Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Old School

Oops, I bought something! That’s okay, it’s only a Stablemate:

When I went to drop off the sewing machine for service, there happened to be a Dollar General in the same shopping center, and as luck would have it, the one variation I needed to complete my set (for now) was there. So there’s one silver lining to the sewing machine drama!

After epically trying – and failing – to quilt a project on my backup sewing machine, I gave up and decided to focus on repairing that vintage Black Stallion custom that’s been sitting on my craft table for a year and a half. Here’s what I have so far:

I still need to finish the touchups – especially on his left side – and redo the ear I repaired: it’s too big and the style just doesn’t match the rest of the model. The base needs more work, too: I have to build up one side a little to stabilize the model better, fill in a few of the divots, and find a suitable piece of wood to mount it on.

And after all that, I’ll spray him with a matte varnish, regloss his eyes and hooves, and hair him up. I think I’ll give him a slightly fuller tail than he had before, to balance him out visually. The varnishing will have to wait until the weather warms up, though, so he might be on hold after the next round of touchups.

Restoring him has been an interesting challenge. It was tempting to modernize him, but I decided to keep him as original as possible. I stuck to the basic acrylic color palette we were all working with back in the 1980s, as well as the same painting techniques, which were a combination of wet and dry brushwork and “fingerpainting” for blending. 

I did add a little extra shading to his muzzle, though: it was a flat Raw Umber and looked a little odd compared to the rest of him. 

I know some people have attempted to go “old school” with their customs, in an offshoot of the NaMoPaiMo thing, but a lot of those efforts still look too modern for me. Not that the actual vintage product is better or worse, it just looks and feels different.

I think a lot of it is due to the fact that I was doing customs way back then, when all we had to work with was stuff like “Plastic Wood”, that funky green plumber’s epoxy, and whatever selection of acrylic paints and brushes the local department store happened to have in their “art” department. So I know how much struggle went into even the simplest of customs back then.

Even though it might look somewhat primitive in comparison to the work being done today, some of the artwork that was achieved under these circumstances was still pretty remarkable. I think modern customizers could learn a lot by going truly “old school”, with nothing much more than some basic acrylic paints, brushes, mohair and a pre-1985 mold (preferably a Hess!)

I’ll give you all a pass on the modern epoxies. As someone who actually had to work with Plastic Wood back in the day, that’s a step too far back even for me!

I still have no idea who created this fellow. I thought I was just going to fix him up to sell him, but I think he’ll be sticking around a while, especially since I seem to be acquiring quite the vintage custom showstring now.


Suzanne said...

What a difference, the way the Black Stallion looks without a slouch! Makes me want to finish up a couple of my own projects. It seems like I have everything I need except for the ability to focus.

ANDREA said...

He's anatomically better than I remembered him being, and his head is rather nice.

If I were really brave and ambitious, I just might acquire a fresh Black Stallion body and see what I could do with it. But my 35 unfinished sewing projects just might have a word with me if I did...

Holly Harris said...

Hi Andrea, just responding in regards to the Viking machine. Wooooohoooo!!! I'm so glad to have found someone who wants it. I'll post this with my gmail address so you can get in touch with me to arrange the details.

The Black Stallion custom is looking good! Right now I am re-sculpting a Five Gaiter into a trotting Hackney which has been a challenge but is working really well so far.

Holly Harris said...

Okay, that didn't work, it just took you to my Blogger profile. Email me at: thehoundswife@gmail.com

ANDREA said...

I'll be e-mailing you shortly!

Back in the day, the Five-Gaiter was the go-to model for carriage breeds, and I always thought he'd make an excellent Friesian with not too much work. (Probably more than what I'm capable of, though!)

Harecroft Horses said...

Cool to see someone talking about old fashioned customising, I seem to have dropped into that despite not joining the hobby til the early 2000s. I always thought my customising was the cheapskate/low-budget method, I might start thinking of it as old school retro instead!
Just acrylic paints, applied with a brush - no airbrush or sealant or pastels or pigments whatsoever. And if I do absolutely have to resculpt or repair anything, it's with Milliput, which is the dated and British version of that murky greening two-part putty aimed at plumbers.
I see other people talking about the modern methods, and it's interesting enough, but very much a 'for other people' thing - I'm not putting aside my pots of acrylic and tin of cheap (six for £1) paintbrushes no matter what, hahah.