Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Here is my very-nearly-absolute-favorite blanket ever, the beautiful Horsewarm!!
A minor further miracle: one of the 5 pieces was this mesh blanket. It's none other than Breyer's No. 3951 Fly Sheet, issued from 1995 to 1999. I'd always wanted some of Breyer's meshes, and this was my first. Of the three I'm aware of that Breyer released, this is the finest, the most 'sheer' and see-through.
Didi Hornberger is a longtime collector, shower and hostess of the great Intermediaire/INTERSPORT model shows held in October in Harrisburg (PA). She is also a wonderful friend. Although it took her more than a year, she made me a gift blanket. I got to choose the fabric ("Seasplash" -- goes well with a horse named Riverfront Property!) and the design. The finished product arrived fall of 2016. This may look like a simple machine job, but the entire piece is stitched by hand(!). The professional t-hook latches are smaller than the ones Breyer uses.
Remember my struggles to find blankets for my CollectAs? Breyer's StableMate (SM) blankets turn out to be perfect for CollectA foals! The SM blankets could qualify for a post themselves, but for now I'll settle for a reminder from my very first Blankets post. The SM blanket shown on left was my first. Thanks again Carrie for breaking the set for me - it came with a 10-horse display box, part of the 2010 WEG releases.
The SM Foal blanket surely qualifies as Breyer's weensiest blanket. Shown here on a CollectA foal, it was part of Breyer No. 5413, Stablemates Horspital, first issued in 2014. Thanks to Margaret L. for helping me get these. This veterinary-themed set has been released several times over the years, but this was the first time it included such a tiny scrap of a blanket! And can you believe it, the girth fastens with the double rings!!
I suppose sewing on velcro bits would've been too much.
(Editor's Note. Later releases of the Stablemates Horspital, and/or something called New Arrivals, included something even weensier, a pure red felt foal blanket.)
(Collector's Note. I'm willing to pay rather prettily for the Graceland blue/white SM blanket...!)
By far the most popular, most famous, most numerous and surely the most played-with blankets Breyer ever made were the green felt Clydesdale Mare and Foal Gift Set ones. It is with some shame I admit I did not grow up with them. This seminal Gift Set was first released in 1971 and carried until 1992, an amazing 22 years. You can find these on eBay with no trouble. I finally got my act together in November 2016, and bought some. I've seen these in every condition: faded, new, beat up, shrunk or well cared for. My pair pretty much qualifies as 'shrunk.'
Neatly bridging 2016 and 2017 was my Crystal Christmas blanket, purchased in December and arriving in January. By now Breyer has released three sets of matching mares & foals with matching blankets for the holidays. (They know how to get us by the short hairs...) For 2016, the third set, the molds chosen were the Grazing Mare and Foal, in a delicious hand-dappled grey for the mare, Crystal, and a darker grey for the foal Crispin. Blanketwise, there was a clear change in pattern. You can see how the neck opening is larger, the chest fastening dropped down to accomodate that lowered neck, and how the back seam is longer. Once again the Breyer tag is on the Off side, apparently standard with these mares!
The Horsewarm blanket opened my eyes to other manufacturers of model horse blankets. Even so I was delightfully surpised when I spotted this gem on eBay in December of 2016.
In January, my friend Margaret, mentioned earlier, visited me in person, and I got this blanket of neon stripes. It's one of the four versions of the Colorful Blanket Assortment by Breyer, No. 2053. These were first released in 2014, clearly a good year for new blankets! The Colorfuls are all characterized by metallicism in some part, usually the binding. Neon and bling are apparently still in fashion, albeit ground down and mashed together by mass production. The fabric is polyester, smoothly silky-feeling, reasonably heavy and lined in white. There are 4 velcro fastening bands, giving a lot of adjustability. Of 4 eye-popping colors the stripes were the coolest for me.
Something unusual about these blankets is the 'rise' or extra scootch of material on the sides of the neck -- yet another new Breyer blanket pattern.
It's good to have a friend who is a dealer. Thanks, Margaret.
A fitting ending to this post is the very special Vintage Club offering of the Clydesdale Mare and Foal Gift Set, Blossom and Belle. They were released early in 2017 in glossy medicine hat pinto, and glory be, they had blankets. Not the old green ones!! Beautiful dark blue felts! The moment I saw them I wanted those blankets, and wouldn't you know it, somebody on eBay was willing to sell. In February my treasures arrived.
There will be future Blanket posts, but give me a while to accumulate more material. Pun intended. You can never have too many blankets.
Previous Blanket posts:
Three Strands at Once
My Blanket Collection
Blanket Collection Part 3
Blanket Collection 4
Felts for Foals: Blankets 5
Blanket Collection 6
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
This is the "before" picture: Before I added the missing tug straps, polished the silver and did some cosmetic disguise work on the seat.
My Matriarch was finished by Katie Richards. (Thanks, Sue Peet, again!) The orange serape tied everything together; it brought out the gold tones in the horse and the saddle. Other blankets, such as pink, white or red, did not look quite as well as that orange. Although it's not my final choice, the serape did well enough for pictures.
One feature of this saddle I found interesting was the corner carved leaves. They were tooled separately, cut out and glued on. I had never seen this before in model tack. There's no reason this couldn't happen in full scale and it probably has.
Breastcollar rings, beads and crimps of the bridle and reins, and bits all needed it. Even the curb strap was tarnished. I was tickled to discover the bits were stamped .925, the universal indication of sterling silver. And yet their 'tarnish' was of a golden-y color, not at all the expected black. Eventually I decided I was seeing the remains of some kind of coating, probably nail polish. I had to scrape it off the long beads of the bridle.
