ROCKING HORSE • Irina Zubareva

Irina Zubareva, who was born in Russia, but currently lives in Belgium, creates beautiful pieces, in which she incorporates pearls and gemstones and – just like the original Art Nouveau style jewellery – often depicts plants and animals. Irina’s artwork represents a style she admires very much.

Get inspired by Irina’s artwork and create a detailed Rocking horse brooch from polymer clay on your own.


different tools for wire wrapping technique – clippers, pliers, cutters, etc.

liquid clay

brooch pin - 28 mm in gold colour

metal wire ø 0,3mm

metal wire ø 0.6mm, not too soft - for inlaying to make all construction secure

gemstones, pearls or crystals

Adirondack alcohol inks

isopropyl alcohol 70%

dry soft pastels

matt varnish


Start with drawing your future project in a 1:1 scale (in the exact size you need) and cut out the stencil. Make sure that a brooch pin you have chosen is a bit smaller than the body of the horse with its length and stones as well.


Condition black clay and roll it into a 1 mm thin sheet, big enough to fit the stencil. Cut out with a knife. Work on a glass or ceramic tile.


Put the brooch pin on the top and make two holes by using a needle. You will need these holes later, and it's rather easier to make them now than to drill after the clay is baked.


Take silver pins (or any stable wire ø 0.6 mm), cut their heads and place them on the clay for security and sturdiness of the whole construction.


When you finish inlaying the wire, press it down into the bottom sheet and add some small bits of clay on the top to secure it in a place. Now put the paper stencil on the top one more time and correct the shape. Bake in the oven for 10 min according to the manufacturer's instructions.


On the left upper corner on the picture you can see what your horse should look like after securing wire into the clay. Now turn your horse on another side. Place the brooch pin where those two holes are.


Get another wire, 0.3 mm. Use two pieces of this wire, each piece about 8-10cm long. Put them through those holes. It's needed for security.


Now make a knot from ends of the wires and then press them as flat as possible on both sides with pliers.


Start to sculpt the body of the horse. As you already have a pin attached on the other side, use a kitchen sponge with some grooves cut into it for fixing the piece stable enough for further working.


Put a pearl on the bottom of the piece by using round head pliers and then take some golden color 0.3 mm thick wire and create a small loop.


By using pliers close a loop with a pearl so it can hang freely. By using a needle, make a hole on the horse’ rocker, thread and secure the wire with the pearl by pliers. Cut the excessive wire off.


You can add some brass filigree element, but for repeating a needed curve you have to cut it on one side and bend it a little.


It's time for sculpting. It's better to add clay in small pieces, one after another, spreading all clay along the horse’s silhouette. I personally did it in a few stages. The first one is a general form, then baking. After I added some more details, like higher relief to the legs and a bone on the back leg.


At the end I sculpted a head, added a mouth, nostril, then an eye. Baking every step seals what you did so far, so it will not be damaged and at the same time when you continue working on another area it will not get dirty. After every baking you may want to use sandpaper or Dremel.


Now make a harness, because it is positioned under a mane. I used Cernit in a dark red colour. Each detail is sculpted one by one and baked after every element is applied to avoid damaging while all elements of the harness are connected. On places of connections and a bit higher you can place some little faceted garnets.


By using a scalpel make a cone-shaped-holes of a diameter of inserted stones. Use a liquid clay to secure the stones and bake it. You may use stones on the edges of the rocker, or take pearls and fix them the same way.


Outline the harness with gold.


Make very thin snakes, around 0.3 mm - 0.5 mm thin, and apply to the harness elements and around the stones. Liquid clay is always needed for gluing raw clay to a baked one.


After you have completed outlining elements on the head and the chest, create a dark red base for a saddle and bake it.


I have decided to add one element under the tail of the horse, because it looked too empty. You may see that while baking one step after another, I was adding new decoration on the rocker. So for now I think it's finally completed.


It's time for sculpting a mane, an ear and a tail. Create snakes of different diameter and different length, and place them on the tail one by one.


Let's make the back side of the piece! First you have to close all holes to prevent wire and the pin shaking. Fill all the gaps with black clay to secure the wires, especially where it holds the pin and bake again.


Prepare a sheet of black clay to cover the back of the piece. Just be careful not to close the area where a needle from the pin is moving - it has to be touching only the metal. Use sandpaper if needed. I usually paint back with a black acrylic, so it looks more clean at the end.


Almost there! Use pastel or acrylic paints and golden alcohol inks. Crush the pastel, add a few drops of alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol 70%) and with a brush colour here and there to add more contrast in reliefs of the body and accessory of the horse. Use cotton sticks for spreading tints or for taking excessive colour off. Bake again.


Cover all beige elements with a gold ink using a very fine brush. Using the beige clay is very helpful because if you cannot reach the elements with a brush, they still look gold.


After the last baking, use a matt varnish and apply one or more layers. Let it dry a couple of days before wearing. Your brooch is done! Enjoy it!