Saturday, May 16, 2020

AT2 - Brasenose's Breastcollar Finished

Better late than never!  More than 2 weeks after the end of International Model Tackmaking Month, I finish my piece.  The breastcollar was begun on my birthday at the end of April...  but the set it belongs to was begun a year ago, near the end of the 2019 IMTM.

Although this next shot is the official 'finish,' I liked the above one enough to position it first.  It is a bit less retouched -- for some reason my camera makes his ears superlong!!

Due to, shall we say, interesting circumstances, Brasenose gets to model his beautiful emerald breastcollar against a backdrop of nearly the same green.  I rarely see Pennsylvania at this stage of Spring, because (since 2011) we were always on the road by the middle of May.  Not so this year.
I am grateful to Anna Helt and others of IMTM.  What a great idea!  Some of us needed a little extra time to finish our pieces.
And of course I am very thankful for Paula O'Keefe's help in obtaining the Rio Rondo dangles.  They really make the breastcollar!
 This photo shows the truest color.  Yes those are real emeralds.  The central stone is a green sapphire.

A few more views:  Quartering angle from the near front:

And close up on the off side.  Once again I failed to retouch his ridiculously exaggerated ears.  During this photo shoot I renewed my appreciation for sticky wax, something I normally detest.

Here's the chest.  I had to torture a 13mm gold ikandi to make the dome.

 Instead of delving into just why pieces are so late this spring, I thought I'd cruise on over to past examples and to how these are made.  As it happens I've only made one other set.  AT1 (Akhal Teke Presentation Set No. 1) used "carnelian" (red) instead of emerald green stones, and it was all silver.  It took over a month (March 20 to April 22) and I learned so much.  AT1 was sold during BreyerFest 2019.
 Here it is on my Charcoal Lonesome Glory, Obi:

And on Emerson / Palatlakaha:
The red looked particularly good on a perlino:

Here is a rarely seen shot.  I took my new Rocket (now named Alzucar) into the AllTech Arena during BreyerFest last year and blazed away when no one was watching.

Naturally I've blogged a lot on these Ahkal Teke sets.  There are a total of 8 posts on them:  Six are from 2019 and two are from this year.  Let's have an index:

Starting an Ahkal Teke set
Ahkal Teke  Jewelry Decisions
Ahkal Teke Buckle Questions
Ahkal Teke 1 - Starting the Bridle
AT1 - Bridle Finished
Ahkal Teke 1 Finished
AT2- Brasenose's BC Begun

And, of course, this one you're reading.

Now for a couple of review photos from the making stage.  This one shows the pine block where I stamped out every one of those hundreds of little bars of metal (aluminum)... and domed everything that was domed.
And this one, which shows the steps in making one of the square plates.  In this case it's a silver one from a 6mm square gloss silver ikandi.  (Ikandis = hot fix iron-on metal bling spots)

Having come this far, it's only fair to confess that I have a small stash of rubies,... of citrines,... of aquamarines,...  of garnets, sapphires, cubic zirconias, opals and others.  (I've been going to the Tucson Gem Show for many years.)  Think of what colors would look good on Wink!  or Altynai!!

My supply of ikandis, while large, is not bottomless and especially not now, when I've discovered Alora's Ikandis are no longer available.  :(  They're almost certainly made in China, but surely that is not the sole reason Alora's vanished.  I'm in the process of researching new sources for ikandis.  If anybody has any ideas for a source, I would be exceedingly grateful and glad.

