Thursday, 3 September 2015

Vintage rider restoration!

I'll be the first to admit that vintage Julip riders aren't my favourite thing about Julip. They can have lovely faces, but those blobby hands don't do anything for me and I hate that they can't hold reins, buckets or indeed, much else without the help of blue-tack. They're very much a product of their time, and while they can still be ordered from Julip HQ,  made in exactly the same way as they were back in the 50s-80s, I much prefer more practical and modern figures.

Lakeland Julip Show 2014
Nothing against these riders personally, nor the most excellent setup!

That said, I've always secretly wanted one to join my herd, so you can imagine my delight when I was offered one for free from a fellow collector.

There was a slight snag however.

She looked like this.

Vintage Julip rider restoration.

She'd been given to the collector as a restoration project, but she'd never managed to get round to it so the torch was passed to me. I've made plenty of riders over the years, and repaired a few doll's house figures, but I'd never attempted to revive anything with this much damage before...but you know me, I love a challenge.

Most of the damage was centred on the arms and legs, where the wires poked out awkwardly. At least one had been broken, so I carefully pulled them out with pliers, and inserted some new ones. I had no intention of trying to pose her as the latex was so delicate, but I wanted to give her a little more support than she had. Her left arm is still poseable, but I think I'll leave it in this bent position for the future. She'll never ride again but she can earn her keep by grooming and holding horses at shows!

Vintage Julip rider restoration.

I'd seen other people repair old Julips and their riders with epoxy, like milliput, but as I had some liquid latex and thickener knocking around, I thought I'd give that a go seeing as it was what she was made of! (I had a google for guides to restoring latex rubber and well, put it this way, it wasn't rubber ponies that I found! XD) In the end, the new latex wasn't perfect as there's a little bit of peeling at the edges, but it filled in all the horrible gaps and tears really well and she feels a lot more stable and less likely to break now. As per some guides I'd found for repairing latex clothing, I dabbed on some talc to stop any stickyness from the new latex and it did the job admirably.

Her boots were very rubbed and the latex had gone completely solid, with a few ominous looking cracks here and there. I filled them with a touch of superglue, pulled out all the old felt and bits of leg wire that were still inside, then carefully glued in her new legs after giving the boots a new coat of paint.

Vintage Julip rider restoration.

Her original clothes had obviously been sewn directly into the latex as there were still a few stitches here and there in brown thread, and by the colour of the leftover felt in her boots, I knew what colour her jodhpurs and jacket had been. With this in mind, I scoured my vast felt collection and stitched her some new clothes. I thought about modernising her fashions, but decided against it as I can do that with all my other riders. With this one I wanted to keep the vintage feel.

Vintage Julip rider restoration.

I completely forgot to add buttons! *facepalms*

Vintage Julip rider restoration.

Vintage Julip rider restoration.

Her hat needed a few touchups of paint but her face and hair is completely original. I thought about repainting her hands as they have a few cracks, but they weren't too bad so I left them as they were. She has a little damage under her chin from what I assume was a very tight collar, but you don't see it from the sort of angles she'll normally be viewed from so it's not a big deal.

She didn't come with a name, so I called her Tracy. I haven't thought of a good surname though, so any suggestions would be appreciated!


  1. She looks so pretty :) I like how you kept her vintage look but made her look new again!

  2. Hi Christine! You have worked a small miracle in restoring Tracy! I had to laugh when I read that she "will never ride again" poor dear, but to still be able to be around the horses she loves has to be a great consolation considering how long she has been out of circulation. Great job dressing her too! She looks happy and I know that you must be happy too! :D