Bettie Boop

Years ago my grandmother bought me a 4-book set of Thelwell’s Pony cartoons and I remember reading and re-reading those books until I had pretty much worn them out.  There is one toon in particular that, while I don’t remember the specific book that housed it, has stayed in my mind to this very day.  In fact, I think about it every single time I go riding. There are two sketches actually… The first one depicts a very neat, tidy and sharply-dressed young girl eying an extremely dirty, hairy, just plain messy looking pony. And in the next drawing, the pony is so clean and shiny and braided nicely for show, while the young girl is sweaty, dirty and just plain messy looking. I always feel that child’s pain whenever I’m brushing my mare for a ride (she thinks she’s a pig and is always covered in mud). It is this cartoon that’s inspired my newest idea: Bettie Boop. Bettie is going to be a very well-turned-out show pony for someone and this is her story…

Here is my recently received conga of (4) G2 Shetland Ponies.

Bettie is the last one in line.

I decided that I wanted this little girl to be, despite her pudgy self, in a very light and floaty trot, with her head on the bit and both ears on her rider. Since I’ve planned to braid her mane and tail, as well as move her ears, the entire hair-do had to go. I should’ve used The Old School Tool instead of the cutting wheel on the Dremel as I burned my stupid self plucking hot plastic off Bettie’s neck. Since I planned to tuck her head anyway, I didn’t really need that neck. Her head is so tiny however (and with no ears), that I tried to save myself a bit of a headache by cheating and leaving a portion of the original plastic neck for proportional reference.
I got a little carried away with my Dremel and almost cut her neck completely off!
I also notched her joints so that she could be moved into a more correct trot and refined her blobby joints a bit and removed her fetlock feather. Unfortunately in carving her hooves, the pressure caused her left-fore to pop off and I had to insert a pin for support. Later I’ll sculpt a new foot for that leg.
She’s going to “float.” Tho I’ve not decided how I want to achieve this… Pins? Clear Pegs?

I use aluminum foil to give me a form with some body (that will easily hold shape) when I’m filling large amounts of empty space and cement it into place with super glue (liquid) and baking soda. First I line the seams where the foil meets the plastic (it’s a lot like sealing the seams on a tent) with the glue then dust copious amounts of baking soda on top. I usually pat the soda down on top, then gently dust it away (I get really sticky with glue if I don’t proceed with caution here). The last fine layer I blow off and presto! Instant fix! I keep adding glue and soda in layers until my “armature” suits me.

Pitiful looking little critter isn’t she?


Here she is after her first application of putty.

I still have the sides of her head to grind off in order to make room for the ears. I’ll prolly have to start on those ears next thing, which is definitely something to which I do not look forward. I did manage to find an excellent tutorial on making ears (here: by Laura Skillern, but unfortunately I am having no luck with it on a SM scale. So my plan is to try the blob approach… You know..? Put an ear-shaped blob on the afflicted critter and carve away. I’m thinking about using straight pins as supports due to my enthusiastic approach to carving ears tending to pop them off. Then there are her legs and feet still needing some beautifying, and the left front leg still needing a finished hoof.

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