Painted horse shoes: How to make a great handmade decoration or gift

The perfect handmade gift

Painted horse shoes have been a form of decoration for many years. The painted shoes can be hanged outside a home as a form of good luck and also used as wedding horse shoes. Personalised horse shoes also make excellent presents for birthdays, Christmases, weddings, anniversaries and other special occasions.

Horseshoe art is also very popular and it is fun to do. Some people even like to have a horse shoes on the front grill of their truck. Everybody has seen people with horse shoes hanging on their home, or knows somebody that has one on their front porch.

Pianing horse shoes is great fun. Everybody can do it, no matter what their art abilities are. It is simple and cheap, too. All you need is the horse shoes themselves and a few basic tools. Here's a brief guide on how to make painted horse shoes.

An arts and crafts worker begins work on horse shoes before they're turned into painted decorations
An arts and crafts worker begins work on horse shoes before they're turned into painted decorations
Ready to paint: A batch of used horse shoes after they've been pulled off the horse
Ready to paint: A batch of used horse shoes after they've been pulled off the horse

Find a supplier

Farriers and blacksmiths have lots of old horse shoes and are usually happy to give a few away - sometimes they might give you a whole bundle of shoes to work with.

If you have a horse already, or know somebody who has, simply ask the farrier politely if you could have a few shoes for you to paint. If you don't know any farriers, then visit the local riding school and ask to be put in touch with their farrier. Aletrantively, look up a farrier on Google.

Remove nails

Used horse shoes often still have the nails attached to them that were used to attach the shoe to the horse's foot. The nails go through wide holes that were already made in the shoe, so sometimes the nails can be wiggled around a bit to make them fall out. If the nail still wont come out, place the shoe on the grass and use a hammer to knock them back through.

Wash the shoes

Prepare a bucket full of hot soapy water. Place the shoe inside the water and scrub with the light brush. More dirt will come off now and the shoes will begin to look much cleaner. However, there may still be muck trapped inside the grooves.

Cleaning: Brush the shoe to remove loose pieces of dirt
Cleaning: Brush the shoe to remove loose pieces of dirt

Brush the shoe

Use a brush to remove any large chunks of loose dirt from the shoe. Depending on the time of year and which country you are in, there will be different amounts of mud and dirt stuck onto the shoe. At this point, a lighter brush will be ok just to remove loose dirt.

Hard work: Sometimes the grit and dirt can be difficult to dislodge
Hard work: Sometimes the grit and dirt can be difficult to dislodge
Tools: Hammers and screwdrivers are useful for removing trapped stones
Tools: Hammers and screwdrivers are useful for removing trapped stones

Bring in the heavy tools

Horses weigh a lot. Each time they put their feet down there is a lot of pressure on the ground.

This causes small stones and dirt to become firmly trapped inside the horse's shoe which cannot be simply picked out.

These pebbles and mud often take more than a light scrub and some hot water to remove them.

Often they will require a very firm wire brush or even a hammer and chisel to be prized out of their hiding place.

Spend a good while ensuring that all the debris is removed from inside the grooves of shoe then rinse them thoroughly.

Doing this will ensure that there is a smooth surface inside the horseshoe for the paint to stick to in the next steps.

Choose the paint

Firstly choose which type of paint you would like for the shoe. If the shoe is to be used inside, emulsion - the type of paint used for walls in homes - or possibly acrylics will be fine. If the shoe is to be hanged outside, a heavy duty paint that prevents rust would be better. Spray paints are also good.

Apply the paint

Ensure the shoe is dry then lay it onto a flat surface outside that is covered in old newspapers. For the first base coat, use a strong thick artist's painting brush. Apply the paint evenly across the shoe ensuring that all the grooves and crevices are filled. Allow a few hours the first side of the shoe to dry, then turn it over and paint the other side. When both sides are dried, give a second base coat if there are uneven patches.

If the shoe is being spray painted, sometimes it can be easier if they are hung from a piece of string so that all parts of the shoe can be covered in one go. Ensure that this is done outside or in a workshop or studio, as the paint spreads far and wide. Be careful if it's a windy day - you might want to wear goggles.

A high quality tub of black metal paint will protect the shoes through the years
A high quality tub of black metal paint will protect the shoes through the years
Attractive: Spray the shoes gold for a highly decorative look
Attractive: Spray the shoes gold for a highly decorative look

Paint the decorative touches

Use a finer artist's brush to paint on final decorations with acrylic paints. These could be flowers, names, house numbers, pictures, patterns - anything the imagination can come up with.

Varnish

Varnish the painted horse shoe as a final touch to ensure that it is protected and will keep its look for many more years. This is especially important if the painted horse shoe is to be used outside, but even inside acrylic paint used for decoration might start to flake off after a while. What's more, varnish helps to give a really great shiny finish.

Finished - now show off your art work

The finished article looks great and you can stand back and admire if for a while. Show it to friends and family. They may ask you to do one for them. The painted horse shoes also make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and Christmas presents.


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Comments 4 comments

marellen 5 years ago

Very clever idea.....


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 5 years ago from England Author

Thank you, marellen. The painted horse shoes look good on a mantle piece above the fire, too.


bonnie 3 years ago

Better way to clean used horseshoes if really rusty and grubby. use a wire wheel.


Deb 11 months ago

Soak rusty shoes in straight vinegar, within 24 hours, rust falls off!

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