Sunday, December 12, 2010

Last tack of 2010

Body bells for Salinero. He looks snazzy in red and silver, doesn't he?

Closeup of the buckle. The customer wanted a snug fit for the bells since she will be showing without a vehicle (no shafts to wrap around), but just in case she gets one, they can be adjusted outward.

And a foal halter for the same customer. Since I don't own the mold I had to make this on measurements only, hopefully that will be remedied soon.

I don't know if I will update this before the move, but if I don't, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A couple more photos!

The set looked so good on Rachel Alexandra I had to get a couple of photos.

A big thank you to the set's new owner! I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, December 6, 2010

All done!

And somehow Ayala the Stone Palouse manages to get yet another tack set fitted to her! Oh, well. Her classic champagne tobiano color goes well with a lot of tack, and old Amazon was getting tired of all that fitting, anyway. ;p

Anyway. On to the tack.

The saddle is still adjustable down to Roxy and Lady Phase, but the headgear is not. The entire set does fits Ruffian/Rachel Alexandra (pictures to come soon).

I'm especially pleased with the latigo cinch. It's a challenge, sure, but I like the look better than just putting a billet there. I like a challenge.

Wow, I got that fender to swing pretty far back.

Now I might like a challenge, but potential new owners may not, so the right side buckles with plain old billets to spare any new owner's sanity. :p

The tiedown has a sliding keeper to tighten or loosen the noseband as needed.

The heart browband conchos are paper brads. I think they go nicely with the heart motif Rio Rondo bit. Bleed knots decorate the cheek straps. The reins are braided from the same pearl thread as the cinch and breastcollar. The rein buckle attachments have a little wire hook for easy removal. I like making those tiny little hooks, believe it or not...

Some more outside shots:

The saddle blanket is the same sand colored suede as the seat. And there's the white fleece pad under that.

A study of the saddle strings. I see a spot that needs a little touching up...

And Christian and Ayala are off to round up some cows! Or the cat, whichever they encounter first.

This set is for sale on MH$P at $300 ppd to the US, $310 international, to help fund our move to Vermont (Region 10! Whee!). I can accept Paypal only, I would do a partial trade of $275 plus Breyer's new Valentine and Heartbreaker set #1474 (matte or glossy, mint condition).

ETA 12/08/10 set is SOLD! :D

That's all for now!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A couple more saddle photos

Saddle is done, and I'm starting on the tiedown here. I added a fleece pad to go under the suede blanket to help the saddle fit narrower models like the Stone ISH.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More Western saddle pics

I hope my American readers had a great Thanksgiving! Dad and Grandma visited and we had a wonderful time.

Here are some more photos of my in-progress Western set, it's come along a ways since last time.

Still need to add the girth connector strap and the rear saddle strings.

Fender swung back to show the left cinch strap. The saddle strings are on the short side, but as far as I can tell there's no set length, on real saddles I see short strings, medium strings, and strings that go on for miles. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, though. (I just hate the idea of re-threading those things...!)

I went with a straight cantle instead of a Cheyenne roll. I just like the look better!

There's a wire that runs under Amazon's belly that's holding the fenders down. Still haven't trained the things.

And as you can see, I've woven a breastcollar and cinch for this set. The colors don't match perfectly, but at least they're in the same tonal range. The woven chest strap was my own addition, patterned after real b/cs, I liked the look better than simply stringing a piece of lace onto the center ring. I still need to work on getting the lower end to taper to a thinner point. BIG thank you to Rio Rondo for their nifty little booklet!

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quick pre-Turkey Day post

I finally got the courage and the supplies to try my hand at a woven string cinch (had Rio Rondo's book for years LOL). This is the first one, I also made a cinch and breastcollar to match my Western set. Weaving on diamond patterns is still eluding me and soldering the jump rings is a pain (the only solder I had was the "heavy duty" stuff RR doesn't recommend!), but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I'll have photos of the second set as soon as the camera battery charges.

I hope everyone who celebrates it has a great Thanksgiving, and everyone else has a great weekend. :) I spent a good chunk of the day baking oatmeal cranberry cookies, now I'm sitting here smelling all kinds of delicious food cooking upstairs, and I will be able to eat none of it until tomorrow afternoon. The torture!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Silent Saturday!

