How Rocking Horses Are Made
Antique Rocking Horses
The Body: Rocking horse bodies were traditionally made from boards of pine glued together into a hollow box construction. This gave the horse an excellent combination of strength, weight and stability. The legs were made from a dense hardwood such as beech, mortise & tenon jointed into the pine body to withstand the strain of years of boisterous rocking.
Paintwork: After carving, the horse body was covered in several layers of gesso, a mixture of glue and whiting used for centuries by artists and gilders to give a hard, smooth surface to wood prior to painting. The rocking horse body was then given several coats of paint, dappled by hand and, finally, finished with a layer of varnish. It is this coat of varnish which yellows with age and gives old rocking horses their characteristic and very appealing yellowish hue.
The Stand: The rocking horse stand was usually made of pine, except for the pillars which were made from hardwood for strength. The horse was mounted on hoof rails which were suspended from the top rail by swing irons, held by metal brackets.
Classic Rocking Horses - New Horses Click link for YouTube Video - How our New Classic Horses are made
The Body: Our rocking horse bodies are carved either lime, a classic carving timber, or from North American tulipwood, a northern hemisphere hardwood with very few knots. The beech legs are mortise & tenon jointed into the horse body in the time honoured way.
Paintwork: Although a laborious process, we still gesso our rocking horses as the Victorian makers did, to give a beautifully smooth base for the many layers of paint and varnish, all applied by hand, including the subtle dappling. The end result is an accurate representation of the delightfully mellow appearance of a treasured antique rocking horse.
The Stand: We make our rocking horse stands entirely from hardwoods, usually ash, stained and polished. The swing irons are mounted on steel bearing plates and run in steel bushes in the hoof rails to withstand years of hard riding. Elegant bow rocker stands in Ash can be made to order, either painted or stained and polished.
Horse Tack & Hair: All our leatherwork is made from solid hide, individually hand dyed, for traditional, nailed-on saddles giving subtle variations of colour as opposed to a mass produced effect. Removable saddles made by a master saddler are also available with optional sheepskin numnah. We use only real horse hair for manes and tails, ensuring a most natural and realistic appearance.
Safety and The Environment: All paints, glazes and varnishes are child-safe, water based and low in solvents. All our timbers come from renewable Northern Hemisphere sources. For this reason we do not offer rocking horses in mahogany or other scarce or exotic timbers.
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