Friday, May 4, 2018

The Kings Herd 2 Hackamores

This post covers the making of two hackamores, although the second isn't quite finished.  I was reaching for the deepest roots of my Muse, making a piece for my own purposes -- and salving my conscience with ideas of selling the second one.  The adventure began with my signing up for National Model Tack Month.  It will end when the last buttons are tied on the second hackamore -- and end again when that piece is sold.  But the fun and play won't end; I get to keep the first one.

To go back to the very beginning, I honestly do not know when my original King's Herd's hackamore was built.  It could have been as early as 1979 or as late as 1984.  (Given the existence of a couple of more primitive examples, I lean towards the latter.)  I wanted a piece of headgear I could really pull on, something that would hold up to the most strenuous play.
My entry for NaMoTackMo 2018.
Its headstall was plain lace, with a slit in it for a primitive split ear.  The reins were simpler still:  braided embroidery floss, something that would drape well but withstand every kind of wear, from water to dirt.  (Clearly colorfastness was not a consideration!)  The lace curbstrap was the plainest.  The shanks were made of 20-gauge galvanized, the thickest wire I could handle at the time;  their length was on purpose.  (Cast shanks, of course, were not available.)  The nosepiece, a 6-strand braid of skived leather lace, was the most noteworthy feature.  This would be the last mechanical hackamore I would make for almost a quarter-century (until 2006, Tissarn's).

I joined NaMoTackMo this year.  April was my birthday month;  I usually try to make a tack piece for myself.  This time I felt like indulging in a very personal aspect.  What were the roots of my craft?  What but that feeling of actually being on the horse, directing him, guiding him?  So often I'd played there, controlling his head with actual pressures through the tack.  Control is everything; that is one of the appeals of miniatures (at least to  me!)...  Not only had my skill set been much improved -- silver engraving, access to Argentium, rawhide braided buttons, making my own strap tips -- but I had a deeper-than-usual need.  I had been playing for a year, ever since closing the Lottery and stopping taking tack orders.  With this piece I would still be playing, yet heading back in the direction of bridles and saddles (as opposed to chairs and snowshoes!), using all my skill to achieve what I originally wanted from model tack.

The new hackamore, then, would have shanks of the same length as the ancestral King's Herd's one.  A peculiarity of the piece was it could fit any horse in my herd.  I wanted to keep that.  This requirement dictated the single crown strap, with no throatlatch; it also dictated similar reins, of exactly the same length.  That was the easy part.
The hardest part, clearly, was going to be the shanks.  I started by drawing a pattern, then taped and cut them out.  In a mysterious fashion, the first two patterns turned out too big, and it was the second pair that I actually used.  Cutting out the metal shanks did not go smoothly either;  the shape was very demanding.  My first attempt broke one.
When you've paid thirty or so dollars for a piece of Argentium one inch by six inches, such a break is a disaster.  I swallowed hard and went on.
The above shot shows I originally intended to cut out 2 pairs of shanks, but sheer difficulty stopped me.  I had drawn up slightly different shapes of shanks (curved vs bent; see above);  I wound up using the bent one.  It was closer to the original and easier to file.  After hours of hammering and filing, I had two shanks and some very sore fingers.
 This was the first time I'd set a strap-tip, with its accompanying braided strap! in Thermaloc, the grey plastic holding-medium for engraving.  There's a first time for everything, but this year is seeing a lot of firsts...
Engraving is like dessert.  It goes fairly quickly and draws all the attention.  Everybody is full of awe for its beautiful results; yet getting the slots in the shanks (and smoothing their edges) -- all done by hammering and filing -- is by far the most time-consuming, and must come first.
Rocker-engraved around the edge of the shank:
Free-form bright carving for the rest.
At this point I could show off.  Thank you FaceBook readers!
So far, so good!  No one had yet complained that I was practicing animal cruelty with those long shanks.   For a day or so that worried me and then I discovered they were perfectly in scale for Jezail/Kaalee!  The larger molds that Breyer was releasing these days had their uses...

In one titanic 6+ hour day, I made the nosepiece.  I practically had to teach myself to braid again.  That night I started this post with a storm of writing, of which these are a few excerpts:

"Up at midnight again.  I haven't had this many adventures with the TSII since the Great Clydesdales Caper.  Nobody would believe it:  More than 6 hours in one day (I usually make 1 or 2) and only 1 nosepiece to show for it!!  'Course there's also most of a Plate, a drawn page of instructions and in this case formulae for braiding the nosepiece.  Formulae that work.  This is what all the fuss was about, this is the real harvest...

