Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to make custom carrying cases

Life continues to be interesting, and when I say interesting what I really mean is complicated!  Fortunately, I have another great guest blogger tutorial to share.  This comes from Emily Rodgers, a model tackmaker and real life Parelli schooled horse trainer.  For more information, be sure to check out her Savvy with Sonny blog.

Mummy Horses: A Thing of the Past

by Emily Rodgers

After my beloved Valentino suffered a tail crack on the way home, I knew I had to look into alternate ways of shipping. The old toilet papered/mummy horse just wasn’t cutting it. So I asked one of my best friends, Susan, if she had any suggestions. Like always, she told me how to solve the problem: gun cases! 

Here is what she told me to do:

You will need 1) a four pistol gun case 2) scissors and 3) a permanent marker. 
The gun cases can be purchased here, or your local Wal Mart. Just make sure they are the four-pistol kind. 
To get started, open up the gun case. You will see both sides contain “bumpy” foam. Lift up the thicker side to reveal “smooth” foam underneath.
Take out the “bumpy” and “smooth” foam and replace the “bumpy” in the bottom. You are going to be cutting out of the “SMOOTH” foam! 
Once the smooth foam is out, lay it on a flat surface and place the model in the middle. Begin tracing the model with a permanent marker. Be VERY careful to not get any on your model. 
This outline does not have to be perfect. So a good way to keep marker from getting on your horse is to always hold the marker straight up and down. That way if you do get close, because of the way the horse is shaped, the handle part of the marker would hit the horse before the tip did.
NOTE: You only need to cut out the side of the horse that is lying down. So in the case, Harley is laying on his right side so I only need to cut out his right legs. This might be different for horses with crazy legs, but most of the time you only cut out two legs and a tail. 
Start the cutting in the center. In the begging it only needs to be a rough outline. I never go all the way to the pen mark at first; I always leave about a centimeter of space. You want your horse to be snug! You don’t want him to have room to wiggle. So it is better to start small and work out rather than cut too much at once and not be able to go back.
Throughout my cutting I periodically place the horse back onto the foam to make sure I am on the right track. This also gives me an idea of how much of the next part I need to cut.
Legs and small places can be tricky to cut. I have found that holding the scissors vertical and making small snips is the best technique. It takes a while to work all the way through the foam, but it works a lot better than holding the scissors horizontal. 
 Once I think my foam is finished, I place it back in the case with the horse. Here I can check the fit. 
Because of the way Harley is shaped, his leg hind leg is sticking out a bit. I solve this by taking a piece of foam that I had cut out and place it under his leg. You might have to do this with a tail. ALSO, you do not need to have the head and ears perfectly tight. They can have some wiggle room, but make sure the body is secure first. Since my foam is really tight around Harley's head, I may go back and give him a bit extra room.
And here is the finished product :). I understand this can get expensive, especially if you have a lot of horses. But, if you collect more over time, it isn't so bad! I usually just have them for my fragile resins, but I know Susan uses them for OF's, too! Feel free to asking questions or post suggestions!
Thanks again, Emily (and Susan, too!).


  1. If you are going to transport horses to/from shows in gun cases, be VERY CAREFUL about leaving them visible and unattended in your car. We have had several hobbyist's cars broken into and gun cases stolen here in Texas. I'm sure the thieves thought they were getting something better,and were pretty disappointed when they only got plastic horses!

  2. The funny part being, the horses are often worth more than a gun would have been!

  3. I'm not a big fan of the sharpie method. It can look sloppy and unprofessional. These gun cases have squares that you can punch out and will still hold the horse securely. Or if you're obsessed you want to do the sharpie method, always do it on the non-visible side.

    Also, this may seem like a good idea for all your resins, but you can usually only grab 2-4 of these gun cases at a time, so if you're going to a show with 50 resins, there's going to be a lot of back and forthing to the car. You should really only get gun cases for your most special of resins (unless you don't mind the exercise!).

  4. Haha! I would have LOVED to see those thieves' reactions when they opened a gun case and found a little model horse in there instead!

  5. I purchased an OF China Optime that came with one - for which I am glad but wow, the space it takes up in the car, in the closet...

    I'm always a bit more *careless* with it too - the extra protection makes me not worry as much so he's always on top of the stack, shoved around a bit more violently, etc.

  6. It's the space issue as much as anything that keeps me from running out and buying a bunch of gun cases. Well, that and the fact that I'm pretty good at fixing things.

    Which reminds me... I need to fix Wonderscope's ear before the next show!

  7. I usually lay the model on the foam and then use pins to mark his body outline and then pull the foam squares out. Or I use a piece of chalk or pastel (white) to marke the horse body. This way IF I do get some on the horse it just wipes right off.

  8. Great idea! Totally going to try this! But gun cases aren't available at any stores near me. Do you know what else I could use? As soon as I find something, I am making this!

    1. see comment below, missed the reply button.

    2. ok this may sound A bit odd but I get a shoe box and glue 2-3 more layers of corrugated cardboard to the inside then a layer foam (the stuff I use is from the craft store it is made for making seats but works well) the another layer of foam which is shaped as described then more layers of cardboard and foam on the lid sounds silly but as long as you don't drop them they work fine I then pack my shoe boxes in to hard plastic covered suite casses

  9. check their website and see if there is an option to ship to the store (which is usually free shipping) then you can pick them up at the store of your choice!