out for awhile giving a bunch of useful tips and advice on my sculpture and the hobby at large. And since Maggie is short a boothmate for Breyerfest this year, she asked if I could fill the position and how can I say no to that?! SO, you’ll see me there at my first Breyerfest helping out at Maggie’s booth! Be sure to stop on by as I’ll have some painted micros for sale and Maggie will be handing out a free goodie to those who are wearing name tags 😉

I still have some pretty horsie photos and pup pics to edit and put my copyright on that I will share at a later date on my Facebook Page so stay tuned!

Framed Sand Cast Paw Print Keepsakes!

Just realized that I haven’t posted a blog yet this year…eep! I’ve mostly been using facebook and the like since I don’t have anything really lenghty to talk about these days. I’ve just been so busy! Anyway, since I forgot to post these on facebook a little while back, I figured it was a perfect time to write about them here and how I made them 🙂

The idea came from fellow hobbyist Sara Gifford when she made a beautiful keepsake of her dog Garrus’ paws. It looked amazing and thought it was a perfect way to memorialize your fur-babies forever that I wish I thought of this or saw it online sooner so I could have done it for all of my previous pets!

You can go as big, small, fancy or simple as you like. But here’s the general gist of how you go about it. You can find a whole mess of tutorials online but here are the basics of how I did it and what I learned:

I just wanted a single paw print framed of each pet and let the frame be the decor so I picked up a cheap $1 frame and even cheaper wooden plaque type frame from Michael’s to get the job done. (The bigger one was the wooden one and was in the aisle with all the wooden letters and bird houses and such. I had to prime and paint it black because it was just bare wood).

You’ll also need some sand (can even be colored sand!). Thankfully I had some on hand already.

And the most important, you’ll need some plaster of paris as well. I got a whole bucket at Michaels for around $8 WITHOUT a coupon…so this entire project is pretty cheap too! This bucket will probably last me a good long time as well.

To make the prints, first grab a piece of cardboard and tape your frame to it (just so it doesn’t move around too much). If your frame has a clear glass or plastic piece in the front, remove that.

Next, pour the sand in the center of the frame and spread it and smooth it out so it’s level with the back of the frame (a little lower is fine too…actually probably better.

Here comes the difficult part…getting your pet to make the prints. You may have to try a few times before you get a good looking print. I actually found it a little easier to wet the sand first so the paw print was a little more distinct. It just takes a bit longer to dry though so keep that in mind as well since you won’t want to pull the print before the sand is dry otherwise it will come right off).

And finally, this part is the tricky one…pouring the plaster. If mixed like the instructions said, I found it to be too thick and cake-batter-y to pour. You don’t want anything where you need to be pushing it around the sand–especially if you’re using regular sand. More liquidy is better since it levels out when you pour it. So I added a bit more water to the mix to get a pourable consistency. You’ve got to work fast too because it will start to dry up quick!

Once poured, let it sit and dry completely (even longer if you used wet sand). Then once it’s dry, lift the frame and shake off any excess sand. (Carefully! You don’t want to pop the plaster out of the frame if you bang it too hard. I actually ended up popping mine out because I tried a few times to try and get the perfect print..which is next to impossible so I ended up using one of the first couple that I popped out which looked the best.

You’ll notice that the print isn’t very noticeable with the light colored sand but to fix that I brushed a little pigment on the raised areas to spruce things up and bring out where the print was.

So, for the back, you might want to secure it in there somehow with some epoxy or hot glue, or anything that might hold that plaster to the frame better so you don’t end up with it popping out later).

You will then want to seal the front to protect the pigment and so you don’t lose any more sand than you want in the long haul. I think I just used regular Krylon Matte finish for these and sprayed them up real good. You can then embellish the sand or frames if you choose. I’ve seen some where people glued on different shells, starfish, sand dollars, etc. A great way to get creative!

2014 Year End Thank You!

2014 is coming to a close and it’s time to start looking forward to what 2015 has to offer and start planning out my goals for next year!

I am so humbled to say that this year has been the busiest year for commissions! I want to thank each and every one of you for supporting my work and having such confidence and trust in me to create your dream horses! There are still a few who booked late this year (and especially the trad models ;)) who are still in progress but for the most part, most of 2014’s commission horses are complete!

