Sunday, November 10, 2019

TSII #457: Silvering the Tree

As usual, a few snapshots of one part of the second Goehring saddle are ballooning into an entire blog post.  Brevity, despair!  However there is an element of celebration.  According to my notes, the last time I made this saddle, a year had elapsed before I got to the horn cap.  This time, it has been a mere 5 weeks.  Huzzahh!!

    Last time (2013-14), by the time I got to the horn cap, the entire bridle and breastcollar were finished, with their intense array of engraved and soldered conchos (16 pieces for the bridle, 26 for the breastcollar.)  That is not the case today.  Today's bridle and breastcollar "are cut out," even tooled and dyed, but their silver is not started.  For much of the set, the silver isn't even present; it needs to be mail-ordered (brevity, despair).  I'm choosing to use Argentium for the entire saddle instead of the Sterling of the first Goehring, and my Argentium supply is quite limited.  But we will not complain.  Progress is being made.

There are accumulating small differences from my first Goehring saddle.  One is the size and shape of the seat pattern.
The original pattern is on left.  You can see the date, 1312.11 (Dec 11, 2013),  just 5 years and 11 months ago.  You can see that the current pattern is differently shaped, and it is actually longer front to back, since the cantle turned out higher.  That's what happens with individually-carved trees.  I have to make new patterns every time.
     Basketweaves have been the subject of conversation between myself and 2 other tackmakers lately.  Here is my contribution.
The whole basketweave section was done with a single Needle Chisel, by hand and by eye, with the help of a small drafting triangle.

 An interim step is the dyeing of the tree.  (Not 'dieing' --  don't irritate the sleeping proofreader, as one wouldn't disturb a sleeping bear --!)   This noxious substance, Oil Dye, gives a perfect wood-look, much better than any other dye.  I painted the tree outdoors on the deck, with a Q-tip, which I then wrapped up and threw away.  No clean-up, no smell, so yay!

Another difference from my first Goehring was in choosing to puff up or pad the leather part of the seat, in order to differentiate it from the 'wood.' This was complex and involved gluing thin layers underneath, shaving and then bevelling.  No pix were taken, alas.  Gluing the seat down required several passes in order to wrap the edges.

At this point one of the major design discoveries from the first Goehring is invoked,  an old friend from 30 years of making model silver saddles: Silver Tape!
The reasoning behind the choice of this material is better explained, and shown, in my earlier post on the subject: Silver Progress on the Goehring.  For now we will just say that without leather underneath, and without bending, Aluminum mending tape is perfect for this particular part of a model saddle.  Nothing will shift or fall off in the years to come, (as would be risked on almost any other part).  I was smart to save the backing pieces of paper from my earlier tries -- you can see them scattered about.  As I worked I found myself hoping 3 layers would do.

 The Goehring's pommel silver is in halves, right and left; so is mine.  A lot of fiddling and awl-stroking is in the cutting and darting, to fit the tape as closely as possible over a very complex shape.  In the end, 3 layers it was.  (Layer 2 shown below.)

Still another difference is that this horn cap turned out larger than last time.  However I am using the same engraving pattern approach.  Wheee---  after only 1 month (October to November) I'm engraving silver!!  For this tack shop, that is fast work indeed.
Last step:  engraving the pommel, technically embossing as nothing is cut.  Well, the pinpoints are cut.  This step must be completely by eye -- no pattern exists.  I make it up as I go along.  Silver tape is truly a one-time-use material.

What's next for this saddle?  Cantle silver, stirrups, signing the tree, and making conchos and strings, preparatory to fastening on the skirts.  If all that was done, the saddle itself would be finished (except for the cinch).  Oh I can feel myself resenting that cinch.  I hated it last time too.  H'mmph  h'mm...
Although I may have to let this rest over Thanksgiving holidays, I am pleased with how it's going.

There are, as I said, at least 8 other blog subjects lined up in my head, shuffling their feet and rattling the gate.  They range from my horse collection to TJS to a barn I saw on the Wyoming prairie, to BreyerFest, to stable blankets and my logo and ...   ....  brevity, despair!  Still, progress is being made.  I appreciate your patience.

Friday, October 25, 2019

TSII #457: Tree Skirts

By a not-so-out-of-season pun, a post on both a saddle tree and its skirts could conceivably be called Tree Skirts.  Both saddle tree customization and tooled leather skirts are featured in this first post on the second Clyde Goehring saddle, numbered Timaru Star II #457.   (If you see "CG2" written here, that's what it stands for.)  The first Clyde Goehring set was TSII #451 and was finished in March of 2014.  Its thirteen posts can be found listed here:  TSII #451.

