Wednesday, September 26, 2018
This post will cover the three and then take a close look at how we solved a problem on the last one.
The first one made (on the right above) took over 40 hours and just about drove me crazy. I'm referring to it as L1 or Brown/White/Check (the check is black & white). Check refers to the checkered strand, the 'fleck' as it is sometimes called... A lot of mistakes were made with this one, and I sweated them out one by one: set the threads at opposition not combination! Learn to 'stroke' it and get the irregularities out, even though that destroy it... How to repair a strand cut short, knowledge which (frighteningly) came useful soon after...! This mecate, 29 1/2 inches long, is currently for sale:
[Ed Note: SOLD 1809.28 - Thanks!]
The second mecate was the Roby Canyon Grey and it took an even 20 hours. This was the triumph, the successful one: it has the lovely grey strands in it and the unusual check strand, half grey half black. Its length turned out 31 inches, one-ninth of a full scale 24-foot rope. I am measuring the rope alone, from the head of the popper to the tassel knot.
And the third mecate, on the left in the first picture, was finished yesterday. This third one is known as L2 or Black/Brown/White/Check, with the check being dark brown & white. It took 23+ hours and came out at, depending on how you stretch it, 30 1/2 or 30 3/4 inches. It turns out to be extremely difficult to exactly predict the length, for all that I kept exhaustive measurements. (I'm working on shrinkage rates...) The Roby mecate had had serious strand waste-ends and I was trying to eliminate that while still reaching 31 inches.
So what's so hard about spinning thread together and making ropes?!? I've made a couple dozen of these so far...!! and I think I've put up more posts on mecates than anything. (By actual count there are 8 posts (not counting this one)! Okay the Goehring had more, at 13, but still...)
Many model tackmaking skills are used in the making of these ropes. This time we will look at attaching a further length to a strand that came up short. This is what happened to the first mecate; it also happened to the third -- and we got pictures. :)
In this shot we see the ends of the strands coming out nowhere near each other. The shortest one, white, is at 3", equalling 27" as it happens. Since my goal is 31" this is tragically too short. Heroic measures are called for. Since I have the experience of L1 to draw upon, I know what to do. Unspin a bit, attach 3 new threads, hope they hold, and re-spin! Easy, right....?
Better. There's a bulge but it's manageable.
Next up is the hobbles for the Roby Canyon set, and their hangers. When they're done the whole Hackamore and hobbles will be up for offers on MH$P, with a reserve. I have dim dreams for the first Roby bosal and the L1 mecate; they would make a fine Hackamore by themselves.
I also must buckle down harder on the Braidwork book... dreams which must be dragged into reality if we are ever to progress.
And this November is the Guide's 20th Birthday...
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Over the weekend I managed to finish Bosal 2 for this set (below right). Somehow, it, as well as the mecate, came out a scoosh too big. I tell you what, folks (voice of Bartok the Bat here), proportion is the greatest challenge in model tackmaking.
Meanwhile back to the vision I saw in that canyon in June! Finally putting the pieces together and finally getting a morning without rain, I had a little photo shoot... and the trees promptly dripped water on him.
To suggest what the entire rig might look like, I added the closest thing I had to a plain TSII saddle. This is TSII #117, from 1985, my first good basketweave. It's 33 years old... still looks good to me...
The jaw strap is actually needed on such a large head.
Saturday, September 1, 2018
It was yesterday I decided to test my grey mecate design ideas by wrapping the strands around my Needle Awl and photographing them. I'd never done this before. Previously, mecate designing was all done on paper, in my head, or on the rope itself in the process of starting the spin. There are only 5 colors! But this way I could capture the subtleties and examine them at my leisure. I was so intrigued by my results I decided to blog about them. There were indeed subtleties -- and there was a clear winner.
This is what I had to work with. You are looking at a week's work. Each one of these strands takes 3 to 4 hours to make. They're crafted entirely of hand-spun thread. Although the photo doesn't show it well, the checkered strand (left) or 'check' as I will call it, is a pioneer. It alternates white-black with white-grey. I dyed the grey myself, as documented in a previous post.
In the course of the Roby, I'd drawn a lot of design tests. At first I took them from real mecates. Later (the black ink ones) I invented my own. I was pretty pleased with that last one (lower right) and decided to go with it...
What happened next was 3 days of rest from the Roby and completion of the first mecate, which turned out to be incredibly difficult (as well as taking three times as long as it should have). (I had cut it too short and was busy figuring out how to extend it and undo a button with a lot of work in it.) I had had an exciting night pondering the grey's design (amoung other things), and I thought it didn't have enough black in it. My morning-after answer was plain: check-check-white-gray-black. To quote:
"Altho this doesn't place white next to black, remember the check strands are unusually white. The grander, larger overall pattern is a simple alternate. Altho I'm not completely "in love" with this approach for TSII mecates, I feel a 6 is way too ambitious at this time. We are SO behind! Also this 5 creates a way to show butt-joins for ABFTMH [pronounced Abaft-muh] which is really important!!"
ABFTMH, dear readers, is my next book: Advanced Braidwork for the Model Horse. (hint: probably years to go yet...)
Butt-joins, for the uninitiated, is my phrase for where two threads must be stuck together end to end, with as little overlap as possible.
It was a bit tricky to get the threads to behave for these shots, but a weight laid on them on the left helped. I'm calling this first design One. It is my original idea: check-check-white-grey-black.
Here's Three, checks next to the black.
And so my problem was solved. My first design, the one that came to me in the night, had after all been the right one. The rabbit-hole had been just that, a detour unnecessary. Why did I have to follow all these detours??!! My self-discipline is very ragged around the edges! But at least I had some good ideas for next time.
Ever since then I've been spinning like mad. It takes just as long to twist up the finished rope of a mecate as it does to make the strands -- more so, when I try to smoothe it out and all the inconsistencies bunch together and ruin things. I can only go a few inches at a time; ideally, I now think, one inch at a time. This is rope-making in miniature, and all parts must be even tensioned. And that's hard, really hard. Somehow mecates are the second-hardest piece of braided tack I can make (behind bosals).
UPDATE. As of Sept 1 the grey mecate is finished; look for pictures on FaceBook. Also, I have finally decided to take offers on the brown/black/white mecate (illustrated here and at top of post). HORSE AND OTHER TACK NOT INCLUDED. I'll put the small Roby bosal up on eBay; this auction will have to wait until after the 10th because we plan to be out of town. But the mecate is indeed up for grabs. You could email me right now. : ) Given how much time went into it, I am hoping it could fetch around two hundred; but we shall see. I'll put it up on MH$P and we'll go from there. A deadline for mecate offers would be Sept 10th, at 9pm EST.
Thanks for looking!