Round and round we go!

Posted by Leslie Clarke on

There's something magical about carousel horses.  I've always loved them. When I first saw her, I knew I had to have her!  She was in the back of an estate where I was looking over antique furniture; she was covered with a sheet, with her nose poking out.  At first glance, I couldn't tell if she was a real carousel horse but I knew she was going home with me!  I had no idea where she was going to take me but I was ready for the ride.

When we lifted the sheet, I knew she was destined for Dixie Belle greatness.  Her previous owner personalized the 50s era cast-aluminum carousel with hand-painted florals and rhinestones.  Cast aluminum is fairly light as metals go so she was more awkward than heavy.  



The process

Like so many projects, she sat for months waiting for me to get to her.  I worked on her in stages.  Of course, first she was cleaned with White Lightning. Surprisingly, little of the previous paint finish came off.  That's when we noticed words on the base filled in with bondo.  My sweet husband got to work.  He heated up the bondo and chipped away at it, revealing the Coca Cola logo.



We researched carousel and Coca Cola and found out Coca Cola never made a carousel horse. At one time, the base may have been used as a 'road policeman' at schools or intersections to alert traffic to slow down, later dismantled and the cast aluminum carousel horses attached. I'll probably never know her true origin.  Either way, Vintage cast aluminum 1950’s Coca-Cola Carousel horses are rare. 




We sanded a few rough spots and after another spa day, she was ready for Slick Stick, Dixie Belle's adhesion primer.  I applied two coats, drying 24 hours in between.  Not because I had to but because I could and at this point, despite my mother's pleas to get her done by "Christmas", it wasn't happening. 



 And really, the hard part hadn't even started!  What colors was I going to use?  Was it a girl or boy?  I discovered this carousel horse was modeled after Herschell-Spillman Co. Carousel horse design "The Jumper."  Fortunately, she came with a 1983 copy of The Carousel Animal by Tobin Fraley which gave me an excellent starting place.

I knew I wanted a brass colored base as I planned to age it with black wax.  I painted first in Colonel Mustard so the Moonshine Metallic Gold Digger had a good yellow base.  Then I applied two coats of Gold Digger.  No need to seal as it's already got a sealer in it. Then I applied BDW in black to age it.



Did you know carousel horses have two sides?  The romance or viewing side of the horse shows the flowing mane, extra blankets, and any bridle ornaments.  The opposite or inner side is comparatively plain.



Most certainly, she (calling her she at this point) wasn't an original nor a Coca Cola Carousel horse.  Most likely, she was probably one of many illegal Mexican reproductions on illegally copied Coca Cola bases. I already knew she wasn't a 'real' carousel horse as those are mostly wood but loving her anyway, right!



I knew I wanted a gray or Silver horse and wanted the body to be as realistic as possible so I started with a base coat of Dixie Belle's Chalk Mineral Paint in Fluff.  Then I used a mix of Gravel Road, Driftwood, and Manatee Gray  for the mane, tail, and hooves.  I started playing with the Steel Magnolia and Silver Bullet Moonshine Metallics as I knew I wanted her to shimmer. I used Coffee Bean for her eyes with a touch of Amber Gemstone Mousse.  I just couldn't leave her soulless.


Then I started blending!  It's so much harder than it looks but  practice makes it easier.  I blended the hooves and head into the body first to see how light or dark I wanted her.  It was a process taking several days until I achieved the look I wanted. I blended the mane and tail grays and decided how much Metallic I wanted.


And still more blending as I painted the blankets and bridle. I knew I wanted to use Moonshine Metallics so I picked color bases for each: Tea Rose for Rozay, Peacock under Caribbean, French Linen under Steel Magnolia, and Aubergine with Rozay mixed.



I wanted the blanket and saddle trim to be different so I used Gemstone Mousse Amber mixed with Golden Gem to create a unique tone.  Here's her inside view with the trim half done.



I applied Pearlescent Glaze over her head and body for extra shimmer and protection, leaving it on to dry instead of wiping it back. 



This was one of the most challenging and enjoyable projects I've done using Dixie Belle paints and products.  I love how she turned out and couldn't wait to add her to the boutique.  She was the first finished project to leave my new workshop, so she's pretty special in my book! They literally built the garage around her!

While she is available for purchase, I love her regal look in my boutique! Don't you?



Joyeux Noel!  Mes Amis!







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  • Merry Christmas Leslie! I saw your beautiful carousel horse. It’s amazing. Always a pleasure visiting your booth. I hope to continue some of my painting projects in 2022. Happy New Year! Can’t wait to see your next project.

    Olga on

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