Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Progress Report 3: Peach Rose


The Peach Rose bridle chapter is finished, which means we've reached the nominal halfway point of my next book!   Of 8 pieces of headgear, Peach Rose is the 4th.  Finally, after far more effort than I ever dreamed of, ---a whole lot of other parts, sideshows, preparations, materials chapters and formulae -- real progress has been made.  This chapter is made out like a recipe.  First there's a history, then a list of materials specifically for that piece, followed by steps for making that piece, its own Plate, and photos of important aspects of the making.  You'd think this was what I was after in the first place; but there was SO much else to cover, just getting up to braiding speed!  The Peach Rose chapter is my first and so-far-best manifestation of such a recipe,... and I think we're actually well past half way.

The previous three pieces of headgear did not have the benefit of this approach.  The first and second pieces, Ricky's Bridle and Duke's Hackamore, were simple enough, and their Plates (drawings) extensive enough, not to need an ingredients list.  Malaguena's got to have its list put in afterwards.  I had not known, offhand, that Mala's would take 16.2 feet of 4-ply sinew to build --!!  The below photo of the parts of the gorgeous pink Peach Rose bridle is featured in the book.  (There are actually a few more parts, like leather lace and a bit shank brace, listed in the text, but they're minor.)

The Peach Rose chapter has a lot of photographs... forty-two to be exact(!).  The above number '102' is a photo number.  The picture at the top, the finished replication bridle laid out, says '132', and that is currently how many photos are in the book.  Compare this to the 83 or so in the entire Guide(!).  I have come to feel there's a lack of photos in the Guide (though to be honest, when it was published, it was cutting edge), and here, finally, I am able to rectify the situation.  I just hope I don't go too overboard,...  The main emphasis of my book, after all, will always be the Plates.

I was trained as a draftsperson.  It has been heavenly pleasure to be drawing and inking again.  However, only a third of this book will be inked plates.  The writing is fun too, and we're over 100 pages already!  It's the photos that are really holding me up.   When one extensively documents the making of a single piece of tack, by still photography, one has to choose which photos to use;  to process them;  to fit them into a page or pages;  to number them, and come up with descriptions for the Photo Numbers List, a kind of index.  And THEN rewrite the text to accommodate said photos!   The process is neither fast nor easy.  It once took me a week to do 13 photos.  Here are some rejected pictures from just two parts of the Peach Rose chapter:

See what I mean by exhausting?  I fear there's a chance that even some of what got in is duplication.  A somewhat-frustrating pattern of my own behaviour is that illustration for some procedure carefully described will often be added to later, (and thus references have to be stuck in).  I have tried to treat different materials (Mala's is made from sinew, the Peach from embroidery floss) differently.  I've also tried to treat Peach Rose as though it were the first piece a reader turned to, partly because so many crafters and hobby artists are comfortable with embroidery floss --- more so than I am myself.  And that means even more references, to earlier places.  Which is tough because we haven't gotten to pagination yet,...  and when I brought this up with my in-house guru, he said to not refer to page numbers at all, but to sections!  So the whole thing is changing constantly.

Here's another rejected photo.  The foal, whom I stuck in for scale, was later felt to be too distracting.  The beads are examples of Hill Tribes Silver. 

Nonetheless, progress has been made.  Here's the future back cover shot of the Peach Rose Bridle:

And here's another sneak peek from the back cover.  I tried this out in black-and-white and liked it so much.  This is Ricky's Bridle, worn by Sheila/Gold Dust, the Bobby Jo mold sculpted by Morgen Kilbourn.

 Here's a link to the book's Progress Report 2 blog post.  And here's Meet the 8, which is the name of the 1st progress report.

My next book is not going to make BreyerFest,... but it might be finished by the fall.  November 6 will be the 26th anniversary of the publishing of the Guide.  If you can't make one year, try for the next...

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Wacahoota at Wykoff


Last Sunday I had the privilege of hiking on a sunny day in the Quehanna Wild Area, in north-central Pennsylvania.  No snow!  New horse!  Practicing taking pictures with the cell phone (I am still seriously behind in this skill).  New-ish hackamore:  This particular piece was made in 2018, and it was never meant to sell.  It's all my own, something that fits every horse in the herd.  It has its own blog post:  Kings Herds Hackamore II.  So, this post will be short, narrow in scope, indulgent and totally cellular.

