Saturday, December 6, 2014

My Blanket Collection

Let's start with Breyer's Show Blanket Collection.  These are all 9 currently known to exist.  I acquired these a few at a time, some for amazingly little (thank you Carrie!).  The light blue Devon, many people's favorite, and the AQHA and the BFest dark blue I've had since the beginning -- a phrase which means 'since they were first offered,' back in 2000 to 2003.
Breyer first released these blankets, each one lined and darted, with velcro'd girth and chest and adorned with a major show, organization or event's insignia, in 2000 (model no. 2801).  Back then there were five: USET, Devon, National Horse Show, AQHA, and BreyerFest.  They were quality pieces and offered good value.  I thought them so-so in terms of playability --- and heaven help me, that's my opinion today.

In 2004 to 2007 Breyer dropped the National Horse Show one and brought in two more, the dull orange Scottsdale and the bright-yellow American Royal.  The model number changed from 2801 to 2809.  Until I had it in my hands I didn't realize the American Royal's initials, the bold A and R, were not black, but deep royal purple.
In 2008 to 2010 Breyer changed the model number to 2600 (still calling them the Show Blanket Collection), dropped the USET and the Scottsdale, and brought in 2 more new ones, the USDF and the NRHA.  They still kept the light blue Devon, the AQHA and of course their own beloved BFest dark blue, making these 3 by far the most popular and the best sellers -- carried for 11 years!  Thus you can state that the NHS and the Scottsdale are the second-rarest, having been carried for only 4 years.  The USDF and the NRHA rate as rarest, carried for only 3 years.

Since then, no Show Blanket Collection blankets per se have been released.  But hey, Breyer has been plenty busy putting out blankets -- have no fear!  For a collector like me, this little-known and seldom-followed corner of the tackmaker's world became irresistable this summer.  It all started with this one.
I spotted the ad in eBay.  The seller said she didn't know the model number. "The rarest color!" she called it.  For some reason I was intrigued, and dug up all my Dealer's Catalogs, scrupulously collected over the years.  (I am missing just one, the 2013.)  The blanket was none other than Breyer's first color of the popular quilted hood set, today sold in turquoise with vivid hot pink binding.  The model number of the eBay piece was 2803, and it had been made from 2000 to 2003.  This set came in 3 colors over the years; the middle color (2004-2009) was purple with black binding, incidentally the first time Breyer had ever released a purple blanket.  The eBay offering included 4 leg wraps made by an independent artist.  I won it, thus discovering the binding is not black, but dark blue.
     Note how this particular pattern of blanket fits smaller Traditional molds: The Indian Pony, the Family Arabs, San Domingo, the Stock Horses and the Proud Arabs.  As horses got bigger, this blanket fit them less well, and other blankets appeared.  Why did they get bigger?  Question for another time...

