As a school kid I read a lot of books. Horse books were my favourite as I was quite Horse mad! Two books stick in my memory as being very influential. They are “Wish for a Pony” and “The Midnight Horse” both written by Monica Edwards. “Wish for a Pony” inspired me to draw horses and “The Midnight Horse” inspired me to create horses using fabric and other materials. I designed and made my first ‘cloth’ horse when I was 12 years old.
The best way to explain how I was influenced is to show you the words from The Midnight Horse that I found so inspirational! If you find my selections interesting maybe you would like to read the entire book….
To set the scene, “Wish for a Pony” tells the story of how Tamzin Grey and her best friend Rissa Birnie both wished they had a Pony to call their own. Tamzin learns of a girl called Lesley Frampton who had been injured attempting to jump her horse Cascade over a hedge that had low hanging tree branches above it. Lesley had fallen and hurt her spin very badly and her father wanted Cascade destroyed but Lesley persuaded him instead to give Cascade to Tamzin thus fulfilling her “Wish”.
In “The Midnight Horse” a new adventure begins for friends Tamzin and Rissa. They have planned to camp out in tents close to the seaside in Farmer Merrow’s Orchard. Lesley now fully recovered from her injuries attends the camp also along with 20 of the 42 cloth horses she made during her almost year long recuperation.
The words “cloth horses” caught my attention immediately!
I could almost see them in my mind’s eye! The tiny saddles and bridles! Plus the “roundabout horses” sounded lovely. I very much admire the horses on carnival rides. To me they are all fascinating whether they are called Roundabout, Merry-go-round or Carousel horses they are all horses! Maybe I could learn how to carve a Carousel horse or even a wooden Rocking Horse one day!
All the drawings in this book are wonderful but this would have to be my favourite of all!
Lesley took 20 of her cloth horses to camp. I wish I could have seen more of them!
The idea of ‘camping’ and lying on the ground doesn’t thrill me. Even if they had dug hollows in the ground to rest their hips in and make things more comfortable I would still have preferred a real bed or at least a mattress of some sort! Any reference to the cloth horses captured my attention & I couldn’t wait to hear ‘how’ they were made!
Horses to take to bed on a stormy night sounds good to me!
Now finally the part I have been waiting for…..
Ahh so that is how you make a cloth horse!! My immediate reaction was “Mum can I make a ‘cloth’ horse? I described what I had in mind mentioning horses that could stand up and that looked like they were walking and had realistic saddles and bridles. My mum seemed to think I was being quite ambitious. Mum had an old Treadle Sewing machine that she used to make clothes and toys for us when we were kids and I had learned how to sew using it by turning the handle round and round as my legs were not quite long enough or strong enough to work the treadle peddle. Mum thought that hand sewing would be more appropriate for what I had in mind. Drawing a pattern on paper was discussed and considered a better idea than drawing on the ‘cloth’ or ‘fabric’ as it is usually called in Australia. (FYI I had grown up knowing both terms as Mum had been born in England). Plus I needed to know all about the use of an “under-body” or ‘gusset’ as Mum called it so that I did not make the same mistake as Tamzin had! It seems that leaving the “under-body” off can cause all sorts of problems as I found out a bit later on….
Oh no! Tamzin’s horse split when she tried to stuff him, that doesn’t sound good. I really needed to learn how to avoid that happening! But what did she want the money for?
Ooooh plasticine! We had plasticine but only the small packets of rainbow colours plus a whole lot of murky mixed balls as a result of not separating the colours out after playing with it! Making horses out of plasticine sounded like a good idea to me too though I wondered if the weather in Australia may cause some problems if I wanted the horses to stand up.
Soooo plasticine is a problem when it gets too warm! “I knew that” I thought to myself and I also know the shape of a horse with my eyes closed. I had spent hours looking at horses and photos of horses and books about ‘How to draw Horses’ maybe this ‘modelling clay’ they mentioned would be better! Mum said there are types of air drying clay but we weren’t able to find any locally. I already had some experience with ceramics or ‘pottery’ as we called it so that seemed a better option.
I can totally identify with the ‘creative urge’ that is mentioned next. It’s the sort of focus that ‘does’ cause you to forget all about other tasks you should be doing! I know it so well!
Hmmm a ‘wire armature’! “Mum what’s a ‘wire armature’?” Always so many questions when I was a kid! I almost drove my Mum to distraction with questions. Thankfully my Mum was a very artsy/craftsy person and a member not only of the Art Society but also the Ceramic Society. Plus she was friends with a lady from the Lapidary Society. I was blessed with so many wonderful resources via my Mum’s interests and skills.
Tamzin had a resourceful mother too!
I do hope you will read the entire book. It is a wonderful story even if you only find the same bits as I do the ‘most’ interesting!