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Footnotes: On the Production Process

Concept drawings for
the 2019 Heavy Horse

The birth of a new Julip is not a quick process. There are many steps from the desire for a new mold to a finished model, and none of them are quick.

A completely new mold starts with a general idea of a breed type or pose, which is further refined with the assistance of reference pictures and concept drawings.

In the case of the Lipizzaner, the artist, Cathy Spearing, was asked to make a horse sculpture, maybe something Spanish.

Drawing and Photo of Bertie,
the Inspiration for the Irish Draught

When Cathy asked if she could create something in a more active pose, she was told that as long as it could stand, she could go ahead.

Using reference pictures of an assortment of Spanish horses, Cathy created an Andalusian in a Piaffe pose.

Somewhere down the line of the production process the Andalusian changed breeds and became known as the Lipizzaner.

First Draft of the Irish Draught by Cathy Spearing

Sometimes clay is used to make these sculptures, but in the case of the Irish Draught and the Lipizzaner, modeller's plasticine was used as the artist wasn't equipped for clay sculpting at the time.

Creating a new Julip is not just a matter of a artist simply following their inspiration.

2019 Heavy Horse by Tania Smith

A new sculpture needs to be a particular size to fit the tack and stable designs, as well as of a style similar to existing molds in order to fit in with the rest of the line.

Sometimes the sculpting process doesn't go smoothly, like when the sculpture for the Irish Draught, which was originally created as an addition the the HOTY line, was damaged on his way to China (where the HOTYS were produced), requiring the mold to be resculpted.

The Lipizzaner and the Final Irish Draught by Cathy Spearing

For a HOTY, a sculpture would be sent to China where a steel injection mold would be made.

These incredibly heavy molds would then be kept in the Chinese factory for the rest of their working life; there would usually be an agreement in place with the factory in which the defunct mold would be destroyed.

The Remains of the Original
Donkey Foal Sculpture

The molding process for an Original is a bit different.

After a sculpture has been approved, the artist sends it off to Julip headquarters.

Sometimes, as in the case of the 2019 Heavy Horse, it will have to rest there for awhile until it is completely dry, as any bumps at this point would alter the model, and not for the better.

Even after a rest of several months, the Heavy Horse sculpture was still a bit too soft to stand up to the rigours of the mold making process, so he was taken to Donna Chaney of Animal Artistry, who created a silicon mold with which a latex master was made.

This more durable latex model, instead of the easily damaged original clay sculpture was then sent off to the mold maker in Devon for the making of the plaster master mold.

2019 Heavy Horse Latex Master

The mold making process can be a traumatic experience for the sculpture and they often do not survive intact, as one can see from the state of the Donkey Foal above.

The sculputre, or in the case of the Heavy Horse, the latex master, is used to make a master mold and several working molds. These molds are then sent back to Julip and used for pouring the latex models.

Plaster is used for the molds as this material draws the moisture from the natural latex, helping it to set.

A Collection of Plaster Molds

The plaster molds look, and feel like big white bricks and take up a lot of storage space, but at least they stack nicely.

Laura usually tries to keep an assortment of bodies moving through the molds as the process of making a Julip blank can take some time.

Nekkid Julips

When a model is ordered, if a body isn't already available, one needs to be poured.

The correct mold is selected, the interior is checked to make sure it is clear of any dust or debris. Then wires for the legs, and sometimes the neck, are placed in the mold.

A batch of latex is then mixed up and poured into the mold. This is then allowed to sit for a bit in order to form a skin on the inside of the mold and then the excess is poured off, leaving a cavity in the body of the model.

A Cob Mare Ready to Emerge

If all the latex was left in the mold, the model would be too heavy to support itself.

The mold is then put aside to dry for a period of time, the duration of which fluctuates somewhat accoding to weather conditions.

After the model has been removed from the mold, the sprue is cut off the bum and the mold flashing - the seams created where the two sides of the mold join - is buffed off. The model is then stuffed with a soft fiber fill.

After the model is filled, the hole left by the sprue is patched with latex, the patch is buffed smooth, and a tail hole is drilled.

Next comes any alterations the model might require such as a repositioned head or feathering on the legs.

Design for A Special Order
"Black Beauty"

Some people just ask for a particular colour and mold combination, or even for more or less random model. Others may have a more specific vision and submit reference pictures, or colour mock-ups with their order.

Using reference pictures or just imagination, the model will receive the first of several layers of colour.

A special type of paint has to be used which remains flexible after drying, or else the paint would crack whenever one moved the model's legs.

"Buckskin Dun Fjord" in Progress

When Julip Originals split from Julip Horses Ltd. in 2013, they inherited the existing stock of latex paints.

These paints were difficult to work with and of a limited supply as the company which produced them had ceased to do so a few years before.

By the end of 2016, a replacement was found, but Laura required time to adapt to the new paint and all special orders ceased until the end of April 2017.

While a special order is in production, the customer will often receive one or more pictures at certain points in the process to make sure reality is lining up with their vision. In the picture above, Laura paused for a colour check to make sure the shade was in the ballpark of the customer's expectations.

Painting can sometimes take several days as the paint needs to dry thoroughly before the model is handled again, and several layers of colour are often used.

Hair Sample for "Black Dun Fjord"

Laura is very conscientious about getting a model just right.

For example, there were several messages and pictures sent before the right shade of white hair was selected for this black dun Fjord. In the end, cream was agreed upon as being the most suitable.

Spares are by nature less stressful for an artist as they only have to match the model to an idea of their own, and if it doesn't come out exactly as planned, no one is the wiser.

Special Order "Ginger"
after detailing, before hairing

Some days all goes well and models are painted very quickly, while on other days the airbrush keeps clogging or the colour just won't come out right.

Laura has said that the grey paint she uses is especially temperamental.

If things just go completely wrong, cleaning the unacceptable paint off a model is a difficult, time consuming, and messy process.

The most difficult part of the process comes after the model has been painted to everyone's satisfaction and the paint has completely dried.

With inheld breath and a very steady hand, Laura must cut the slit in the neck for the mane, and another in the muzzle for the mouth. One slip now and she will have to start the model completely over again.

Once the dreaded cuts have been made, Laura adds the hand-painted details such as the nostrils, hoof colour, leg markings, etc. before passing the model along to Richard who paints the eyes for all the Julip models.

Special Order
"Buckskin Dun Fjord"

After the drama of painting and the stress of the neck slitting, the hairing process must come as a welcome relief.

Mohair can be purchased ready-dyed, and though the range of colours is somewhat limited, the right colour for a model can generally be found.

Some models receive a solid colour mane and tail, while others may require a mix of colours. Pintos and appaloosas in particular, often have hair which is patchy or streaked.

Hairing a Julip is much like hairing any other model. Laura makes hair swatches which are inserted into the model after the neck slit and tail hole have been primed with glue.

After a little light grooming, the model is ready to go off to their new home.