Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fun 'lil Tutorial; making a tiny loop tool

Ok, well I had recently coveted some of these a friend had gotten.. then I realized (sad but true story) that "wait a minute, I do have some of those!"... and I wanted them.. and I spent a GOOD deal of time (half a day) scrounging around and realized I just cannot find a lot of things since I've moved.

Anyhow, this prompted me to make some quick and dirty ones to use for the day. Aaaaaaand for once I remembered to pull out the camera during this and document/share.

Now please note that ideally you can use even thinner wire.  Another thing I can't seem to find at the moment (argh eh?!!!).  As such, it gave me a chance to show off the filing/shaping I do sometimes with my older tools.   Please note I do know the proper way to do that as well.. Actually my husband loves to sharpen kitchen knives, chisels and big tools the proper way but I love my quick and easy methods for minarettes and things encrusted with epoxies and goop..  My father always used to say that using a dull knife or a the wrong tool is how you get hurt.  Sadly this is SO true.  Most of my sculptures have had actual blood, sweat and tears incorporated into their creation;  all generated in one session typically too.  I'm far too impulsive!  Which is also why you don't see a lot of tutorials here..  do as I say, not as I do. ;)

So here we go, how to make a mini loop tool.  I don't like the ones they sell in hobby stores, far too big a gauge wire, and often the wire pops right out!  The apoxie holding this in resolves that.

Start with a ruined brush or in my case, clay shaper:

I use any means possible to get out what's left in there but this time it was tricky.. sometimes I've been lucky & everything pops out of the ferrule (metal cuff)

Next I take two pairs of pliers and nice thin wire and twist it.. then cut it off to fit into the ferrule.  I didn't do so this time but bending the end that's tucked inside can help hold it in there.

This next part is tricky and you'll just have to do trial and error to crimp it in place.  It doesn't need to be TOO secure.  That's the beauty of the next step with epoxy! :)

Get it centered and slather the epoxy into it.  I used Super White Aves Apoxie Sculpt here because I have a lot of this for use with resins.. any color works of course though.   Key is to try to get it mushed a little down into that ferrule with the wire.. AND within the twists of the wire so it's a secure hold.  This isn't going anywhere! ;)  (unless I snap the end off of course)..

Next step, since my wire is REALLY about 2x thicker than I wanted it..  I start shaping it with needle files (jeweler's files perhaps they're called in some hardware stores?)..  The tiniest ones I can find..

And good old nail files.  I order these in bulk in all sorts of grits.  They can be cleaned off by tapping on the edge of a desk so they have a bit longer life than your packages of sandpaper... but I have tons of sanding tools.  This also works well with just holding a sheet of sandpaper on a firm flat surface (glass for example).  Add water and subsequently finer grits and get a mirror polish to lots of tools by that method ! :)   I didn't go that far, I just wanted a wee tool for this moment..

End result isn't too pretty but didn't I say I was hasty & impulsive? I have to find my finer wire now.. argh!!! :D  Hope this was of interest to someone at least...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Judging Clinic Report! :)

Well this is a rather overdue "Clinic Report"!  :)

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of hosting a judging clinic with guest speaker Ann Harris!  She's a veteran at this sort of thing and was full of interesting insights on the subject of judging... having been a judge and mentor for over 20 years!

It would be hard to even summarize the whole 6hr clinic in a few paragraphs.. I know a large # of folks asked for video but even with the ones we took there's just simply too much footage to whittle down....!  At some point I will hope to have another.   I'm in the process of refining my video clips and didn't get a change to overlay some of the bone structure but those are generally more geared to strictly teaching sculpting... "seeing" anatomy is another matter.  Still the video clips ran & hopefully helped augment (and not complicate!) common issues seen that were being discussed! :)

I must thank my neighbor Crystal who brought over the most sweet mare I've gotten to use yet for demo purposes.  She's new to Crystal's herd and had gotten in a scuffle in the pasture the night before with an even newer horse, yet she was calm and totally tractable while we prodded & yanked on her.  Originally I'd planned to paint on her but she was still a bit shaggy (although it was warm so she was shaggy AND sweaty).. oddly charcoal showed up better!  Grace (the lovely mare) was at least easy to thank with carrots and love.  She definitely seemed to have a great time! :D

All the ponies judged were painstakingly picked out in advance from the vast personal showstring of Beth Patterson.  I kid you not it was really fascinating to go over her house & come up with a HUGE (and tough!) classes of really nice work!