 "So many struggles I can't catch them all.  My old nosepiece formula didn't work and I don't know why.  Its second half, for the interweaves, worked fine!  Go figure.
 "Nobody's gonna believe that that blue is an artefact, an accident, a consequence, not planned, not desired, not seen!!  It wasn't on my mind or in my vision until very late...  Nobody'd believe how hard it was just to get here:  5 hours before I could even start this particular button.  So many tries I'd stopped counting -- it was more than 7.  More than 7 times braiding these incredibly hard buttons with their delicate, hand-cut lace, and then undoing them when they didn't work:  when the formula and the reality didn't match...

 "I thought the blue would be great for the SALES hackamore!  but not the one I'm keeping.  I took pictures to that effect.  I was going to ask the FB world whether this was a good idea.  It could've been so cool.  It still is an option.
"No one would believe I cut the lace too short.  Me, a professional!  I trusted my own recipes, notes from before, long used.  I went ahead, and thus got very deeply into the darn thing (multiple times) but did it dawn on me how short that working end was??  Much too short to finish the whole button--??
"When the inevitable drew close, it spoke to me.  A tiny voice gradually becomes clearer, the Muse at its best.  I am unique in all your works, it said.  Stop now and be content.  No one else will ever get anything like this.  It will work, because all that blue ticking will draw attention away from the braiding flaws (and there are plenty!).  This button is tied too tightly, had too much effort put into it, for me to give up.  I find I do have limits, and this is one of them.  A consequence of accepting deadlines, in this case NaMoTackMo, causes me to accept a piece I normally wouldn't have.  And who knows, it might even grow on you.

"So this is what working to deadline does:  you create weirdos, and then say they look fine."

Next day I made a braided-rawhide (nylon sinew) curbstrap like nothing I'd ever done before.  It had no buckles.  Apparently time pressure has its benefits in new designs.
The curbstrap had a button with tassel on one end and three loops in a row on the other.  The tassel made it easier to pull the button in and out of the loops of adjustment.  I was tickled.  Braided-thread keepers were standard, their thread doubled so they'd have a much harder time unraveling or coming apart.

The headstall was braided-rawhide too, with a tasteful minimum (?) of braided buttons and Hill Tribes silver beads.  The hard part was making the buckle; any silver (Argentium) part with holes in it was going to cost a lot of filing, and this one had to be big enough for the strap tip.  However, it turned out quite large enough, almost too large.  I hadn't used the tip to measure with during filing, another goof I can put down to racing the clock.  : (  The buckle got some rocker-engraving too.
King's Herd's Hackamore 2, Jezail's version
The hackamore filled the requirement of fitting every horse in the herd.
And so I made the deadline, actually a day ahead of time.  I did NaMoTackMo!  All was right and proper...

Except my hackamore didn't feel quite right.  It was saggy, twisty.  It had little 'response.'  I mulled over it for a couple of days and decided what it needed was a leather curbstrap, not a sinew one.  After all the original had had a leather one.
This time I designed a very simple leather equivalent to the braided-rawhide design, with slits for loops and a leather end-knot or button.  I slit the end of a piece of medium (1/8") lace into thirds and tied a Crown-n-Wall with them, and left the ends.  I had to braid new keepers, but once on this curbstrap worked perfectly.  I also tightened the shank brace ends (slobber bar) to help prevent twist.  Such minor adjustments are critical to a proper 'feel' if you're going to pull the reins.
And it worked.
King's Herd's Hackamore, leather curb, Jezail's
The blanket is by Amber Wylie/Hobo Cat Creations.  I added a breastband to it.
Despite the proven history of the original King's Herd's headstall, the split ear did not fit Jezail very well (or Brasenose).  However, it was a pleasing braid design to have (and I don't have much choice about leaving it in!).

