Dala horses are Swedish horse models, usually decorated with ornate paint (or rosemaling). And despite their impressive appearance, they're quite easy to make. I built them from scrap wood I had lying around, and they've made great gifts and fun, durable toys.
Step 1: Supplies
Wood (I used pine that gave me horses 3/4 in thick and 4 in tall)
Acrylic paint, in whatever colors you'd like
Saw that can change direction in small spaces (a coping saw works, but a scroll saw is infinitely better)
Reference pictures (google "dala horse outline" to find an image that has the shape and customizable design of a dala horse)
Dala horse-shaped cookie cutter, if you have one
Small nails (2 per horse), able to fit into the feet of your dala
Somewhere to hang the string (see Step 3 to see what this is for)
Step 2: Cutting
Trace the outline of your dala, whether it comes from a picture or a cookie cutter, onto the wood. Cut it out slowly. Sand the edges of the result. Then nail one nail into each foot.
Step 3: Painting
Whether you choose to paint a traditional Swedish design or go off the beaten track, you must first give the horse 1-2 coats of primer. Then do 1-2 coats of the base color you want. (In general, one coat of primer will still show the wood, and one coat of the base color will still show the primer.) Then paint on your design. I stuck with the traditional design for the most part, but the black horse above (which is also my profile picture) is actually a steampunk version my friend requested.
Now you're wondering about those nails. See that first picture? This is the way I dried the horses between paint coats. The horses are inverted and the nails inserted into binder clips. The string is attached to the ceiling joists. I'm sure there's other ways to let the horses dry:).
After you're satisfied with your paint job, remove the nails using pliers.
Step 4: Finished!
I hope you liked this instructable! Your vote in the contests would be appreciated, as well as pictures of your own dalas. There are so many ways you can decorate them.
The Phantom Chemist