Below: polished on right, unpolished left.
I mentioned cosmetic disguise work on the seat. Even good artists make mistakes, and using a pink or red or purple ink pen to trace out the seat pattern was definitely a mistake. I hate pens -- the petroleum-base ink always stains and smears! This saddle had neon-pink stains on the edges of the seat. The picture does not do them justice.
|taken from the Web. photographer unknown|
|taken from the Web, photographer unknown|
|taken from MH$P. photographer unknown|
|probably taken from MH$P. photographer unknown|
|taken from MH$P. photographer unknown|
Speaking entirely personally, I find the flavor of Toots' tack to be quite similar to the flavor of Fara Shimbo's. It may not be supremely detailed or refined, but its scale is part of the appeal, large-hearted and charming. The effect is of a friendly, comfortable yet hard-working piece of tack. I am well pleased to have found this example.
|Based on Dupage Nexlab GOES 16|
In our house, a great deal of time and attention goes to watching weather loops of one sort or another. They impact our life, dictating everything from the timing of dinner to the course of a vacation. They are IMPORTANT, and also beautiful.
Recently a fantastic improvement in the quality of these loops was shown to me, as more modern technology, data processing and satellites come online. Although I'd watched weather service satellite loops for years, I never dreamed of some of the views I've been seeing recently. When I first saw them I was like a little kid. "Look, this is what God sees!" Any one of them I could watch for hours, taking in all the details. Words fail me: the tops of clouds in motion are sublime.
And then came the Eclipse.
It was interesting enough to view the darkening of Oregon and Washington -- how the ink-stain spread out swiftly, killing the clouds. (It took them a while to grow back.) The black shadow-band swept across, and such a view was surely enough for a lifetime. But then my husband told me about a ghost. "Have you seen the white patch? In the middle of the black!! You gotta see this!"
After it was all over (I spent my Eclipse on the back deck, holding a pinhole card, and in my neighbor's front drive, borrowing dark glasses and chatting), we went back to the Internet and dug up the relevant frames, aware that within 24 hours the lovely product would be unavailable. The warnings were all over: This product is experimental, it is undergoing testing. Well it wasn't the only thing undergoing testing. I really struggled to save it, and had to call in the resident meteorologist, Dr Young from Penn State. Who just happens to be my husband.
This track was seen on the College of Dupage's experimental NEXLAB GOES 16 satellite page, the day of the eclipse. Dupage Nexlab We fiddled and downloaded, cropped and saved, and in the end had an animated gif of nearly 35MB. As of now I can't get it smaller (or slower). Across the country, from one end to the other, tracing that fabled path, ran a white circular ghost the size of South Carolina. In the middle of the darkest hour, a white artifact bloomed forth, for all the world a moon shadow in photographic negative. ("Shadow of the Moon," I started singing, from Blackmore's Night album.) It gave me the eeriest feeling. A white raggedy ball was wheeling along in the blackest center of the eclipse, a bouncing alien bunny of a cottontail, both terrifying and freeing.
Naturally I asked, "What's causing this?!" And he explained it was what the sensors had been programmed to do when they detected less than nothing: no light at all, "below black" on the scale of responses. You can see it as the edge of night if you follow the daylight on the original loop -- or any day's loop for that matter. That white patch was, indeed, human-caused... after a fashion.
Okay, that explains it. But it doesn't explain the amazing thrill I get when I watch it. Nothing less than divine artisanry made this.
Eclipse from space: Dupage satellite loop
(give it time to load)
When you marry a meteorologist you get a front-row seat on some of the most beautiful, amazing, incredible sights you never dreamed existed. You have to be ready at any moment to drop everything and look up, to pass into a trance of awareness of wonder, to be amazed and thrilled and awed, only deeper, at these gifts we have been given. I have seen the green flash, fire rainbows, heliocentric rainbows, ice pillars, ice volcanoes, auroras and iridescent clouds... without ever taking a class in meteorology. All I had to do was look up, be ready to look.
"And every common bush's afire with God,
but only he who sees takes off his shoes."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I am so very grateful.
Friday, August 11, 2017
Hah! It goes just fine with red chestnuts and bays too (even if my camera gets washed out a little):
The tack-wearing debut of my Kaalee, known as Jezail here in the herd:
My Perlino's story is told in my BreyerFest Goodies.
He did indeed enter my life with a bang. I'd always wanted one but never figured I could afford one. When I saw this unique finish, as glossy a matte as I'd ever seen, I decided to plump. I named him Shahzada, a name from M. M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions, which means Prince.
And what happens after this??
Can you believe: Snowshoes --?!
The answer was to cut a notch. This tiny cut made room where there wasn't any. It had to be done with a sharp X-Acto, one edge at a time, by eye. In hindsight I should've put in a core wrapping, to help shaping, but the notch worked out anyway.
A whole lot of pulling takes place during these steps. In particular the white core will get pulled, and inevitably it gets longer. In hindsight (again) I should've allowed for this lengthening, and hung it a little shorter to start with.
Below, you can see the checkered strands held to the side (the clips), the completed white/green/white, and the blue in mid-spin.
I ran out of one of the checkered strands first, so that determined how long it was! The last part of any mecate is the tassel knot. Here I've started the core of the tassel knot: a 4-part Undercrown, with the white core strand as a center.
My attention went to the popper end. I needed another knot to tighten up the rope and disguise some ends. While full-scale mecates don't have buttons here, I frequently need them for construction purposes! At least it will match.
And this one did.