Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Erin's BCC entry

Here's something really different. Instead of using epoxy and paint to transform her BreyerFest Best Customs Contest entry, tack maker, Erin Corbett, used leather and crystals. This is, without a doubt, one of the most unique models in the history of this contest. Thank you, Erin, for sharing his creation story here!

The Story of [Redacted]

by Erin Corbett

First off, his name is actually [Redacted], it’s not something else I can’t say. I bitched and complained the whole time I made this piece, to anybody who would listen, but didn’t want to say specifically what I wasworking on because that’s the nature of this contest! So I started referring to him as [Redacted], and it stuck.

I am a tack maker, through and through. The performance section of the Best Customs contest has, for several years, functioned more as a “drastic custom with tack” section, so not the place for tack makers to shine. Don’t get me wrong – the entries in that category are incredible! It’s just disheartening that 

there’s no place for this particular form of hobby artistry. Until ... I got the idea to make a leather covered model, with all the bells and whistles I’d put on a saddle. It would be fully tooled, with leather painted details, and just the right balance of tooling to Swarovski to both be seen from space and appreciated up close. 

I was really energized by this year’s theme, and thought ‘A Horse of a Different Color’ would be the perfect context to show this new idea. I started by attaching Breyer’s Pegasus wings to Maggie Bennett’s new classic release rearing mustang stallion. They fit perfectly, and with some added dimension to his tail to prevent him from being too tippy, I began covering him with leather. 

This was the worst part. Anybody who has covered a set of swells on a western saddle knows how long ittakes to wet the leather, form it, glue it, rinse and repeat. Covering this model and his wings with leather was basically like doing 50 sets of swells all at once – swells for which I had no pattern and was working as I went. Once the leather dried over a few days, it was time to start tooling. Again, I dramatically underestimated how complex this would be. Tooling flat leather is hard – tooling leather stretched over avery detailed sculpture is Really Hard. I have never tooled feathers before, and now I have tooled Many.

The tooling took several weeks of work, several false starts and re-sets. Ultimately I wound up with a pattern that complemented the sculpture, and left room for sparkles. Then it was time for The Crystals. Making super shiny western pleasure saddles with fun crystals is one of my favorite things to do, and pretty much the only sort of tack I make anymore, so it made sense that this entry would be That, to the Nth degree. 
Matching paint colors to crystals was really fun and invigorating, and he came together much faster when it was time to have fun with color. Then I ran out of crystals partway through and had to overnight more – then I ran out again. Once again I had dramatically underestimated how many crystals and how much TIME it would take to accomplish this piece.
He is by far the most challenging piece I’ve ever made, and I am so proud to have him completed. Should the productivity gods smile upon me, a companion piece western pleasure set will be available for sale during BreyerFest weekend at best offers – keep an eye out! 
Thanks again, Erin. I can not wait to see your sales saddles!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Darynn's BCC entry

For the first time ever, (some) international hobbyists are allowed to participate in the BreyerFest Best Customs Contest. Yesterday, I shared a magnificent Performance entry by Germany's England's Vincent Lange. Today, I am just as delighted this glorious Most Extreme entry by Canada's Darynn Benardczyk. Thank you, Darynn, and good luck at BreyerFest!

The Making of Denali

by Darynn Benardczyk

When I discovered that I could enter the Best Custom Contest this year, my mind was immediately flooded with ideas. I finally get to run with the top dogs. I could explore a new breed... I could try something I have never done before... I could create something nobody has ever seen before... I was so dialled into the contest and what would win. What would other people think of my entry? What would be remembered? It wasn’t working. My close family and friends rejected most of my initial sketches... “Darynn, those just aren’t you.”

A brilliant idea doesn’t come from a place of focus on the present challenge, it comes from deep within. What do I need to say? What story do I need to tell? I have spent a long time pursuing my artwork and trying to stand out. Model horses have been the first place where that has truly happened and I have found success. I now use the equine form to capture emotion through art. Named after the highest mountainous peak in North America; Denali is no exception. This is the horse I used to daydream about as a child. I did not know who he was or where he came from or why he was there, but now I understand. I was able to manifest a creation in reality based off of a vision I have carried into my adulthood. This war horse has been set free from battle, carrying the mark of his person. He has a tremendous past and fought hard for his freedom.
Denali was created from none other than the Breyer Indian pony mold. I had to keep the essence similar.
The original reference came from my Gambler’s Gallop stickers which I fell in love with. I knew I had to make him into a model.
A month and a half of sculpting later, none of the original mold remained. He taught me a lot about anatomy.
He was then painted meticulously with hair detailing and a metallic sheen. He glows in person. 
It is a replica of my actual handprint on his shoulder. 
My boyfriend taught me how to make static grass on his base. 
This horse truly embodies everything I stand for and the process it takes to create art at this caliber.
Denali was created with my fingerprints. He is a dream, realized. He embodies my journey, and his war paint symbolizes the fight, the struggle, and the work to get here. He is a strong presence of the equine beauty, strength and magic. 
May Denali be remembered in your minds as the greatest representation of my work, carrying the mark of my palm. Regardless of this contest and it’s results... I have already won and I cannot wait to see where this journey takes me... 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Vincent's BCC entry

For the first five years of its existence, the BreyerFest Best Customs Contest was open to US citizens only. This year, that changed. For the first time, hobbyists in Canada and the United Kingdom where allowed to participate. Vincent Lange made the most of this opportunity. Just look at his fabulous performance debut!

