So first I wanted to share my DIY project that was my favorite part of the birthday decor and her birthday present: a princess hobby horse!
I found this guy for $20 on craiglist - it wasn't in too bad of shape but certainly not very girly or cute. Since her party was a carousel theme I decided I'd paint it to make it look more pretty. I made a few mistakes along the way, but the end result turned out pretty cute and she absolutely loves it. I painted it over the course of four nights after Allie went down for sleep and by the end of the week after staying up late, waking up with her multiple times (yes, she still doesn't sleep through the night) and getting up early for work I was so grumpy and exhausted. But it was worth it to see how excited she was on her birthday! :)
So here's my steps if you're interested in doing one of your own - including mistakes so you can learn from my stupidity. :)
How to makeover a Hobby Horse:
1) First I wiped it down with a wet rag. I started to sandpaper it, but after about 3 seconds I was. done. screw it. I hate sandpapering. Especially in a cold, litterbox-smelling, no-Sherlock-on-tv-for-distraction garage.
2) I spraypainted the body white for a base layer. I used whatever it was we had on hand - I think semi-gloss. It took 2 coats. (Mistake #1 - it was freezing cold when I did this and I was in a rush since I was going against precious baby sleeping time, so I didn't pull out the space heater and I got a bit sloppy so there are a few drips on the body. Also, I ended up going back and painting the handles white, I don't know why I didn't do it at the time. Derrh)
3) I started painting the body color first using crafter's acrylic paints. Even though I had the base white I wanted it originally to look like a gray dapple horse.
And here is where I struggled and wasted a whole night of painting because I couldn't really decide what style I wanted to do. I started doing a dry-brush technique to make it look more vintage and like an old carousel horse, but it just wasn't working. It just started looking dirty. I tried painting the bridle a light pink to see if that would help hone my style but it just emphasized that it was crappy looking. I think on the right horse and with more time it might have turned out okay, but it was not working for what I had in mind.
(Cue my husband's lecture: If you wouldn't wait to the last minute for these aspirational projects, you wouldn't be stressed!)
4) Getting frustrated with the body color I started painting the halter, saddle and blanket. I went with a gold saddle and lots of jewel toned colors i.e. purples and blues to give it a real princessy look. The blue part is actually supposed to be part of the saddle, but I wanted it to look less like a Western-saddle and more like an medieval saddle. (At this stage I'm struggling with the rope - I ended up going with silver at the end, this was my pink attempt which wasn't working. You can also see how the body is more gray textured and just looks messy here, thus my frustration.)
5) Decided to take another approach so I ditched the mottling and dry-brushing and went to the craft store and bought dark gray, light gray, and white. I did the entire body white, and then used the light gray around the legs blending into the darker gray near the hooves. (Hallelujah, now we're jiving! Why didn't I just do this at the beginning!)
I used the light and dark gray for the mane and then gray around the mouth and eyes. So quick and easy and clean looking! I didn't get a pic of it at this stage unfortunately because my creative buzz was so euphoric I didn't want to stop.
6) The next night - this was my favorite part :) I hot glued plastic jewels onto the bridle, saddle and blanket. (I found an assorted colors and shapes pack at my local craft store that worked perfect. I tried to pry one off to make sure they weren't going to be a choking hazard for my baby in the future - and I could barely get one off using a knife and my super strenght, so I don't foresee it being a problem.)
Then I used the same gold paint as the saddle and using a tiny paintbrush painted some swirly designs on the bridle and along the saddle blanket edge. I also painted gold on the raised design of the blue blanket, and did a second coat of gold on the horse shoes. I also emphasized the texture of the saddle blanket by doing a few gold lines on there as well. Turning out so pretty!
7) I painted the eyes black, giving it a little white highlight for "life", and eyelashes (of course!). And then finding this cool "pearl/iridescient" white paint I decided to paint the white parts of the body to give an extra pizzazz (or so I explained to my hubby while using jazz hands).
8) The night before the party, I dragged it back out into the garage and covered the body with garbage bags and then painted the green stand a matching gold. (Mistake #2 - I ran out of gold paint, so at some angles you can see hints of green. Oh well.)
9) Voila! It was dried and ready for our birthday girl to enjoy on her birthday and for the other kidlets to enjoy at her party!
It turned out pretty darn cute - I love the gold details, jewels and the shiny white coat. I think it will be something she will love to have for years to come.
For interested parties, the price breakdown ended up being less than $50.
It was roughly:
$20 for the horse from craigslist
$5 for the bag of fake jewels (dollar store might be the place to check next time!)
$8 for gold spraypaint (we already had the cans of white)
$10 on crafter's acrylic paint (various grays and a pink, I already had the colors and gold paint)
So that's my horse makeover! I hope to do another one soon but in a different style. (I also need to spray it with a sealant/shiny varnish and put a second coat of gold on the legs still)
Happy Horsin' Around!