Big thanks too here for photographer (and sculptor/painter) ;) Maggie Bennett who really had no choice in the matter because I'm a little pushy sometimes I guess.  She took so many photos for me it's sort of sad that I am sharing so few here!  In part I wanted many photos though of the horse for future teaching purposes too... so perhaps the mare Grace here will make more appearances on the blog? ;)

Lastly I also need to mention and thank those who traveled HUGE distances to attend - 2 gals came from all the way up by Maryland (separately!).   And just everyone for attending & making it so  much fun!! :D

And with that, some more photos! 

I posted this to my FB page yesterday but apparently here I am threatening my clinic attendees with either a kick or a fist?  I'm kidding of course but I really wish I could remember WHAT ON EARTH I'm talking about here..  Nicely shows how the stifle joint swings out a LOT to accomodate the rib cage but the leg here has a lot of range of motion below the hock.  Here her hoof/pastern joint angles out but I know I also was talking about how they can kick a fly on their belly too! :)  Well, I sure hope I mentioned that! 

Discussing how nostrils can often fit in between the ears!  I suppose that's a bit of a pet peeve of mine (clunky noses, I've only seen noses get larger when a horse was bitten by a snake.. & fortunately never in real life!).

The all Salinero CM class... yes.. Beth has an addiction!

Here I'm using halter leg placing techniques to show her patella pop in and out in the stifle joint "stay apparatus".

(Seriously I would love to OWN this horse for teaching - she was totally mellow & cool with all sorts of "don't do this at home" type handling!) 
My neighbor is showing the range of motion this super patient mare has & a nice view of how the stifle moves.  We did a lot of video on this subject as it seems like a big pet peeve of a lot of judges.  Below is what happens with the stifle when the patella moves incorrectly!  This is on a real horse in a vet diagnostic video of  rupture of the peroneus tertius tendon.  It's something a lot of horse sculptures show however as it's hard to figure out how that whole complex moves if you aren't looking at something in that precise position.

Here is something I really need to make a blog/video tutorial about with graphics.. measuring from the proper points, bone fulcrum  to fulcrum...

 Here I'm showing the shoulder angle opening and closing..  & earlier the mare's owner pulled her knee under her so folks could see how much the shoulder (scapula) angle can change... Thus why it's hard to say a moving horse sculpt has a steep or level shoulder (not impossible but tricky!).

There were 5 or 6 classes, I can't remember.  
I spelled Ann for the last one, CM foals (squee! The wee foals are a favorite of mine!). 

And here is a random photo of a Steeplechaser with a Gulastra Plume from the day before! :)

That's the long & short of it! :)  Hope to hold another one eventually!

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Bit Overdue!

I had a fun photo essay to share but when I came here I realized that last month the whole Quartermeister release was time consuming & the blog fell off my to-do list!

Anyhow, soooo I have that to share and also my Academy of Equine Art course details & registration is up now;
Go here to register though (I don't handle any of that); http://www.aaea.net/workshops/

Then as I said, the Q-man is up for grabs for the next 5 months (now, he is a 6 month open edition lasting until Sept).  His page is here; http://www.artbymorgen.com/quartermeister.htm
and I'll leave you with a photo of him as well taken on a rather cold damp day at sunset on my porch.  My misting breath was getting in the way (the south isn't always warm!) but it was the first time we'd had sun in days so I gave it a whirl!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Not-Duke Creation (The Making of Q-man)...

Well I’m almost ready to open up his edition here, planning to debut him at a local show “Carolina Gold Classic” which now has 84 entrants (!!! I *know* right?!!!).  That’s in under 2 weeks.  His page is done/ready to view here; http://www.artbymorgen.com/quartermeister.htm
BUT meeeeeanwhile, before the edition opens officially in March I want to share some in-progress on him to re-emphasize the fact that he is NOT anything like Deputed Duke!  ;)

Truly tho this seems to be something I can't show enough pictures of! :) It’s so funny how many people have commented to me (even as they bought preorders I got some of these comments!) that the side by side comparisons really showed them that he’s a whole different personality/look/build and that he can do totally different things (well do ALL the classes really!). :D

Sooo here is probably the most convincing photo I hope that I completely build up all over the resin until you really didn’t have resin there anymore.

But let me back up.  Here is what I did.  Around 10 years ago when I sculpted Duke I wanted to make a straight trotting version.  Realizing how daunting this was I tried two things;  first I cast apoxie sculpt in a shell inside the Duke mold, roughly making the same thing as a resin but in parts, that I cobbled together, that’s the grey fellow on the left below,  the picture just below that is where I photoshopped the head back on & made some changes before deciding "ok, let's try this again!"...

