Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cutest Product Tester Ever!

I *finally* have gotten around to putting together a short video that demonstrates some of the fun that can be had with my Painted Ponies!  My model is actually a little under the age limit I give for my horses, but she had supervision by multiple adults - and I tell ya, she was born to ride horses, be it wooden or live!  What a great job she did :)  Her Mommy is a friend of mine, who picked up the special steed at the American Folk Festival, in August of last year, and has been waiting for her little girl to be big enough to use it.  She sure grew into it quickly!  The horse featured in the video, "Valimar" is one of my personal favorite designs: a beautiful chestnut Arabian with gold and cream colored tasseled bridle and bells.  There is nothing cuter than watching a beautiful little girl lost in play on a gorgeous, sunny day.  Enjoy!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Works in Progress, Part 2

In my last post, I shared some pictures of a draft horse I am working on.  Over the past few days, I have dabbled with some tack for him.  Here is an update!  His bridle is all leather, with brass grommets and hand stitching.  Reins are braided cotton, super soft for little hands :)

Doesn't he just look like your best friend already?  I picture a four-legged version of him being a big-barreled work horse with a soft and gentle personality, as trusting as he is trustworthy.  My perfect afternoon would be sitting astride his bare, sun-warmed back and meandering through a field of tall grass.  Trail ride, anyone?  :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Works in Progress

  My workshop has been absolutely filled with little wooden ponies this week! In addition to several special custom orders, I am in the process of creating a small herd of Special Edition hobby horses modeled after the beautiful baroque Friesian breed, accented with hot pink sequins, feathers, and other flashy embellishments.  These horses will be available later in the season at a large equine event, and part of the proceeds will go to a new startup drill team, Friesians in Pink.  Here's a note from their Facebook Page:  
"Friesians In Pink is a drill team on a mission! We ride to support the fight against breast cancer through the promotion of the wonderful Friesian horse!"

Another design coming together in the past few days is an adorable brown and white draft horse with a ridiculously long, thick multicolored mane.  I love ponies with bedhead!  I have been on a work horse kick lately, drawing inspiration from Shires, Belgians, Percherons - I love any horse with a thick neck and kind eyes!  I am toying with the idea of giving this particular pony a nice leather work harness, complete with blinders, etc.  Stay tuned to see how it develops!  :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Progression of a Theme

Two versions of my original design, "Bud" The Clydesdale Horse.

This is a photo comparison that I uploaded to my Facebook page a while back, to illustrate a couple of key points that are at the core of my work and integral to all of my hobby horse designs.

First, that each of my designs are completely unique. I am able to say that no two horses are ever alike - even if they have the same theme - because my process is always evolving and creating change. I am constantly learning with every horse I make, which creates continuous positive growth.  Besides the fact that each horse is handmade and therefore I could not make two identical if I tried, I also deliberately change small details on every single horse to ensure that they are like no other I have made before.

Second, that my ultimate goal is always realism. I think that the best way to encourage today's overstimulated  child to use their imagination is to give them something that needs very little help to become a living thing in their minds.  If they are able to form that link between the real world and the one that they can imagine for themselves,  they have created a realism in their minds and their imagination is free to carry them off into distant lands and faraway times. And THAT is the moment when a toy becomes successful :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Summary of Inactivity

It never rains, but it pours.... : (
I must admit, the last few months have been an interesting mix of lazy and hectic.  Following the much-anticipated American Folk Festival in August, I allowed myself to fall into a deep, dark, imagination-less pit of inactivity.  I would walk into my workroom, sit in my comfy chair, and just stare at the balls of yarn, bottles of paint and rows of blank pine horse heads around me without the slightest little spark of imagination.  During this time, I continued to sell off my stock of horses left over from the Festival, which had taken a severe hit to its attendance by a highly advertised and warned against "hurricane" that the Weather Channel quietly reduced, with tail between their legs, to "tropical storm" and finally to an embarrassingly low impact day of light rain showers and gloomy, oppressive clouds.  So, needless to say, the lack of activity at the Festival left me in a similarly overcast state of mind.

One of 5 Fireflies' adorable creations!

