Saturday, April 4, 2020

Today's photos

Today's prompts for the Shelter and Share and April Photo Challenge are "Caturday" and "Foal." 

Caturday was easy. I have a lot of cats.
I also have a lot of foals, but somehow this prompt seemed a lot more challenging. I want to make each and every one of my challenge photos memorable. A standard picture of a cute baby wasn't going to cut it. For a while, I was completely stumped.

Then I decided to attack the problem from another angle. "Which foal should I use?" I asked myself. The answer to that, at least, was obvious. This is Lauren Hoeffer's challenge, so clearly this was a job for Wren. I put her on the photo table, and thought, "What could she be looking at?"

And just like that, the whole thing came together.
Two years ago, I made these tiny butterflies with paper and thread.
I attached them to fishing line with sticky wax and later removed the fishing line with Photoshop.
Here's the official Challenge picture.
Tomorrow's prompts are "Hobby Item You Made" and "Decorator." One of them is already done. The other is still in the "I have no idea what I'm going to do" stage. Here's hoping that ends as well as "Foal" did!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Today's photos

That pony - who is almost ready for paint - was featured prominently in today's entry for Lauren Hoeffer's April Photo Challenge.
The prompt was "Chestnut or bay," so I photographed her standing on a pile of Carol Williams' chestnut and bay color formula cards.
I thought that was kind of clever, but also ironic, since she's almost certainly going to be neither chestnut or bay!
Today's prompt for the Shelter & Share Photo Challenge was "First Model." This one was pretty straight forward, since my first model - a Breyer Clydesdale foal named Braymere - is still in my possession.
I made things a little more interesting by photographing him with his "sister," Rubber, on a pile of old Bray family photos. I took a photo of them in 2011, but I like this one much better.
Tomorrow's prompts are "Foal" and "Caturday." I bet you can guess which one I'm most excited about!

Aljamila's journey

Earlier this year, I attended a NaMoPaiMo prepping party at Ilona and Katja Himmelmann's home in Gauangelloch, Germany.
photo by Helena Ruppert
I brought a bunch of party favors... 
 and came home with a new pony...
photo by Kim Brandner
and a pile of NaMoPaiMo donations.
Every single item was amazing, but one was truly precious. This is only stablemate scale copy of Jasmin Ruhland's Soraya sculpture.
Despite the rough casting quality, I knew I had been entrusted with a tiny treasure. I promised Jasmin I would find her a worthy home.
I take the prizing part of NaMoPaiMo very seriously. It's important to me that prizes go where they will be appreciated, and I spend a lot of time working on matches. In this case, however, the choice was obvious. 

Right from the start, Stephanie Blaylock has been one of NaMoPaiMo's most generous supporters. Her contributions to the NaMoPaiMo community in terms of enthusiasm, knowledge sharing are medallion painting are unmatched, and she is the first person to win Breyer's Best Customs Contest with a NaMoPaiMo model. Additionally, Arabians are her favorite breed, stablemate is her preferred scale and she has an in with one of the best restoration artists in the hobby.  I could not imagine a better home for the mini Soraya.

I made the hand-off in person during BreyerWest.
Stephanie sent little Soraya to her friend and prep artist extraordinaire, Charlotte Donahue, for some much needed restoration. The first thing Charlotte did was to put tiny pins in each of her tiny legs. In addition to straightening her legs, this also made them a lot stronger. 
 She then leveled the bottoms of her hooves and added mare parts.
Since Mini Soraya's mane and tail details were almost non-existent, Charlotte - who is famous for her gorgeous manes and tails - resculpted them entirely. This was done in sections to allow each area to cure without being smooshed.
Little by little...
the new mane...
and tail...
became a reality.
With that done, it was time to move on to the ears. These had been made with lots of Super Glue/baking soda. As she carved and shaped them, she found large holes/gaps in their structure. Sometimes when super glue is applied to thick layers of baking soda, it does not penetrate thoroughly, leaving holes that compromise strength and long-term durability. It's better to apply the baking soda in thin layers and then apply the super glue. In this case, Charlotte decided it would be best to remake the ears from scratch.
Finally, it was this for a layer of primer. This first layer is very thin. Its purpose is to allow Charlotte to see the places that need attention without destroying details. 
As is usually the case, there were a lot of areas that still needed attention! 
Charlotte fixed those, primed her again and sent her back to Stephanie.
Stephanie got to work on her almost immediately. 
Flea-bitten grey is one of Stephanie's signature colors. I was so happy she chose it for little Soraya.
Less than three months after I carried her home from Europe in my riding helmet, the only mini Soraya is ready for the show ring!
 Her name is Aljamila.
She's gorgeous! 
Thank you to Jasmin Ruhland for trusting me with the only mini Soraya. I think we can all agree that I found her the best possible home.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Challenge month

No joke, March 2020 felt like the longest month ever.
April will almost certainly be exponentially worse.
In accordance with Governor Polis' Stay at Home order, my family has been, well, staying at home.
It seems like this would be the perfect time to work in my studio, but so far that has not been the case. I've been distracted and restless, and my desk is littered with aborted attempts at productivity. Try as I might, I just can't seem to get in the zone.
I was beginning to think it was hopeless, that pandemics and creativity were mutually exclusive... At least until this monthly photo challenge by sisters, Sarah and Kirsten Wellman, crossed my Facebook feed. 
I read the prompts and immediately started having ideas. I grabbed my camera, dusted off a few horses and went to work. 
For the first time in weeks, I felt fully engaged in a project. Within an hour, I had photos for day one and day two.
 I decided to ride that wave and commit to Lauren Hoeffer's monthly challenge as well.
Another couple hours...
Another couple pictures!
As I read the prompts and plotted my photos, I found myself creating challenges within the challenges. I decided there will be no recycling of old photos, each model can only be used once and all pictures should have a vertical orientation. I don't know if I'll manage to meet those objectives, and I'm not sure it really matters. It feels good to be excited about something again. Thanks for the push, Sarah, Kirsten and Lauren. I am looking forward to a month of fun new pictures!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The horses of Europe: Ted

After our wonderful experience with Robby and his driver in Bruges, Belgium, Carol and I decided that more carriage rides were in order. 
So on the fourth day of our European road trip, we rolled out of bed and went looking for horses on the streets of Amsterdam.
Fortunately, we had some help. Leah Peretz is an American expatriate living in nearby Rotterdam. We'd met her at the Dutch NaMopaiMo party and had made plans to get together in Amsterdam. She told us the best place to find horses was in front of the Royal Palace, so that's where we headed.
Sure enough, that's where we found them.
And look how beautiful they were!
I was instantly in love.
We paid for a tour and climbed into the carriage. Leah and I sat in the forward facing seat so that we could a better view of our horse.
Carol sat opposite us and laughed at our excited horse girl utterances.
Before we set out, we asked the driver what our horse was named. 

He answered our question with one of his own, "His legal name or what I call him?"

"Both!" we said.

That's how we learned that our horse was an imported French Comtois. His registered name was Voyageur de Vignes (Vinyard Traveler), but he answered to Ted.
With that settled, the ride began.
Ted and his driver took us on winding tour of Amsterdam.
I tried to pay attention to everything the driver told us...
but I was distracted by Ted.
There he is!
Still, I managed to take in some of the sights.
Here's a cat and a red horse in a window.
Millions of bikes.
We paid for a forty five minute tour. 
Carol said we got almost an hour, but to me it seemed like it was over in the blink of an eye.
Carol took a couple pictures of me with Ted, then it was a mad dash across town to make our lunch reservation.
That was such a fun day! Thank you, Carol, Leah and Ted the Comtois for spending it with me.