Meanwhile I'm reminded all over again that this beloved hobby is still, even now, full of one-of-a-kind pieces, unique sources and scratch-built beauties. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

2005.06 Thoughts on Ben Hur

image from tumblr / Ben Hur 1959
My system for writing dates was inspired by Stardates (you Trekkies).  A post title starting with numbers thus indicates a private diary entry from my Notebooks, kept since 1977.  2005.06 translates to May 6, 2020.  It's time for some of my Notebook writings to appear;  I just can't decide whether here or on FaceBook.  Notebook entries are often written by hand in the middle of the night; this one was.
Despite the title  :)  this has nothing to do with horses.
image from pinterest /  Ben Hur 1959
"...for down in that haunted hell even time was lost ---"

This perfect quote comes from Ben Hur -- I think.  Oddly, the next quote that comes to mind is an entire story, Stephen King's novella about a jail break, out of Different Seasons.  Shawshank Rebellion? no, Redemption. ?!!?  Odd because I can't imagine 2 more opposite authors.  Yet they both have had tremendous influence on me...!!  I love them both, and rejoice in the variety of my collection.  :)   
Both the leprosy cell & the jailbreak are the same idea.  And both seem very appropriate right now.  We are in prison.  Like all prisoners we have come to an adaptation, an acceptance of our unnatural situation, and are putting in time.

image from pinterest /  Ben Hur 1959

On Ben Hur.

The book makes it clear that leprosy is very contagious and that there is no cure.  The reason Ben Hur must not find his mother & sister is the danger of infection, and all the consequences thereof.  "How much more painful if he became as we are!"  Yet the movie downplays this fact to the point where it is barely recognizable.  I don't recall hearing any mention of "infection,"  "contagious,"  "danger"  or even "catching"  !!  let alone "mortal"  !!!

As near as I can tell, in the movie Ben Hur's chief danger in visiting the lepers is seeing ugly people -- !!!!!! 
image from pinterest  /  Ben Hur 1959

Did Wyler (the director) think such distinctions too subtle to portray?  Did he believe leprosy could be cured, & therefore was not to be feared?  He tried hard to portray a noble & self-sacrificing woman, Esther, but again her chief danger appears to be witnessing disfiguration!!!!!   The actuality of polluted clothes, of a contagious environment, is shown only through the food-lowering device scene.   So much main action & emotion centers around merely seeing the lepers.  Touching them is (to me) [portrayed as] very casual.  I am left w/ the message that if you can bear to look upon a disfigured face, you are a noble Christian woman of great sainthood !!!!!

What a chance for the lesson of contagion -- passed up, passed by, turned down, left untouched.  It must have been too much for him.

Several days later.
I recall now the mother's efforts to escape from Esther and Ben Hur.  These were legitimate acknowledgements of the contagious nature of her disease.  But her weakness betrays her; she can't get away, and he touches her.
Esther's goodness and Ben Hur's stoicism are apparently enough to justify their sacrifice and gamble that Christ will heal them -- something the audience knows, but which they themselves could hardly count on.

In the book it is only Amrah, the old servant, who thus risks her life by going to be with (touching) the lepers.  Originally I was going to comment on Amrah's uneducated status and how she is guided and ruled solely and entirely by her feelings of the moment -- something so common today.  Then I recall I'm currently suffering a bad injury from having been guided and ruled solely by my own feelings of the moment.  Humans are such reactive creatures.

One of the most poignant and memorable scenes in the book, where the mother expresses her love of Ben Hur by kissing the sole of his sandal while he lies asleep, is completely missing in the movie.
But I understood her perfectly.

Whoever heals us will be as God.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