The Dancing White Horses of the Spanish Riding School

by Vincent Lange

At the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, the classical art of riding has been preserved in its purest form as it has been handed down through the centuries. Their famous performances take place in the Winter Riding School which was build between 1729 - 1735, and is without any doubt, the most beautiful riding hall in the world. 

The Spanish riding school is named after the spanish horses that were used in the beginning and formed the bases of the Lippizan breed. The Lippizan breed is exclusively used at the Riding School, and the stallions used for the performances can be linked back to the six original founder stallions which were first trained around 1560.

My entry for the BreyerFest Best Customs Contest includes consists of:

  • Four Breyer Horses customized by me.
  • Diorama build by me (with real lights).
  • Tack made by the one and only @stonewall_saddlery 
  • Dolls by Breyer

More Pictures will soon be posted on my Instagram account.
I am so grateful that Breyer opened up the contest to people from the UK this year. The only good part about Brexit, I guess, is that I had to become a UK citizens to continue my study. 
Amazing work, Vincent! Congratulations on a most outstanding debut and good luck at BreyerFest!

Lauren's BCC entry

There are five categories in the BreyerFest Best Customs Contest: Most Extreme Custom, Excellence in Finish Work, Best Theme (Classically Customized), Fantasy and Best Custom for Performance. Yesterday we looked at entries in the Theme and Fantasy sections. Today, we move on to Most Extreme... And at sixty six point seven pounds, Lauren Wood's entry certainly qualifies.

The Making of Kharitha

by Lauren Wood

Well I guess it's finally time to reveal my Best Customs Entry for the Most Extreme Custom division! Every year I try to push myself beyond any project I've ever done. Go big or go home! Inspired by scenes from the Black Stallion, this is "Kharitha", an Arabian mare swimming above a coral reef.
Let me tell you this was a PROJECT ($$$$!!!). In addition to the horse, I made the base from scratch using lava rock from my neighbors yard and hand sculpted most of the coral and fish (a few pieces were 3d printed).
The turtle was a collecta sea turtle I repainted. If you look closely I added a fun little Easter egg in here that I couldn't resist.
The mare started as the Classic Arabian Family mare and 99% of her is resculpted!
I pushed myself on parts I've struggled with before. Sometimes it took multiple attempts, but I'm proud of how she turned out! Without a doubt my best custom to date.
I decided that a sculpted mane and tail just wouldn't look quite right in the water, so for the first time tried a mohair mane and tail. This was actually very fun to add and style. I may have to try that again! Big thanks to Mindy Berg for the emergency supply of mohair when I couldn't find any that would ship in time.
Once all the pieces were made, came the real test... Sinking this beautiful custom I'd just finished in NINE GALLONS of solid resin epoxy.
Using a mold box of custom cut plexiglass, both of my first two pours leaked all over from the base! It was a mess of disastrous proportions and only ten days before the submission deadline. Fun fact, Karitha means "disaster" in Arabic. Tears, several rolls of paper towels, and a couple calls to my bestie/mentor later, by the THIRD and final attempt, and thanks to an entire roll of gorilla tape, I was able to get the resin to stay in the mold and cure to seal all of the leaks.
But of course the horse had to be suspended in the water as well, so that took some very creative engineering and layering. She kind of looks like The Black all tied up in his stall on the boat doesn't she?!
I used a headlight polishing kit and some olive oil to clean up the sides, and I am pretty happy with the results! After all is said and done she weighs in at a whopping 66.7lbs!!! It takes two of us to carry her and I have no idea what I'll do with her now.
The only thing I'm really disappointed in is my photography skills. To be fair this is REALLY hard to photograph, but I think I managed to capture a few great shots for my entry. That may have to be the focus of next year: LEARN TO TAKE GOOD PICTURES!
I'm so thankful Breyer created this contest because every year it motivates me to push myself and my skills to a new level. I encourage EVERY new artist to give it your all and try something you've never done. Massive thanks to my mentors, besties, and cheering section Laura Skillern, Lauren Hoeffer, Tegan Davis and Kristen Arendt (who also did her first entry this year!!). I would NOT have pushed through all the challenges of this piece without them.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Erika's BCC entry

Last spring, Beth Patterson hosted a light-hearted customizing challenge called Paint Your Favorite Microbe. One of my favorite entries was Erika Isbell's splitting "mitosis" foals. Even though they weren't completely finished, I was wowed by both the concept and execution and was mildly upset when they didn't win a top prize. Happily, that wasn't the end of the road for them. Erika went back and added some extra details to both the sculpting and finishwork, and now the new and improved mitosis twins are her entry in the Fantasy Division of the BreyerFest Best Customs Contest. Thank you, Erika, and good luck at BreyerFest!

