Today's post covers engraving silver on TSII #457, the Clyde Goehring II Mexican Silver Parade saddle. In particular, I took a series of shots showing the process of engraving one of the pieces flanking the central concho. I wish I had a word for each silver piece's shape on this breastcollar, but I don't! not even a number. I have a hard time calling something not round a "concho." But that's probably what they're called.
(For the curious, the word concho comes from the Spanish 'concha,' meaning shell. In days long ago, cowrie shells were used for horse tack ornamentation. Their pearly white smoothness looked very good against dark leather. Think of elk teeth used on Native American costumes; contrast is king. The word concho came to mean shell-shaped and circular pieces of silver on tack.)
As mentioned before, TSII #457 is basically a repeat of a saddle finished in 2014, #451. This post is also something of a repeat. In May of 2013, I was making the forerunner of this very breastcollar, and posted all about its silver: Goehring Breastcollar Engraved
While I'm not very happy about how slow progress has been on #457, I might justifiably claim I was otherwise engaged! Where are we going?? and why am I in this handbasket -- ??
While we don't know where we're going,... I am sorry indeed to see so many activities cancelled and postponed (I was supposed to judge a show this very weekend!),... I do know there are far worse things than being encouraged to stay home and make tack. The magic of the Web gives the hobby a connectivity it did not have when I first started in it. The foundation of that mail-order life is with me still; I look forward to writing more letters. In fact, I'll probably be notifying the owner of #457 about progress by snail mail, out of a personal preference for doing the solidly old-fashioned thing! Those days had more time and less stress, something I could value.
Here is a close-up of #457's central breastcollar concho:
Here's a peek at the back. Note how the tiniest concho (curved bar shape)(bottom-most) has got a loop that is not lined up with the rest. The leather lace's natural attempt to lie straight is causing the concho to twist. I later solved this problem by cutting the lace between it and its neighbor above.
Every one of the conchos is entirely handmade in a multi-step process. First they're cut out of the sheet silver (Argentium) and filed to rough shape. (In fact first they're designed and drawn on paper.) Then the loops on the back are soldered on. Then they're set in Thermo-Loc, a heat-softened plastic.
GRS Microblock Ball Vise
Small as it is, my pieces are too small to fit between the posts intended for the holes, so I use the Thermo-Loc almost exclusively.
For this concho I used only 4 gravers (the blades to cut and engrave the silver with). I wrote them down:
GlenSteel V-point or square GlenSteel V-point graver
GMT HSS 37 flat GMT gravers
Muller 8 6 flat E C Muller.com
Muller 14 4 flat
As far as handles go, I have quite the smorgasbord: one round wooden, several rosewood ones I bought from Rio Grande, and several made from plain old hobby-grade wooden dowel by yours truly...! Amazingly, no leather braiding on them yet... nor intend to. Gravers need to have smooth handles, as you are always pushing on them with your bare palm.
First, rocker-engraving around the border of the piece. This is the nearside flanking concho to the central breastcollar concho.
Tip: use an inch of heavy tape, like gorilla tape, to protect your left hand from being stabbed.
Ask me how I know.
It does seem coarse close up, but remember how small this really is.
I pop the flank concho out of the Thermo-Loc with a little pressure from the dull awl. Next comes cutting its hole in the breastcollar, which is tricky, to say the least.
What interesting times we live in. In some ways I've been here before. Every chemo patient gets to find out what it's like living with no immune system. I learned then that wearing a mask was akin to wearing a hijab. People suddenly don't see you. You hide right out in public. Behind the veil, you are both shielded and made vulnerable.
The mask itself is surprisingly comfortable and easy to get used to. But I'd like to see ones in a different shade from light blue. That is not my natural skin tone (much as I love Decorator horses). I'd love an art form for these.... Colored pencils, anyone?
Gone back in time. I feel like I'm on a ship,... with a crew of two,... and a hold full of the most magical model horses. JAH magazine published a story of mine about that magical ship in 1983. Today I'm buying stamps and manning the radio.