Friday, September 19, 2008

No good deed goes unpunished.

Yeah, I had a premonition. The plan was that the S.M.I.L.E.S. organization would bolt each colt to a plywood platform with wheels so it could be easily moved around by the various people hosting them for he summer. Something in me thought there might be a problem with a 45 pound, 54" tall, top heavy fiberglass horse being attached to a small wheeled board. It was just a fleeting thought. A week or two later, a blustery afternoon storm blew through the area and downtown Lake Geneva had wind gusts in excess of 70 mph. Do I need to keep typing? My colt didn't make it inside before the storm hit and he got smashed onto the concrete sidewalk. UGH! Well, I couldn't go to get him for many weeks since I was in the middle of getting ready for Breyerfest in July and my Father had some health issues right after that that took priority as well. By the time I went to see the damage to the colt I was *almost* prepared to take it all in stride. Seeing my cute little guy all cracked up was pretty hard though. At first it didn't look too bad. Of course he landed on his right shoulder and side and my initial view of him was from the left. As I looked closer, I could see that what I originally thought were long scratches in his finish, were actually long cracks crazed along his surface! Egads! His front torso is very cracked up. Some of his flowers were broken off, the vines were cracked, but the worst was the approximately 3" x 3" area on the point of his right shoulder that was shattered completely with jagged edges overlapping each other. It must have been the main point of impact. He had to have run into a garbage can or one of the street lamp poles before being blown over. Looooooooong cracks radiate out from that ugly wound, across his sides, between and around his front legs. One of his legs is essentially detached and being held on by the underlying support. I am doing my very best to restore him but I'm at a loss as to how to go about some of these things. Hopefully I will have him in decent shape by October. The organization holding the event is antsy to get him back. He will have to have special treatment from now on though. I don't think he should be displayed outdoors and he definitely can't endure having anything heavy on his back. I think I can make him look good again, but this whole thing has taken up so much more of my time, money, and energy than I ever expected it to. The more time I spend on the project, away from my income producing work, the closer I come to being a non-profit organization myself! Har har! I won't bore everyone with the extended repair process. . . I'll post a few photos but, honestly, even *I'm* getting sick of looking at him!

Oh and by the way . . . The person or people who actually called and complained to the S.M.I.L.E.S. folks about my colt? The ones who were displeased that he was on display with his injuries and not being repaired right away in preparation for their viewing pleasure? The person who actually called my colt a "disgrace?" Thank you for making an already unhappy situation even more unpleasant. I'm sorry that 2 minutes of your shopping day was ruined by my misfortune.

Intermission for an official website blurb

Here are the websites where you can see all of the colts in the Horsing Around Town, Lake Geneva public art project.
My colt's official name is: "If you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you." The complete site with multiple photos of each colt and short profiles on each theme. Apparently you can bid on them too. click on the People's Choice Award logo to vote for your favorite. I will even forgive you if you don't vote for mine. This blogger has a neat slideshow with photos of many of the colts in the display areas where they've been all summer.

O.K., now hand it over. . .

Before we left the house, I gave the unicorn several coats of Frog Juice (a protective, UV resistant coating used by commecial sign makers.) When he was dry, we loaded him into the truck and headed off for Lake Geneva, only an hour late. Grrrr. It didn't really matter since we got there with plenty of time to unload, get his picture taken, and look at all of the other colts. I forgot to sign the little bugger so I had to take along some paint and a brush and extra Frog Juice, so I could do it there. It felt pretty good to have him finished and no longer my responsibility but all I could really think about was getting something to eat and crawling into bed to nurse my aches and pains. Yeah, I know I'm wearing the SAME shirt in these pics as I am in the profile photo to the left here. I promise that it is just a coincidence! I actually own several other shirts! I'm not like that gal Jerry dated in the old Seinfeld episode with the "Superman" dress! (Season 7 Episode 13 The Seven for the hardcore Seinfeld fans out there) So, the day was over, and it was time to leave him behind. Just look at him watching the other colts. I guess the herding instinct is strong even in fiberglass horses. With his new name tag around his neck I left him with his blue buddy there and headed home. I would not have expected to see him again any time soon. . . except, I had a premonition. . .

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's all in the details. . .

