"When up on the roof-top there rose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter"
Our Santa, who loves to ride carousels, is shown at the annual
Wishing Star Carousel Christmas Party at the Spokane Looff Carousel. As we
come to the close of this year 2000, the International Year of the Carousel, I
hope we all can remember or even help this marvelous organization that brings
wishes, big and small, to children throughout the United States.
Our Santa at the annual Wishing Star Christmas Party
To paint spots on Rooster, Levi and Bud, the question always come
up as to how to paint the hooves of spotted horses (or any horse, for that
matter). I have tried to come up with a tried and true formula for painting the
hooves and have been unable to do so. In scouring reference books and
pictures, I discover that a hoof can be any color, such as dark on a light
horse, and light on a dark horse. I have seen pintos who have spots even on
their hooves as well as non-pintos with spots on their hooves. Sometimes a
horse will even have 4 different colors of hooves.
I am including some "holiday" examples of how it is approached by
other painters. This rare reindeer by Charles Looff is part of the
collection of the International Carousel Museum in Hood River Oregon. In
original paint, you will notice the hoof is dark at the base and lighter at
the top where it joins the ankle or leg. This reindeer has marvelous
turquoise and teal colors with a dark brown saddle. How bright it must have
been when originally painted. There are detailed scrolls, stencils and tole
techniques used on it as well.
A rare reindeer by Charles Looff
This realistic deer rides a lovely Dentzel (1900-1910)
machine in Toronto, Canada. Wearing the golden summer coat of a white tail,
the hooves are painted in the same shade as the body. Realistic? Perhaps not,
but very attractive. This carousel is packed with menagerie,
and is on
Centre Island which is serviced by a ferry from downtown Toronto. It is a
magical spot on any summer day.
A Dentzel deer in Toronto, Canada
We also have to have a camel, which I doubt has made many trips to
rooftops, although they are known to carry gifts. All of my photo files show
them as having darker hooves than bodies. The camel pictured here
shows a marvelous new example
by Carousel Works of Mansfield, Ohio. It will soon join many other new and
unusual wild creatures on a carousel at the Denver Zoo.
Photos show camels as having darker hooves than bodies
I've tried to come up with some "formulas" to go by. They are:
- Work from actual photographs if possible. This eliminates all the guess
- If the horse has stockings,
the hooves are lighter in shade on the legs with stockings.
even if it is a black horse.
So if it has 3 legs with
stockings, those hooves are lighter. The fourth hoof would be charcoal
- If a pintos spots go down to the base of the ankle,
the hoof will continue the
pattern. Please refer to one of my previous articles, The Painting of Rooster.
- Method A: To select the color, take the body
color and add white to make a lighter shade. When this is applied, pick up a
slight amount of gold-tan color or even yellow on the tip of your brush and
streak this down the hoof, wet-in-wet.
- Method B: Apply a very light shade of the hoof color at the top of
the hoof, apply the body color at the bottom of the hoof. With a dry brush,
stroke the colors together to blend, resulting in a hoof that is shaded light
to dark with horizontal strokes.
- Method C: Apply the two different colors as in Method B, but instead
of stroking the brush horizontally to blend, use a stipple brush and pull the
color up, or stipple the color up to blend it softly.
And now, speaking of gifts...
In the past years I have had many
inquiries on the availability of plastic, fiberglass,
aluminum and wooden horses. Wonder horses are no longer available other than
through Rotocast. They also require a minimum order, which means that you may
have to get several friends to join your project. Always be on the look-out
for them at garage sales and flea markets, still your best source.
horses are being mass-produced in Mexico and are becoming easier and easier to
find. Please be sure that someone who is trying to sell you an "original Coca-Cola
horse" is not really selling you a Mexican casting. Contact me or this
site's Webmaster if you have any doubts on any horse's originality.
also located a source for small, wooden carousel figures. Similar in style to
early Herschell-Spillman horses, they would fit into your home nicely due to their
smaller size. They also can have some limited personalizations in the
trappings. You can contact me for photos and more information.
And my last
gift suggestion is a gift certificate under the tree for this summer's "Paint
the Ponies in the Pines" workshop. This is a marvelous way to weather the
winter, by planning a week of summer carousel painting with other new carousel
Bette Largent is a professional carousel horse restoration artist from
Washington State, and the author of
Paint The Ponies,
a guide for those who are interested in learning the art of painting
for information on ordering her book.