No, not really.

Here's some in-progress photos of the Western saddle I've been working on. Those fenders kind of make it look like poor Katie's got a really, really impatient rider. ("training" fenders and skirts to lie flat is one of my least favorite parts of tackmaking)

After some trouble getting the fork assembly to stay glued on (finally fixed with Loc-Tite, I think it was the cold making the original glue brittle?), I devised a different method for securing the seat to the skirt. Susan Bensema-Young's method of using wire to secure her saddle pieces was the inspiration, but since I'm working with a resin tree, I borrowed my sister's Dremel.

I drilled four holes in the seat, with recessed grooves connecting each side, then four more behind the cantle. Then after some careful positioning, I poked the tailor's awl through the seat holes to mark the leather, then punched holes through. Then it was a matter of threading 32 gauge wire through the holes and pulling tight, and then twisting and and flattening the wire ends. (they're covered by the chamois and a bit of undyed skiver). The cantle was tied down using waxed thread. And here's the result:

The recessed grooves are so the wire doesn't stick up under the seat covering. I will probably have to file the wire down anyway (flattening it with the hammer made it less pliable).

(earlier photo) Another reason I went with wiring: the fenders are strung onto hammered aluminum rings sewn on to the skirts. I do this because you can rotate the fenders back to fiddle with the girth (not as far as this once the seat and jockeys are attached :p). I also had to hollow out the tree with a sanding drum to accommodate the extra bulk. I don't think glue would have worked with all this, or at least not well.

The girth on the left side is tied at the moment with a latigo knot, though once I've got the holder in place I'll thread it through that. I hope I can muster the courage to try making a woven string cinch and breastcollar for this set, but for now I just made a nice leather girth.

I also made some skiver "gloves" for the fender buckles to keep the tongues from scratching the model. I really want to try the mini Blevins buckles that TWMHC/ALE Ranch is selling. Really cool that someone has made them for the hobby!

And I'll leave you with another new herd member:

Red roan suits this mold nicely!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halter and some other critters

First off, a black and silver stock breed halter made for the Stone ISH, for sale for $30 ppd.

The strap tips are 18 gauge aluminum wire hammered flat and filed to shape. The cheek silver is embossing aluminum with tooling and purple 5ss size Swarovski crystals.

Since that's all the tack I have to show off at the moment, how about some non-equine figurines from my collection:


I don't actually own this one anymore, I sold her to a collector in Spain several weeks ago. But she was so darn cute I had to include her. I showed her as a Pietran sow. She was a MIC resin found at a flea market in New Braunfels, Texas.


A Hagen-Renaker mini buffalo. I got him one day walking back to work from from lunch. Work was located just a block or two away from the San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas, and you could take a shortcut through several little shops located below street level, overlooking the riverwalk. That was one of the nicest places I ever worked.


A H-R Papa Wolf, and my stable mascot. :) He was sadly attacked by an enraged Breyer unicorn one day and broke three legs. He's been repaired, but there was a chip lost out of his right front leg. I've never been able to find one of these with this kind of detailing.


A chalky Breyer Elephant. She came sealed in her box with a catalog from 1976! Since 2002 I've seen several of these on eBay, as well as at many antique malls around Kansas City, MO (just saw one last month, in fact!). Someone here in KC had attended a warehouse sale downtown and bought several cartons of elephants, all sealed in their boxes. According to the vendor, they were sold at the 1976 Republican National Convention, held at Kemper Arena, so I guess these were the leftovers. Now I wonder if there are any chalky Breyer Donkeys from the '76 DNC floating around NYC... hmmm.

Top row left to right: Tabitha, Little Orphan Annie, Rishi, and Scar;
Bottom row: Fraidy, Cissie, Marmalade, Smudge, and Uncle Bob.
(yeah, I named a few after dear old kitty friends who have shared our home.
It's how I remember them.)

Because no barn, real or model, is complete without barn cats, right? :D Most are either Schleich or H-Rs, the three matching tabby and white kitties are hand-painted pewter and came from Germany. The kitten... oh, wait, you can't see her? She's on the tack trunk, next to the left front paw of Rishi the tiger cub. :p OK, here's a closeup:

As I was saying, "Annie" is only slightly bigger than a penny:

I showed her once in a live show that was offering an "other animals" division, and she won Reserve Champion Other Animal. She really was dwarfed by that rosette she won...