The white guy above (who a decade later became Quartermeister/the Q-man!) I started as a hacked up resin.  I don’t remember what his deal was but I have to assume he was a second of some sort.  Anyhow, note that the head wasn’t working out at ALL so I lobbed it off somewhere , at some point…

How I started that white (eventual Q-man) fellow was similar, I chopped a resin into a million pieces.  Then I took armature foam and used it to hold the center together, then I superglued, duct taped and apoxied the rest back together like a giant Humpty Dumpty project.  Somehow though it was much much larger than the resin it came from.. so the resin head just wasn’t cool.  It was way too small.  Anyhow, so it went over onto the other grey Duke for a while.. because he seemed more promising.  For ONE SIMPLE very sad little technical reason:  production cost.  The longer, taller, wider (anything) a sculpture is, the more it costs to produce in resin.  Also, the post office had raised the cost of shipping back then by size primarily.  It had a big effect on the niche market I sell to:  we all suddenly started making our sculptures smaller.  To fit in a box.    It sounds trivial but when you ship out 50 boxes and they cost $10 more ea time, this is a $500 new cost.  At the time resin editions were 150-200 on average so several thousand dollars in savings just by opting to go a little smaller was nothing to sneeze at.   Customers pay more for shipping now on average than they expected to in the past.    This is a relief to sculptors who for a while were still doing postage paid editions and just paying more out of their own pockets. ANYHOW,  so if you reaaaaaally wanted to know the reasons why some horses get shelved, this is it!  Ironic that it has nothing to do with artistic  motivations at times, but just one of  “now is not the time to make something this expensive to make”. 

Still, he CALLED to me..

As I moved from home to home he caaaaalled to me until this past fall I was looking at grey passaging boy there, alongside “working trot” Duke as I called him (honestly he’s in medium trot more than working, this is a shade below when they get those snappy extensions of the extended trot…

So I began anew this fall!

I pulled that head back off of grey Duke there & cut it into pieces, resculpted ALL the boney points;

I sat down with the horse itself and photographed him & started fiddling in photoshop to see what changes I planned to make;

 Then after I took down/rebuilt that skull entirely (above 2 headshots).. I still had the task of balancing them out & adding character.  So here we see some of how I busted out with the “contour tool” to match each side up. 

 Symmetry in heads is important.  To some extent it’s NOT a requirement for realism HOWEVER.. humans are very preprogramed to find symmetrical bodies healthier (and therefore  more attractive).  It’s very weird but true.  You can change the expression from side to side but I feel like those bones need to try to be as aligned as possible.  And that IS SO HARD for me personally.  And since I know other artists who have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to do it as well, I have to assume other artists feel similarly;  it’s a challenge that any trick helps.

Those contour tools are found at Lowes or any hardware place, or online btw.  They’re not great for soft clay as the pins don’t push so smoothly. 

Other tricks I like are to take a completely 100% front view & flip half of it in photoshop.  I probably didn’t save any of those as my desktop is hideously cluttered at times.. with sculpture blotting tissues and things that look more gross than they are so I may just have not saved that..  if you look back to 2008 I did a post on that there though with Hazel.  :)

One of the tougher things with this fellow as the shoulders.  Both the hips/haunches down and the shoulders from the scapula down, were COMPLETELY cut off & then reset on using the armature foam as I said before.  However it took some time to rebuild up the ribcage through the body extremities in these places.  The shoulder of the front right leg for example was still too compressed looking even late into the game. So I had to cut here;

and then pull it all out again and THEN slather on more apoxie-sculpt to a new more outward moved point of shoulder (this is where the humerus meets the scapula)… and then add new muscles all over until I was happy with this here;

So that was some of the challenges of salvaging an old sculpture.   Sadly like previous times I”ve done this I come to this point where I say “this would’ve been vastly faster in clay from scratch”.  This time however at least I can say that waste molding clay here would have been more expensive than I’d like to consider. 
ANYHOW, musing about costs aside, I really think he came out vastly different and hope you can see this too without even having to hold the two side by side.    Owners of Duke will NOT be disappointed & feel like they got a repeat;  this is totally NOT Duke, I promise you!  :)

Again, check out his final big bad self and all the comparison shots here; http://www.artbymorgen.com/quartermeister.htm
Thanks for looking!

Friday, December 13, 2013


It seems like the middle Friday of every month is when I like to get around to posting here!

This month isn't much different from last..  and looking back I see that it's been 2months since I posted - wow!  Ok, well quickly, I've gotten & shipped out most of the Pixel resins ordered to date.  Hoping that more arrive today actually even though they seem to have stalled in transit.  ACK!  (This is when tracking is frustrating!). ;)  Anyhow, I've been so pleased with the casters, they really outdid themselves on nice clean castings AND super speedy turnaround time.

