Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Favorites

Welcome to the first installment of Friday Favorites!  Like Almost wordless Wednesday, Post weekend show report and Random collection picture, Friday Favorites will be a semi-regular series celebrating the amazing depth of talent that can be found in the model horse hobby.

Today's featured favorite is a Sicilian donkey cart made by Nebraska hobbyist, Deb Omel.  All pictures and text were originally posted on Model Horse Blab and are used here with permission.

Here she is.... Sugar Beet and the Sicilian Donkey Cart.

Sugar Beet is just a remade Breyer donkey (obvious by the feet placement). All I did was lengthen and turn her neck and head. I did twitch her ear a little. Then I retextured her, adding more hair. 
The cart represents three months of bass wood, apoxie, jewelry findings, beads, cardboard, and enamel paint, plus a wee bit of help from a color printer (just the inset pictures! I may be insane to paint everythng else on the cart, but I'm not stark-raving mad to paint scenes THAT tiny).
The "carvings" are layers of matte board or jewelry pieces. When I start a project like this, it's from scratch - no patterns. I picked up a book called the "History of the Road; The Painted Carts of Sicily" as a guide the figure out how to build the structure and make the "arabesque ironwork" that supports the axle. The wheels are plastic but I did cut them apart to add many beads to simulate the carved spokes. I took some pictures of the raw pieces before I transferred the painting pattern or assembled the cart.
Historically, the pictures began as ex votos - votives/dedication to the saints. Designs progressed into full-blown scenes from the Bible (probably from the huge Catholic influence) or Italian history. The cart became traveling history lessons in an era of little schooling or access to education.
The Carretas were used for everything to transport over the hilly island and donkeys were preferred for the rural, rough topography. Today they are reserved for tourist transport and festival parades. But in the past, these beautifully painted carts did mundane tasks like hauling grapes, grain, sand, or salt. Salt carts didn't have the metal ironwork. Heavy-hauling carts had four wheels. But all of them were lavish in carving and/or paint.

Thanks so much to Deb for allowing me to share her amazing donkey cart!  If you have any ideas for the Friday Favorite file, please send them to me at


  1. This set-up is so absolutely stunning that it makes my heart hurt a little bit. Amazing work!

  2. It makes my heart hurt, too, but definitely in a good way!

  3. WOW awesome! :-)

  4. Absolutely stunning. Wow.