Most of these are clickable for ENORMOUS photos!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Approaching the finish line

I think I stopped painting somewhere around 9 a.m. on Friday morning. I didn't look at the clock, I just dragged myself up the stairs and fell onto the bed in the guestroom. I had to get at least a little sleep because I still needed to make the one hour drive (and another hour back home again) to Lake Geneva to deliver the little guy. My Mom woke me up around noon with a concerned tone in her voice, "were you able to finish it?" I actually had finished it, with the exception of the protective coating that would help protect the paint work from hundreds of inquisitive hands as well as day after day of UV exposure. I popped out of bed with renewed energy (yeah. . .RIGHT!) and ran (staggered) down stairs again to see if it looked o.k or if it looked like it had been painted in a partial stupor. I seriously don't remember much about the night after I put away the airbrush and started hand painting. There's just a long and seemingly endless stream of close-up images in my head as I moved from spot to spot, mixing paint and dabbing away with my small brushes as fast as I could. I do recall that somewhere around 7:30 I opened up the wildly colored little pans of Pearl-Ex powder I'd purchased a few days before. I was looking for something to make my white (as he was supposed to originally be) foal a little less. . . well. . . white. Having never used these highly concentrated pigment powders before, I, naturally, wanted to experiment carefully and find just the right technique to use for the optimum visual effect. . . which is why I grabbed a brush and frantically started applying every color I had to the mane and tail and flowers, and horn, and . . . Haha! Given the fact that I was making things up as I went, it didn't turn out too badly.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ready. . .set. . .PAINT!!!

My Mom came downstairs at about 11 pm to bear witness to the beginning of the airbrushing portion of the project. She snapped a few photos and shared the observation that she couldn't imagine how I was going to have it finished by the time we needed to leave the next day. Honestly, I couldn't imagine it either! So, this first photo pretty much sums up the mood of the evening. See how stooped over I am? My back had absolutely had it. Too much bending over, crouching on the floor, and standing on concrete. To this very day my left index finger, my right thumb, and my left big toe, haven't fully recovered from the experience!
I spent a LOT of time picking hair off this critter. . . my parents have 2 German Shepherds (better known as German Shedders) and their loose hair was everywhere! There wasn't really anyplace else I could do this though since my Folks have all the necessary equipment and a LOT more space than I do at my house.
Can you see the tiny little metal cup on the underside of the airbrush I'm holding in the first photo? Now, imagine how many times I had to fill that little cup to put a fine layer of pearlescent white paint over the whole foal? Haahahaahaha! It boggles the mind! But it was worth it. He's all pearly and iridescent.
So, the solution to the botched lacquer on his butt ended up being to make him a dapple grey. The dappling helped camouflage the unsightly area and gave me the peace of mind I DESPERATELY needed at that point. The hard-core horse people will say that no foal that young would ever be a dapple grey but unless they provide me with proof that unicorn foals *don't* come in dapple gray, I will exercise my artistic license and do what I please! So, BACK OFF! I'm tired and cranky! ;^P

. . .apparently I'd painted some vines and leaves by this point. . . I'd have to estimate the time of these last four photos at about 3 am.

Prime time!

Whew! The stickies were all gone by Thursday evening! I had purchased a new batch of Sculp-Epox for this project and, apparently, I was just used to how quickly my 11 year old containers of the same stuff set up. With the small scale stuff, those quart containers last a LONG time! Haha! I hadn't worked with fresh Sculp-Epox since 1997!

I quickly primed the epoxy sculpted areas with sandable auto body primer. (that's the gray stuff) The primer isolates the epoxy (and any exposed fiberglass areas) from the paint work to prevent any odd chemical reactions and gives the paint something to hang onto. The little horse was already primed in white when I got him so that gave me the nifty, time saving, idea of having the first coat of his paint job come out of a can of white glossy auto lacquer! It was a FABULOUS idea. . .bound to make up for the fact that I was finally starting to paint at about 8 pm on Thursday evening with 19 hours to the time when it needed to be delivered. First one can. . . hmmmmm. . .that didn't exactly cover the first side very completely. . . did I only buy two cans of this stuff? With nothing but blind hope, I confidently sprayed on the second can of glossy white lacquer and came up short. There was still more than 1/2 of the piece still showing the gray primer underneath. *sigh* So I had to spend 45 minutes that I couldn't spare running to Farm and Fleet for more paint. When I got back to spraying. . .I let my anxiety rush things and ended up with a few drips! AAAHHHHHHH! Repeat after me. . .never ever EVER E-V-E-R touch a drip in half dried lacquer! It's the painting equivalent to picking a teensy scab and ending up with flesh eating bacteria trying to consume your entire arm in under a minute! You know you shouldn't keep touching it. . .but you can't help yourself. . .and the yukky blobby mess just grows and grows even though you're convinced that *this* swipe/dab/blot/ will smooth it out and solve everything! Did I finally leave it alone to dry like a sane person? Nope, it would have been too easy for me to sand it smooth later. . . I had to try the old nail polish trick of applying an extra heavy layer of the same stuff. I thought I could knock down the bumps by drowning the half dried and sticky layer in fresh lacquer with all of it's wondrous and smelly fast evaporating thinners! Naturally, that made more drips. . . that I touched. For my own sanity, I finally had to abandon the entire project for a couple of hours to let everything dry. At that point, I was WAY too traumatized to take photos of the damage. . . I was just trying to figure out a quick way to cover it all up and get on with the show! I do think I can see it on this photo of his rear end. . . there is a faint gray area visible on the side of the foal's left haunch sort of due east of that shiny highlight near his tail. it was about 5 inches long and three inches wide, and that photo doesn't give anywhere near an idea of how utterly horrible it looked. :^( Actually, come to think of it, I'd probably already "worked" on it a little bit at this point. By "worked" I mean calmly and sensibly (after my earlier meltdown) sanding it lightly and reapplying a * very light* spritz of lacquer to the area. It was smoother. . .but it was still not good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