AT2: Brasenose's BC begun

As I hoped, I began work on Brasenose's breastcollar on my birthday.  It is going quickly and well.  Lessons learned with AT1 (Akhal Teke Presentation Set No. 1) are definitely coming in useful.  Something desired for a year is finally coming together!
     Let's begin with this shot, which shows just about everything.  Here is the garment leather base, cut large enough so I don't have to add a strip!  The glass dishes hold the various cut and prepared ikandis (hot fix iron-ons).  The doming (dapping) blocks, one metal one plastic, are in the left background.  My sole dapping stick is middle left (it turns out to be a 3/16").  Even the jewels, mostly emeralds with some sapphires, are visible in the middle of this shot.  I plan to have the central bc jewel be one particularly green sapphire; truth is, I haven't got an emerald big enough for it.
The pine wood block is my stamping block.  Not only were all the metal strips formed there, using the chisel (seen resting across it, above right); the square gold plates were domed there too.  When the tiny bezel strips are set in to those gold plates (below), I position them on the round bolthead on the stamping block, so as not to lose the plates' shape.
You can see that very bolthead in the upper right of this shot.  It's the largest, flattest-looking, shiniest one on the block.
I'm cutting the bezel strips from larger 13mm rounds.  Those gold rounds were also visible in photo 2.  They are resting just behind my Rio Rondo sheet of Akhal Teke leaves in gold.  Amazingly just one round supplied the whole breastcollar.
I watch/listened to Howl's Moving Castle while I made this.
This next shot shows the tiny bezel strips, waiting to receive the jewels.  The strips have to be cut and shaped individually by hand.  This is some of the hardest work:  getting them small enough to fit down into the holes.  I alternately trim the holes wider with a chisel and cut down the bezels. If you thought I was pro enough to get them small enough before gluing,... well,... think again.
Work remains.  I need to make a buckle and install it, and finish the offside end.  Setting all the jewels, hanging all the leaves, and painting the edges with Edge Cote will be the last steps.
And Brasenose will at last be properly attired.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

TSII #457 Tree Assembly

When I signed up for International Model Tackmaking Month, which takes place during April, I had a specific piece in mind.
This wasn't it.
My reasons for joining were time-tested and true.  I was going to use it to work on a piece for myself.  IMTM is my birthday month; I like to make a piece for myself for my birthday.  Last year during the last days of IMTM I'd created the bridle and neckpieces for an Akhal Teke presentation set for my own horse, Brasenose.  I thought for sure I'd be able to finish the breastcollar this year.  Silver and gold and real emeralds!  What's not to love!?
As we all know, the best of intentions can fall by the wayside, given enough extenuating circumstances.
Man, have we had extenuating circumstances.

I've been setting records for them.  (I am positive I'm not alone.)  As April began, I found myself homing in on (and honing my skills on) the engraving of a different breastcollar, that of TSII #457.  This was my second Clyde Goehring saddle, a Mexican Silver Parade set.  This saddle has been under construction since September.  It thus cannot be counted in IMTM's "I Also Did This" album even though it's what I've spent April on.
Once #457's breastcollar was done, I swung into the next steps, namely the cantle plate and the stirrups.  Nobody but me can ever know how much time and effort went into them.  The saddle as a whole is well over the hundred-hour mark.  
It still has a ways to go: cinch and bridle remain, although much of the bridle is done.  The blanket, bless Lizzie K., is already made, and it may be seen below on the Straight Bet chestnut.  The last few days have gone to making the tiny conchos and long strings seen on the skirts.
Here's another pic of the real Clyde Goehring:
Note that the lower skirts will show more when the front cinch rings are made and installed.
No. 457 is a bespoke order for a very long-standing customer.
It is both strange and perfectly normal I should have channeled myself into this piece.  I was doing my best to listen to the Muse.
 As the month went on I realized more and more I'd never get to Brasenose's breastcollar in time.  Then, Anna Helt of IMTM kindly extended her awarding of finisher's certificates to those who could finish by the end of May.  I told her I was very grateful and that this gave me hope.

And then, on the 21st, I managed to damage my right hand and right foot, through loss of temper and attendant sheer stupidity.  A week later, the hand is healing well and the foot can be walked on, if carefully.  I can type and I can write.  I can play the piano (it's a bit like Frodo of the 9 fingers) and I can make most kinds of tack.  But engraving puts pressure on the palm and wrist of the right hand in a twisting way, and so the bridle needs to wait a while.
Stamping out ikandis will be much easier.
My husband calls this my "09th" birthday, which is perfect:  Just flip and flop those digits, as our lives have been, upside down and backwards!!

