Back in the day, when I started customizing, we didn't have any of these new-fangled rerooting tools, nylon hair, or air-dry clay. We also had to walk 30 miles to school, uphill both ways, through a snowstorm. ;P
Seriously though, although I wasn't exactly one of the first customizers on the block, I did start in on the hobby back in 2001. I was using craft paint, fake hair pulled from other MLPs, dolls, or *shudder* fakies. It never even occurred to me to consider sculpting wings onto a unicorn or anything of the kind. My customs were basic designs. They were good designs (I still think so) but the knowhow, the professional materials, the shared knowledge just wasn't there.
As I said in a previous post, I spent months researching customizing before actually making a start on my first project. By this I mean I spent months reading up on techniques and tips on other peoples' MLP websites. I didn't get involved in the message boards until 2003, and at that point my customs took off. But I digress, the purpose of this post is to show off some of my earliest work.
Some of my earliest customs were made as gifts for my closest friends. They were also experiments in full body repaints, gradient painting, and rehairing with found materials (specifically hair from a weird scrunchy and fibers unraveled from a skipping rope.) A lot of thought went into them. The designs were solid. Overall, I'm still quite pleased with these earliest customs.
Things went pretty well for awhile. I wasn't always completely thrilled with the results, but I chocked it up to a learning experience. I tried a Mom and Baby set, the Sunblossoms. Again, the idea was solid. The execution wasn't quite up to snuff. Put bluntly, they gave me nothing but problems. The first coat of paint peeled and cracked, I had to scrape it off and start over. I wanted to do a Twice As Fancy (TAF) symbol, the stencils I made were messy to work with and didn't lay flat on the body, resulting in smears and touch ups (and producing results nowhere near the identical symbols I was hoping for.) The body paint peeled and cracked again when I tried to reroot the hair. The hair itself was a pain, dry and crunchy hair from a donor fakies that has only gotten drier over time.
More on that next time...
(see more of Elf's early customs on her DA page.)