And here's one that actually belongs to my mother, but I had to include him:

This is a George Good "I 'heart' My Cat" series porcelain, found at an antique mall in the same shopping center as our local Tandy store. He's not in scale to Breyers, but how could we not bring him home? It's a Si figurine!

Until next time!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday edition

First off, I discovered that the halter that I made for the Stone Weanling, also fits Breyer's Stormy. And I think it actually looks better on her. It is for sale on eBay.

Oh, and jsyk I can use ^ this backdrop ^, with some foreground adjusting, for everything from Trad size foals like Sandpiper up there, to Stablemates and Micro Minis like Aunt Pat and Cassidy here:

Too small for Trad adults, though.

I'm also attempting my third Rio Rondo Western saddle kit. How I love these things! After making the first two pretty much by the book, I decided to try out their alternate patterns. And I'm also dying them to a mahogany color, and the seat and stirrup treads will be sand colored suede. Still not quite ready to tackle tooling, though, so I just stuck with stitchmarking.

The skirt pattern I've chosen uses cinch rings instead of slots. In a DIY mood, I rummaged around in a box of supplies that I'd accumulated over the years, but hadn't used much, and turned up a spool of 18 gauge (or "guage" as its spelled on the packaging :D) aluminum wire.

Next I needed to hammer it flat. A jeweler's hammer and anvil would come in handy for this, but I don't own either of those. So two hammers from the toolkit would have to do, one to hammer, and one to take the place of the anvil:

Put some papers under the red hammer to pad the table (which is already a battered old thing, don't try this on a nice table!) and gently tapped away. It takes some doing to get even flattening, and I'm still getting the hang of it. But here you go:

Now I actually form the rings first, then hammer them. And I form them at the end of a fairly long piece of wire (longer than the examples here!) so I can safely hold them while hammering. I need flat wire, not flat fingers.

Here's the d-rings attached to the main skirt.

I've since redone the cinch straps so they're removable. This will be a ranch or trail saddle, nothing flashy but will have saddle strings and an extra D-ring on the pommel for a rifle scabbard. This was inspired by some of the real saddles at the Texas Ranger museum, which I blogged about in March.

That's all for now!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall is fell

I ordered a yard of of the pink 'roo lace from Australia, then as I was taking an inventory for another order, I came across a couple feet of lace from a previous order. Oh, well, can't have too much of something that takes a month to ship, right? So I made a halter for the Stone Weanling. It's for sale $25 ppd First Class, Paypal or MOs. If it doesn't sell by Sunday, it's going up on evilBay.

In kitty news, Si has a new "jacket" harness from Met Pet. We've tried other harness options and he's wiggled his way out of all of them. This one seems determined to stay put, and Si is slowly but surely (with lots of complaining!) coming around to having it on. He gets to go outside as a treat when he accepts it, and he's getting the idea.

Here he is on his way downstairs...

Gives the car a butt slam and a tail rub on the way out...

And a nice roll on the warm pavement, surrounded by his favorite "salad", dried leaves. And it being fall and all, there's an abundance of them in the driveway. Heaven for a leaf-muncher like Si! (no, we don't let him eat them, but he sure loves to try....)

That's old Allie's leash that she used for many years. The weight really irritates him, though, so we're looking to get one that's a lighter weight.

I've got several model "barn cats" on the shelves, I wonder if I could do one of these in miniature. Hmm...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

And so it started...

Going through some old photos from our childhood, I found one of a couple of funny-looking kids (aka my sister and me) getting their first Breyers for Christmas 1984 when they lived in Mackenbach, Germany.

The Base Exchange at Ramstein Air Base had three of them in stock, the Action Stock Foal in bay pinto, grey appaloosa, and sorrel. While Mom distracted us, Dad sneaked them up to the cashier and out to the car. Poor Mom and Dad, they just didn't know what they were starting...

Mine (on the right) was the grey appaloosa, and Meredith's was the bay pinto. Their names were/are Napa and Pint. We still have both of them, though little Napa has been missing an ear for a long time. (long story involving paper pegasus wings and being tossed off the top of the refrigerator...)