This anti-creative funk would have lasted until goodness-knows-when, had it not been for my new, eternally bubbly and positive minded friend Kathy Gearheart, one of the pivotal owners and artists behind the adorable family boutique Five Fireflies.  (I know you just saw the link there, why are you still reading?  No, really, I must encourage you to take the few moments required to click on the link and check it out, as all of her stuff is just the cutest and there is something for everyone!!)  Kathy extended to me an invitation to start the crafting year off right with an inspired event aptly entitled "Not Your Grandma's Craft Fair".  March 3rd, the day of the big shebang, followed a similar weather pattern to that of my previous event, but spirits inside the building were in drastic contrast to the misty, cold, dark atmosphere outdoors.  I owe Kathy a great big THANK YOU!!!, as without her I'm sure I would still be slumped over in my chair, desperately clutching a paintbrush and staring at it blankly through glazed, twitching eyes.

Justice and her favorite Painted Pony, "Dot"
Kathy's daughter Justice was one of my number one fans at the event, as she frequented my humble little booth in a regular pattern every 5-10 minutes, picking up one fuzzy finger puppet or another, or perhaps turning my little carousel style display to watch the array of painted ponies go 'round-and-'round for her.  She was even so kind as to take some of my ponies for laps around the event, "test riding" them for her own benefit and giving them some much needed exercise after weeks of being packaged up in bubble wrap and stacked in a corner.  My girl Justice is pictured here with her favorite pony, "Dot", who she landed on as the star of my wares after much debate and many more laps riding several other possible candidates!  She was very accommodating and allowed me to snap a quick photo of her posing with her with the chosen pony.

New design, "Monty" and new accessory,
handmade leather halter

So, where does that leave us now?  Ever since the "Not Your Grandma's" event, I have had a constant steady stream of ideas for accessories, design ideas, new tack, etc.  My work room is now, once again, splattered with dozens of colors of acrylic paint, scattered with bits of yarn & scraps of fabric, and crammed in every possible corner with small herds of wooden ponies.  YAY for inspiration!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Finger Puppets!

Puppets on Display!
Helllllooooooo big wide world!  Yes, I realize I have been completely neglectful of my blog, I do sincerely apologize!  But I have had good reason, I promise!  Here is my alibi:
Appaloosa Finger Puppet
Roman Horse Finger Puppet

Lusitano Finger Puppet
Thoroughbred Race Horse Finger Puppet
I've been working on getting together a good selection of finger puppets, trying to make as many one-of-a-kind designs as possible.  I have blue eyed,  light grey Lusitanos, along with snowflake appaloosas, palominos, race horses, zebras, and Roman horses with felt mohawks.  Phew!  So many to keep up with!

My very first race horse finger puppet is part of a package to be donated to Shadowbrook Equine Facility's "Tribute to OTTB (Off the Track Thouroughbred)" event coming up on July 10 in Berne, New York.  The rest of the donation includes a DIY Stick Horse Set, $15 gift certificate, and some brochures to be available at the event.   Proceeds from the silent auction will go to a rescue for thoroughbred ex-racehorses to support their retraining for second careers.  It's a wonderful program, and close to my heart, because although my Thoroughbred isn't an ex racer, I certainly can imagine the amount of training and effort that goes into the process!  For more information on the event, visit their Facebook Page!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gypsy Vanner, Egyptian Arabian and Indian Pinto Pony

Another new design!  As of a couple weeks ago, I introduced the Gypsy Vanner (Drum Horse, or Gypsy Cob) to the Painted Pony Shop family!  His name is Nomad, and he has some very special features!  In addition to high quality, genuine leather ears, Nomad has a 2x thick mane, that almost envelops his neck and face, as you would see on a real Gypsy.  His mane is made from super soft black and white yarn, and alternates according to the patches on his neck.  Nomad's stick body is painted black, with a white "sock" at the end and, *drum roll please*, adorable yarn "feathering" just like the four-legged Gypsies!  It's made from the same yarn as his mane, thick and soft.  The yarn is free flowing, so when ridden, Nomad's feathers, mane and forelock billow out behind him and swirl around in the wind.  Beautiful! :) 

Two of the designs that have been revisited are Cricket the Pinto Pony and Raja the Arabian.  Raja has had a bridle makeover, so that it no longer contains any metal parts, and now sits high on the nose as a real traditional Arabian bridle would.  Available in white or red, the bridle is made from thick, decadent woven fabric trim, dripping with tassels, with smooth ribbon or shimmering gold cord reins.  Very pretty!  Cricket also has a bridle makeover, her padded nose band now comes in either "rabbit skin" or "bear skin", with plenty of beads and feathers.  As always, she has bright, colorful hand painted Indian symbols scattered across her face and neck, that are different and personalized on every horse.  Don't they look great?