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Happy Endings: An Easy Fix for a Broken Tail

Text and photos Jennifer Danza

So your model horse has had one too many adventures and lost its tail along the way. What do you do? Don't throw it into the body box yet. Fix it! Even if you can't sculpt, this method of fixing a missing tail is easy.

The broken tail
The broken tail

 

Start with about 2" of 9" gauge armature wire. This wire is made of aluminum, is extremely flexible and is easy to cut. If you don't have armature wire you can use ordinary paper clips. Just unbend and use. Thinner paper clips work great for Stablemates® and the thicker clips can be used for the larger models. Attach the wire into the hole where the tail used to sit and secure it with a bit of Zap A Gap® glue and baking soda to form an instant bond. The wire will act as a support or "bone" when you add epoxy.

Attaching the armature wire with glue and baking soda
Attaching the armature wire with glue and baking soda

 

This next step is a bit unorthodox. If you were applying a tail the old- fashioned way, you would add a bit of epoxy onto your wire and let it dry for 24 hours. After the first application of epoxy had dried you would then add more and sculpt into the shape of a tail. It sounds pretty simple until you get to the point where you have to sculpt hair and make it look like the original tail. Sometimes it's just impossible to get your epoxy to look correct. This newer method gives perfect results with less stress.

First, you'll need to make a mold of an existing tail. To make a mold I use "Alley Goop" sold online at clayalley.com. It's a two-part fast drying silicone product and it's amazing!

Mix two equal parts of Alley Goop
Mix two equal parts of Alley Goop

 

Mix equal parts of Alley Goop Part A and Alley Goop Part B till the silicone is one solid color.

Mix the Goop until it becomes solid in color
Mix the Goop until it becomes solid in color

 

Apply the Goop directly to the entire tail and let dry for 6 minutes.

Original Finish tail to be used to mold a new tail
Original Finish tail to be used to mold a new tail
Apply Alley Goop around the entire tail
Apply Alley Goop around the entire tail
Let the Goop dry on the model for 6 minutes
Let the Goop dry on the model for 6 minutes

 

 

The silicone will get hard when it's properly cured. Once cured, make a cut directly down the middle of the cured Goop with an Ex-Acto knife. Try not to cut the model.

Carefully cut the Goop down the middle
Carefully cut the Goop down the middle

 

At this point you should have a mold of each side of the tail.

Two halves of the newly made mold
Two halves of the newly made mold

 

Press a bit of epoxy into one of the halves.

Fill one half of the mold with epoxy
Fill one half of the mold with epoxy

 

 

You don't have to worry about using a resin release in the Alley Goop mold. Epoxy slips right out of this product without release.

Epoxy pops right out of the mold
Epoxy pops right out of the mold

 

You can let the epoxy dry in the mold, but I prefer to gently extract it as soon as it's molded so I can attach it to the broken area.

A perfect match
A perfect match

 

 

Add the freshly formed epoxy half to the tail stump and attach it to the wire.

Attach molded half to plastic and wire bone
Attach molded half to plastic and wire bone

 

Then, make the other half of the mold and attach it to the other side.

Eliminate any excess seam lines and smooth out areas where epoxy meets epoxy and where it meets plastic. You can do this using ordinary rubbing alcohol and sculpting tools or a pencil. Let the newly formed tail dry for 24 hours.

Entire tail molded in epoxy
Entire tail molded in epoxy

 

Once the epoxy has dried properly, sand down any rough areas - especially where the epoxy meets the plastic. Try not to ruin any original finished areas. Then, cover the new tail with sandable gesso.

Add gesso
Add gesso

 

After the gesso has dried, paint the tail with black acrylic.

Paint the tail with acrylics
Paint the tail with acrylics

 

Creating a new tail for your model should be simple with this easy method. Next thing you know, your horse will be back to his original condition with a nice, new tail.

Beautiful new tail!
Beautiful new tail!


Supply List:

Baking soda
Zap A Gap® Glue (or similar cyanoacrylate)
Armature wire
Alley Goop (http://clayalley.com)
Ex-Acto knife
Aves Apoxie
Gesso
Acrylic paint

To learn more about Jennifer Danza and her artwork, please visit www.jenndanza.com!

 

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