And now for the second hackamore!  This headstall also has the split ear.
There's that very sinew curbstrap.  Its tassel is dewaxed sinew.  There's a handmade Argentium strap tip.  The buckle is a nickel-plated cast Rio Rondo one.  The nosepiece braiding is the finally-perfected recipe I evolved that titanic day.  However the cheek buttons are unfinished!  Something to do in the weeks ahead while I'm in Boulder.
It is my hope to offer this hackamore sometime in late June or July.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

TSII #378, Kim's Carousel II

Timaru Star II #378
Restoring TSII #378 has taught me so much.  I got what I was after:  tremendous practice enhancing, preserving and updating a 23-year-old saddle.  Yet its two main lessons somehow managed to cancel each other out!  I learned heaps about restoring, replacing, strengthening and otherwise saving such old saddles; but I also learned that this work is, in cost-benefit-analysis terms at least, just not worth it.  In plain language, it would have been faster and easier to make a complete new silver parade set.  Rebuilding an old one was fascinating but in the end an exercise in indulgence.
How glad I am to be able to indulge, then.
#378 was originally built for the PAS.
The third main lesson this saddle taught me was the least surprising of all.  It is one I've known all along.  No matter how my brain tells me to hurry up and do a quickie -- no matter the reasons, be they solid as gold -- once the tackmaker really gets her teeth into a project, it proceeds at exactly the same speed as do all my past tack glaciers.  It sets its own pace.  Nothing less than the very best I am able to do with the skills and materials I have at the time will do --- and the devil take the clock.
TSII #378, Birds Eye view
Having said that, it became clear in the long course of this restoration job -- four months!  January to April -- that I was changing my approaches and trying out new things.  There was progress.  I started with the breastcollar, as it was a miniature sample of the serapes (hardest) and had something of everything.  On the breastcollar and the hip drops, I was lacing down the original silver tape, which was one layer thick and rather fragile.  In mid stride -- on the bridle -- I was replacing the tape but with only one layer.  At the end -- the skirts, fenders, taps and serapes -- I was ripping off the old tape and replacing it with two layers of fresh new tape.  Only by doubling was the tape strong enough to withstand the handling.  Lacing it down had the Mylar getting gummy with the new adhesive, so I cleaned it off with rubbing alcohol, which worked... too well.  Surpise, surprise,  I discovered rubbing alcohol would completely remove the gold of the Mylar!!  It is silver beneath...
As far as the prism tape went (the colors of the figures), I wanted to retain as much of the original as possible.  In the event, the nearside serape retained two snippets:  the blue saddle and the lower blue platform edge/rounding board stripe.  (Seen above on the buckskin.)  The offside serape retained its tail and pole (seen below).  Everything else, except for the forehead ornaments, had to be replaced.  A hard-learned lesson was to back all the prism tape.  In some cases I only managed nail polish!  but the horse heads and horses were backed with sheet aluminum.  (See below.)  Complete new medallions were made, not without some mental anguish over removing the originals, which dated back to 1995.
Off serape, After (2018)
Near serape, Before (1995)
Ultimately the original ponies, and nearly every piece of silver tape not recycled, wound up in my tack notebooks.  Below is just one sample page, showing holding them down with Scotch Tape.  The detritus is additional prism tape layers/pieces.  Some numbers:  This restoration job took 46 pages across two notebooks, N.A. XIII and XIV.  And they weren't small pages!  (That black stain?  Just a reminder of TSII #456, Star Wars.)
I made a fourth Needle Chisel.  It's second from right in this shot.  I'd needed that size for some time.  After this photo was taken I re-soldered and re-filed it and it is smoother and better than what is shown.
 An unbelievable amount of work went into updating #378.  New buckles and rings, replacing the galvanized with stainless steel, was the least of it.  The cantle was rebraided with new Galaxy lace (the old had turned white).  The seat piece was strengthened with a tree-like lining of metal and leather and a new undercantle was made.  The gold rings (this is carousel!) on the taps were replaced and their inner edges stitched down with the smallest Mylar lacing I possessed.  In some cases the original ring silver tape was kept.
The browband was replaced.  The ferrules on the bridle were stripped of an ancient coating of glue, polished and recoated with nail polish.  Much of the hardest work was, in fact, peeling off glue and coatings of one sort or another.  I learned how in the course of the work:  Rub hard with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol, then wipe with the dry end; Kill all the Q-tips!  When the coating had softened, roll-peel it off, while continuing to dissolve it off with vinegar and more alcohol.   This photo finally captured the process; I was using my needle chisel.
I learned that glue grabs glue and to let the roll build up to large dimensions.  Peeling is addictive.  Once clean, the leather was dyed, Lexol'd and Leather Glow'd.  Alas, after I had spent days and days stripping the serapes, I concluded that such work did not really need to be done, at least on the leather...!  Removing it from silver made sense (it turned various shades of brown and grey and was mildly gooey).  But  I could have left most of that coating... it had done a good protective job for 23 years.  I did leave it on the taps, skirts, fenders, bridle and breastcollar.

