Number 455 is based on the hexagon. Partly this choice was because of the great success of my first hexagon saddle, #447; partly it was I "just wanted to." I had a few good reference pix of this unusual pattern, developed by Bohlin in the 1950s from a beekeeper friend's suggestion. The ikandi hexes only come in 6mm and 4mm, and I hadn't used the 4mm hexes before. The horse in question, Breyer's Marwari, is smaller than most Trads. And I want this set to be a standout. It's been a long time coming; the order was originally accepted in 2009, six years ago...
None of my existing tapadero patterns used 4mm hexes. I started with my smallest (it was #440's) and tried to fit in the elements of the serape design.
I tried working things out on paper. First, try a staggered front edge:
At this point I changed gears and went after the tooling pattern. (Typical of me to go haring off in a completely different direction when foiled.) I gave myself leave to develop a completely new tooling pattern... an expensive luxury, but allowable for our top-of-the-line silver saddles. I'd found an old Bohlin saddle pic deep in my files. The fact that the flower was a hexagon leaped out at me.
The "Mock-Up" idea has come into its own with TSII #455. This is laying down some packing tape (using plain tape to hold it sticky-side-up) and test-fitting the actual ikandis on it. This is ten times better than merely arranging them on paper. Trust me. What are a few grabs of tape at your hand, compared to the slightest jostling and all your work instantly, hopelessly, lost?!!?
As it happened this was my first-ever tapadero mock-up. And right away a great problem was solved. The spots were lining up beautifully. All I'd had to do was give up on the prevoius shape of the tap pattern, and let the spots dictate their own. (The half-hexes also came in handy; thanks for encouragement, C.)
I asked myself whether the above layout couldn't bear to have a bit more nose: another row of spots, perhaps?
The center front of the tapadero must bend in the middle, and be as large a single piece of metal as can be managed, within the design parameters of the individual saddle. Hence the two interlocking shapes there on the mock-up.
Now comes the dinking. Should I move the 2-spot "peanut" down by one?
Next, of course, is matching the tap pattern as a whole, and redoing the tooling pattern.
This is how the big guys do it: there is always a flow to the tooling pattern. It follows a growth path. And so I came to a place I liked.
Designing is fun,... but it's only part of the work to come...