Sunday, December 3, 2017
The Silver Acorn Opus Saddle
Amazingly, all 4 artists are still practicing! To be sure, some things have changed in that 23-year span. Still on the subject of the horse, the material used for resincasts is now much lighter in weight, and casts more smoothly. The camera used is a digital not film. The software used to process these pictures makes it possible for me to instantly clean up her various bumps, scratches, nicks and scars. I've never shown her much, but she seemed so perfect for this saddle. This the fun part: putting together the pieces, making the vision come real.
The first mention of any part of this set occurs on Heather's blog of September 9, 2012: Drivel when she calls it 'a project bridle for me.' Another picture of the cheekstraps occurs in a post on Oct 17. It isn't until December 15th, 2012, that the saddle really starts: New Stuff. A post on Dec 23rd, Holidays is also long and heartfelt.
The year 2013 started off very well for the saddle, -- but then bogged down in March. A New Year's Day, 2013, post looks forward; New & Improved (Jan 20) has a great deal of background, talking about saddle reference books. January would see two more posts about it, on the 23rd and on the 26th: More in Progress is the first to show the green and black spots set along the border of a fender. In March Heather's tackmaking interest went into some halters. A brief look, Workbench (March 18) shows the saddle's current state (fenders and base plate done and bridle's headstall), but other interests would take over for the next 7 months. Some of them would later turn into a career in photography! and others, such as shooting pool, would grow to be major activities. Much was going on: a job change in July was only one major life evolution for her. (If only I had known: 2013 was a terrible year for me.) The next mention of the Silver Acorn is in October with Slow Progress. For the rest of the year, only a Dec 15 post mentions Facebook pictures of work on the shoulders of a pleasure saddle. My post is not going to reference many FB posts -- I'm still learning how to find them, let alone link to them!
That BreyerFest, 2014, was one of the two I've had to miss. Heather went but I did not. In hindsight it was the right move for me. How precious our time, our lives, our friends become...
On July 26 Heather did something new and artistic, uploading videos on YouTube of two of her saddles, the making of the California Mother Hubbard and current progress on the Silver Acorn. A link to the Acorn's is here. I would later see this video and be completely convinced I was not worthy to own such an artistic piece!, so professionally presented. There's even appropriate music!! Honestly this was the first time I'd seen such a thing...
In August of 2014, possibly inspired by BreyerFest, there was a huge blurt of progress. August had by far the highest number of posts (7) of any month of the year, and all but one are on the saddle. A good glimpse is In Progress (August 10th); an excellent close up is Saddle Silver (August 31st). All that was missing was the stirrups and some silver; it really seemed that finishing the Silver Acorn was within reach. Yet in September the siren song of photography surfaced. Through the rest of that year, it becomes clearer than ever that hers is a photographer's soul. More and more the posts are of lots of horse pictures. The saddle is mentioned briefly, but no pictures are shown.
No more work was done on it for the rest of 2014.
In 2015, in an April 8 post, the saddle receives a name: "Opus Saddle." No pictures are put up, but there is mention of more silver put on. On April 20 we get an Almost Done post. There's a very good shot; it looks finished but for the stirrups. Unfortunately the rest of 2015 was consumed in divorce. I watched anxiously from afar and wondered if I should speak to both participants, but in the end I could only contact Heather and profess my support. The summer of 2015 was also the summer of the Triple Crown and American Pharoah. From this time Heather's photographer career would flourish.
The following year, 2016, it's April 10th before the saddle is mentioned. I am certain that FaceBook rose into prominence (my own saga there would start the year before, in April 2015), and that had an impact on blogging. Heather went to BreyerFest in July and was tremendously inspired, as were we all; that was the year we were both photographers at NAN! In a fit of generosity I tried to have my photographer's stipend assigned to her, but this did not work out. I also did not realize she had entered horses and was showing as well as shooting...!
In a marvelous visit on July 18, I got to see her new house and studio. Thirty-two of her photos were posted to her FaceBook and she treated me to lunch. : ) In those 32 the Silver Acorn Opus is clearly depicted, and so was the rawhide braided bridle I wound up selling to Heather. You can't keep good braiding tackmakers apart. Heather Visit
On August 28, 2016, Heather posted the finale, Only Took Four Years. It had indeed been almost exactly 4 years! Like most big tack projects, that length of time included periods of intense progress and long periods of waiting and idleness. It was rightly a masterful Opus. For an artist whose output was limited (her website shows just 15 Western saddles between 2002 and 2013), it was an immense amount of work.
The next chapter in the life of this saddle was the Juried Exhibit at the Morlan Gallery, at Transylvania University in Lexington. The Exhibit started October 28 and ran til December 2, 2016, and was named Enough to Swear By. It featured exquisite miniatures from artists around the world. Talk about exposure! I had never dreamed some of those things existed, and though I could not attend in person I enjoyed web-browsing the various artists' sites. You gotta hand it to the Internet: it makes such things possible!
Heather showed her Hummingbird Silver Parade saddle, her Opus and a braided bridle she'd made for Anna Tackett. She said the two saddles were for sale. When I heard the price asked for the Opus (it broke four figures) my hopes took a nosedive. I had made up my mind to make an offer, but as so often happens, what was immensely expensive for me (more than I'd paid for any other saddle) was considerably lower than her price. Nonetheless I made the offer.
There would be very few more blog posts from Heather up to the present.
There was an exchange of calls in February 2017, and we must have worked our way back into contact and understanding, because my questions were answered and I had a path forward by then. I was greatly looking forward to BreyerFest this year. As readers of this blog will know, Heather was kind enough to let me purchase the Silver Acorn at last, in July. Here's my BreyerFest Loot picture:
Towards the end of my snowshoes-making, on October 4th, I started a green cross-stitch saddle blanket just for the Silver Acorn. I used Chris Armstrong's "Pinky Lee" pattern (which really IS pink) but cast in several shades of green. I tried to match and/or enhance the greens of Opus. Some of them were surprisingly dark; my choices were perhaps excessively bright, in compensation.
I am sure there is much more to the story of this fabulous saddle!!