The work involved in setting the prongs of the figures/medallions is as difficult and tricky as it's always been.  It is the only way I know to make absolutely sure that silver won't fall off.
Bottom side of pony medallion, before setting
Top side of same pony.  Prongs are hard to see, due to angle of shot.
 This is what the back of one of the restored serapes looks like, before edge-braiding and before its final black-leather lining is on:
 The saddle edges that previously had a thin line of stamped silver tape were now silver edge-braided with No. 12 Mylar.  Mylar tinsel is just about my hardest-to-braid material, but nothing else has got that sparkle!  It matched perfectly the carousel air and bling.

The corona blanket was very challenging, because it came at the end, when the artist's vision is just about drained (and they are looking ahead to something else!).  The original was made of pompoms, and while there is value in retaining original equipment, in this case the temptation to use advanced technology was too great.  (I.e. Melody's type of corona was SO much better!)  I found an LRB (Lorrie Batchelor?) blanket in my spares box.  Thank the god of forgotten purchases!! -- I couldn't have made a corona on my own in the time frame I had set.  With a lot of fiddling, because the corona was too big but fortunately had a fender gap, I made it smaller.  This view is of the process of the darting, having peeled back the chamois lining part way:
Then I darted it smaller sidewise -- too small!! -- and so had to cut some stitches.  Halfway through this tricky operation I realized leaving a hole in a middle would do no harm and gain some flexibility, which was what I wanted.  It looks bad, but all 4 seams have been stopped by dedicated stitches and the gap is hidden under the saddle.  Now the blanket is stretchy and can adapt to different backs.  The finished bottom is pure chamois, a thick but protective layer.
I am beyond grateful for the chance to pull out all the stops, devote myself to a lost art and go completely whole hog on a piece that might have been of interest to very few. Give me leave to do my utmost!  says Isaac Dinesen (author of Out of Africa), speaking of the artist.  Perhaps some of these restorative techniques may be of use to others dealing with old silver tape saddles.  For future TSII Parade sets, however (saving tape medallions for irregular spaces), I think I will stick with iron-ons.

Unless and until they, too, need restoring.

On to NaMoTackMo!  and beyond:  future sales pieces.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Reflections on Restorations

TSII #377, built in 1995, retaped in 2000
I was asked to blog about parade restorations in general and #378 in particular.  I'll start out with a brief overview of TSII silver Parade sets, touch on reasons for restoring, look at materials I've used and then list those sets I've restored.  I'm afraid focusing closely on #378 will take another post!
     Here's my working approach:  I'll use no silver tape (aluminum metal mending tape) unless it is physically held down, either by clinching, pinning, lacing, tying, sewing or braiding.  Its adhesive is only to be used for initial positioning; after that it might as well not exist for me.  Silver tape's beauty, workability and ease of access are great assets for me, and I do use it --- but its gum will die and turn to crumbs.  Of that I am sure and certain.
TSII #378, Kim's Carousel, built in 1995
I've created 103 scale-model silver Parade saddles since 1979.  The first through the 38th were painted-silver, the 39th through the 85th were silver tape sets and from the 86th on they have been made with various other technologies.  Ikandis (iron-ons) are the current favorite.  The first silver tape set was TSII #230, built in 1988.  The last was #421, built in 2001 (85th).  The 84th and 85th sets emerged already laced down, so the last silver tape set liable to need restoring is really #415, the Millennium Set (2000)(83rd).  So that's a solid 45 silver saddles... almost half my production...  twelve years' worth, which could potentially be in need of restoration.
TSII #230, built in 1988, retaped in 1993