How's that again?  Six years and only 6 saddles finished?!?  Gone are the days when I made 30, 40 and even 50 saddles in a year!  But that was LONG ago, in the 1980s.  The number of saddles made per year has been shrinking, yes;  but we are still making saddles --- and this is our 40th year as a professional model tackmaker.  And four hundred fifty-six saddles is something to be proud of.

Both Clyde Goehring Mexican Parade saddles can now claim the same thing:  Their trees are proving immensely difficult.  Here is what I started with.  It's an RDLC cast white resin tree (right), available from Alison Benuish's The World of Model Horse Collecting:
On the left is the customized tree.  Thanks are due Yet Again to Ann Bilon who gave me the Apoxie.  Once again I got to mix up the grey stuff, wait til it dried and then carve and file 'til there were white chips  and dust all over everywhere, several times over.  It was fun,...  Sculpting like this is a nice taste of what so many other model horsers do in this hobby.  I can see how it might be addicting.
Various files and the X-Acto are used.  The 'buttons' on the shoulders are the beginnings of the domings on the full-size saddle.
It is difficult to show a model saddle tree.  The shape is so complex one picture does not tell all.
Multiple passes of filing are needed with this difficult part of the saddle.  I am not naturally a tree-user.   However, a Mexican saddle must have one; the tree is an integral part of it, and my references are clear. 
Bit by bit, the swells (shoulders) are reduced down to what the real saddle looks like.   Pencil marks show the next phase of filing down.
Also, the gullet is squared, to eventually take the cinch ring straps.  In these types of saddles, the cinch ring straps go around the swells.  Here's a glimpse of the real Goehring:
This shape is known as a slick fork.  See how flattened the shoulders look in this raking shot?  [Raking shot=canon fired straight up the stern of a ship.  Blame my wargaming husband for this naval warfare term!]

Filing down such a complex curved shape has to be done entirely by hand.  I'm using the paper towel to clean off dust and the toothbrush to clean the files, which get instantly packed with whitegrey.  The buttons or domings (I don't have a word for this aspect of this saddle.  No other Mexican set I've seen has such a thing!) are naturally the hardest to do.
Progress.  The shoulders are smaller and more sloping.  I'm hoping I get those domings even and symmetrical.
Probably the most sobering part is knowing all this work is not going to be repeatable.  I'm making no casts, patterns or templates of this tree; I don't know how (and have no time to find out).  It is destined to be a true one-of-a-kind, as was the tree to #451.  I'm aware this is frightfully expensive.  Is not tack the last best place for true one-of-a-kind works?
View from the front:

Switching to the cantle end of things, at about this point I realize I need to add more Apoxie.  My old paper seat pattern shows that the current cantle is much too short; and as seen above, there are gouges and divots to be covered.
The cantle silver pattern also shows the rim is too short.  It's a little out of focus here, but you can just see the scoring lines I've put in the edge of the cantle, designed to hold more Apoxie.  I don't remember having to do this the first time around.
Second round of Apoxie result.  As usual, there's a whole lot more work to be done.  I get to use that marvelous word again:  midmetamorphosis.

And here's the skirts part.  On my FaceBook I showed the first pictures of the tooled parts for #457, CG2.  Unfortunately I had failed to allow space for both rows, upper and lower, of white buckstitching on the second skirts.  The real Goehring has them:
It's hard to justify where my sense went.  On a big piece like this, sometimes you just smash against walls.  I felt the only thing to do was start over, and make two new 2nd skirts.   Below is a glimpse of the creative process.  I used a paper towel to get the basic shape of something that would fit around the tree's rear corners.  (The first set of 2nd skirts had been made without the tree).  The first set's pattern is on the left.  The improved pattern is on the right; it's shorter.
 Here we see the older, wrong 2nd skirt.  Notice no room for the upper rank of buckstitching, and no curve to fit into (actually, over) the tree.  The paper pattern beneath it is of the newer, improved skirt, showing how different they are.
  Here they are, tooled and coated, ready for slitting and buckstitiching.  The longer one on the right (below) is the older, wrong one.  No, I have no idea what will become of the rejected ones.

Just like #451, CG2 is being extremely difficult.  I think there are various causes, but one is surely my own lack of discipline.  The saddle has no real deadline -- even Christmas vacation is only a soft deadline.  There seem to be a thousand other things I'd like to do, or that I have to do.  For instance I have counted 8 other blog post subjects!!!  However, those 40 years have set up their own pattern of behaviour.  I am a tackmaker, first and last.  I am so happy on the bench, creating yet another piece that takes great engineering.  We can do this.  There are saddles beyond this one that I'd love to get to.  Even with such distractions as FB and blogging, canoeing season is over (until Thanksgiving, Hah!) and there just might be more time for tack.
Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Return of the Puzzle

Thanks to my dear husband and his relatively new hobby of buying music online and burning it to disc, a pleasant hobby of my own is returning.  I am a serious jigsaw puzzle addict and always have been.  This blog has seen a long post on the sister puzzle to Ruth Ray's Handsome Witch:  Copper Queen.   That post shows a pic of our puzzle collection, some 150 strong.  It also tells more about this gifted artist.