My shelf of naked resins by some of the most Amazing artists has more than doubled since last year. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Lol! This is becoming a serious addiction here. I can’t stop! Next year I plan to scale back commissions a bit so I can work on a few more personal pieces and get some of these nudists some clothes.  Doing the calculations, I now just realized that I completed 19 commissions and just 3 personal pieces last year alone! I love each and every commission I do but I need to find a bit more of a balance between the two. My shelves have turned into a black hole collection of naked bodies. Sometimes it’s just so hard to say no to an awesome commission idea so all of my naked guys then go on the back burner.

Anyway, now that the holidays are through and everyone has received their gifts, it’s time for the handmade holiday gifts of the year portion of the blog!

Let’s see…the most time consuming of all was the gift for my parents. My cousin had the awesome idea of re-creating a bunch of our old family photos. She and I spent 2 weekends buying and creating all of the props and outfits and we all met up on the 3rd weekend for the photo shoot! Boy what a busy 3 weeks! Here are some of the lovely “gems” that graced the 20+ pages.Next up, I’ve always wanted to try crayon art and figured this was the time to give it a go! Of course I can never keep things simple…nope. I had this block of wood lying around from when I purchased my woodburining kit last year (one of those impulse buys). So I figured what a great time to try out both! I’m actually quite pleased with how this plaque came out and it was pretty darn fun to make! Wood burning was a lot more difficult and time consuming than I thought but  I think it came out neat. I also used some ink to darken and shade the figure and text as well as some iridescent medium on the raised points to give it more depth.

Another plaque I created was for my dad. He’s a hunter and brought back some deer legs for my pup from his last hunt (along with lots of yummy deer meat). Not wanting to see anything go to waste, after pup was done playing with them, I cleaned up the bones and tail and tried my hand at scrimshawing! (Yes, another one of those “things I wanted to try someday”). Wow, was that a lot of work….and painful. My arm was killing me after this and I had blisters all over my fingers from the metal tool I was using. Then I was having trouble getting the ink to “stick” and not get wiped off…turns out acrylic worked better than ink for “inking” the etched design. And it took a couple of passes with light wipes and cleaning up with rubbing alcohol and q-tips. I’m glad I at least kept the design simple! Yeesh! When it came time to mount the bones I was stumped for background ideas so hubby suggested LEAVES! So, outside I went and picked up some leaves around the backyard. Stuck them in my food processor (this is why we can’t have nice things), then lots of cursing and modpodging later, I had a background! All that was left was to attach the tail & all of the pieces (thank you epoxy!) and there you have it!

And of course when I was preparing the deer tail, some of it broke off at the end but I saved the pieces for later use with something. That something came sooner than I thought! This was my failed attempt at making a “dammit doll” for my mom (I ended up just buying one last minute after this disaster). But wait a sec, this would make a great cat toy! So I stuffed the head with some catnip, grabbed a sprig of the leftover deer tail for hair and sewed it all in. She loves it!Next up, an ornament for my Step-Mom. This is not at ALL what it was supposed to look like! I was trying to color the inside of the ornament with pretty marbled metallic paints and then I planned on painting a reindeer or dove or a pretty scene on the outside. Well, the paint wasn’t drying so dummy me decided to take the heat gun to it…..forgetting that the ornament was plastic! All of a sudden *blunk* A GIANT dent appeared while I was trying to dry the paint. Crap…how am I going to fix this now….but kind of looked like ice…so, I went with it! Heated the ornament up some more and it created these nifty divots and dents to which I then painted with some white acrylic to look like snow. Then I sculpted some coal pieces and a carrot nose, added some rhinestones to the bottom and this cute little thing happened! 🙂 I even cut a small hole in the bottom so you can insert a tree light to make it glow!This next project was not supposed to be one. I ordered one of the vinyl POP! Minion figurines for my cousin through Amazon. But when it arrived, it was horrid! The paint was chipped, scuffed, color was way off and it looked like garbage. So, I repainted it! I love how it came out and think it looks way better and more accurate than before.There was another big project that was supposed to happen buuuttt I don’t think I quite have the experience for it yet (nor did I have the time to dedicate). I’m hoping I’ll be able to do it soon though so I won’t spoil the surprise just yet 😉

Anyway, I think that’s all for this year. Things will be quiet around here until after New Years Day when I start the studio back up in full force. So until then, wishing everyone a Happy & Healthy 2015!