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Adventures in Heating (and glueing, and shaping, and everything else)

This is my chance to help somebody (I hope) get into the fun world of customizing. Really, it is fun! The results at first may not be pretty, but that is how you learn. My first attempt was so awful I almost threw her away, but I kept at it, and now my customs are almost good enough to show in public! :) This site is for the people that have two left thumbs, not much time, and no experience, like me! Customizing is supposed to be fun, otherwise people wouldn't do it. With that said, lets talk horses.

My first attempt was a gag gift I had gotten for Christmas one year. It was a pink, galloping unicorn, about stablemate size. I had heard about customizing, and wanted to give it a try. So I pulled that poor unicorns hair out, and lopped off the horn. I sanded down the seams with a nail file, and hollowed out her ears a little with an exacto knife. She looked pretty sad. A friend of mine had a hot air gun that I could borrow. Not a hobby hot air gun, like I would recommend, but a great big, 1,750 degree monster for stripping paint of wall paper. I didn't know the difference, so I set to work on that poor horse. I didn't think that it would go very quickly. I had tried before with a dryer, with no luck. I had also tried with a candle.
I DO NOT recommend using a candle for remaking a horse! There were some pretty strange fumes around when I was working on her. I was concentrating so hard, though, that I didn't notice. A friend stopped by, noticed the smell, and blew out my candle. I was dizzy, and hadn't even noticed. Of course, there is the other danger, that your horse will ignite suddenly, and that is very bad news! My recommendation for heating is a hobby hot air gun, the kind they use with rubber stamps and the like. Probably a lot safer than the big beast I am still using.
Anyways, I attacked that poor little horsie, and almost melted her leg off. It was a lot hotter than I thought, and her leg started to droop, and boil. I turned the gun off, and had to use a ruler to support her leg until it cooled enough to stop acting like a liquid. Rule number one, Don't Boil Your Horse! I do it all of the time, and that is bad. Your horse can, and sometimes do, ignite. Not good. I haven't had any ignite, but I have seen smoke, and that's close enough for me.
I worked on the poor little thing for two days. I repositioned her to a trot. Her knees were all rounded and her head was funny looking, but I didn't care. I set to work on painting her. I wanted a dapple gray Arabian mare. I painted her white, then started to add darker spots and shading. She just kept getting darker and darker, until she was a steel gray. I gave up on dappling, and there was very little shading. She was just gray with four white stockings, and purple hooves. Sometimes black and white don't make gray. I ended up with a light shade of purple. I painted in her eyes, which never did match. And set her aside to dry, since I did her in oils.
I loose count, but I think my roommate knocked her over three times. Rule number two, Put Drying Horses Somewhere High and Safe! Dogs, cats, children, roommates, significant others, they will all attempt to knock over your work of art. Put it somewhere safe, like inside of a china cabinet, or on a high shelf. I left mine on my desk. Not to bright.
When she was finally dry, I decided to add her new mane and tail. I had ordered some black mohair, and had read some stuff on how to hair a model. Sounded easy. Doesn't it always? I didn't have any white school glue, which had been recommmend, so I tried it with rubber cement. Another bad idea. I got hair stuck to everything, the brush for the glue, the horse, me, the carpet. I had to have some friends help me get unstuck.
I tried to hair that horse five times until I got it close enough to leave. I tried super gule, regular glue, even rubber cement again. That poor little horse's neck is covered with dry glue from my many attempts. But she finally got a long black mane and tail. Minor detail that they are full of glue, and stick out at funny angles.
My next victim was another one of those gag gifts. But this one I took everything I had learned from my first experience and made some major improvements. This little lady even has a ribbon on her. I don't tell anyone that she got fourth our of five, I just say that she got a ribbon at a live show. That's part of the fun. She became a lovely galloping POA. I'm still quite fond of her, and she has a place of honor in my collection as my first decent CM.
See, it doesn't take long to go from disaster to semi-success. And now I have some that are actually pretty! My SM drafter, Freedom, just came out wonderfully. He was the first horse that I managed to get shaded correctly. And how I did it? I kept at it. Through super glued skin, burnt fingers, cuts and blisters, I kept at it until I got something that was really nice. Then I kept going, looking to make something even better. That's the real secret, dont' give up!
Drop by my links page, if you want to know more about actually doing the customizing, and wander off into cyberspace. There are plenty of resources out there, but the best way to learn is to grab a victim and start at it.
Have fun!
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