 I've always wondered what happened to TSII #415, the Millennium Set.  It was sold at auction to Angie Diekman for the then-unheard-of price of $1100.00.  Like a fussy mother, I worry about the copper in it.  Copper and leather do not get along.
TSII #415, built in 2000
 I am using the term 'restore' somewhat loosely here.  It could just as well be called rebuilding, refurbishing, repairing and/or conserving, depending on what was done.  These terms have different meanings: for instance conserving means preserving and enhancing what's already there, while rebuilding denotes actual reconstruction.  Each case gets what I think it needs.  My goal for each saddle is to keep as much as possible of the original, spirit and design both, while strengthening, repairing, cleaning, extending the life of, and taking advantage of new technologies for, that particular piece.  A rebuilt piece glows;  it's had a double helping of the fire of its creator.  It should last a lot longer afterwards too.  : )  It takes a brave soul to destroy an old piece, but if the vision of what's to replace it is confident enough, it's worth it, and for a bonus you learn how it aged.  I'm learning about restoring the same way I learned about silvering:  the hard way.  

Over 40 years (officially), my material choices for model silver saddles have ranged far afield.  I've gone through silver paint, silver tape, aluminum sheet, cast pieces, Mylar, sandwich approaches, semi-precious stones and iron-ons.  My materials and techniques have changed so much I'd be a fool to think I've settled on a final method even now.   We still have real metal and powdered metal... and...

Wouldn't it be better to just restore using the materials that that hard-won experience has taught me were best?  Of course, especially if history meant nothing.  There is an even more uncomfortable question:  Wouldn't it be easier and faster, instead of exhaustively cleaning, peeling, rebuilding and reconfiguring these older pieces (especially if they cannot use modern techniques), to just make new ones??
Gentle reader, alas, the logical, cost-efficient answer is yes.

But when has logic and cost-efficiency been the only determining force at the Timaru Star II??!?
TSII #12 on *Opium, remade by Amarna/Elizabeth Bouras
How lucky I am.

In a curious mood, I dug up the numbers on TSII silver saddles I'd previously restored, fixed up and otherwise repaired.  I was astonished.  Starting in 1993, it turned out I'd restored 12 sets!!!  (counting this one, #378).   Of those twelve, two were not silver tape sets, but that's still 10 of the 45.  Ten!!!  almost a quarter of them!!!  I had no idea I'd done so many.  What a field:  redoing portions of a fraction of a portion of one artist's work!!!

Here's the list:
In 1993, #230 - the very first silver tape one, owned by Carol Gerhard.
In 1994, #243, Karen Gerhardt's Wizard's Vale, and #252.
In 1997, #12 and #197, two painted sets originally owned by Elizabeth Bouras.
In 2000, #377, Sapp's (ultimately the inspiration for Breyer's first porcelain), #375 Northern Brilliance and #306 Easley's Airy Indian-- in the middle of this year I invented Mylar-tying.
In 2002, #357, a Classic scale set.
In 2009, #318, Khambour's Pyr spotted.
In 2012, #355, Rouillard's, now owned  by Jeanette Eby.
In 2018, #378, Kim's Carousel.  There is another in the pipeline, #362, Foote's/Evans'.
TSII #355, built in 1993,  restored in 2012
A few patterns reveal themselves.  Very few of the colored-prism-tape sets have returned to me, even though those years saw the majority of them made.  No. 378 is the second to come back, after #243.  Not every saddle made with silver tape needs to be restored (!).  Two of the 45 silver tape saddles have remained with me, #400 Rainbow Brilliance my own, and #309 the Canadian Buffalo (bought back).  Number 12 started out painted but was redone with silver tape -- and I bought it back as well.  The most obvious revelation is that restoring TSII silver parade saddles is so expensive, so rarely encountered and takes so long that only wealthy and older collectors can indulge. It truly would be easier and cheaper to build new ones.
TSII #12 as received in 1997.  Bit by Sue Rowe.
Could there ever be a market for such a skill??  especially after I'm gone...?
But consider.  Many other tackmakers and many other model saddles use silver tape technology.  Many saddles are being made with a single layer of aluminum tape, pressed and stamped into leather.  It's so easy to do that.  The tape can be cut with scissors.  It sticks like magic and it's so shiny.  It looks marvelous.  It'll stay that way for years.
TSII #12, retaped in 1997.
 Four years, plus or minus, depending on conditions.
TSII #12, retaped in 1997.
Even #12 has not escaped; it is losing squares at the top of the fenders as we speak.  : (

