So the Swaps I was working on a few weeks ago was only the first of many old Love molds I’m working on for Breyerfest and the Artisans’ Gallery. I’m a firm believer that the older the copy, the better as they generally have crisper details than the later releases. The downside of this is the seams on these models are a prepper’s worst nightmare.

The legs suffered the worst.

I’ve spent a considerable amount time fixing the legs on my Terrang-turned-Marwari. This gal's legs were a mess.

I frak you not, this model’s name is Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.
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I should also fess up that I have a huge beef with the way most sculptors represent hooves. Here is a comparison showing the odd-ish swelling above the hoof on the model:

I--don’t--get--it.

To get my hooves the shape I want, my first decision is do I want to make the hoofs larger, the coronary band smaller, or split the difference? Love molds have petite hooves. Not out of scale, but in general people are more forgiving of larger hooves on smaller scales. Judges and collectors forgive it readily.

When this mold was prepped at the factory, someone got a little dremel happy on the front of her legs. The back of the legs are okay, so I prepped them with a little sandpaper and elbow grease.

I start with a small ball of clay. I pull of an even smaller portion and stick it the front of the legs.

Using my thumb (tools are overrated. Except this one.) I roll the clay toward the back of the hoof. I use pushing and pulling motions to achieve a smooth taper. The thickest portion is the front of the hoof. I pinch the clay around the bottom edge of the hoof to create a sharp edge and the appropriate angle:

I don’t worry about getting the shape perfect. I’m just blocking in the general shape at this point. I build up the front of the hoof more than on the sides. This has resulted in an odd mismatch between the hoof and front of the leg, which also suffered at the hands of our enthusiastic prepper. I roll a small snake of Apoxie and stick it to the front of the leg.

Next, I blend the snake into the leg. I try to avoid covering up the side of the leg. I did most of the work up to this point with little or no water (or rubbing alcohol…or smoothing agent of your choice.)

Now I pull out the water and work on blending and refining the shape. I pay particular attention to the shape of the hoof by regularly flipping my model over:

If I’m feeling brave (or full of myself), I finish all four legs in a sitting. Occasionally I mess up one of the other still soft hooves I’ve already completed in a fit of enthusiasm. It’s a risk. Either way, I set the model aside to dry at some point.

Next, I turn to my faithful dremel. I use a grinding bit with a fine grain paper…thingy. That thing that goes over the rubber part. My goal is to straighten the surface of the hoof. I have to flatten the outside of the hoof vertically while still paying attention to the shape of the hoof as seen from the bottom.

I finish up with a light sanding sponge. I use the stiffest sponge I can find on hand to avoid rounding out my new crisp edges.