If there is any luck in the situation -- oh those extenuating  circumstances! --  it is that I could hardly pick a better time to be stuck at home.  I am greatly blessed in many things:  a healthy healing body, an understanding customer base, employment at home, a community I can connect to.  I have so many friends, including one who helped me get rare parts for my IMTM piece (thanks Paula!).  What an interesting and unique birthday, eh?!  And now, hopefully, without pressure -- when did the TSII ever pay attention to deadlines anyway!? -- Brasenose may finally get his breastcollar.
It will be a good model for future Teke ones.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Tribute to Ruth

Ruth White Young, my mother-in-law, after what can only be described as an extremely long literate and epistolary life, was finally gathered in April 20.  She went home to the Lord at the age of 100 years, 2 months and 18 days.
I have a feeling I'll be saying for the rest of my life, "It wasn't Covid19."  Ruth had been in Skilled Nursing for full six years six months.  Gradually over that time she reached stages where she could neither stand, walk, hear or talk.  Blessed with a very sound constitution, she was cursed with dementia.  A second round of hospice (the first was suspended after more than a year of steady state) failed to rekindle the spark.  This gallant and essentially unreachable soul had nowhere to go and nothing to look forward to.  I believe God took pity on her.
And on us.
I had known Ruth for longer than I've been married -- which is 32 years this June.  Yet I was unable to really be close to her.  I had a 2-week intimate chance when her husband passed away in 2002.  I failed to establish more than perfunctory connectedness.  We were never close friends as I define the term.  She was of a generation that stuck out their troubles alone.

A major difference from me was that she never learned to drive.  Such a reneging of power I could never understand.  I once asked her about it.  "Oh," she replied dismissively, "I don't need that kind of responsibility."  Yet this was one of the most practical and well-organized women I've ever known.

Until she was unable to communicate, the bond between the mother and her only child was strong.  How many wives can say of their husbands: He wrote his mother a letter every week of her life?!?  And she answered (at least up to 2013)!  This went on from the mid 1970s until her death.  (By the end we were addressing to her caretakers.)  Do the math:  that's around 2,250 letters.  Thank heavens I was just as much of a writer, and understood.

Ruth's excellence as a teacher manifested in one of the finest professors I know.  In her eighties she tackled learning to use a computer, and they emailed each other nearly every day until 2013, more than a decade.  Even now he continues this with his own mother-in-law.  :)

Ruth was a flower person, and George inherited her green thumb.  She loved birds, something he took and ran with.  The family story is that a Red Tailed Hawk spiraling up from a boyhood field inspired his meteorological career.  Ruth was a needleworker of no mean ability; we have 2 full size quilts by her.  One is a fantastic crazy quilt and the other is "Larimer County by Air."

I gained several pieces of embroidery and needlework from her.
She was a lover of books, especially biographies and on theology.  Probably my favorite book gift from her was Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Suess.  That spunky, scrappy spirit was one of the best features of this woman.

Above all Ruth loved children.  Kids age 4 to 7 were her comfort zone.  In 1999 we helped move her to a Senior residence with Assisted Living, Overland Park Place of KC.  It was not long before she discovered there was a day care center right across the back street.  A longtime friend recalls going to the rescue for her "emergency trips to the library" for children's books.  I well remember kids' graduation ceremonies -- performances! --  staged in the cavernous atrium, attended by Grandma Ruth.  My own generation knew no such thing.
That's her handwriting.
After a child was age 7 or so, Ruth's brightest attention started to dim, and by 12 or thereabouts her son was learning habits of social distancing which had nothing to do with any virus.  Looking back on his relationship to his parents, compared to my own, I am always struck with grateful amazement that he turned out as good as he did.  Despite the letter-writing, there was a limit to how deep one could go with Ruth.  Although she wore the pants of the family (my husband once described his father as the Ultimate Southern Gentleman Collie Dog, completely harmless), Ruth just didn't support deep emotional analysis or far-ranging personal conversation.  I did try.  She once told me, after I had begged (this was after 9/11), "I don't have access to those emotions."  My own theory was that growing up during the Great Depression must have done something strongly restrictive to her soul.  Ruth went on to marry a postal clerk, raise 1 son (she said she wanted 6, but Ross demurred), volunteer in the community and keep a raft of charities and friends.  "That lady sure could pick a good charity."  I wrote my first letter to her in 1985, and she answered right away.