Since I'm so close to wrapping up my next horse (mostly anyhow).. I am working in my head on a way to offer some incentive reward for those who buy Pixel now & then want the next guy too.  Generally I like to leave a longer time between editions to let people recover but I'm just TOO excited about this next guy:  Quartermeister!

Here he is as of today, chilling out, getting his glamour shot test hairdo picture here in photoshop.  He's patchy looking still since I haven't primered him yet to make him more uniform.  I see I haven't discussed him on my blog so quickly;  he's a former sculpture of mine that was half-passing.  I took a wireless, hollowcast resin version of him cut into him from every direction until he was a humpty dumpty shell.  This was around 8 years ago.  I then pieced him back together to be trotting straight forward.  It required more than just removing a hind leg for example.  I removed it & cut it at every joint nearly to change the entire horse.  When I'm done I'll show some of the in-progress photos and a side by side comparison with the former horse.  They are NOT the same anymore.  Every inch and nook and cranny of this horse has been covered over or carved into.  I haven't found any points left of the original still showing... including even tendons which all need resculpting.

Basically though it sped things up in a major way for me:  proportioning and joint position along the length of legs, neck etc.  These things are a major time consumer in sculpting.  If I took a Breyer and wittled it down to sticks  & completely filled in every corner it would STILL take me less time than working off my own aluminum armature.   So here where I have roughly the same muscles in place for a haunch flexed forward in this position, well WOOT!  So much much less time to figure it all out from scratch & hundreds of photos.  NOW I get to do ONLY the fun stuff:  searching through photos to decide just how much fleshy flexed muscle mass is appropriate and artistically exciting for THIS horse.  In other words, it's all the fun stuff when the body underneath is roughly worked out for me.  GOOD TIMES!   

Now if this wasn't my own sculpture originally though, I would have to concede that someone else's hard labor did more than half the battle here, even if I'm putting whole new layers of epoxie over everything. but fortunately it was my own labor from exactly a decade ago.  How fun to return to it and revamp every inch with a new mindset and armed with all sorts of cumulative experiences!

And with that, I should go & run to the PO and see if my package is here even though tracking says it's been sitting somewhere else for several days.. and then dive back into this fun adventure.  OH!  I meant to comment on the hair.  I plan to do a very short "ready to braid" trim that's loose.  I was initially thinking I should braid him up but truly, if the mane and forelock are lightweight and bouncing off the body it's easy enough for people to customize. ;)   I think it makes him look more manly though to have spiky hair! :D

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wyatt! A Very big first for me! :)

I decided to go with what I sent out to my yahoogroup and email list the other day...   there is only so much I can say here anyhow.  :)  But NOW I can at least share this news! (for those who haven't heard this already I guess.. there are some here still probably!) ;)
Introducing the new action stock horse that Breyer commissioned me to sculpt early this year (I giggle but no one seemed to wonder why Oceania was taking me so long?) ;)


Truly I don't know much more than anyone else here. I am basing all of my answers on what I see there in their web page page there. Of course with any commercial work there are many answers I can't give too.. but really, the page says it all. I am not a Premier or Collector Club member but I do believe if you wish to join it's explained there as well - $20 to join, $100 deposit and then you are committing to buy all 3 models for the year for $175 each. Hope I got that right!!! :D The mold, as I understand it, will be introduced into their regular run (normal stores, less complicated colors and regular Breyer prices) line in 2015.

So I said this yesterday on FB when the news was leaked a little bit (but I didn't have a page or pictures to share so I waited here).. anyhow, but this is a huge honor to me to be asked. Aaaaand I'm delighted that people are excited about the performance possibilities... I hope he helps inspire kids the same way Breyers inspired me as a youth! I just need to say this to give you an idea of how BIG this day is to me; When I was 10 I read an article about Rich Rudish sculpting Sham for Breyer. It was a pivotal point for me, I realized there are some people who actually mostly sculpt horses for a career. It took 30 years to get there but I’m pretty pleased. I'm really really looking forward to the day when I can watch a kid playing with a Wyatt model!!!

Ok, well .. I guess that's all I can say except a big ole squeeee!!! (little kid in me cannot wait to play with my own copy). ;)

Ok, ok, yanno what? That's not true, I owe a LOT of my customers a tremendous thank you. I mean this. If it wasn't for the patronage of you, I would not have had the time to be taking on commissions like this, I'd be working a 9-5 job still to make ends meet and these sorts of commercial tight deadlines would simply be out of the question. So truly truly from the bottom of my heart, a thank you for your support here for your steady patronage over the years that has made me able to follow my dream and bring this to more children in the future... ((big virtual hugs!!))

(and again hehehe squeeee hurry up May, I want to play with my plastic pony!!!!) :)