My favorite Valentine is "Looffun", an outside row figure on the
Spokane 1909 Looff carousel. The name has several meanings - a Looff horse and
Looff horses are fun - or just any carousel you can ride is fun! It really
doesn't even diminish from the magic of the ride who the carver or
manufacturer was to any child or adult who sits astride. As we grow into
adults, the magic is not only in the ride but in the art of its creation as
well. This passion for all things carousel keeps us young and young at heart.
Looffun has a lovely heart on its trappings and a cherub as well! Or is it a
cupid? Hmmmm, now we bring in romance.
Painting by L. R. Montgomery
Many stories are told of people meeting
their loved ones on carousels. Stories of courting and of proposals. Even
today, the romantic young at heart lovers of carousels use this magical ride
for such things and now and then, carousels are even the site of weddings and
anniversary celebrations. A complete circle of life, of love, and fun.
We are now told that a passion for the arts, either through
appreciation or participation, can keep us young. Participation can be done by
restoring the music of the historic band organs, the carving of carousel
figures, or the painting of these wooden carvings. There is always the
enjoyment of traveling to a carousel for a magical ride and rekindling your
passion for the art of the carousels, and all the while staying forever young.
By joining a carousel support group, you can satisfy your passion for the
ride while you are helping to preserve the carousel!
Looff Carousel, Spokane, WA
Looffun is a chocolate-brown pinto. Scout shows another
type of pinto and its subtle shadings, all achieved by applying the paint
with a stipple technique. This is very important as you want a soft edge with
hair like qualities as you outline each large spot.
Looff Carousel, Spokane, WA
You will encounter a
problem of freckling (small splatters of paint) either on the white or the
dark spots as you apply the paint in this pouncing method. Other than masking
off the areas, which I don't recommend, you will simply have to wait until
both areas are dry and go back and touch them up.
I have found it easier to
touch up the white freckles on dark areas, so I paint the dark spots first. You
can then wipe off the freckles with a cloth and a little thinner if done
within 24 hours after the freckling happens. Again, the key is to have the
adjacent areas completely dry before the white color areas are painted.
As long as we are showing Looffun and its gilded cherub on the back of
the cantle, we can discuss how this antique gold effect is achieved. A flat
(low-luster) base coat of dark rust brown is applied to the carved area first.
When this layer is dry, usually in 24 hours, a chocolate brown layer is
applied with dry brush strokes (very little paint on the brush) allowing the
earlier rust brown to show through, especially in the raised areas.
Finally, after at least 48 hours of drying time, the gold is painted on.
Allow the gold to be brushed only over the top ridges of the carvings and not
into the carved valleys and grooves as shown in pictures 5 and 6. The drying
time is very important. The gold is a "hot mix" and will curdle the base coat
paint if the base coat is not completely dry!
Looffun's Gold Cherub
The base coat colors are achieved by mixing low-luster or flat black with
brown and orange enamel to get the rust brown. The chocolate brown is a
mixture of low-luster black and brown with just a little red. The gold used is
made by Odds and Ends and comes in a 1/4 pint jar. The enamels are available
in 1/2 pint cans with only black and white available in flat or low-luster. By
mixing either of these colors with a glossy enamel you will dull down the paint
while achieving the necessary color. This duller enamel is now a very good base
Once your first coat of gold is dry for at least 24 hours, a second coat
may be applied to those areas that will highlight the carving.
Angels on the rounding boards of the Dreammaker Carousel,
by the Montana Carousel Company
Limited Edition Miniatures of LoofFun by
Jerry Reinhardt are available at The Riverfront Park Gift Shop. Prints of LoofFun (as pictured above) are
available directly from L. R. Montgomery.
Be sure to send in your romantic or fun story about your favorite carousel
and win prizes from the carousels.com gift shop. Happy Valentines Day!
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.