Paint Your Own Horse
I'm leaving my brother's house the morning of December 26, just 24 hours after the Christmas bash. The kid-size craft table emerged from its holiday tablecloth less than an hour earlier, and there sit my pajama-clad nieces: a kindergartner and a 4th grader. The older girl has out her box of 'Paint Your own Breyer' horses. Yes! She had shown what seemed a cursory interest in it the day before, but then those kids were rolling in Christmas loot.
I see that she did fancy the kit. It is her day-after-Christmas project.
I wish there was time to go through the materials with her. At ten, she's quite competent at making sense of text and diagrams. But does she know to look in the little pamphlet for detailed how-tos? I doubt it. (When she was tearing into her American Girl craft kit, she asked me what a particular item was for, and I told her the instruction book would tell her. "I didn't know that was a book!" she responded, picking up the article in question.)
I can't share the finished product - yet - but I will share how I came to select it. I fell in love with those paintable Breyer horses when I first saw them. Breyer has been such a popular line since my childhood.
Chelsea is an artsy craftsy kid -- and a perfectionist. She can make things look like the pictures. Does she have a special obsession with horses? No, for her, horses don't have quite the allure of dogs (which she is allergic to but amasses in plush form). But she likes animals in general. Melissa & Doug makes dog figurines that can be painted -- but I haven't seen any paintable dogs that have the realism, or require the same type of skill, that this horsie duo does.
This kit includes subtle, realistic colors and takes a bit of technique. A good choice for Chelsea, yes. For her (barely) six sister? No! I wouldn't go younger than the manufacturer's recommended age on this. (If I thought Callee would want her own animal to paint, I would more likely go with the Melissa & Doug kit that looks like it is designed for good old slather-it-on painting.)
The question was which Breyer kit for my niece? There are also Paint-by-Number Breyer horses which I would have loved as a child (being a kid who loved meticulous, repetitive craft). I decided Chelsea would like to design her own horse, though.
And so she did...
I don't get to see those masterpieces... not yet. "I'll send you a picture of them," Chelsea says. Her younger sister, who has a headband-decorating kit complete with bows and fake flowers, tells me she'll send me... no, not a picture of a headband, but a headband. I'll be styling.
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She's not looking at that booklet, is she? (Sigh.)
Watching the video below makes me wish I had had another day to stay. While the kit is not too difficult for a ten-year-old, there is some technique involved. A child needs to know, for example, to moisten the brush and apply paint lightly.
I imagine that folks who report they ran out of paint before finishing are using a different painting technique than the one intended.
There are a couple more Breyer model kits that are similar in style to the one I purchased. Here are other styles.
The 'Customizing Thoroughbred': This is one I looked at, but decided against. It requires more skill than just painting. After reading the reviews, I decided attaching the mane might be too difficult for my niece (and me). The finished product is beautiful, though. Look at that silky mane!
Here's a paint-by-number model horse kit that I fancy. Would the finished product be more or less realistic than the free-styling 'Dream Horse' kit? I guess that depends on the painter!
And for comparison purposes, here are the Melissa & Doug paintable horses.