Thursday, October 10, 2013

Goehring Stirrups

I learned a very important engraving lesson with these stirrups.  It will be forever impressed (I almost said engraved) upon my mind.  It will also be connected with the movie I was watch/listening to at the time, which was Hiyao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro.  I don't have pictures of exactly what happened, only before and after -- but oh Lor', never again!
But to begin at the beginning.
Every big project has to start somewhere.  Thanks to Alison and Jennifer I had the tree.  Thanks to other factors, I'm finally starting to have some time, although 'tis a fraction of what I could spend on model tackmaking!  And thanks to some odd idea of working from edges inwards, I eventually decided to start this monster saddle with the stirrups.  Once it was broken down into parts, things began moving.
I'd better show you the reference.
This is the real Clyde Goehring stirrup.  The white checkering is present on both sides of the foot rest drop, front and rear.

Paper patterns are what I use.  This is a critical step, to practice with before actually cutting leather.  The bottom patterns here are for the stirrups; the rightmost one came first.  I knew I wanted to use the sheet aluminum ("Create With Metal") I'd gotten at Hobbytown USA.
Although the reflections are bad, you can detect a strip cut off from the lower right corner.  It was easy enough to bend this strip into a U shape.  It was very hard to drill holes through it.  This took a long time.  I knew what I wanted to use for the neck:  None other than a bamboo skewer I'd snuck home from an Asian restaurant!!  Ah, recycling at its finest...


The decorative pattern on the real stirrup was somewhat mystifying.  I'd rarely seen anything like it:  triangular groups of dots.  Grapes?!  In the stamping, they simplified themselves, a skill I don't know how to explain, other than to say that 10 groups just wouldn't fit.  At this point all was well. 
 It was time to try out my ideas on the checkering.  Like so many tackmaking solutions, this one came to me in the middle of the night, out of nowhere.  I knew I couldn't use leather interlacing -- the material has its limits, as does my patience!  But the soft Amish harness thread seemed to hold promise.
 And it worked.  It even had that weary-worn look.
At this point, a most enticing idea crossed my bows.  Should we not try to engrave the little beasties?  Fatal choice!!!
This is the "before" picture.
Take it from me kiddoes:  Choosing to engrave these stirrups AFTER putting the necks and leathers on them, burying them in a huge lump of plastic, was WRONG!!!!  BAD IDEA!!!  Oh, I thought I was clever:  I knew better than to put Thermo-Loc right against the leather, and embedded them in paper towels... but Oh, OH, DID I calculate the consequences of burying a 3-dimensional, inch-square leather-covered object in solid grey plastic??
DID I realize how hard that stuff would be to get OFF??
No, gentle reader.  Not at all.
It took an hour to free just one.  An hour of tiny little cuts, shaving the Thermo-Loc off bit by bit, aware every stab how easy it would be to cut either myself or the stirrup, making a pile of thin grey scrapings.  The Thermo-Loc could not be saved.  It is a miracle I saved the stirrup.  The second one took only 20 minutes.  There was some damage, but nothing that couldn't be glued or Edge-dyed.
Whew...
I only engraved one side, my own compromise.  The result was lovely and it matched the rest of the bridle and breastcollar.

These stirrups are incomplete.  Neck leather wraps are still needed, as well as conchos.
This extremely handy tool is my circles template, a heritage from my drafting days in college.  I have used this more than any other drafting template in tackmaking, throughout the history of the TSII.  Note my last name inked on it:  the 'N' is not curved, something very early in my career as a draftsperson, before I developed my "hand" (handwriting).
The scissors are my 'tin snips,' an old sewing pair kept exclusively for cutting sheet aluminum.  The tiny circle of the concho is at the upper right of what I'm holding.
One down, eleven more to go.






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