Rocking Horse Makeover







April 2013
see my current artwork on Etsy

A rocking horse is rather a departure from my usual work, but as I work a lot with recycled and reclaimed materials, why not a little wooden pony? Here’s its story:

A while back I went to the Goodwill Outlet (affectionately known as “the Bins” locally) where I found a rather sad little rocking horse sitting in one of the bins. Some child had scribbled all over it with marker and it had lots of little scratches and dings, but it was structurally sound. Someone had obviously taken a lot of time to make this little pony by hand, and I hated the idea of it getting thrown out since it wasn’t likely to be bought. So I decided to make it a project, bought it, and took it home.

The first thing I did was to remove the worn old nylon rope mane and tail, and sand off all the marker and smooth out some of the surface damage, though I left some of it for character and visual interest. The pony had originally been torched to add shading; I ended up sanding a lot of it off while removing the marker, and so I took a propane torch to it. I liked the burnt look and decided to make it darker than before, and while the original artist hadn’t finished the wood, I added a few coats of oak stain for a deeper color.

Next–detailing! The pony’s eyes had already been carved by the original artist, so I just painted them in acrylics. While I was at it, I gave it nostrils and a pretty white stripe down the nose. Once the paint was sealed, I added deerskin ears (since the poor thing didn’t have any to begin with) and deerskin hooves. I made a deerskin bridle and attached it with a strong adhesive and small brass tacks. More deerskin became a saddle pad, and I completed the tack set with braided deerskin reins.

Finally, it was time to hair the beast! I had a real tanned mane and tail from a euthanized bay horse that I got from a taxidermist. I had to trim them to make them fit a much smaller pony, but with more adhesive and tacks (and a LOT of patience) the pony had a much better coiffure than the old nylon rope. Better yet, the mane and tail are fully pet-able and brush-able since they’re securely attached to the pony. (Do be aware that there may be minor shedding with vigorous brushing, so use a soft bristled brush.)

I put a lot of work into this little pony! It still carries a few scars here and there from its past life, but it’s much improved and is ready to go to a new home!