ARGH! I was going to start painting on Wednesday evening but everything was STICKY!!!!! Oh boy. All of the last batch of epoxy that was added the night/morning before was faintly shiny and tacky. The best case scenario was that it just hadn't had enough time to cure or that the humidity/temperature were slowing the process down a little. The worst scenario was that I might not have been as careful about mixing equal amounts of parts A and B and the whole thing was destined to never set up properly. So I waited. . . and waited . . . and worried . .. and finally decided that the only thing I could do was go home, get a good long rest, and be prepared for a marathon painting session the next day/night if it finally cured and stopped feeling like it was coated with a thin layer of syrup. So, at about 3 am on Thursday morning, with only 36 hours until I was supposed to have the horse *in* Lake Geneva . . . I went to bed.

The tail end. . .literally.

The last of the sculpting to be finished was the tail. I just didn't have the strength or the time to re sculpt the whole thing so I scattered some hair texture over it to blend with the hair marks that were added with the power tools and the rasp and hoped it would do the trick. A few little flowers at the top and VOILA! Ready for paint in a few hours, right?

Pasty pale pansies playfully prance . . . eh, whatever.

So, the flower and vine sculpting carried on late into Wednesday night and early into the next morning. I spent a frantic half hour scanning through gardening magazines for FLAT flowers ( that would be relatively easy to sculpt on little to no sleep ) and settled on pansies and clematis. My Mom also suggested that, since my horse would be displayed at my Sister-In-Law's shop "Strawberry Fields" I should include some strawberries. Aaaaaaand since Strawberries need leaves to look proper on a garland. . .they might as well have flowers too. . . and there should probably be some other leaves to fill in the spaces . . . and eventually there were also some teensy little made up flowers put in to take up more space and add some lacy-ness to the whole thing. I did my best to keep everything flat and well adhered to the form so no one could pry them off or get snagged or hooked on anything. My Parents actually hung out in the basement with me for awhile and poked at some epoxy themselves. . . Mom did a Strawberry and Dad added a few leaves here and there. They left for bed at about 3:30 am though and I was, once again, the lone sculptor, fighting off yet another deadline in the deepest darkest night.
(any of these pics will enlarge with a click)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What is that delightful smell?

Ahh yes, the mysterious scent of Sculp-epox! By this point it was all over the place. . . little bits were on my shoes, my clothes, the floor, the walls, even various places on the horse. Most of all, it was in a scummy, scrubby, dry, crackled, multi-leveled layer of goop all over my hands. Ugh! It isn't *supposed* to be all over your skin, especially not for prolonged periods of time. . . you know, like in a hardened shell covering your palms and fingernails? There's just no other way to work with it though, sculpting with latex gloves on is like playing the violin while wearing mittens. (and I have actually tried both, so you can take my word for it!) So, I have thrown caution (and a material warning sheet) to the wind and continued on with the work. The first pic here shows his newly defined nostrils. In the next photo you can see the wrinkles between his nostrils. I wasn't so sure about these, but they can always be ground off if I change my mind later. Oh yes, and THERE are the beginnings of his garland! The flowers don't look like much now, but I have high hopes for the power of paint! har har! These were taken at about 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The epoxy flowers smelled faintly of popcorn. . .and desperation.