I can't thank Ann Bilon enough for her kindness in sending me the Apoxie I used to customize this tree (thank you Ann!). I had so much fun sculpting and sanding and filing. But it wasn't until I dyed the thing that I really began to feel like progress was being made. More than that... I could actually see, for the first time in a year (this saddle was started in January), light at the end of the tunnel!!
I used plain Dark Brown Pro Dye for most of the tree. For the wood parts, that is, for those parts which would show in the finished saddle - the bottom of the horn and the bars under the fenders -- I used my Fiebing's British Tan oil dye. So much fuss about trying to get mineral spirits up to the house so I could clean the brush. --!! They never did get up and so I wound up using a Q-tip. Just today, the day we moved back to State College for the two week Christmas break, the oil dye leaked in transport. Fuss--!!! You'd think I'd've learned the lesson: not to transport dye that isn't in a Nalgene bottle... sigh...
The oil dye gives the lovely reddish cast of mellow wood.
So I chose to depict the entire seat in leather, and actually this was an easy choice to make, since most of my Western saddles have one-piece seats. I had lots of experience, and comfort, with such a choice. A good deal of tackmaking is just such decisions.
The Goehring seat uses a basketweave design of every other square cut foursquare. No stamp exists for such a design, at least not in miniature! I could've made one, I suppose, from a minute little Phillips screwdriver. Instead I just used my needle chisels. A lot of steady hand cutwork, no more, no less.
Next came the skirts. No matter how carefully I'd planned, I wasn't going to do soldering in somebody else's fancy resort house, and that meant I couldn't do the main cinch rings next. Nor could I do the conchos, having not brought ALL the supplies or stamps I'd need. (Incidentally one I thought I'd lost was later found, brought along after all! All good things...) But I HAD brought plenty of leather and my 5-pound tooling block, a gift from Kathleen Bond.
Here's a quote from my N.A. (tackbench) notebook:
"I want to explain why the 2 skirts' patterns don't match. (Nor the fenders.) This saddle represents 2013 to me, a very disjointed year. Although each separate section is good, each had to start from scratch and was isolated. Also my reference does NOT show the tooling pattern very well. ALSO, for the front corners, SVEN'S ANTLERS from the movie FROZEN are influencing me. He's carrying European Red Deer antlers even tho he's a North American caribou. Such fantasticalness is typical of this saddle."
So, how can I fix the problem of no space? It isn't the common stuff you want to learn from the masters of a craft: it's how they solve their own mistakes.
"What does the Master do when things REALLY get tough?" is one of my favorite quotes. In this case the only choice is to extend the cut slits inboard, into the tooling. How I managed not to cut the existing white thread is a mystery. I decided later that the waxing of the linen thread made it into a substance that could easily stand nicks and small cuts.
And now came a chance I found irresistable. It was surprisingly difficult to hold all the parts together with only one hand.
Merry Christmas all.