The arrival of our first grandchild inspired this project.
SHOP OWNER: Ken Culley
LOCATION: Southampton, Ontario, Canada
The inspiration for a Victorian style rocking horse with safety stand came with the birth of our first grandchild. It was my first attempt and in my zeal I made it far too large. It was the size of a small pony! By chance, I came across a book Making Rocking Horses by Anthony Dew. The horse shown here, to which I gave the very original name of “Rocky”, is the medium size horse shown in his book. I obtained the plans and the horse’s accoutrements from Mr Dew’s The Rocking Horse Shop in Yorkshire, England.
I used many materials to construct Rocky. For the body and head I laminated pine 2 x 10’s and 2 x 4’s. I found the softer wood easier to work with. For the eyes, I used two old marbles. The legs are made from maple, for the extra strength a hardwood provides.
The finish began by sanding the horse until smooth. Next, I applied a coating of ‘size’ followed by covering all joints with muslin. I then applied nine coats of Gesso. Covering the joints with muslin will prevent cracks in the Gesso if there is moisture in the wood that later dries out. The first coat held the muslin in place and succeeding coats masked it.
After the final coat of Gesso, the horse was left for four days to thoroughly dry and then sanded lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. I applied a coat of varnish and allowed it to dry. Next, I put on two coats of white paint followed by dappling with black paint. I applied the black paint with a pad I made of foam rubber covered in muslin. The muslin was tied to the foam rubber to create a mushroom appearance for dabbing.
The frame of the safety stand is oak with ash pedestals. The finish is varnish only. This seemed to bring out the warmth of the wood.
Before installing the tail, I wrote down some brief details like date and place made, my name, name of the horse, etc. and rolled it up and pushed it into the body of the horse. Apparently this was a common practice during Victorian times. My thanks go to my son, Geoff, for his very honest ongoing critique of the work.
. . . Ken Culley