I remember them both sorta surprised and for some odd reason it looked a tad bit more rough in my house compared to the dimly lit store (hah). No worries though because the four of us started to list all the things that needed to be done to it like new paint colors, missing hardware, adding new props, etc.
After a little research, we found out horsey was once a popular rocking horse (The Wonder Horse) back in the 1940’s-50’s, which is also the same brand rocking horse both Ngoc, Khang and Greg (more on this later) grew up playing with too except a plastic more detailed version with horse sounds!
It was meant to be. You already know my excitement went up a high notch.
I think from start to finish, it took roughly 8 month off and on. Khang and I were pretty much on the same page about what all needed to be done. I decided in order to do a “proper job” was to completely dissemble and sand sand sand it. Whew. Looking back, I was not fully prepared.
After this stage, I bought transparent paper and traced horsey’s outline along with its trimming details.
And then we put horsey all back together again. All new nails and screws. Closed the unnecessary holes with wood putty and sanded again and again. So. much. sanding.
Then of course me being me. I googled how the original looked like and noticed right away ours was missing his “backing” on the seat. So I called in Uncle’s Khang expertise and he made horsey a new back.
During all that time, I was giving Ngoc and Greg time to decide on colors. I think the most stressful part was picking the colors. So much that they decided to “let” me decide. They said they wanted to be “surprised” but I have other thoughts–it was easier putting all the pressure on me haha. Just kidding. But not really.
So I started to brainstorm and sketch. I went back and forth about keeping the new design close with the original along with the cherry red color or going 180 and giving horsey a total makeover.
I ultimately decided to go with the latter. I had to be careful with my sketches because Ngoc was closely following along with the whole process.
Just a few detail highlights:
- New hand-drawn trimmings for a more modern/simple look (for Greg)
- Personally mixed custom color called Ngoc’s Mint (for her love of pastels)
- Miss Mustard Seed Primer, Milk Paint, and Beeswax finish (for its non-toxicity)
- 10 mm braided rope that I knotted to look like a bridle
- Custom stencils designed by OMAC (my awesome sister Jill): Smith Wonder Horse and name labels in gold (for Ngoc) foil paint
- A whoooole lotta love from Uncle Khang and Auntie Uyen
The paint was on a whole ‘nother level. I think all in all, there’s about 4-5 coats on horsey not including the primer layers (2). Not sure if it was because of the wood/plywood being 50+ years old or milk paint choice but it cracked significantly. I was really upset about it at first but then it grew up me. It kept horsey looking vintage and charming.
Even when I was frustrated and nervous about messing up (again and again), I kept picturing this image in my head of Greg on his own rocking horse and in turn thinking of our nephew on horsey. It definitely helped me stay focus on finishing. His mom shared the image with me 3 months after finding horsey.
But I always knew it would be worth it.
Everything started coming together towards the end. I stenciled the labels last along with Khang and I signing the backseat.
And the results! I absolutely love how horsey turned out in the end. But I think I loved the entire process so much more. I’ve just always enjoyed meticulous work especially with my own hands.
I truly had a wonderful time even with the stress and worry especially since I know without a doubt Ngoc, Greg, and our nephew will take special care of horsey and give him all the love for years to come.
Khang and I were able to deliver it personally to horsey’s new owner on his baptism weekend. Of course, Auntie Uyen wrapped it all up for my baby boy.
He has a little ways to go before he can fully test out those brand-new extension springs.
But already he’s the most adorable little cowboy in the south.
Have you ever tried to refurbish anything or would like to? Oh please do share!
Thank you for reading and following along