The Mitosis Twins 

by Erika Isbell

Introducing Mito and Osis- The Mitosis twins! They represent the process of mitosis- the splitting of cells. 

This is an older project from last year that got revamped- I added some fuzziness and redid their manes as well! 
These guys are both shedding chestnuts, with their first dark baby shed starting to show. Mito is a pintaloosa, and Osis is the appy! 
These guys would never survive in the real world, but in this fairy meadow they are just waking up from an afternoon nap. Mito looks ready to adventure- Osis looks unhappy to be woken up! 😂 
The Mitosis twins are both hand painted in (craft) acrylic paints. I'm so glad I skipped the airbrush. I really enjoy hand painting.
They might not be the most fantasy looking, but I’m just really proud of myself for finishing and entering this year! I don’t really have a studio since I moved in the winter, so limited space is why I grabbed these guys- and I’m glad I did! 
I'm glad you did, too, Erika. Mito and Tosis are amazing! If you entered the Best Customs Contest and would like to see your horse featured here, please send pictures and information to braymere@comcast.net.

Ruth's BCC entry

Yesterday was the deadline for entering the 2021 BreyerFest Best Customs Contest. In keeping with recent tradition, I will be featuring as many entries as possible here on my blog. First up, is this absolutely delightful Theme class entry by Ruth Sheridan. Thank you, Ruth, and good luck!

Keen on Classic Customs

by Ruth Sheridan

In thirty five years of collecting, I've never been to BreyerFest. Not even once. But the announcement of this year's Customs Contest theme class, "Classically Customized," was basically an engraved invitation hand-delivered to my thirsty eyeballs.

I've been customizing primarily classic scale models since my dollhouse-obsessed high school years. My feelings about mohair have changed since the '90s, but my love for the dollhouse scale has not. As far as I'm concerned, 1:12 is the One True Size. To put it bluntly: If you see something on my studio page that isn't classic, you can be confident it's destined for the sale barn.

When I was little, I had a babysitter who kept the US Equestrian Team gift set on the highest shelf in her bedroom, and I coveted them with all the greed and longing that my 8-year-old body could hold. Especially the Keen. My whole collecting life, Keen has called to me. 

My answer to that call? Cutting him to bits. 

These custom Keens are all pre-2002:

Black with mohair, meant to be a Missouri Foxtrotter

Bright chestnut — one of my first customs to incorporate metallics
Dapple bay in harness with a matching Might Tango drastic custom. Harness and vis-a-vis carriage by Susan Gage. (My dollhouse family needed a conveyance worthy of their station in the world, after all.)
And without the harness.
Gray bloody shoulder showing off my first Rio Rondo saddle kit in front of a dollhouse so fancy I ended up trading it for a REAL HORSE (that's a story for another day).
In recent years, I've come a long way as an artist... but I'm still cutting up my Keens. 
Samudra (Somali wild ass completed in 2017, photo by Shana Bobbitt)
Reaper (Red Dead Redemption II portrait for NaMoPaiMo 2019)

But back to BreyerFest. Inspired by this year's "Horse of a Different Color" celebration, I started browsing pictures of some of the "differentest" colored horses I know about: the gorgeous pearls of Yeguada Paco Martí. 

And then I got out the Dremel and got busy.

Gaudí: Celebrating Spain’s colorful contributions to art history and equine genetics
Named in honor of the famed Spanish architect and mosaicist Antoni Gaudí, my newest Keen is a sooty buckskin pearl PRE stallion.

His wild dappling and his colorful base are both meant to echo Gaudí’s whimsical Trencar mosaic technique, which encrusts several historical buildings in Barcelona. Horse Gaudi's footing was inspired by the arid climate of the Castellón region, home to Yeguada Paco Marti, and includes miniature Majolica pottery — a nod to another beloved Spanish artisanal export.

Keen sports a brand new head, neck, mane and tail. I also lengthened his barrel and did a lot of muscling (including butt wrinkles!) and veining over the original sculpture. Because he's leaning into the canter, his hind foot has a magnet for extra support. A corresponding metal plate is hidden in the footing of his presentation base, and he also has a separate low-profile base for when I don't feel like hauling the mosaic base to shows!

Win or lose, I'm extremely proud of this horse. Sure, his unusual color represents a leap forward for me technically as an artist. But he also represents a shift in how I see myself in the model hobby. No more sidelines! It turns out I'm a BreyerFest person after all. Classic me.
I'll be on the road during Breyerfest weekend this year (silly wedding anniversary!), but I'll still be hosting a virtual room sale on my website: www.portmanteauequineart.com. Sale items will go up on Wednesday, July 14. Expect to find:

  • Unpainted and painted medallions
  • Painted resins
  • Tack and other vintage goodies from the Linda Spiesschaert (Kitchen Table Stables) estate sale

Readers are welcome to follow my studio page on Facebook to check out my customs and stay on top of sale announcements: Portmanteau Equine Art on Facebook.