Princesses

This is a special post for two special girls- a record of how their princess ponies came to be. Hi, girls!

The princesses started out looking very different from how they look today- they were pretty ponies, lovely ponies, but they looked just like thousands of other ponies in the world. That wouldn’t do for this special pair- they demanded that they be made unique, pretty, and sparkly before they went to their new homes. I helped with that. First I had to take off their old symbols and eyes (don’t worry, this didn’t hurt them- it was more like a relaxing spa day for them) and cut off their hair so that everything could be made special and new.

They looked just a little bit silly before they got their new hair, but I had to make sure their “cutie marks” (or bum symbols, if you prefer that) were just right. So we took a few pictures!

First the paint…

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Then the JEWELS! The jewels are glues on very carefully, but they’ll always be more delicate than on a regular pony, so it’s best not to handle them roughly or get them wet at all. They both LOVED their new sparkles!

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There were two things the princesses did NOT want pictures taken of: the hair going into their heads (with a needle- yikes!) or the way their hair looked before I washed it. It looked something like this:

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How embarrassing! But I did wash it, and condition it to be silky smooth, and dry it. Then, the fun part- STYLING! First we twist the hair… tighter… tighter… until it loops around!

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Then we pin it in place (never recommended for people, but very effective for ponies!)

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Of course, their tails had to match their manes, so those got replaced, too:
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And that’s the story of how Princess Sophia and Princess Isabelle were created. How they got to you is another story, one that involves a special someone who seems to love you quite a lot.

I think these ponies are happy with their new looks, and pleased to be princesses and sisters. Don’t you?

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Moonshine!

Part 1 here

Part 2 here

She’s done! I’m glad she turned out so nicely, because there’s a commission that’s driving me insane right now, and I needed this small victory to keep my confidence and my spirits up.

Here’s the rest of the work that went into her:

She needed new hair. I useDollyhair’s reroot tool, and it’s brilliant. Much easier than the wire and pliers method I’ll be using when I get to my Rapunzel pony- I’ll take pics if I can. I also use hair from Dollyhair; it’s nylon, the same as original My Little Pony hair. In this case, I used Roasted Almond and Buttercreme- yum!

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Then she needed a tail, which is far easier than the mane! We just loop the hair over a wire (I use the plastic-coated ones that hold toys into packaging, since every truck my son gets as a million of them) and pull it through from the outside- softening the plastic with heat first helps a lot. I use plastic zip ties to hold the tail in place. See? Easy!

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Then we pull the tail back through as far as it will come, and that’s done.

The hair-do leaves something to be desired, though- it still needs washing (to get oils, etc. out), conditioning (to soften and make it easier to comb), and styling. I’m going to give her a simple braid.

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…and she’s done!

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But something was still missing… and then someone reminded me. BLUSH! I used real blush, applied with a damp brush, and then brushed off the excess.

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So there you have it, a G4 pony start to finish. It’s a lot of work (especially more complex ones that have larger symbols, sculpting, or full-body repaints!), but it’s fun. I hope you had fun seeing this. Like I said in the bait prep post, not everyone uses the same techniques as I do, but they’re what works for me so far.

Moonshine will be available for purchase in my Etsy shop as soon as I can get some better pictures of her. ๐Ÿ™‚

UPDATE: Sold!

Moonshine’s Body

Part 1 here

Since we got that bait prepped (and thanks for your help with that!), I thought we’d see what’s happening with the paintwork. She’s not the only project I have on the go right now, but we’ll stick with her for now.

Sooo…

After another little trip to the space heater spa, the little blue body got… adjusted.

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I have my reasons.

Next thing was to work on her symbol. Normally I don’t show people my mistakes or the things that I’m going to revise, but let’s be honest, we all need a re-do once in a while! I had a sketch of what I wanted, and this was pretty close to it, but it didn’t work for me. There’s just not enough definition and contrast, and I knew I could do better:
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So after adding some white paint and breaking out the India ink pens one more time (they’re a godsend, I swear!), We’ve got his, which I’m much happier with:
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Sharper, more detailed and eye-catching.