But what great portraits.

I have shot tack here before:  TSII #442, Medieval Vine.  The wildlife viewing platform (located at the intersection of Quehanna Highway and Wykoff road) is just about perfect for this sport.  It's so much like a barn in its framing that you would never guess you're deep in the forest and miles from anywhere.  I love its warm wood tones and wide sills, just right for the Trad horse.

He makes a particularly good subject for portraits.  The alert ears, the flowing mane, the knowing eye all command attention.  Above all I love the glorious color and gloss!  To be honest, I had the excuse that I needed a nice photo of this particular hackamore for my next book.  I wanted to show the nosepiece up close.  But what I was really doing was playing.

 Playing, playing... wait until there's nobody else there (a few hikers always around), wait even until George has gone off on his own, after birds.  Fiddle with the camera.  Fuss with the reins.  Despite its primitiveness, the cell phone camera does not distort, as my fancy Fuji does.

The first shot taken (second here), showing his forehand, didn't work.  The camera focused on the background.  But the rest of them did work.  The red in the reins and buttons strongly harmonizes with the deep chestnut.  The blue in the nosepiece, actually an accident if you read its post, really makes things pop.  The story behind that blue is so much the classic blessing-in-disguise story!  I gave up on it as a nasty un-finish-able mistake and then decided I loved it as it was...

What a horse!  Yes, this is my first Troubadour.

This is the last shot on location, with me leaning out of the platform and suspending him over the forest floor.

And here's the book shot:

Now, when you read my next book, you'll know how and where this particular photo came from!

Speaking of the book, I just finished the fourth of 8 pieces and am hoping to post a Progress Report in the next week or so.  In this last half of February, eagerly watching the NaMoPaiMo finishers, I am thinking of the first NMPM.   I didn't paint then, but made a piece of tack alongside all the excitement.  I'm in that state now.  Who knows how far I'll be able to get.  My inner heart is in the race and cheering for all.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

My FL Name Game


Ever since I went down to Florida in 2018 and got a name for my Emerson, I've been playing this game.  For two separate years, the result has been one name for one horse for the entire trip.  In the most recent year, however (2024), the result of one trip has been three names.  And one of the intended recipients wasn't purchased at the time!  You know you're in love when you name a horse you haven't bought.  But let's start at the beginning.

The first instance of this very personal behaviour was Emerson and our Christmas 2018 visit to Florida.  The model had come out that year, as a Premiere Club horse, and how fortunate I was to find one on the secondary market (for a bargain price), since I wasn't a Premiere member.  I was greatly impressed by this horse.  My family regularly took canoeing and birding trips down to Florida, and I knew from experience how much easier it was to find a horse name while on the road.  I wanted to both honor the new stallion and find a way to memorialize the trip itself.  It should be obvious: I love naming my horses! 

Somewhere very west of Orlando, we passed a park sign near its lake.  And I found my name.  Few horses in my herd have five-syllable names, and this one gets cut down in everyday use to Palat, but it was grand enough to satisfy my requirements.  The emphasis is on the second syllable:  Palatlakaha


The next instance was with Chadwick, the 2022 Collector Club Web Special.  (There's a pattern here:  Clearly I love this mold!)  Despite initial reservations about this horse (he has his own blog post here), I did indeed learn to love him, and carried him south with our Christmas canoe trip -- which was actually in January of 2023.  He found his name all right, while we were in the City of Marcos Island.  The adventures we went through finding it - driving around Marcos Island sight-seeing and birding - and the joy and wonder of that day combined to give this particular name the greatest level of glory and power yet.  Truly when I found it I felt the name was too good for the horse.  It took a while for him to get used to it.  Caxambas


Somewhat naturally, this name has been quite hard to pronounce.  We never got a chance to ask a native.  I find three ways to pronounce it:  Cacks-Ambas (awkward);  Cass-Ambas (what I'm usually using); and Cah-Zambas, a version probably acceptable but which I just don't use.

