In past articles I’ve shown how simple changes, like swapping a head from one model horse to another, or adding a newly-sculpted mane and tail, can create dramatic results in a jiffy. Here I’ll show how combining both those techniques together can create the most extreme results yet! Best of all, despite how scary these projects seem, the process was not as tough as it looks. Let’s break it down step-by-step.
First, the idea! Originally, I started eyeing the lovely curve of the neck on Breyer's "Esprit" Andalusian sculpture. Where else could I use this beautiful head and neck? Having an extensive body box helped! I pulled out model after model, until I happened across “Silver” the rearing horse and realized that his head faced the other way. Could I flip the Esprit head and neck onto the Silver body? Only one way to find out!
Using the hacksaw, I cut both models at the base of the neck. I decided to also cut the mane off of the Silver body while I had the hacksaw out. I had hoped to keep the Esprit mane on my new custom, but knew that I would not need the mane on the Silver model any longer.
Next, I placed the Esprit head on top of the Silver body. Uh-oh, that head and neck look a little big. Or is it just Esprit’s extra-long mane that makes it appear too big? I loved the flowing mane of the Esprit model, but unfortunately it made him look too large and top-heavy, so it had to be cut off. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t keep the flowing effect of that mane - I’ll just have to sculpt my own.
Originally, I thought I’d simply put the Esprit body and Silver head and neck back into the body box for a future rainy day project. However, when I sat them on the table, I noticed that the opposite formula - a Silver head and neck on top of the Esprit body, might actually have some potential. Could I blend the Silver head onto the Esprit body, and still have it look natural?
Time for a flip-flop! I sanded away a lot of the material from the base of the Silver neck, as he would need new muscling to make a smooth transition between the two pieces. A roll of epoxy secured the new necks to their opposite bodies.
After the heads and necks were swapped, it’s time to refine and start sculpting the new neck muscles in. The ear on the Silver head was cut and swiveled forward. Wire surrounded by epoxy was used to create the support for the new manes. For strength, a lot of the original plastic of the Esprit tail was used, but parts were resculpted for a new look.
Sometimes it is best to work with what you already have, and other times it is best to start fresh. For example, I did have to create a new mane on the Esprit head, but I was able to just enhance the tail on the Silver body, rather than sculpt a new tail from scratch.
This project was done in little bits and pieces over several months as I had time. At this stage, the models are shown nearly complete. The muscling is now smooth and once the primer and paint is on, there will be no way of knowing that these “Frankenhorses” were ever two totally separate models!
Don’t ever be afraid to take chances when you customize. Putting the new heads, necks, manes and tails on these models really catches the attention, since it forces the viewer to look at the opposite side of both sculptures - the side that is usually hidden when these models are up on a shelf. When the head is turned to the opposite side, you’ll get a fresh look at the same model horse.
A great idea with a lot of impact can do well in the show ring. You don’t always have to move legs, and you don’t have to do a lot of sculpting work to create drastic new customs. See what fantastic new Breyer horses emerge when you let your imagination run wild!