Now she needs eyes. These gave me a lot of trouble; G4 ponies have much less-defined eye areas than older ponies have, and it means that if you’re not careful, your white paint will bleed everywhere. This took three attempts:
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Impressive, I know. You can see that once I was happy with the shape of the eyes, I sketched in where I want the iris, pupil and eyelids to go. I don’t want her face to be symmetrical, but I want it to look right. Next the colour goes on (I usually do a dark colour and then add lines of a lighter colour to fill in the iris), and I painted over the eyelids in white. You can see the first line of blue, which will be where the upper eyelids come down to.
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And here’s the eyes, almost finished. Looking at them now I’m thinking about going back and thickening up the eyelashes, either by adding more or making the existing lashes thicker, but I’m going to leave it for now and see how I feel after she’s got hair. She’s got some lovely sparkly eyeshadow on… but the eyes aren’t quite finished.
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The last step is one that I love and fear, because I’m no expert at adding highlights. They make such a difference in the liveliness of the eyes, though!
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I’ll go back and darken up the pupils again; I sealed the eyes before I added the highlights because I knew I’d want a few chances to wipe them off and start again, but you can still see some whitish smudges.

So there we go, she’s painted! When I’ve got time, she’ll get her hair. I’m just using what I had on-hand, leftovers from another project that I think will suit her. Stay tuned!

Works in Progress: November 9, 2011

Here’s what I’m working on tonight (if I ever finish cleaning up after two very messy little boys!):

Personal project:

Moonshine. I have to keep a personal project or two going even when I’m busy making things for swaps, trades, or the few commissions I get. There’s almost no pressure, and it helps me remember why I do this: because it’s FUN.

Commissions:

Jessie the Cowgirl. I had to throw away the first attempt at this one after the paint cracked. Full-body repaint ruined. I almost cried. But she’s coming along, and she’ll be really cute if this works out. I still don’t think I can do her hat, though. Oh, but I found perfect yarn for her hair, so yippee for that

Princess Isabelle. Needs a necklace (as if she’s not already sparkly enough) and maybe one more coat of sealant, just to be safe.

Mouse and Dog who may or may not be named Mickey and Pluto. Yes, I’m afraid of Disney. ๐Ÿ™‚ Coming along nicely, but mouse-side symbol got smudged and needs touch-ups before I can start doing details. Needs eyes and hair, too.

Rudolph. Bait is getting saucy with me and not giving up its hair. GIVE IT UP, ALREADY!

Pink Garden Pony. Mysterious yellow stains have faded as much as they’re going to (seriously, WHY?! She’s one of the best I’ve ever done, and then the plastic starts to turn YELLOW).

Groovy Garden. Changing symbols might not work- apparently turquoise paint leaves yellow stains. I’ll probably re-paint them and put her back up for sale, and make a new one for the person who bought her. Confused? At least I can kind of remember what I’m doing.

Lady Gaga. Two in planning stages, need to get cracking!

For sale:

Rapunzel. symbols roughed in with white paint and pencil. Hair is ready for when symbols and eyes are done. It’s gonna be looooong!

OK, so I seriously have more work to do than I realized. Off I go- wish me luck!

G4 Bait Prep- Pics!

OK, here we are, ready to start a new pony. I’ve got an idea in mind, and poor Rainbow Dash here is exactly the colour that I want, so she’s about to be decapitated. I don’t claim that the methods I use are the best or most efficient, but they work for me!

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“I’m… WHAT?!”

First, she gets a relaxing few minutes in front of the space heater. This is to make the plastic nice and soft so I can pop her head off without splitting the plastic or snapping the hard plastic plug.

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“This isn’t so bad! Aaaah!”

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“AAAAARGH!!!”