To this day I'm reminded of the beautiful city which had this name as a road and a bay.

Image from Google Maps:  South Marco Island FL

This past January my family went down to FL for our traditional canoeing and birding trip,  and I took along an unnamed Classic scale horse for the game.  Here he is posing on the rocks of Huguenot Beach.   There was nobody else around (which almost never happens!).

 Later, we were paddling on Puzzle Lake, which only exists when there has been a massive amount of rain on the St John River.  There had been!  In case this all looks familiar, it's because my FaceBook cover picture was taken here, back in 2018, under similar conditions of flood.  There is an unnamed (!) island that is only an island when there's been too much flooding on the St John.  It looks like StoneHenge rising from the Amesbury Plain, if you're out canoeing on Puzzle Lake:


This is our magic place, a place that only exists every few years, and it's even more rare that we get a chance to actually land there.  It's only the second time in our lives that this chain of events occurred.

Can you spot the horse?  Balanced precariously on the bow, just for this series of pictures, taken at the exact same location my old FB cover shot was taken:

 It was at this moment that we named the island, and the horse wanted to share such a royal title:  PalmHenge.

Not just crossing my own beams, the model horse life and the canoeing life, but adding in the rarity and specialness of the place to my family. 

But even at the time, I felt this title was a heavy load for so small and undeveloped a horse to carry.  Later, when we went hiking in Paynes Prairie Preserve, he found a name he liked a lot better.  He told me so pretty strongly (they do this), and I was relieved.  It was the name of a trail in the Preserve.  Chacala   This shot was posted to my FB:


So he will be known as Chacala of PalmHenge.

I mentioned an unpurchased horse.  I had been wanting this one since he was released, and over the vacation my desire hardened into commitment.  

Photo from eBay (the one I wound up buying)

Another trail in the same Preserve suddenly seemed perfect for this gorgeous but expensive Morgan.  Now I ask you:  Is this not an amazing name?  Wacahoota

When we returned home, I scoured eBay and consulted with a dealer friend (thanks Margaret again!), then plumped for one a good deal reduced from his issue price.  Today (Sunday) we went hiking in the Quehanna, central Pennsylvania; and this picture was taken at the Wykoff Run wildlife viewing platform.


He is starting out his life in grand fashion!

The third name was seen on a lake we passed in Florida.  Lochloosa   This is the least of the five, and goes to a horse who has been known ever since I got him (2018) as Loughnatusa.  Now that is a tough name to pronounce!  Like PalmHenge, the horse himself was telling me he wasn't quite comfortable with it.  I think in this case Lochloosa was chosen because it was similar but easier to say.  The horse in question is mentioned in a blog post:  The Traditional Loot Shots.


The fabulous blanket is by Nichelle Jones.


Production Notes:  One reason why this post took so long was that getting all the Florida pictures off their various cameras somehow took psychic effort at a time when I didn't have any extra.  Another reason is I've been trying to work on my next book as well as fit back in from a long trip (we had to replace our windshield, still ongoing!).  I'm hoping to post a Progress Report on the book soon.  Another delay was waiting for Wacahoota to arrive;  and, I got to re-learn how to download cell phone pix!  Living in the digital age is a constant challenge for me; but the REAL challenge is time management!  Thank you for your patience.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Three of a Kind


The title is a bit misleading since this post is actually about nine enamel pins -- three threes.  Two new quaggas, one new Zigby and one new Runedeer came into my collection just last week, resulting in a bunch of trios, and I am ecstatic.  I'm hooked!  One problem will be presenting pins that I'm posing vertically but photographing horizontally.  I also did a fair bit of PhotoShopping here to clean up the background (down dust!) and set off some pins (stop crowding!).  But in general I'm pretty pleased with how they all came out.  Such talent Mink has!!

First, let's look at the quaggas and the Thanksgiving Zigby, since they came in first.