In the Guide I try to share what I've learned about those conditions.  I noticed tape first started breaking and falling away on areas of leather which BENT:  the tops of fenders, the crowns of bridles, the shoulders of breast collars, the upper portions of hip drops.  Non-disturbed areas tended to hold their tape much longer.  The first restorations I did were simply re-applying the tape.  It wasn't until 2000 and my discovery of Mylar Tinsel that I evolved a method to stop, I hoped much more permanently, silver tape from falling off.  (Remember:  I Hate Glue.  Long story, having to do with a father's sensitivity and my own huge pride.)  The new My-tying method was first tried on #418, the Rainbow Laced, and it was a major design change -- a ton of work and heavy use of the Needle Chisel.  But it held.  I believe it is holding still.
TSII #418, photo by Cabot
In fascinating chapters I moved through cut and shaped aluminum spots, set spots and Mylar lacing, sandwiches with cut-out layers, and cast plates, from #421 (2001) (85th) to #445 (2007) (96th).  There is a whole book here, don't think I don't know it!!  In 2008 I tried the ikandis (iron-ons) with Eleanor Harvey's #447 Zhivago Hexagon No 1 (97th), and knew I'd come home.  I haven't looked back.  All succeeding TSII silver parade sets have used this technology.  But I still keep silver tape for special applications, when it alone can do the job.  See the Clyde Goehring posts!
TSII #447, Eleanor's Hexagon
If you think it ironic I've settled for adhesives after so long and hard a fight to repair their lack:  You're right!!  It IS ironic.  It's part of a twisting tale of adventure, and I'm only sorry I can't tell it all here.  Between braidwork and silver saddles, I've chosen braidwork as my first love.  Silver saddles are very close behind; the two are like two children of the same mother.  There are certainly TSII Silver Saddles with braidwork on them.  I've been in the field long enough to see how the materials I've chosen, for my own reasons, age.  I look forward to seeing how the ikandis, and other materials and techniques, age.  And I do wonder what's next for my silver saddles.
About TSII #378:
As of today, the base plate (bottom skirt), seat, breastcollar, both fenders and tapaderos and hip drops, and the bridle, are DONE.  Still to go are the serapes.  The off serape has only its center medallion pony and its edge-braiding yet to be done.
When all's finished, it'll be NaMoTackMo for me.  There might even be time for an auction piece - we'll just have to see.  : )

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thoughts on NaMoPaiMo 2018

"-and look at how great he is!!"
These words still ring in my ears and in my heart.  It is amazing how powerful they were.  Other people have praised my Brasenose, heaven knows.  But these words, bestowed upon me by Jennifer at my successful finish, possess a elemental strength.  In a world saturated with words, and in a hobby unusually filled with praise, they still manage to stand out for me.

The above portrait shows my new Jacquee Gillespie bridle, which was under construction during NaMoPaiMo.  I designed and commissioned this bridle and she made it come true.  Definitely a dream made real!   (I'm too lazy to use sticky wax or to Photoshop the thread out.)

I wrote a lot about the first NaMoPaiMo:  thoughts on NMPM.  At that time I could barely guess how the second version would turn out.  I can honestly say I was surprised, which is a wonderful thing.   Some of my fears have come reasonably close to fulfillment (the greatest being the burning out of the central star).  Yet, a good many more of my amazed and pleased wishes came true than fears.  Looking back in comparison, I am struck by the number of participants.  Where did I get that first 600 from?  If this is legit, then my hobby has a pretty consistent base population of active, online, creative model horsers who like to paint -- or at least think they like to.  I know I was one of those original 600, but I joined then because I wanted to watch and cheer, and be involved, not because I wanted to paint.
 So there was my first surprise:  changing my mind about 'not needing to paint a horse.'  If this is what defines me, distinguishes me from the crowd, so be it.  She mentioned this in her prize-note to me.  I was honored with the Van Gogh medallion -- during NaMoPaiMo, shortly after I'd finished Brasenose.  As preventative maintenance this was flawless.  Now I have another test medallion, to replace my Rose Jypsi.  A minor surprise was that I was about the only blogger, outside of Jennifer herself, to depict NaMoPaiMo while it was happening.
I was inspired to create a notebook especially for my NaMoPaiMo projects, based on my Tack Notes notebooks.  It is now 22 pages long.  On p. 21 I gave up on transcribing what I'd written in my main Notebooks -- there was too much -- and just entered synopses.   Here's a quote:
[1801.31] [January 31]
"You have to be deeply devoted, professionally disciplined, physically skilled, blessedly creatively supported and have, very nearly, all the time in the world.  It's a narrow path to follow.  Only discipline and isolation, and HARD WORK, will bring that dream into reality, the 3D of life, in the hand.  Don't I say something like this in the Guide?!!!"