I cut the hair off right after removing the head. See the plug sticking out of her neck? Worst thing about prepping these guys. You can’t just pull it out- that sucker is glued in there and is NOT moving. So while the plastic is still soft, we stick our scalpel or x-acto knife in there, right next to the hard plastic plug, cutting through the softer body plastic. Shove it straight down, maybe angled in just a bit. I do an “in and out” method, making multiple cuts at different angles, rather than trying to follow the curve in one smooth slice.

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After we go all the way around (and try not to poke right through to the outside, though it does happen- just swear and move on if it’s not too noticeable), we pull the plug out (gently!) and set it aside. Sometimes I mark the front on both pieces to make it easier to put back together later… sometimes I don’t bother.

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The headless wonder. Her tail will be pulled out through the neck using needle-nose pliers.

Now might be a good time to look at the tools I’m using. Not the best, but they’re what I’ve got, and they work well enough. If anyone wants to throw some hemostats my way (not literally!), I hear they’re better than pliers for removing hair.

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Scalpel, needle-nose pliers, bent pliers, scissors.

I also use acetone to remove the symbols, and cotton swabs to apply it and wipe (you don’t want to touch this stuff). I find that on G4 ponies I also have to use it to soften the glue that’s holding the hair in.

Now we have to remove the rest of the hair from her head to make room for the new stuff. I always try boiling first, since that often helps with older ponies. No such luck- here’s her little head soaking in acetone (outside!):

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She’s fine, really.

Then I dunked the head back in boiling water (after wiping off the eyes) to re-soften the plastic- it’s a lot easier to get the pliers in that tiny neck hole if the plastic is warm and soft… is this starting to sound dirty to anyone else? Just me? OK, then.

Anyway, after much struggle, here she is, prepped and ready to go! I’ll hang on to that neck plug- I’ll need it later if her head is going to turn.

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I hope you found this informative, interesting, or at least mildly diverting. Other people have their own ways of doing all of this, but I think these methods are the most common. Don’t feel too bad for Rainbow Dash… I’ve got a swell plan for her. *insert evil laugh here*

Part 2: Moonshine’s body- click here!

Part 3

Ancient History

Actually, I don’t have any ancient ancient history… I only started customizing ponies in 2010. Still seemed like a good title; I’ve come a long way in the past 19 months!

How does it start? With a cupcake. A cupcake sculpted with Crayola air-dry clay (NOT recommended for detailed work) and painted. No repainting the eyes, no rehairing. An experiment, and a gift for a friend. Her name is “Sweet Cupcake,” but I should have called her “testing the waters.”

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Next… was a failed attempt at a full-body repaint. I don’t even have pictures. But after THAT was a successful full-body repaint! The paint’s not as smooth as I’d have liked, and the hair was donated by a Value Village Barbie doll, but “Musical Ride” turned out to be my first “real” custom, and a successful one. Her design was based on the RCMP Musical Ride horses, who have maple leaf symbols brushed into their coats in something like this position. Real-life My Little Pony! Except that they’re giant horses… and not mine. If you haven’t seen the Musical Ride (and I haven’t in person), look it up! Pretty amazing.

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Bo Peep was fairly simple; I’d like to do another one to see what’s changed in my style and technique in the last year. Hair was again donated by a Barbie doll. I wish it was thicker, but I love the texture. Very sheepish.

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…and here’s Serge, my first sculpted pony. I had to take a 3-month break from working on him because it got so frustrating, but he turned out looking pretty good. I hope to get the sculpting smoother next time, but I’m proud of how he turned out.

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And this concludes out ancient history lesson. Next time: a few from 2011, or something I’m working on now. We’ll see. ๐Ÿ™‚

Welcome!

