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Sculpting & Extra Parts
Customization and Restoration FAQ

Yes, it's true.  I get a lot of e-mail with customizing questions.  
Some customizers are offended and they don't want to waste their time answering e-mails from "rookie customizers".

I'm actually honored that you would ask me your questions! ^_^
However, I'm really busy...I do have another job...the ponies are a hobby for me.
So, please look here before sending me an e-mail.



Also, I'd appreciate a link if you found this FAQ useful!
(right-click and "save picture as" onto your servers,
then link to one of your pages)


Disclaimer: I am not responsible for personal or pony injuries.  
If you choose to use these techniques, you do so at your own risk.

  Sculpting and Extra Parts

I want to make a unicorn or pegasus pony from a 3rd generation pony.  What do you use to sculpt the wings/horn out of?
Until Hasbro makes 3rd gen unicorns, we'll have to make our own.  I think the best way is to use a horn donor.  Most people who add extra parts use polymer clay.  The brand/type used is largely personal preference.  I'm not an expert in this field, so I'll refer you to a really great polymer clay site that has a lot of tips: http://www.polymerclaycentral.com/

Recently, a lot of people have been using 2 part epoxy as well.  This is nice because it doesn't require baking (and magnet removal for 3rd gen ponies).

Also note: working with polymer clay is very easy, but getting good results is extremely difficult.  Sculpting takes a long time.  Usually, the longer you spend on a project, the better it will look.  I've heard professional sculptors say that they spent hours every day for WEEKS working on a particular sculpture.  If you want a nice looking sculpted pony, it will take a lot of patience. ^_^

What about using a 2 part epoxy?  How does that compare to using polymer clay?
Some very talented customizers are touting 2-part epoxies.  Are they right for you or for your application?  Fortunately, Aikarin has tested both types. ^_^  See the comparison table below.
I also added air-dry formulations.  Please take a look at the EfaPlast review on the Product Reviews page.

  Polymer Clay 2 Part Epoxy Air Dry Clay
Availability Widely available - every craft store has some type Hard-to-find; usually have to order on-line from a specialty store Easy to find.  You can usually find at least one brand at the local craft store.
Cost Dirt cheap.  A basic 2 ounce block costs $2 or even less when on sale.  I've seen this for $1 a block for clearance colors. More expensive if purchased in small quantities, especially when you add in shipping costs.  (About $12 for 4 ounces) It's actually cost effective if you buy in bulk. (About $20 for 16 ounces)  Moderately expensive.  About $5 for a few ounces.
Variety Hundreds of different colors and textures.  I like the flexible type for unicorn horns, wings, etc. Very few consistencies available.  Only a handful of colors are available at this time.  However, you could always paint over it. Lots of different brands are available.  I only tested one.  They are also available in several basic colors, but you can paint over it.
Prep work Requires kneading to soften clay.  Amount of time depends on the formulation.  Approx 1-3 minutes. Requires mixing two putty-like compounds together thoroughly.  Approximately 1-2 minutes. None.  It's soft and ready to use right out of the package.
Application Can either sculpt directly on the pony or glue on afterward.  

Magnet and magnet cover must be removed before baking.  Click here for the magnet removal tutorial.

Can sculpt directly on the pony or sculpt and then stick on the pony before it hardens. Can sculpt on the pony, however, will require extra glue after it's dry to keep it in place.
Ease of use Very easy.  Place in the freezer (away from food) for a minute to decrease stickiness. Tricky for beginners.  Sticks to everything when first mixed.  It's best to wait a few minutes and work with small pieces.  Use a tiny bit of water on your tools to cut down on sticking. Probably the easiest to use.  The texture is great - soft, silky smooth, and not very sticky.  If it seems too sticky, set it aside for a few minutes to dry.
Working time Almost unlimited.  It does dry out if you leave it uncovered for weeks. ^_^ 15 minutes to a few hours, depending on temperature.  Warmer temperatures will speed polymerization.  It's usually better to work on small areas and add pieces to them. An hour or two, depending on temperature and humidity.  Spritz some water over it and knead it in to extend working time.
Detailing Very fine detailing is possible with "harder" formulations. Amazing details can be achieved too. You can get a fair amount of detail too.  Can be shaped with molds.
Shrinkage Just a little after baking. Almost none! A little bit.  I think it shrinks more than the other two clays.
Baking
 or
Setting
Needs baking, which varies depending on brand/thickness of project.  Newbies may accidentally burn their pieces.  Baking can cause a pony to become flimsy and the piece can be misaligned.  It may also change tinsel.  Also, pony's color may change or the glue inside may melt. Sets on its own.  Should be completely set after a 24 hour period.  Gravity can distort delicate structures. Sets on its own when the water evaporates from it.  Just leave it alone for about 24 hours before handling.
Durability Usually pretty durable when baked/cooled properly.  Use caution with thin/delicate parts.  Water-resistant. Very strong, but thin parts are known to snap.  If you don't mix well during the prep period, your parts will end up brittle.  Water-resistant. Somewhat fragile, especially thinner pieces.  Not recommended for parts which will be under stress or will get wet.  Consider sealing it with a clear coat after painting.
Completed Texture Plasticky, almost like that of an eraser, but not as soft as a pony. Rock hard. Papery, sort of like an extra-fine papier maché. 
Safety concerns Both are advertised as "non-toxic", but you can still be lethally allergic to them. Polymer clay releases toxic fumes when burnt.  Use a respirator when sanding either one.  Don't cross-contaminate with kitchen tools/dishes for food.  Uncured polymer clay will harm some furniture finishes/plastics.