The selfies request was genius.  It was yet another example of how I could only do this on my own terms.  I had my husband shoot me.

My largest surprise, which grew and grew, was just how diverse people's ideas were of what constituted an equine form.  One pony was lying down.  Unicorns!  Pegasi!  Carousel horses!  oh, and Carousel Mules...?  Hippocampi?  not one but at least two!  Wait, a lion?  An Art-Deco horse -- what I personally called 'the Akhal-Deco'!?  Wow!  And to beat all, the Lord of the Mountain!!  Diversity indeed...

This last piece, a metallic-blue horse with a pure-anime-fantasy head, provided me with my most notable turnaround in feelings.  At first I was put off by his utter strangeness; I could not grasp what she was aiming for.  Also, I had a few qualms about artists who seemed to appeal to the world at large for every tiny problem or question.  Have they no sense of privacy?  I found myself wondering;  can they not solve small challenges on their own?  Is this what the modern online world has evolved to?
But then at the end, in that torrential rush of finishes, I saw the completed Lord of the Mountain.  Oh my my, AHAH!  So THAT was what she had been aiming for!!  So that was the vision that had sustained her,  -- what was trying to get out.  I know as an artist that the vision must be strong enough to withstand the long processes of birth.  I could only acknowledge that she had, indeed, done it.  What winners all.
Saddle & blanket by SBY, bridle by Gillespie
(How quickly he is broken to ride... : )  That's my Chris-Armstrong-designed Navajo blanket "Klagetoh" coupled with my famous Elk Saddle, TSII #432, built 2003.  This is his first time under saddle...)

I am not a last-minuter myself.  I despise deadlines.  This was one of the reasons I resisted joining for so long.  I had bitten off a mighty hunk to chew.  I had to learn how to color a Trad scale horse and how to paint him with what I had -- under an imaginary but still real pressure.  I learned that smoothness is, in and of itself, an artistic achievement.  Like all such skills, it can only truly be got by practice (kind of like tooling leather).  I value smoothness and hardness of surface:  witness my collecting OF glossies.  (I know my heart shall break when Brasenose gets his first good rub or scratch!)  I've purchased a special travel case for him -- so great has his value become.  (It's actually a plastic briefcase.)  This value is even more set off by the speed with which he was finished - another surprise.  I am reminded of how Ivan Collins, the scale-model horse-drawn-vehicle maker, created his most beautiful sleigh model in what was to him record time:  less than 2 weeks.

You would think this speed would translate itself into a myriad of follow-up dreams.  After all I have 12 unfinisheds.  But here's my paragraph comment on Sommer Prosser's grulla pinto Lucien:
"Seeing this horse answers (for me) the question of whether pro painters have reason to fear NaMoPaiMo -- to fear its building up their competition.   Hah!  If nothing else, NMPM serves as a splendid sampler.  More than ever, (now that I've tried it!) I do not grudge the painting pros their prices.  Congratulations, Sommer, you nailed him!"
(Her response was all I could have hoped.)
photo & sculptures by Margarita Malova
Would I do this again?  My first answer is it's too soon to ask.  Dreams need time.  Conceptions, naturally, should be private.  Brasenose took several weeks to reach the stage where I was ready to share this dream with the world.  You can only break your virginity once.  When I am strong enough: that is the time to ask about next time.
Nonetheless, glimmers are coalescing.  He needs a wife.  My first encounter with him revealed a foal, Malova's sculpture Magnolia the tremendously cute stretching filly.  He is a stallion.  Not for him my childhood collection rules of how gender is defined by personality and how breed doesn't matter in a family.  Too much adult detail and realism is embodied in him, and thus his future family will surely be resincasts like him.  Perusing Malova's sculptures, I saw the grazing version of Gazyr.  I am drawn to unusual, pioneering models.  The first faint wishes are swimming in my seas:  palominos, perlinos...

As for the future of NaMoPaiMo, it seems assured.  I rest my case as before:  if she never blogs again I will still be amazed and grateful for all she has given us.
"--and just look at how great she has been!!"