This is my much-polished pair of memorial paragraphs, followed by the official obit:

originally written 1305.12 in the middle of the night
typed up 1409.10
Obit draft 1410.01
Updated 1509.17
Final update 2004.20

For OPP and Children's Cottage:

For 15 years, 1999-2013, Ruthie was part of OPP [Overland Park Place].  In that time she grew into the hearts of all who knew her.  She's been a spunky friend with an infectious grin, who always had something to say in her schoolmarm style.  She was interested in many things:  flowers, gardens, birds, worthy causes, the Kansas State School for the Blind where she volunteered for 30 years, and the doings and welfare of friends.  But I think I touch the core of these interests when I mention Children's Cottage, the nearby daycare center.  It is because of Ruth's enthusiasm and love for these children that OPP rang so frequently with their happy voices.  Grandma Ruth, as she was known, loved nothing better than picking out the perfect book to read to them.  She was always a much-hugged guest of honor at their graduation ceremonies.  Nothing brought her greater pleasure than helping young minds find the joy of learning.  On May 9 2013 the children's laughter echoed for Ruth one last time.  This session she merely watched while her son read to the children.

Ruth's spirit was characterized by a love of books, flowers, birds and children.  She delighted in teaching the little ones, and this spirit of guidance and mentorship was passed down to her son.  She knew how to encourage and reassure the inquisitive spirit of a questing child.  Ruth was deeply religious and amassed a large collection of theological books, and an even larger collection of questions.  Her belief in good works was lifelong and far reaching.  Unlike many persons of her generation, she mastered computers in her eighties and emailed friends every day.  Ruth made lasting friendships, trading correspondence with college friends and former students into her 90s.  She enjoyed correspondence once a week with her son from his college years to her extreme old age, and I am sure that when she reaches heaven, she'll get right back to writing letters from there.

Photo by J Gilson

Obit  as published in the Kansas City Star:

Ruth White Young, 100, of Overland Park, KS, passed away April 20, 2020 at The Forum in Overland Park.  Ruth was born February 2, 1920, in Waukesha WI, to Eugene A. and Aimee Bushman White, the 2nd eldest of four siblings.  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in pharmacy and from the University of Minnesota with a degree in nursing.  She worked for Milwaukee Hospital as a pharmacist, then joined Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky during a time when patients often arrived on foot and emergency personnel were sometimes dispatched on muleback.  She never did learn to drive a car.  Her later career included teaching and nursing at Bethany Hospital and the University of Kansas Medical Center.  In 1954 she married Ross Sinnett Young and they began their married life in Kansas City, Kansas where they resided together for the next 48 years.  During this time Ruth led a Girl Scout troop and served as a volunteer Braille teacher at the Kansas State School for the Blind for over 30 years.  Ross served in the Pacific Theatre of World War II and spent the remainder of his career as a postal clerk.  Ruth was preceded in death by her husband and her three siblings.  Ruth is survived by her son George Young and his wife Susan Bensema Young of State College, PA.  Her church was Colonial Church of Prairie Village, 7039 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS.  Burial in Leavenworth National Cemetery, Leavenworth KS.  Condolences at:
Dignity Memorial Kansas City Ruth Young

She's with the angels now.


Editor's Note From the Future (May 2):
Colonial Church of Prairie Village created a lovely online memorial service for Ruth.  It aired today on YouTube and on FaceBook.  (Below is the YouTube link.)  It's half an hour long and features Pastor Aaron Roberts (and organist Joseph Kern).  There are pictures from this blog, hymns and prayers as well as stories of Ruth.  We were very pleased with this pioneering effort and feel sure that Ruth would have approved.
Colonial Church of Prairie Village Ruth Young Memorial Service

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Room 610

This post is a test bed for my Not Going to BreyerFest "Clarion" album on the FaceBook group.  I've accumulated many pictures of this most special of all my model horse locations; everything shown was shot in 2019.  I wanted to put them all in one place.  I even took movies of the halls, when I heard they were going to be torn down.  The movies were taken before almost anyone had moved in, so I'm afraid they're on the bland side.