Sarah Minkiewicz's Cave Pony Quagga is one of the most popular designs of all the Cave Ponies. Technically he might not be a pony at all, but---!!  The original quagga, first sold as a pin July 28, 2022, has appeared since then on merchandise ranging from blankets to earrings, in mug bundles, on a backpack, on an embroidered patch, on the ice cream bowl, and of course as stickers.  I shouldn't've been surprised when, exactly a year later (July 28 '23) two more quaggas were first introduced.   But now I had to decide whether to pursue their new larger versions.  They were offered in both  2.25" and the original 1.5".  For an enamel pin, that's a big difference in size.

I chose to stick with my smaller, first Quagga's size.  Here are my three Quaggas, with the original on the bottom:

That Cinnamon Quagga (center) is really something!   Here they are in relation to their part of my current Mink collection, (the part that isn't Dancing Horses or Runedeer, shall we say): 

A closer look at these beauties.  The color is more true here than the next shot.

The more I look at that Cinnamon Quagga, the more I like what I see!!  The white in the forehand tends to exaggerate that part of the animal, yet here it's minimized and colored down into delicious toffee gold.  I also love the pose of a classic Carousel jumper.  He's very controlled yet clearly the fastest of the three.

You can guess what my second trio is going to be: Zigbys!  Once more, vertical layout:

It's clear to me that Sarah's artistry and creativity has no limit when it comes to these cute little guys.  I don't have the first issue Rainbow Zebra (only 50 were made and I wasn't quick enough to grab one), but these are all the others known at this time.   Here's the latest, copper-bordered Thanksgiving Zigby with his fantastic sparkle heart, symbolizing gratefulness:

He's very solid, and the copper works well.  I like him.  Like the Halloween Zigby, he has 2 prongs on back while the Christmas version has only one.  I hope you'll forgive a sidewise trip to admire my favorite of the Zigbys, the Halloween.  Forgive the greenish appearance; he really is a candy corn white and yellow.  The dim lighting is an attempt to show the sparkles:

There is just something in me that rises to the challenge of photographing that glitter!  This next shot is less glamorous but shows his texture better.  One and a quarter inches across:

You might naturally assume the next trio would be the Windcatchers (Pegasi) since I have three of them.  But no.  It's the deer.  Christmas seems to be a time of deer.  I love them dearly (decades of horse exposure has bred this), and Sarah, as usual, has hit it out of the park with her latest Runedeer pin.
 You are looking at the placemat where I'm writing all my Christmas letters.  Yes, that's a Minkiewicz product.  (I got it last year on Zazzle.)  She is very efficient with her patterns!  It was wonderful to get a Runedeer sticker with the pin, just as it was with the Thanksgiving Zigby.

This is the first time I've received a non-equine sticker from Mink,... (unless you count the Hippicorn (Xanthian)).  At any rate, I'm a fan of Mink deer stickers!  

Oh lard I just made a connection with my deer topical stamp collection,...  something you all haven't seen, nor ever been told about.  This is not the place to go deeply into it,...  I've collected horse stamps for many years in the past, accumulating a large binder, and towards the back there's a lot of deer stamps.  So there are roots to my delight in a deer pin.  Mink's Runedeer just fit right in.  They have layers of meaning for me that are not immediately obvious.

This is a very classy pin.  I was delighted to discover the blue borders are sparkly!

Trying to catch them on film, I use a flashlight and low light, as well as macro settings.  Getting there!

Now, with this closest portrait, I am too close.  Tiny flaws in the glass of the enamel show up.  See his cheek?

Easy to fix with PhotoShop!

I also took the opportunity to clean up errors in the snowflake, although I see they don't show at this magnification.  What a beauty!  

Let's look at all three of Mink's RuneDeer known to exist:

Unlike the Quaggas and Zigbys, each one is quite different.  RuneDeer I, top, was sold in December of 2021, yet pins were still available a year later, December 2022.  We were never told the number made.  He is just 2 inches by one inch in size.  Today they are quite in demand and I feel very lucky to have snagged one at the tail end of availability during the PinUltimate sale of January '23.  He is (of course) very hard to photograph against a black background, so I'm leaving this shot mostly as it came out.  Those legs and antlers are shiny black:

Somewhat naturally, the next two RuneDeer both feature glitter.  The sparkle effect seems to be irresistible.   Long live the artist who puts such sparkle into our lives!