If you think you may be allergic, wear gloves. ^_^

Also advertised as non-toxic.  However, you should use a respirator if you need to sand it...small particles are not good to inhale.
Clean-up Easy - soap & water. Easy, before it's set - soap & water.  I like to wash my hands thoroughly after the initial mixing, then go back to sculpting. Very easy.  Just use soap & water before it dries.
Storage Place in airtight container.  Don't place on furniture - uncured clay has a plasticizer that can eat through finishes.  Old clays can dry out and become crumbly. Comes with sealed containers.  I heard you can freeze them for longer life.  May change colors over time. In airtight container.  I spritz mine with a little water, then double-bag it in zip-lock storage bags.

Now that you have listed all that, I want to know what Aikarin uses!  Which one is "better"?
Aikarin uses all of them, but not at the same time, LOL!  Each one has it's pros and cons; you should use the one that works for YOU and for your project.  Don't be afraid to experiment.

But Famous Pony Customizer "X" uses ___________ brand epoxy sculpting medium!
Yes, and she is also highly talented and gets a lot of practice in...just look at her gallery!  Most people who make those thousand-dollar super detailed art dolls use polymer clay...they're also highly talented and sculpt a LOT.  So, if you want to get "good", practice more and quit worrying about the type of clay you're using!

Famous Pony Customizer "X" makes these elaborate ponies with highly detailed feathered wings that look just like a real bird's.  How the #@$% does she do that!?!?
LOL, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked ME that question!  (I wonder how many people have asked HER that question).  I also marveled at Famous Pony Customizer "X"s lovely bird-winged ponies.  All I can say is that they probably took heaps of time & patience to sculpt.  Each tiny feather looks individually detailed.  If I were to make a pony like that, I'd embed a wire base into the pony.  Then, I'd cover it with a layer of clay and attach each feather one at a time.

Can you write a tutorial detailing how to make those elaborate feather wings out of clay?
Famous Pony Customizer "X" said she was going to do it, but she changed her mind.  Which is quite understandable, since creating a tutorial can spawn a legion of copycats.  Well...there are already lots of people trying to mimic her style, but no one even comes close right now.  I think most of it has to do with skill, rather than technique.  And out of respect for Famous Pony Customizer "X", I'm not going to write a feather wing tutorial.

If I make sculpt polymer clay onto the pony, how long do I have to bake it?
This depends on a variety of factors: how thick your clay is, your oven's temperature, even the altitude at which you live.  I'd probably stick to the manufacturer's instructions and bake just a little less than necessary, then check on it.  You can always stick it back in the oven if it's not ready.  However, burnt clay smells awful and releases toxic fumes.  Ewwww
Hot polymer clay is a little floppy. You can tell when it's done when it's firm, but still a little flexible when COOL.

Or should I bake the items first, then glue/wire them to the pony?
I usually sculpt directly onto the pony, then bake the whole thing.  Looks more natural that way.  However, there are issues with this.  My baby merpony's tail was too thin and it cracked after baking.  So, I reinforced the whole thing with 2 part epoxy clay.  Also, thin parts will droop in the oven unless they are supported in some way.  You can even bake the support, sculpt over it, then place the whole thing back in the oven again.

How do I patch a hole in a pony's body or fix chewed ears/hooves?
It's almost impossible to patch a large hole & have it look "natural".  You could use some polymer clay & smooth over the area.  Bake the pony, then carefully paint over it.
Or, you could use the area as part of your design.  Cover it with gemstones or a 3 dimensional symbol!

What kind of glue do you use to attach the extra parts?
All sorts of stuff!  Usually what I have on hand...tacky glue is good for almost anything.  This kind of glue is flexible and it won't harm the reflective backing on rhinestones either.
Feathered wings are usually NOT glued onto the pony's body, but I like to build them on a wire base & have them wired in.  Same goes for horns, etc.  Takes a very long time to do, but they are VERY securely fastened.
I've heard people using special glues designed especially for plastics, but I have yet to try them.

What about sculpting an entire pony from scratch?  Or making a mold of an existing pony?
I've seen people make miniature ponies that resemble the regular ones.  It's possible, but why?  It would be tough to try and sell them; I would also be concerned about legal issues.  It's true that "fakies" in real MLP molds exist, but they are NOT marketed as "My Little Pony".  They have different symbols, hair/body colors, eye paint, etc.
Also, it's not worth the effort to make a near-perfect reproduction, since custom bait ponies are available for $2 or less.
There was a discussion about making plastic G1 ponies out of molds, but many people thought they would be viewed as "fakies" and no one would buy them.  G1 fakies in the reverse Sundance pose (Crumpet's pose) are still available at certain stores for $2.50 each.  I've seen them at the end of 2005 at a local drug store.  People also bought many "Dollar store fakies" which looked like they were cast from the same molds Hasbro used for newborn MLPs.

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