First, Room 610 as it was set up last year, right before the inundation of sales ponies (the black shelves).  I've been in 610 for the last decade or so - I don't have exact records at the moment.  I've stayed at the Holiday Inn/Clarion for BreyerFest since the early 2000s, when I became too involved (or too old) to be sleeping in the back of the pickup at the campground.  The 1999 heat wave probably helped with that decision.

Below:  the ironing board is set up to the left.  By my tradition, everything on it is free.
View out the window, July 10, 2019, about 10 in the morning.  The white utility trailer is Heather Wells'.
The bed features my trademark serapes and sheepskin.  This is before everything gets covered over by all the stuff my roommate/partner-in-crime/fellow seller-of-horses brings in.
This is the view in the hall.  Even with the new paint on the walls, the lighting is not exactly great for this room.
This is a movie of the parking lot view, from the window of Room 610.  July 10, Wednesday of BreyerFest week, 2019, about 10 in the morning.

This is a movie of the 600 hall of Clarion, taken the morning of July 10, 2019.  That's Kelly Korber Weimar hanging stuff on her door.  No, she didn't know she was being shot--!!
Apologies for the awful sound.

This is a movie of the highest, farthest-away hall of the Clarion, the upper 600s.  I linger on a small group of posters because, of course, one of them is mine!  (It's the same one as on the 610 door.)  Later I sweep over the empty walls of the upper stairwell because I can remember so well how they were once covered with posters -- even here at the end of the world.  July 10, 2019, about 9 in the morning.

Now for some photos from the depths of excitement in Room 610.  This captures it.   Eleanor Jones Harvey (right) and Colette Robertson (left) are doing business with me.  I'm in my favorite position, ensconced on the sheepskin.  I do not know the identity of the dark haired girls in the background, so if someone will let me know, I will gladly update this--!!
Another view of the action.  You can see the Saddlebred in front of the flatscreen, and behind him my tack display case (more orange stickers).  July 10, Wednesday, about 4 in the afternoon.
More action.  Colette naturally hated having her picture taken, but this so captures her persona...

 One of the Clarion tricks I learned early was to bring my own lamps.  Setting up one's display, arranging the lighting cords, finding the right drop cloths (I've always used serapes, gotten originally in Nogales and later in Tucson) and labelling one's wares (I use orange stickers on the horses) are individual behaviours evolved and refined over the years.
I've been to all but two BreyerFests.  I went to the Pennsylvania one of the four held in 1991.  I was 'medically prevented' during 2010 and again in 2014.  Come to think of it, 'medically prevented' is pretty close to what's happening this year.

It's not an exaggeration to say that some of the happiest hours of my life happened in Room 610.  Year after year, friends and hobbyists would wander in and out.  Prizes were found, scrapbooks shared, sales and swaps started, sustained and concluded (or not), tackmaking tricks passed on and new friendships forged.  Once a year a week of my life happened here.  NANs were accomplished, and I ran in the 5K race.  One year I was dreadfully sick (2018); I was so glad I didn't have a roommate then.

BreyerFest is my Olympics, Christmas, Mecca and Piccadilly Circus all rolled into one.

A month later, these shots were taken in August of 2019 after the Covered Bridge/Model Meet Up day, described in  A Driving Adventure.  They were taken in my own back yard.  What a great way to see not just me but the same pink serape for a tablecloth and the same orange stickers on the horses.  The two horses on the table not for sale --  Emerson/Palatlakaha and Dundee/Barbahamia -- are personal models, accompanying me as friends and examples of what happens to a horse that falls into my hands to stay.

For more information on sales of the Guide, visit my website:  Guide to Making Model Horse Tack
For more information on sales of Compact Discs of the Guide and the Draft Collar Tutorial, visit my website's page on them:  Tack Sales Info.
For more information on sales of the horses, medallions and leather lace spools shown, email me at
Sorry, the Roman is not available/gone. 

Here's hoping that such fellowship, and such a gathering as BreyerFest in its natural habitat, can happen again in the years to come.