Hello! Welcome to Unicorns, Wings, and Wonderful Things. This is just a little place for me to blab on about the work I’m doing customizing and restoring My Little Ponies. Does that seem like a strange hobby for a 30-year old mom of two? Maybe it is; there are lots of very talented people in the world doing this in their own ways, but I’m the only one I know in real life. Let’s see if I can explain…

WHAT I DO:

Customization- I strip the paint (eyes and symbols) off of used toy ponies- usually G3 ponies (from approximately 2002-2009), cut their hair off, and make them into something new. This usually involves giving them new eyes, symbols, and nylon hair, but can include sculpting, making feathered wings, or turning them into something completely different. The goal might be to make something beautiful or meaningful, or something strange and wonderful. It can be challenging and frustrating, but it’s lots of fun!

Restoration- this isn’t what I spend most of my time doing, but I enjoy it. Sometimes I’ll find or buy an older pony who’s not in rough enough shape for me to feel good about customizing her. Ponies from the 1980’s are the ones I grew up with, and I’d feel a weird amount of guilt if I didn’t try to preserve them when I can. This usually involves fixing the original hair and touching up symbols if it’s really necessary, but might involve completely new hair. I’ve restoredย  few plushies, too, cleaning them and fixing some nasty hair, and repainting scratched eyes. I generally find restoration more challenging than creating something new; there’s less room for making mistakes.

 

WHY I DO IT:

This is a bit harder to explain. The “Why ponies?” question is easy: I loved them and collected them when I was a little girl, and they hold warm and happy memories for me. I do collect some of the older ones- they make me happy, and me having a few toys doesn’t hurt anyone. The customizing part is more complex. I’ve always enjoyed drawing, painting, and creating, so this combines two things that make me very happy. And I do need something creative to work on at all times. Whether it’s making greeting cards, sewing sock monsters, writing a novel, or customizing ponies, I need to feel like I’m exercising that part of myself and creating something that will last for a while. Without my “projects,” my life would still be worthwhile: I have a husband and two beautiful little boys to love and take care of. But without the ponies (or whatever), I feel a bit like a domestic Sisyphus; every time I finish cleaning the house, doing the dishes, planning meals, cooking, grocery shopping… it all just needs to be done again. I hope it’s all building to my kids becoming happy, independent adults, but on a day-to-day basis, I need to be able to work on something that I feel like I’m making actual progress on, something that I can finish and have it stay finished.

This is also something I can share with my kids. They’re both boys, but the older one loves ponies (and Barbies- not my favourite thing, but he wants to marry all of them when he grows up), and both kids have painted their own ponies. And sometimes other toys… without permission… we’re working on that.

I sell my ponies for several reasons. The first is because they make people happy. Not everyone is into them, and I understand that. But a lot of people have happy childhood memories of them like I have, and others are totally new to this but find them beautiful, cute, or charming. It’s a huge thrill for me when someone falls in love with something I’ve created, or when they ask me to do something special just for them and they’re thrilled with the result. The other reason is that this isn’t the most expensive hobby in the world, but I still need supplies: bait ponies (the bodies), hair, paint, clay, paintbrushes and other tools… selling ponies allows me to get these things without eating into the family budget. I make next-to-nothing per hour, especially after I buy supplies, but it’s a self-sustaining hobby. Ponies will never make me rich, but they’re worth all of the time I spend on them.

 

OK, SO WHY THE BLOG, MISS PONY-PANTS?

That’s Mrs. Pony-Pants, thank you very much. And this is just a place for me to spread out a bit. I’ll post older creations here, but they’re already on display on facebook and DeviantArt. Out here in the wide open spaces of blogdom, I can post progress pictures, throw around ideas, and get off-topic when the mood strikes me. No one has to read this, but if you find it interesting, please join me! I’ll try to keep things light and interesting. I make no promises about posting every day, but I’m usually working on something, and it will be here.

Oh, and last thing: I just opened an Etsy shop! Right now it’s mostly vintage ponies and toys because my customs have mostly been commissions lately, but you never know what will show up. ๐Ÿ™‚