Copper Queen by Ruth Ray.   Photo'd in 2015
I quit doing puzzles several years ago, aware that I could not control stopping when I started working on them in the middle of the day.  It was a dreadful step.  I had to drop something, and puzzles and stamps, two beloved hobbies, were the least painful to drop.  For the year 2019 one of my dearest wishes was that puzzles could somehow come back again -- I had loved them so much.  The trick turned out to be George's new habit of doing exercises in the evening, to music he had himself burned to disc.  During that time I could work on a puzzle,...  if I had done my chores and errands and tack for the day.  It made for some together time.

The Reutrn of the Puzzle started a few weeks ago with a gristmill and deer scene -- appropriate for fall hunting season.
Here in central Pennsylvania there is an Amish grocery store, the next valley over, that carries puzzles.  I am well pleased to report that here at least some things don't change:  There are great new jigsaws being made out there.  Two brand names I can recommend are SunsOut and Cobble Hill.  The Gristmill puzzle, a SunsOut product, is of a painting.  It was a beautifully difficult puzzle because of the camouflage of everything.  Even the deer are of multiple shades of dark and light.  George does the edges and the easy parts, and I do the hard parts.

We know which member of the family added this one to the collection.
Chris Cummings did this particular painting.

I prefer paintings instead of photographs for puzzles.  They have so much textural detail.  My favorite jigsaws will always be the grand old Springboks of the 60s and 70s, followed by the great classic artistry of Ravensburger of Germany.
I'm still looking for an old ('vintage' is the search term) circular jigsaw of a farm scene with a huge cottonwood tree, a white horse in a pond and a pink blooming tree in the foreground.

House rules are that finished puzzles stay up for 3 days and are photographed.  After that, they return to their boxes, pieces well bagged to protect against humidity and mold.  If the box is particularly valued, the box is bagged too.

Someday I want to blog about how one Springbok puzzle inspired my TSII horse head logo.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Visiting Colonel Drake highway

Saturday I spent online, vicariously, with TJS.  Sunday I went to Colonel Drake highway, a family vacation spot.  Contrast?  You bet!  Yet I went willingly...   It's a two-hour drive one way, to the far northwest corner of Clearfield Country, up on the Allegheny Plateau.  (Sandy Ridge Road off Colonel Drake (Hwy 36), north of McGees Mills, to be specific.)  The road crosses an old reclaimed strip mine.
I took along two tack sets and four horses to shoot with my new camera, which I (obviously) needed to practice with.  My husband had his new camera too.  The weather was perfect.
Can you spot the wild ones?   I had the recently-unsold hackamore with me (shown above).  Heh, more chances to play with it.
How often have I played, really played, with my horses and tack??
I'll let the pictures do the talking.  I've shot horses in strip mines before:  Rikki's prizes
(Luckenbach standard is inspiring for such wilderness;  I must say, though, I don't feel I could ever be so detailed.)
The relationships between these horses are rather complicated.  I will say they all have long and delicious names.
Lately my horse names have increased in length, with some to 4 and even 5 syllables.  You probably know about Palatlakaha (Emerson), named after a Florida town. 
The silver bay Andalusian (Celeste) mare is Rapadura, a name for piloncillo or jaggery (dried sugar cane juice.  let's not get started on this addiction!).
The Rocket is named Alzucar (Spanish for "the sugar").
The Dundee has had a change in name, and is now called Barbahamia (ham pronounced hame).
(Barbados x Bahamas x feminine)
Photo-shopping happened to some of these, to get the colors better.
Should I shoot with his ears below the horizon (above), with ears level to my eyes,
or with ears well above the horizon?
It was harder than I'd remembered to lie on my stomach and creep around.

This shot bothered me:  It looked so plastic.  Indeed I lack dolls.  (For the record, my best one went to The Jennifer Show, so is unavailable today.)
I tried to indicate their presence in subtle ways.
 The whole look changes when you take the horizon out of the picture.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Performance Challenge horse for TJS was the same mold as my Rapadura.  I did not know!!
All unknowing, I'd been shooting and playing with her all day.  That's some vibes!!

There are limits to my new camera.  Yet I shall live with it and be happy.
My thoughts are with the model community, and hopefully future posts will comment on them.  But for now, I am refreshed from visiting the high country.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The L2 Hackamore

The story of this hackamore includes a year's wait and re-birth on the mecate's part, and then discovering a far prettier horse for it than I had built it for.  But that's how it goes!

