Sunday 20 September 2015

Newmarket Stripe fabric anyone?

I've always wanted to make a decent Newmarket/Witney style blanket for my Julips, but found the fabric was impossible to find at a suitable scale. I had a go myself with some fleece and marker pens, which looked ok, but it wasn't really what I was after.

Newmarket Fleece

Then I remembered a little online shop called Spoonflower, where you can design your own fabric and have it printed out on a variety of different types of fabric, from plain old cotton, to minky or faux suede. Unfortunately they don't do microfleece, which would have been perfect, but they seem to be bringing out new fabrics on a regular basis so I can only hope they'll do it eventually.

I made up a design, ordered a sample and got to work. The basic 8" x 8" test swatch was more than big enough for a Julip rug, and even had a little left over which I might be able to make into some clothes for a rider at some point.

The fabric I chose wasn't quite right for it, as it was stretchy and too shiny for a traditionally woollen blanket, so I went with a rug instead, as it looks a bit more like that kind of material. The neck is a little high on it as well, but I might make a neck piece too which will hopefully disguise it.

Newmarket rug/headcollar set

Harper, who probably has the most tack of any of my Julips (seriously, this is his third rug at least!) always likes his wardrobe to work as an ensemble, so I made him a matching headcollar and leadrope. This is the first time I've ever managed a three colour leadrope and I'm really thrilled with it. I didn't have any suitable red, black and yellow ribbon, so I just painted on the red and black bits with a very fine brush. It also got fleece padding because Harper is incredibly spoilt I thought it looked nice. He also got the proper etched halter rings and buckle too, as opposed to my usual homemade ones, so he's one lucky pony, as I rarely splurge on these kind of luxuries!

Newmarket rug/headcollar set

Newmarket rug/headcollar set
If I had a real horse, you can be sure that I'd have it kitted out in matching everything.

I'd quite like to do some other designs - either this in different colourways, or maybe some tiny horses? Ideas would be most welcome!

The best part about Spoonflower is that you can resize the design and choose which way the pattern repeats, so I can potentially have designs for different scales. I'm useless at measurements though, so I pretty much did this one by eye. I took a crappy picture of another test swatch draped rather haphazardly over one of my trads so you can gauge for yourself whether it could do with being upscaled or not. It's in totally the wrong sort of fabric, but it was a free swatch of some new stuff (poly crepe de chine) so I couldn't not get it, though god knows what I'm going to use it for.

 Newmarket style fabric

If it does need tweaking, let me know and I can upload a bigger version as well.

On that note, if anyone wants some for themselves, you can order it -HERE-!

 I don't actually get any money for it, but it gives me Spoonflower credits, so I can buy stuff on the site, which is no bad thing, as I love fabric. I've got more than I will ever probably use, but I always have room for more...well, sort of.

EDIT - I'm going to see about offering it for sale on another site as Spoonflower has this rule where you have to declare all your tax details to them, and while I'm not earning at the moment so I don't actually pay any tax, I'm still not comfortable with that being mandatory, so I'm going to try elsewhere.

(I need to photograph my stash - it's getting ridiculous how much I have now, but it's all so lovely I can't just get rid of it!)

A new look for the indoor arena.

As much as I liked the old one, it never really felt right to me, and looked amateurish and plain - especially considering that the arena fence was originally made as a temporary thing for a single photostory! (and it was a circus background at that!)

I want EA Equestrian to be the kind of yard I wish I had in real life - lots of brick and dark wood with green and brass fittings, and this, err..wasn't.

Freckles in tack

I've always wanted to change it, but Nichelle's blog post the other day finally convinced me to actually do something about it and I couldn't be happier with the results.

Echo's Training

I kept the same fence - a length of balsa wood - but flipped it over and glued stained strips of thinner balsa to it, along with another at the top and a kickboard at the bottom to neaten it off. Some of the planks fitted together almost too well, so the joins seem to disappear, but I can assure you that they're there!

I toyed with making some supports at the back so it would stand unaided, but I don't have much space for storage as it is, so I decided against it. It stands perfectly well propped up from behind with jam jars and glue pots anyway. XD

Jumping Lesson
Looks like someone forgot to photoshop out the foot support!

The bricks came courtesy of slightly textured doll's house wallpaper, which I've used for the livery block's stables (which are set in the same building) before, so it actually works far better with them than without. The letters round the outside aren't as 3D as they look - I made them up in Poweerpoint and just printed them out, then stuck them onto thin card with double-sided tape to give them a bit more strength. I may get rid for future photoshoots though, as nothing looks worse when trying to give the illusion of a whole arena, than a really obvious landmark.

One of the first to try it out was David, and very green Kaimanawa mare, Echo. She's taken to being ridden well, but is very easily distracted, so she still needs rather a lot of work.

Echo's Training

Echo's Training

Echo's Training

The leg wraps came from Utterly Horses, but now that they're finishing, I can't get any more without buying a full roll of vet wrap which is pointless as I don't have any real need for it. So if anyone could spare some scraps I'd greatly appreciate it! :P

Once she was ready, working pupil Lexi hopped on, and took her for a ride.

