Monday, August 31, 2015

Making Wild Horse Beads: The "Hole" Story

This weekend I had a mess of various polymer colors scattered over my worktable (in addition to some leftover leather scraps from another project)—I've been working on a few new color schemes for my Flying Arrow Horses.

These little horses are currently my most favorite bead to make. Okay, yeah I have to admit that my favorite bead to make changes quite a lot… but there's really nothing wrong with that—I love making what I love making most and enjoy going with that flow.

For all my Wild Horse beads the most tricky part of their making is piercing the hole, or at least it was and for the longest time I put off making them because I didn't like doing the holes. If you've ever tried to pierce a nice, long straight hole through a long, thin piece of squishy polymer and actually get it to end up where you want it at the other side, and without damaging the detail you have so carefully created, you know what I mean! It wasn't until one of my lovely customers asked me about making horses that I started to consider it more seriously and finally I made my first batch of Wild Horses and in the process figured out how to make piercing easier and nearly fool proof. I highly doubt if I'm the first one to do holes this way, but whatever… I just love that it works for me!

So today… you have my Wild Horse "Hole" Story…

They all start out in a mold that I made from my original sculpture. Yes, I use molds for many of my beads—they make it SO much easier to make dozens of the same shape without the annoyance and extra time of trying to match them up. I only cast for the most simple details, and then add the rest by hand. Right before I remove the horse from the mold, I use a large needle to create the hole channel—the key to my easy hole!

I do all the detailing with the little horse resting on the needle, this fills in the hole and keeps it from collapsing while I work.

Once the details are all applied and I'm happy with them, I test each horse to ensure they can stand. I love that these beads would also be perfectly happy living in a shadow box!

They then must pass inspection from my sweet little cat Grapenut, aka Mr Fluffy. He often sits in my lap while I work, chin resting on my table, watching the beads take shape. He takes is job very seriously and was bugged by the fact that I wanted to take his photo!

After a short trip to the oven for the first curing, I fill in the hole channels with raw polymer.

I add a thick layer of polymer to the back, trim…  

… and finally pierce! The piercing runs smoothly through the raw polymer filled channel giving you a nice clean and straight hole!

And lastly, I carefully trim away the back to give it a more finished carved texture. 

One horse completed and ready for final curing… time for another cup of coffee and more horse making!

And here's the finished result… after a few washes of paint and polishing…

These are my russet brown horses… the palomino horses that I was working on in this post weren't quite ready for a photo shoot, but will be following after into my shop in the next few days!

The End.

Rebekah Payne
Tree Wings Stuido


  1. These hose beads are terrific!

  2. Awesome peek behind the scenes - and I love these little ponies!

  3. I love your little horses! This was a fascinating look at how you accomplish straight holes. Now if I could just figure out how to this with stoneware...

  4. That's a ton of work!!!! Thanks for the post!

  5. I really love the look of your little horses, and that is a different way to make the hole, I usually leave the needle in when I bake and draw it out afterwards :)

  6. Well, aren't those horses just the cutest thing ever? And quite the handy way to make the hole. Nice idea.


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