Home Page

Hours of Operation

Site Map


Carousel Horse Carving

Gift Shop

Spokane Facts

Spokane Myths

Spokane Statistics

Spokane Carousels

Money or Romance?

Horse Colors

Fun Facts

By Any Other Name

Educational Materials


Annual Touchup

A Horse is a Horse

All That Gold

Carving Replacements


Give Up the Ghost!

It Was a Wonder Horse

Music to Paint By

Paint the Ponies

Paint, Paint, Paint

Painting a Flaghorse

Painting With Gold

Priming Your Figure

Red Cloud

Restoration Safety

The Painting of Rooster


Northwest Carousels

New Carousels

Other Carousel Links


Carousel Figures

Carousel Pictures


Band Organ

100-year Celebration


Meet Billy Bob!

A Girl Scout Tour

Take Apart Horse


Nat Park Tickets

The Lighter Side

Ronald McDonald House

The Circus Wagon


View our Guest Book

Sign our Guest Book


Contact Us

Send Mail

Send Pictures

Flag Horse Part 1   |   Flag Horse Part 2   |   Flag Horse Part 3   |  Flag Horse Part 4

The Painting of a Flag Horse

Part Four of a Four Part Series by Bette Largent

Patriot, from a label printed and distributed along the route of the Patriots in History parade, September 17, 2003
Patriot has arrived in time for the 4th in his new home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His unveiling at the Market Street Alley Preview Party on June 21, 2002 billed him as the "representative of the spirit of the revitalized downtown Lancaster". Boy, what a big important job for a few pieces of wood, glue, and paint. It's amazing how carousels originally designed for fun at the end of the trolley line are now re-energizing the core of downtowns in cities across America.

It was a rough ride for Patriot on the way to his new home. He arrived broken, and had to be repaired before he could assume his official position . . . in the mayor's office!

A pinto Illions
Courtesy of Lisa Pisano,
Staten Island
I have a few flag horses to post. The pinto Illions was sent to me by Lisa Pisano of Staten Island. She included a note of concern for this favorite carousel as it was closed on her last summer visit. The figure, from the Hempstead Park Illions Carousel, is destined for restoration along with the entire rare portable Illions ride.

Gary Grasso, the architect for the project, joined us for the NCA Technical Conference in Spokane and Republic, Washington in May and is researching the best building and strategy for this project. The staff of the New England Carousel Museum is helping him with his research so if you have photos or information on Illion's portable machines, which were quite rare, contact the museum at caramuse@aol.com.

Can you identify this horse?
The second photo of a military flag horse was given to me as a reference photo a few years back. I did not write on it the location. I love this figure, the bright colors and beautiful carvings. A Muller perhaps? Maybe a reader can recognize it and let me know. This points out why it is important that we mark all those pictures of carousels we enthusiasts take around the country. Each year a dozen or so volunteers travel to the NCA Archives in Leavenworth, Kansas and spend the weekend trying to identify boxes of such treasures. Oh, if they had only been marked.

From the mail box:
As promised, I'm going to include some paint questions that readers have sent.

Sagging paint: Sagging is caused when the paint is too thick or is being applied onto a previous layer that is to slick or glossy. Gravity is making it slide off the surface. You need to dull down the base layer of paint, or give it "tooth". This can be accomplished by mixing a flat paint - white, black, primer, or oil tube pigments in the base layers. If your final color is glossy and another coat is needed, you can also add "tooth" by lightly sanding with a very fine sand paper. 400 grit works best. To test how it will look after this sanding, just apply a wet finger. The color will pop right up at you again.

Covering eyes and jewels: The easiest and fastest method is to apply masking tape flat, shape around the jewel with finger and then cut away the outline of the jewel using an Exacto knife. Use real masking tape, not painter's tape. If a sticky residue is there after removal of the tape, just use a clean cloth damped with clean paint thinner to remove it. Be sure the paint is completely dry around the area. Also, remove this tape before the final clear coating as there are always spots to be cleaned off and or touched up. Again, the Exacto knife is used to scrape any paint off the glass before the clear coating.

Old worn and scratched jewels often can't be replaced. They just aren't being made. You can clean off the old paint, and then clear coat them with the figure. They are protected and the sheen will be returned. This is often easier and more cost effective than trying to remove them and find someone who will re-polish them for you.

Final Finish: This clear coating is optional for a new carving or restoration for home use. I love the varied level of gloss finishes that happen naturally as the paint is mixed and applied but there is nothing like the depth of color and protection of a final clear coat. It doesn't have to be high gloss. Today's clear coats are available in satin or you can compromise and mix satin with high gloss. This gives you just the right light reflection and protection for the figure.

Cleaning: Yes, we all love to dust! Ha! For an operating carousel figure, the best way to clean them on a regular basis is to wipe them down with a damp cloth. And a scheduled good scrubbing is also in order. For this use ordinary car shampoo without wax. These are formulated to not scratch or abrade and will leave you with a bright, shiny figure. Use water sparingly and be sure to wipe down and dry after cleaning. Dust and grime will get into the carved lines, so begin with a soft brush to flush out these areas. The new "magnetic" dust cloths work great on day to day dusting. (or is that week to week).
OLD PAINT is hard paint. When you first paint your figure, treat it gently in dusting and cleaning!

Placement: Nothing does well when it sits in the sun, including carved and painted carousel figures. No matter how lovely it looks, don't place that carousel figure in a window that gets direct sunlight or near a heat source. Both the wood and the paint have enough to deal with in adjusting to normal seasonal changes. They won't be able to tolerate the instant changes due to heat registers and hot sun light.

Tails: Good tails are hard to find. For those of us who deal with both operating carousels and home projects, it is wise to invest in the best quality available. I could tell a hilarious story here of a community project that made the mistake of taking on a large batch of donated tails from a rendering plant. These were "fresh" tails. I do not advise this, ever, unless you have a tanner in the group. Tanned leather tails are the best as they are soft, pliable, and washable. Rawhide tails work well for a home project and salted-down tails are a waste as they become hard and brittle. They will break at the slightest touch.

The Uncle Sam Chariot
The Museum of Carousel Art and History
Sandusky, Ohio
My last photo included is the Uncle Sam Chariot on the carousel at the Museum of Carousel Art and History, previously known as the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio. I hope all of you will keep our nation's carousels and museums open and independent this year. Not only by taking a ride but by volunteering and or buying a membership in their support groups. With higher wage costs, insurance, and hard economic times, all carousels are put at risk.

I spent yesterday afternoon volunteering and dusting the Gift Shop associated with our city owned Spokane Looff Carrousel. I put up summer displays and folded t-shirts. Sometimes a helping hand at putting on mailing labels or running a vacuum cleaner can make a difference to the bottom line. Just like "Patriot" in Lancaster, you could represent a "revitalization of the carousels in the country".

Flag Horse Part 1   |   Flag Horse Part 2   |   Flag Horse Part 3   |  Flag Horse Part 4

Click to order

Bette Largent is a professional carousel horse restoration artist from Washington State, and the author of Paint The Ponies, a guide for those who are interested in learning the art of painting carousel figures.

Click Here for information on ordering her book.

All materials on spokanecarrousel.org are
(c) 2004-2022 Gary Nance
unless otherwise noted.
All Rights Reserved.