Sunday, January 18, 2015

TSII #454's Breastcollar

At this point in the creation of TSII #454 "the Gold Tipped," with both serapes done and the breastcollar almost done, I was faced with the bresatcollar's central panel medallion.  The shape of this space made it most challenging.  Why?  Because a Parade saddle has only two supremely major focus points, the serape center and the breastcollar center (the brow center, tap center and shoulders are subservient echoes to these two), and so far the design I'd been using did not allow for irregular shapes in these foci.  The shoulder panels merely copied the serape's upside-down-T gold stripe.  But here in the chest, we had a problem: how to fill that parallelogram of a space?
I had been thinking vaguely of using my Bonded-Mylar technology.  But when I put my gold version of that up against #454, it was the wrong color gold!
The ikandis I had were nothing like big enough.  My largest was the 13mm circle.  The idea came to me to break up that space in thirds, and use the dividing lines of the insets as rays congruent with the rest of the rays.
It is hard to believe, but I started this panel not knowing what pattern I was going to stamp on the insets.  Only a dim vision of rays outward from the center guided me.  One problem at a time, and fitting came first.  This picture shows the fitting and filing that went on:  Here (above) the bottom edge is still too long, overlapping the silver spots below it.
The first inset suffered a little in its stamping.  The first one always does.  But as I made it, the pattern came clear: tiny circles as borders (echoing the existing squares on serape and shoulders) and rays cut in.
Fitting the second inset took almost as long as the first, but stamping it was a breeze.
At this point, another concern took over.  The hot-gluing of the ikandis is a learned art.  I had been learning all along about doming -- adequate doming is what gave the look I was after with these silver and gold spots.  How to keep the dome on these irregular gold spots?  I pushed the leather down on the stamping block over a screw-head until a bulge formed.  (Fingernails handy.)  When the Trim Seal tool (glue gun) was HOT (this is important!) I glued on the inset spots, while at the same time holding the breastcollar in place on the bulge.  It worked.
Having reached here (forgetting pictures of creating the last third gold inset), I chose to tackle yet another problem.  All along I'd been worried about the borders on the shoulder panels.  There weren't any!  In my eagerness to crowd on the spots, I'd eaten up any border space.  The serapes suffered too.  In addition, how thick, massive, wide and heavy these shoulder panels were...  On the off side there literally wasn't any leather border at all.
I'm ashamed to admit how long it took me to discover the obvious solution.  There seems to be a switch inside me that, when it hears hoofbeats, doesn't expect horses (the correct answer), but works its way through zebras, quaggas and okapis!!  before it gets to horses.  Eventually the horse answer appeared:  just cut down the spots.  That is the start of what you see on the nearside shoulder panel below:
This solution cured two problems at once:  it created borders and it made the whole breastcollar lighter, more shapely and realistic.  I had to cut off a lot of spots and create new ones.  Thank heavens, normally I'd never've had the courage to destroy so much work, but I'd also really needed to find out how "tight" the spots stuck to leather.  I am pleased to report they really stick... !!  And here, incidentally, you see the last third of the central breatcollar motif in place.
There is a bit of optical illusion going on with it.  The bottom (curved side) of that third central spot doesn't have any stamped circles -- there isn't room.  But the eye carries them across anyway -- the expectation is set up by the circles on either side.  I didn't know that's what was happening when I made it, but when the difficult doming was done (by hand, with pliers) and the thing was hotglued on, I saw spots.  And laughed.
Yet another design difficulty was choosing to use tiny silver circular spots on the neck strap chafe (rest), seen at the top of the pic above.  What!!  There are no circular silver spots anywhere else on the saddle!!!  But this tiny chafe was too small to have square spots.  The only other option was plain -- no spots.  My pride would not settle for that, so I forged ahead.
It looks much better on a horse.
We conclude with a look at the design sheet for TSII #454.  The drawings along the lower left corner show an earlier problem solved:  fitting silver spots on the arms of the breastcollar.  If you think designing these things is easy, think again!
Once again, a silver saddle seems to be taking forever.  Thanks for your patience, Sandra.  I am getting there!


  1. It's so pretty! I can't wait to see the finished product :)