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Topic: I don't know whether I should ride or swat it!  (Read 4896 times)
Tags for this thread: fly , alice_in_wonderland , disney , insect , animal , rocking_horse  Add new tag
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C'mon, pegasister, quit foaling around!

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« on: January 11, 2016 08:23:31 AM »


Well, it only took me four months (when it comes to producing artwork, I'm awfully lazy these days), but I finally got ambitious enough to make a new figurine!

The Rocking-Horse-Fly is one of the many strange creatures that Alice encounters during her adventures in Wonderland. The buzzing filly's design amounts to a simple, but highly-effective, pun on the names and physiology of a child's rocking-horse toy and a horsefly insect. The diminutive beast first appeared in the pages of Lewis Carroll's (the well-known pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) 1871 Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, but my figure is based on the cartoon version seen in Disney's 1951 Alice in Wonderland animated film, which, while not strictly accurate to the printed source material, is still my favorite rendition of the story and characters. For example, in the case of the Rocking-Horse-Fly, it easily flits through the air on its wings in said movie, but, in the book, its method of getting about is described as swinging from branch-to-branch, which would seem to imply that the creature wasn't capable of achieving flight at all (although, when it comes to Wonderland, it's probably best not to make assumptions about that or anything else). Interestingly, Carroll's tome also informs us that the animal's diet consists of nothing but sawdust and sap and that the Rocking-Horse-Fly itself is made entirely out of wood (as my figure is mostly paper and cardboard, which both come from trees, at least I'm in the ballpark as far as that little tidbit of the fiction is concerned).

Below is a screenshot, from said movie, of Alice being startled by the bizarre insect/horse hybrid:

And this is the original black and white illustration (by John Tenniel) of the Rocking-Horse-Fly from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. I find it interesting that the artist chose to incorporate dice shapes, and their pip marks, into the horse's body. I believe real horses can be spotted, but, otherwise, I'm not sure what the connection could be between dice, horses, and flies. Gambling maybe?

The initial ink sketches/measurements I drew up prior to beginning work on my figure:

I started off by fabricating the runners, which consist of 4-ply cardboard, from a box of cereal (Peanut Butter Cinnamon Toast Crunch--yum!) and newsprint glued together into 3-Dimensional sandwiches. Next, I began work on the horse's body and head/neck (which looked an awful lot like a seahorse to me at this point). I cut the equine shape out of cardboard and then roughed out the anatomy by applying several pieces of my "Kleenex Putty" (white glue mixed with tissue paper) to both sides of that flat form.

Next, I wrapped the body in strips of newsprint and further developed the head (adding ears, nostrils, cheeks, a mouth, and eyes). With that part of the anatomy pretty well done for the moment, I turned my attention to the limbs. All four legs started out as hollow, 2.5 cm long, newsprint tubes (formed around the shaft of a fine sewing needle) which I then modified with the addition of more paper (both newsprint and tissue) to create the hooves and bone/muscle structure. The limbs also have bendable wire running through their entire lengths, both for internal structural support (long, narrow shapes like those tend to break if you so much as look at them funny) and to allow me to later tweak their positioning after they had been joined to the body (which was important when it came to mounting the hooves on the runners).

Here's what the horse and runners looked like fully assembled and after being smoothed/hardened with my woodburner (the darker brown areas are scorch marks). Ignoring the hooves, the animal kind of looks more like a classical depiction of an Egyptian jackal to me at this stage of the process (Anubis, and the other gods and goddesses, had to get around on rocking chair skis, what with Egypt being buried under several feet of snow year round and all). This was also the cutoff point where I stopped working on the model for several days (remember: lazy).

When I finally got back to this project, six days later, I fabricated the saddle, tail, and wings, and began the final painting and assembly process. I sketched out the wing shape and veins on a sheet of lined paper (pictured below) and then laid a piece of transparent plastic (from a toy package) over that and traced/embossed the lines onto the plastic with a pen and then cut them out.

Unfortunately, the runners snapped off of the hooves while I was painting the horse, which, while slightly annoying, did make things easier, as I didn't have to worry about accidentally getting the yellow paint onto the red, or vice versa, and the runners were easy enough to glue back onto the hooves afterwards, so, no harm no foul.

The mane is embroidery floss that I carefully glued into place, in small bunches, one at a time. I contemplated doing the tail the same way, but I reasoned that it would probably be difficult to get the floss strands to lay together in the shape that I wanted without also applying some kind of adhesive or styling product to them, so, I went with a solid sculpt instead. The thread is a lot brighter red than the paint is, but I can live with the difference, and brushing her soft locks with my fingertip is very relaxing, so, it was totally worth it.

I was sorely tempted to leave the big, wild hair in its original state, instead of trimming it down, because I liked the way that looked, but I ultimately went for accuracy. Her mane also reminds me of Uncanny X-men Storm's 1980s mohawk, which is my favorite look for that particular comic book character.

Here are some more images of the finished product. I don't own an actual Alice doll, so I made do with my MGA BFC Ink Nicolette instead.

Newsprint, cardboard from a box of cereal, tissue paper, white paper, white glue, wire twist ties,
transparent plastic sheeting from a toy package, embroidery floss, ink, and acrylic paint.

4.2 cm (1.7") wide x 5.7 cm (2.2") long x 7.5 cm (3.0") high.
Excluding the wings and mane, the figure is 4.7 cm (1.9") tall and 2.0 cm (0.8") wide.

Three days; January 2nd, 8th, and 9th (2016).
This was my first art project of the New Year!

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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2016 08:30:58 AM »

You crack me up. I love the story that goes with your fantastically detailed and thoughtful creations. Nothing is safe or sacred around you. I love it.

A rocking horse fly would be so much easier to swat too.

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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2016 08:39:53 AM »

Holy wow! What a great project and fun presentation!

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Take me to the kittens!!! >^.^<

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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2016 08:56:03 AM »

This rocks! Literally! Cheesy

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C'mon, pegasister, quit foaling around!

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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2016 09:01:22 AM »

Thanks!  Shoot, I can't believe I didn't think of using that "this rocks" pun myself--it was so obvious!  And, yes, the horse actually does rock if you give her a push with your finger.
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2016 09:55:24 AM »

I was cheating and sneaked over here in-between teaching my third graders only to find this happy little gal with her amusing story. I shared the post with my girls and we are returning to our Lit lessons with a better attitude. Thanks for making our Monday rock, and maybe fly a little, too.

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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2016 12:13:10 PM »

Although everything about this physical creation is amaaaaazing, the fact that I laughed so hard in delight upon reading all the fun stuff is my favorite part by far of this posting.
One question... does Kleenex putty get sticky and hard to work with?  It is hard for me to imagine it as an easy thing to handle.
I really love how you do everything from scratch. you are wonderful, Patraw!!

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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2016 12:30:50 PM »

It's so perfect!   Shocked

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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2016 11:47:33 PM »

I'm always excited to see one of your posts! You make difficult things look so easy to create and construct and fun to read!  Cheesy

I'm not sure if this little rocking-horse-fly or the bird-glasses=thingy is my favourite! I guess they're both so cute and fabulous!

This post rocks, your horse-fly rocks and you rock!  Cheesy
Thanks so much for all the details you post, I love reading and seeing it!
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2016 01:42:56 AM »

this is INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Will swap for ceramic bisque steer skulls!
Always in need of things like these!!!
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