This Hackamore is up for auction on Model Horse Place.  It closes Sept 13th.  My reserve is $300.00.  Here's a link: Timaru Star II Hackamore

 I set out to make a stunning Bosal Hackamore for Dundee, whom I had secured at BreyerFest;  he inspired me tremendously, as models sometimes do.  I wanted to do braidwork for him.  I had a mecate on hand.  Finishing the hackamore took a month --  finishing the mecate, which had to be reworked three times, a record, actually took a year -- and I struggled with the fact that both the browband and the bosal turned out a bit large for Dundee (though still fitting him).  Casting around in the herd, I tried it on Quill.  KaBAMM!  Lovely nick!!  I had NO idea it would look so good on him!  This horse, who doesn't even have his own name yet, stole the show.
So, model peeps, I present my dilemma.  Do I apologize that this piece didn't quite come out as I intended?  Or do I rejoice that it seems to've found a most beautiful match?  Do I fret that the auction timing is overlapping with The Jennifer Show?   Or is this a chance for everybody who is not attending TJS to obtain a gorgeous piece of TSII tack?  Of course, attendees could bid anyway, if they so desired.
I'm going to try the happier path...

The story begins a year ago, in September of 2018, when I undertook a short order (it was a mecate) for a longtime performance shower.  We shall call her L (my vet friend is deeply into Superman, so think Lois Lane).  My first mecate turned out too short for her taste, so I made another.  (That was the year of the Roby Canyon Hackamore, and I was into mecates.)  Thus was born L1 and L2.
L2 (left) and L1 (right)
I sold L1 nicely (thanks Beth!) and thought the case closed.
Not so.

L put the mecate on an existing piece of headgear.  Somehow - I can guess how - it got untwisted a little, and apparently pressed the wrong way.  One strand loosened and the inner core peeped out.
Which was bound to happen sooner or later, although this was the first time in 24 mecates that a customer had reported it.  I understand, as no one else can, how delicate these ropes are.  Untwist enough, stress them enough in a small enough spot at a certain angle, and sometimes bad things start to happen.  Literally, this was a hernia:  painful and unsightly but not serious.

Wisely, the owner decided it could only be fixed in the shop that had created it, and early in 2019 the L2 mecate came back home.  (A truly great mercy was that she didn't need it til Sept.)  For reasons I can't quite explain, I chose to make a third mecate, and L3 was born.  During its creation I learned more about preventing such hernias; 'stripping' or stroking the rope multiple times during spinning seemed to help.  The owner was happy with L3.  After BFest I turned to retightening the spin on L2.  But, alas, my attempts just made things worse, as sometimes happens.  That's how it goes.
Yes, I am hestitating to show this!  Note not signed...
In the end I had no choice but to take off the end tassel knot, unspin the rope down to the strands (not the threads) and start again.
I thought this might make a blog post of itself: the respinning of a TSII mecate.  I took pictures of the removal of the tassel end.  But then I started getting swept away by sheer creation, and stopped shooting and just kept spinning.   That's how it goes!   L2 had also had to be respun back in 2018...  I'm so astonished the thread has held up!!  The lovely rope, 30" long, was finished Sept 1st, and as it happened, that same day brought me my new camera.  My old one had died a week previous.  What delightful timing...
The main difference to the new L2 is the addition of a 2nd interweave in the tassel button (hard to see in this shot).  And I think it's better spun.

Now I plowed ahead with the bosal, the headstall having been finished August 17th.  I tell everyone bosals take me 3 days,... but this one took four (Sept 1 - 4).  I guess I'm getting older.
The nosebutton foundation is my standard 3 bight - god-knows-how-many parts, probably 13.  The 10 interweaves were put in in two overlapping groups of 5, one from each direction.
Almost there:  Just prior to cutting off the cores and putting in the heel concho.
And now for the fun part.

Dundee, known as Barbados in my herd, models what was to have been just for him.  It does fit him, but I worry about that browband.  And look at the extra turns of mecate I had to take under the jaw.
The length of mecate, on the other hand, was fine.
Here's another long horse that looks surprisingly good with the L2 Hackamore.  The saddle is by Evelyn Munday.
 This is a nearly unique viewpoint:  Straight into the face, right beween the eyes!!  But it shows the braidwork well.
I really like this portrait.  I kind of hate to admit I didn't like this mold for a long time.  This is the first one I've owned (thanks Eleanor!).
At the end, Quill, the one we started with.  The pictures don't do him justice.  The hackamore looks lovely on him.
The metallicism!

Happy bidding!!

I have at least three other blog subjects pent up, 'standing at the gate shuffling their feet,' so stay tuned.