Friday, 14 February 2014

Finding vs Making Props

I have always had what they call the 'miniaturist's eye', being able to see the potential of a random bit of rubbish or scrap of material to be something else entirely.
It probably stems from the fact that I have always had an interest in miniatures since I was a child, and I had a doll's house and several roomboxes to decorate long before I got into model horses.

So, it always seems odd to me when I hear people talking about how difficult it is to find props and things for their models when half the time they're probably surrounded by objects that with a tiny bit of work could be adapted to become something incredibly useful.

Of course, you can buy a lot of things, especially in 1/12th scale...but where's the fun in that? :P


The other day I was browsing my favourite shop 'Tiger' for interesting things and when I spotted these fantastically patterned paper straws I just knew they'd make excellent poles for my jumps.

Although made from paper, they're really solid and only get bashed out of shape if you use a lot of force.

Tiger paper straws - jump poles

Tiger paper straws - jump poles

Going back to the idea of 'found' props though, you might spot a couple of other things in there that look like they were designed just for model horses!

Indoor School

The blue and red pole with 'pony' written on it and the one below with horse heads are unsharpened novelty pencils - the first came along with the ruler below them I used as a filler, with an issue of 'Pony' magazine. The blue and white wings are from 'My Beautiful Horses' and are a bit under scale for Julips but not too noticeably so if I use them with ponies. Harry is one of the tallest Julip moulds which probably doesn't help in this case, lol. The white wings I think are 'Grand Champions', although I bought them second hand so I can't be sure.


The wooden caveletti are actually 'crosses' from a wooden noughts and crosses game I found in a charity shop years ago! I usually turn them so the hole in the middle is hidden but I must have forgotten this time. (The coloured blocks and poles here are also 'My Beautiful Horses')

Handmade Jump stands and poles

These poles were made from discarded balloon sticks that were due to be chucked out at college, with the coloured areas made by strips of electrical tape. I've already covered the wings in another post - just stained lolly sticks and fimo and wire for the cups.


The small containers on the left were made from a cut down styrene tube with beads for the lids, but the ones on the right were nothing more than bottle and glue stick tops with a label cut out from an equestrian catalogue stuck on.

^ That link above has notes on what everything is made from in my feedroom. ;)

People are always asking me where I get all my little signs and labels from and I always say exactly the same thing.

Google it.

If you want a 'no smoking' sign or something, just search for it via google, save it to your computer, stick it in Word or Powerpoint and resize it til it's the right scale for your yard, then print it out. I often use double-sided tape to stick them to thin card, cut it out, then cover in a layer of sellotape to give it a glossy finish. It's really not as hard as people seem to think it is! XD
For products, it's a little harder but I always order up as many free equestrian catalogues as I can, as they always have good clear images of supplement labels etc and the paper they're printed on adheres easily to things. If you go to the websites of sign makers you usually find the best quality images.

tieup ring

The tie-up ring is simply two jump rings and a bit of card, painted gold.

Horsebox Interior

 These rosettes were cut out of a magazine and simply blue-tacked into place. The shinier the image is, the better I think, especially if the paper has a slight sheen to it.

Even fabric can be acquired easily if you know where to look!

I sent away for some free samples of waterproof fabric intended for awnings a few months ago and made Kerry this rug out of it.

Free Samples

If you google 'free fabric samples' you'll find a whole host of sites that will happily send you a pile of samples for nothing, or, if not nothing, they'll usually only charge postage.

This is my most recent haul - all freeeee!

Free Samples

...and here's some of what the herd has claimed already!

Free SamplesFree Samples
Free SamplesFree Samples

Yard props can be found just as easily and almost as cheaply too!


The feed 'trug' here is a silicone mould from the baking section of a £1 shop and the feed containers behind were also from the £1 shop, but were originally pill boxes! They all share sides so can't really be separated without sacrificing the others, but they're really useful - especially as they have lids that close.


All the 'feeds' are just crushed up herbs or pulses - the 'cubes' are actually Bisto gravy granules! XD

Recycling is fun!

Body Protector - craft foam and leather lace.

Saddle - leather scraps and foam.

Bridle peg - thumb tack with pin removed.

Boot-Jack - Painted cardboard and part of a plastic clothes peg.

'Salt licks' - bits of plastic clothes pegs with small pieces of ocean washed glass for the licks.

Crop - cocktail stick with bead and foam embellishments.

Supplements - Glue stick top with catalogue cut-out label, felt tip pen lid with label, repainted toy spray bottle, soy sauce bottle from an M&S Sushi pack.


Anyway, I hope some of that was helpful! If anyone has any requests for a tutorial of anything I've made or you want to know where I found specific things, just comment away. :D