Thursday, January 20, 2022

Dexter: New blood

Seth is with his parents in Texas, and Piper is not okay. 

Since he left, she has been anxious, barky, bitey and clingy. Really, really, really clingy.
Yesterday was a too-cold-to-ride day, so I decided to take Piper to the barn with me. She's good with horses, and Olive is good with dogs, so I thought it would be nice having her there while I turned out...
and fed my pony.
I was right. It was nice.
At least until the cat showed up!
This brother and sister pair of black kittens came to the barn last summer and immediately took over.
They are sweet, friendly and highly interactive.
They are the best barn cats we've ever had, and we've had some really good barn cats.
They are also really good hunters. Every day, there's a new mouse corpse in the white barn sitting area. The pigeon population has been decimated, and they've even cleared out all the barn bunnies. There's a reason why we call them Dexter and Lizzie.
Yesterday Dexter turned his attention towards Piper. It was fine - albeit scary - when I was there to protect her, but then I forgot and left her tied up and unprotected for a minute or two.
Poor Piper! She's good with cats and never saw this coming.
I hope Seth is able to come home soon. Piper might not survive without him. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Krista Wasco

Since I started this blog, I've written a lot of memorials. It's a responsibility I take very seriously, and mostly, I think I'm good at it. Every now and then, however, there's a loss for which I just can't find the words. Yesterday, Krista Wasco's family let us know that she had passed away due to complications from rotator cuff surgery. The news was hard to comprehend. How could someone that strong, that fierce and that vibrant just be gone? I have no answers. Our community is less without her in it. Goddess speed, Krista. You were amazing.
Krista and Kirsten Wellman
Krista and Rebecca Shaw
Krista's tack
Fabian Rodriguez and Krista
Krista with Missy and Rebecca Shaw
Krista and family
Krista and Missy Shaw

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


This has been a weird and complicated day. Seth is in Texas, helping his parents through a health crisis, too many people close to me have Covid and I learned that Krista Wasco died.

Krista's 2021 NaMoPaiMo selfie
Oh yeah, it's also my birthday.
It's not all bad. I had a really good ride on Olive and a nice dinner with Ryan. Still, this is not a birthday I'll look back on fondly.

Monday, January 17, 2022

NaMoPaiMo is coming

As of today, there are two hundred and sixty people from twenty countries signed up to paint in February. 

I am not one of them, but that's likely to change tomorrow. Pluto is this close to being prepped. I still haven't found his forelock, but that doesn't feel like a deal breaker.
NaMoPaiMo is only two weeks away. I am not ready, but also, I can not wait.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Customizing Schleichs

Here in the United States, Breyers are generally considered the gateway drug. They are the models that got most of us into the hobby. That's not the case everywhere. In much of the rest of the world, Schleichs are king. In today's guest post, New Zealand hobbyist, Emily Heckler, gives us an overview of customizing Schleichs. Thank you, Emily!

The Basic Customization of a Schleich

by Emily Heckler

When I first started customizing, I knew nothing, zip, zero, and all the tutorials I could find were for - repainting aside - Breyers. Breyers are pretty hard to come by here in New Zealand, so the thought of chopping into one... well, it was out of the question. What I do have easy access to are Schleichs, and so with a hack saw and air drying clay my customizing began. I have learnt a lot through trial and error, and this NaMoPaiMo I thought I would put together some tutorials and tips on the customization of Schleich and similar models. In all honesty, this is mainly aimed towards beginner customizers. I hope it is useful to someone.

First and foremost you must choose your victim. If it is your first project I don’t suggest a nice new model, websites like TradeMe and Ebay have plenty of cheap second hand models that make good first victims. I took most of the photos that accompany this tutorial in one session using a bunch of models at different progress points. All of them cost me less than five New Zealand dollars.

Schleichs are made from a very soft plastic which has pros and cons when it comes to customizing. Seam lines and other imperfections are very easy to remove. My main tool for this is an X-acto knife. Most of the time I use the back of the blade to lift seam lines without damaging the rest of the plastic. It is easy to make deep cuts from a small knife slip. This is one of the cons of working with soft plastic.  

Two of my current projects, the one on the right has a lot of sculpting flaws (highlighted in green). I bought him as a factory second from my local toy store.
The soft plastic also throws a spanner in the works when it comes to repositioning joints. An advantage of it is you don’t need to break out a heat gun to move the plastic. Hot water does just fine. However, an issue I ran into a lot in my early customs was the plastic moving back over time. 

My current solution to get around this is to make two cuts in the model, one on either side of the joint I am trying to move. Then I drill holes in either side and attach a wire. This is set with baking soda and super glue. Then it is covered with epoxy and sculpted to look realistic. It takes a bit longer than just using heat but the end result prevents the plastic trying to return to its original shape.
This jumping pony has been an epoxy eater on my desk for a while, sometimes it is nice to have a long term project to smosh leftover epoxy onto.
Something else I have not seen in Breyer are these weird almost creases in the plastic.
Very obvious creases on the rump of this mare.
Not all models have these, but quite a few do. Another similar issue is seam lines that are into the model rather than sticking out, like a little trench rather than a ridge. I treat them both in the same way, with modeling paste. It sticks well to the plastic and is the best non-toxic solution I have found. 
I cover the whole area in modeling paste and leave it to dry. I don't mess with it while it's wet. I've learnt it's much easier to sand it smooth after it dries.
Another issue I will address is Schleich's charming, moulded on coats. Unlike Breyers, which are usually smooth, most Schleichs have hair texture. It can be really difficult to match this texture in the resculpted areas. I've found it's often easier to smooth out the whole horse. Sometimes, I can fill the hairy areas with painting and priming. On models with more pronounced texture or models I plan to paint with pastels, I will apply a couple of layers of gesso, sanding off any brush strokes between the layers. 
At this point you are pretty much into the standard sand and prime phase. I have found the Tamiya primers work relatively well, but I am not fully convinced they are the best. The slight bendiness of the plastic means the primer needs some bend as well. 
I hope this cobble up of tips and ideas is helpful to someone. Happy painting!

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Two month Oliversary

It's been two months since Olive and I made it official.
Our second month together spanned the Christmas holiday season. I worked a lot of hours, and it got cold and snowy. Despite that, I saw Olive every single day.
Because of the weather, a lot of those days were non-riding days.
I didn't mind much. It turns out that I am perfectly happy watching Olive play in the snow.
When I really had to ride, we ventured up to the indoor ring. That was a little bit exciting, but I'm sure we'll get used to it eventually.
Outdoors, she's doing great. She's green but uncomplicated.
Well, she's uncomplicated under saddle. Olive is very, very sensitive to her environment.
Every new thing is treated as a potential threat.
We've spent two months getting her used to the golf cart. This series of photos was taken a week ago. Today, it drove past her, and all she did was twitch her ear. Progress.
Here she is reacting to JoAnna carrying Ernie's harness. This is Olive's signature spook, with narration by Mary Jo.
It's a slow process, but I just keep getting her out and exposing her to new things. 
Slowly but surely, she's getting braver. 
Happy two month anniversary, Olive. Here's looking forward to many, many more!