And just for the heck of it, here are the two kittens we got a year and three quarters later in the fall of 1986:

That's Cinder (later known as Cissie) in front, and her brother Marmalade in back. Their mother belonged to my Dad's boss.

OK, back to tack next time!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A couple more new herd members...

Well one newbie, anyway, I hadn't shown off a full body shot of Meandering yet...

And here's a model I feel like I've been searching for all year (probably because I have...):

I put a whole mess of the new mold WEG SMs on preorder when they were first announced, then the dealer wrote me up saying the shipping had been delayed for several months and we cancelled the deal. Then when they were finally released I had NO MONEY to spend on them, and then when I finally got some money, it seemed like every dealer who actually had these guys in stock wanted $11 shipping UPS, or the ones that did ship Priority Mail didn't bother answering my emails. I finally found one who had some in stock, charged a reasonable shipping rate, AND answered emails! Yay! I've named him "Fords Gotta Gun" after another of my favorite Lost characters. :p

And wouldn't you know, we happened to visit the local dealer today who hasn't had new Breyers in like forever, and by God they had FOUR of these in stock! Oh, well, more for Meredith to paint...

Oh, and I have a whole mess of Sulser Saddlery brass hames sitting on my desk right now, courtesy TWMHC on eBay. Whatever could they be for, I wonder...?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New stuff to work with

The other day I got a Breyer Hickstead in a trade, and a spool of black 'roo lace from Australia arrived in the mail. (NICE stuff with a smooth, tight grain, I'm ordering from these guys from now on)

The Hickstead, a special run produced on the Big Ben mold, was a necessary addition. I'd gotten a custom order for tack for this mold, and I didn't own one. The woman trading with me offered me several different Big Bens, and I'm glad I picked this fellow. So handsome in his glossy, just slightly metallic golden bay with gorgeous tri-eyes! I've named him"Meandering", after a character in one of my favorite webcomics.

For this custom order I would also need some metal accents that my usual sources did not supply, so the next day, armed with a fistful 40% percent off coupons, I went craft store hunting. I had read Jennifer Buxton/Braymere's blog post on embossing metal (thank you Jennifer! :) ), and it sounded like something I could work with. The first stop, Hobby Lobby, only turned up this product in silver and copper, and I needed gold. So it was off to JoAnne's next. Bingo! They had super thin (40 gauge!) embossing aluminum in many colors, including a bright yellow-gold. Excellent.

I wanted to experiment first, though, see how it cut, which glues were best, and seeing as all these new toys had come together in such a timely manner, Meandering was picked to wear a black snaffle bridle with gold accents, using the new 'roo lace and the metal for browband and noseband accents.

The best way I've found to cut a straight, narrow strip is to use scissors, not an Exacto blade. Somehow I just couldn't get it aligned properly, and it came out jagged. Fortunately I have an old pair of sewing scissors that was otherwise being retired in favor of a sharper pair.

It was also a chance to practice splitting the browband to go around BB's rather inconvenient forelock. (I love Kathleen's Breyers, but sometimes they can be aggravating to work with...)

The metal helps the split browband keep its shape, too (it still needs sticky wax to hold it in place). The only drawback is that the top color can be rubbed and scratched if it's handled too roughly. But I think it doesn't require any more careful handling than most small tack pieces. Don't get glue or sticky wax on it!

I'm also working on getting fancier reins on my bridles as well as my harnesses, instead of just gluing a foldover. So buckles were installed (rein hooks are still too frustrating for me), as were rein stops. I loved the smooth grain of the lace so much that I didn't lace these reins as I usually do. And I made the bit hangers adjustable on the bit end as well.

I like how it came out, but I think I will go back for the classic gold shade I saw on the shelf. It matches Rio Rondo's gold hardware better. And perhaps I'll pick up some other colors. Peter Stone's new "Ringo" Saddlebred looks like he could use a nice Weymouth bridle with a nice, metallic red or blue browband. (anyone want to trade? :) )

Until next time, when hopefully I'll have some in-progress photos of my custom order (it's a doozie, bigger than I've ever done before. Eep!).

(and before I sign off, this bridle is for sale on MH$P)