Echo's Training

I made the halter/bosal thing a while ago with the original intention of giving it to Chego, the Criollo...but Echo has apparently claimed it for herself. She's obviously very good at acquiring things as she's nicked Pirate's saddle and Callisto's pad too!

Echo's Training

The modifications to the background took little more than a couple of hours and now that it's done, I'm so happy I finally got round to doing it, as it makes such a difference and really makes EAE that little bit more 'real' in my eyes. I need to get some kinetic sand though, I think that would make it perfect.

...and finally, a sneaky peek at a future post where I'll spill the beans on where I got that very distinctive fabric... :P

Newmarket rug/headcollar set

Thursday 10 September 2015


We had a rather unusual visitor to the garden the other day...


Foxes are a pretty common sight in our area - there's lots of countryside on our doorstep and it's rather unusual not to see the odd fox padding along the road at dusk. That said, we don't often see them in the middle of the afternoon, and certainly not taking a kip on our front lawn!

I'd come downstairs to speak to my mum about something, and as I walked into the room, she got up from the sofa and glanced out the window and almost simultaneously we both spotted the visitor.

For once I didn't have my phone on me, so I raced upstairs and grabbed it from the charger, along with my DSLR, just in case. I needn't have rushed, as the fox was in no hurry to go anywhere.


She (we think it was a vixen, anyway) was sitting quite happily in the middle of the grass, all curled up like a cat in front of the fire.


Occasionally she'd look up and have a little scratch...


She knew we were watching, but showed absolutely zero concern.



Annoyingly, we had the blinds down, and while she probably wouldn't have been bothered by it, we didn't want to raise them, just in case, so my photos weren't as good as they could have been as I had to slot the lens between the slats. (it probably made me look like a right creep actually, now that I think about it, ahaha!) So that's why the bottom of some of the images look almost faded.



Every now and again a car would go past and she'd look up, or flick an ear back to listen, but really, nothing seemed to faze her.



At one point our next door neighbour arrived home in his car, slammed his door shut, then opened and shut the boot, before walking loudly along the gravel path, and didn't notice the fox sitting ten feet from his front door, casually watching him go about his business. XD

Eventually she got to her feet...


...had a good yawn...



...and an even better stretch...




...and with a final twirl, she was off down the road.




 I was slightly concerned that she'd perhaps been in a car accident at some point as she had a very noticeable limp when she walked away, and there was something odd about her lower jaw, specifically her bottom lip. She seemed otherwise ok though, so I hope it's nothing to worry about.
It was such a privilege to be able to sit by the window and watch her sleep. Foxes are one of my favourite animals and a fleeting glimpse is usually all I ever get to see, so this was lovely.

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!

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Blab Photo Contest Prizes!

About a month or so ago, Model Horse Blab ran a photo contest which I duly entered...and two of my photos came second!

My Magpie Arab custom by Laura Bond (EA Give Up The Ghost) nabbed second place in the 'Artistic' class...


...and my unknown brand OF Donkey, Jackson, got second in the 'Realistic Scene' class.

EA Jackson - Donkey - Jack - OF - EG 4

I was only a couple of votes away from first each time, so even though I'm a little disappointed not to have won overall, I really can't complain as I was still eligible for prizes! There was a good selection to choose from, (including some gorgeous traditional scale resins that the first placers quite rightly beat me to!) but in the end I went for the 'Polka Dot Parade' set of appaloosa Stablemates, and a Breyer resin 'BullintheHeather'.

I'm not sure what to show this one as because obviously Saddlebreds can't be spotted and all the Walkaloosas I've looked at seem to harbour more of an Appaloosa conformation. Ah well, she's cute regardless and SO shiny! (seriously, I've never seen a glossier OF SM)

EA Miss Understanding - Saddlebred X - Mare - OF

EA Miss Understanding - Saddlebred X - Mare - OF

She has a few wonky spots so I might etch her in the future, which is exactly what I did with one of the set...

Fanfare - pre etching

I loved the base colour but the appy blanket did nothing for me, so...

EA Fanfare - Morgan - Stallion - CM - EG

EA Fanfare - Morgan - Stallion - CM - EG

EA Fanfare - Morgan - Stallion - CM - EG

This one may end up in the body box because I really don't like this style of OF appaloosa, but he's growing on me, so we'll have to see.


The Breyer resin was bigger than I'd expected - somewhere along the size of Collectas, and quite heavy too. I wasn't sure of his paintjob from other photos I'd seen and thought I may have to repaint him, which I will now as his offside was covered in rubs from the box. :( He has massive ears too, and I don't like the base, so I might give him a bit of cosmetic surgery with the new rotary tool that should be winging its way to me as I type... :P

He'd look smashing in a really rich bay I think.

Breyer resin 'BullintheHeather' (to be customised)

It was so lovely to enter a (free!) show and get such nice prizes - massive thank yous to everyone on Blab who voted for my entries and to the most generous prize providers! :D :D