Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Tip

I'm still experiencing some massive computer problems over here, but the Friday Tip is finally ready! Liz Shaw asked how those larger scale horses can be handled during painting and sealing without breaking off body parts. A lot of handling has to do with what is comfortable for the individual, so take these ideas, and modify them to suit your style.

When starting the horse, it is usually best to hold its body to minimize the chances of breaking a leg. I prefer to work the color in starting from the head back, so I just move my hand down the body until I have no where to hold it but the legs.

When it comes to holding a horse by its legs, there are various factors to consider: the model's weight, whether there are wire reinforcements in the legs, and the size of the legs. Very fine legs like those on this Valor are more prone to snapping, especially considering that the horse is solid cast. Any time a horse like this needs to be held by the legs, it is best to grab as shown, and let the other legs rest on the table as much as possible. Notice in the photo that I have grasped my fingers around the far leg in an attempt to spread out the pressure. I am using my thumb gently not to brace, but to prevent the model from slipping and putting too much torque on my wrist.

When dealing with very lightweight horses (or a mule in this case!) with wire reinforcements, it is quite alright to hold by one leg - for as long as your hand can avoid cramping anyway! You can even hold at mid cannon or by just the hoof when you really need the room. In this photograph you can clearly see on the leg that is not being held the extent that painting can go down the leg when there is less concern about breakage.

This isn't exactly recommended, but if you're in a pinch and you really need another handle, a reinforced tail can do the trick. It is not wise to do this with an unreinforced tail, and even with wire, some part of the model should usually be resting on the table.

When dealing with mid-weight hollow cast horses, try to spend as much time resting a part of the model on your table as possible. In this photo, the front legs are conveniently close together, so I am able to use my index finger as a brace between the two for a very strong and safe hold.

Back to dealing with lightweight reinforced legs - again the forelegs are fairly close together for a nice handle. In this case however, bracing isn't as important as the legs are very sturdy and there is very little "pull" from the weight of the body.

To seal large horses, work on one end at a time. To spray the front, hold the back half, or the back legs if the model is strong enough. Wait for that to dry thoroughly, then grab the head or forelegs and finish spraying!

One final note: Sometimes horses come with air bubbles inside of their legs which weaken their structural integrity. Unfortunately the bubbles usually aren't noticeable... until after the piece breaks. Even the most careful handling can result in breakage, but always remember, breaks can be repaired!


Shelby said...

This is a good tip, I always have trouble with these things. By the way, will those beautiful models be for sale later?

Becky Turner said...

Also to see before hand if the model has any hollow spot in the legs I hold it right up to a bright light and then you can see the hollow spots. if they are large I puncture them and fill with epoxy. I am working on a valor right now that had 2 hollow feet! one had a small hole so I saw that right away but didnt realize until later the back hoof was also hollow, so I found the softest-thinnest spot, poked a hole and filled with epoxy! I have done this to various leg spots on other horses too. nothing worse than being half done painting and then sticking a thumbnail thru a softspot! cant wait to see that valor your working on!!!
Becky Turner

Mel Miller said...

I'm glad the tips are helpful for you Shelby! Yes, they will all be for sale eventually. :-)

Becky, yes, that's a good point. You can sometimes see the air bubbles with a strong light source. Usually in my studio I can see the thin spots without much trouble. Unfortunately sometimes the resin is just thick enough to disguise bubbles. Breaks happen - fortunately they can all be fixed!