I had recently received my first spreadsheet software.  The love of blankets led me to compile an enormous spreadsheet of every blanket Breyer had ever made.  It was (and still is) great fun.  I started with my Dealers Catalogs and then scoured eBay.  To my amazement I found blankets that weren't in the catalogs!  Why should I have been surprised??  More on these later...  I went on collecting: the blue WeatherBeeta at a steep discount because the neck seam had come undone and I was able to fix it.
The Newmarket blanket was my especial joy, because it passed my personal Great Test of a Blanket:  was it fuzzy on the inside?!  It's the horse who's gonna be wearing these things, after all!!  An earlier blogpost has featured this blanket with its comical upside-down Breyer tag.  : )
A blanket I'd had "since the beginning," and one that forms my "gold standard," is this Green Turnout Rug, model number 3050, part of the wave of blankets Breyer put out in 1995.
This is the Breyer blanket I've used the most over the years, and consider the best 'play value' for the money.  For decades it was the only one with a fuzz lining that I possessed.  The Turnout Rugs tend to wrinkle along the shoulder, and I admit this is not the best size horse to display it with!  The Green Turnout's straps were real suede.  I acquired it sometime in the 90s.
Once smitten with blanket fever I bought like crazy.  How to find out whether the Rambo Green was fuzzy inside?  or even whether it had a lining at all?? 
Turns out it does have a lining:  a silky soft white polyester one... if not exactly fuzzy.
A 2012 blanket I obtained by default joined the collection.
Serjeant Reckless's is one of the few pieces to be printed on both sides; it is definitely an example of blankets with printed (silkscreened), rather than embroidered, decoration.  (Though the green-and-brass leadropes should count for something.)  From 2010 on embroidery would be rare.  Speaking of 2010, of course I found out about the World Equestrian Games blankets.  Clever of Breyer, isn't it, to be making these limited edition pieces??  I hunted all over eBay until I found one that was within my price range.  Blankets are cheaper than horses and most tack, but they are not as cheap as, say, postage stamps or Stablemates.  Fiften to twenty dollars is the going rate for a decent Breyer blanket.  I paid about $24 for my 2010 WEG.
By the time the 2014 WEG blankets came out, friends were looking out for me, and with their help I excitedly added this green gem to my collection.  Compared to the 2010 one, it is of thinner material, has less printing and has only one color binding.  But I'm still dern glad to have it.
Back to the beginning of my infatuation.
In my researches and compilings I discovered there were two Turnout Rugs.  In addition to the green one I'd always had, there had been a Dark Blue!!  Model no. 2806, 2000 - 2003.  Excitement!!  I had to have it -- remember, fuzzy lining...  And so I took a photo of my Dealers Catalog page, PhotoShopped out the other horses around it, and posted a Want Ad up on MH$P.  And glory be, I got an answer almost immediately.
The kind girl who answered sold me her own well-loved Blue Turnout Rug.  I cannot remember being so anxious for something since my earliest model horse days.  What a delicious state of anticipation.  When finally it came, the blanket was badly faded and well worn, almost pilled inside.  But that was obviously from hard use and much love.  I immediately put it on Valhombra's new wife...
  There were differences from the Green Turnout Rug, most notably in the strap material.  The Blue had artificial leather, which is to say, plastic, straps.  It was a flexible brown nylon-y material, with a mesh backing, and beyond my disappointment at its not being real leather, it performed beautifully.  This was the sort of toy that could stand hard use and wetting without any problems.

 I was so tuned to blankets that when I saw another, unfaded, Blue Turnout on eBay I was seriously compelled to Buy It Now.
This was where things got interesting.  My second Blue Turnout featured straps of a different material.  I knew from the ad that it had 'grained' i.e. real leather, straps, not the plastic ones.
In a fit of curiosity I fell all over myself to get it, even though the timing was challenging.  When the blanket arrived, I discovered something completely new.  The straps were neither leather as in my old Green Rug nor plastic as in the faded Blue.  They were both!  A top grained very thin layer of leather was affixed to a lower layer of flexible nylon mesh.  Here was an intermediate product!  a blanket in transition.  You could watch Breyer trying to have a foot in both worlds: real leather but (I presume) saving money...
     In playability terms, the transition straps were a disaster.  The thin leather dried out and repeatedly cracked and broke.  All my skill of oiling and gluing was called for, but even then the straps could not stand much flexing.  The second Blue Turnout thus became my most fragile blanket.  It is still interesting as history.  But I live in hopes of someday finding a Blue Turnout with real leather (suede) straps.

At the same time I was learning about the Turnouts, I was pursuing a fabulous prize, the Green Weatherbeeta.

This is what I meant when I earlier mentioned blankets that weren't in the Catalogs.  Unless the Green WeatherBeeta is in the 2013 Dealer's Catalog, (and it would be indeed unusual for Breyer to carry a blanket for just one year), then it isn't in any of the Catalogs!!  And yet it exists, and I have seen other examples on eBay.  I found mine through the friend of a friend.  I was frantic when I heard about it -- a classic case of I-gotta-have-it!  Glady I paid $15 and considered this a bargain.  The Greens are fairly rare and new-looking, so it is tempting to speculate they are filling in for the Blue WeatherBeetas, which after all have been in production since 2005.  That is a good record for a stable blanket.

Breyer knows just how to get someone hooked.  This year, their Silver Jubliee, also featured a special run blanket as part of the fuss.  I got my first one through the incredible generosity of Andrea Gurdon of BreyerHistoryDiva.  Like the 2014 WEG blanket, the material is thin; unlike the WEG, the decal is printed only on one side.
 But it's cute, and it's my first example of a blanket with a metallic binding, so there.

Early on in my hunt for blankets, I saw an old Red Canvas go by on eBay.  How I wish I'd gotten it.  My research showed that 3 colors of Canvases were released: Red from 1977 to 1980, Blue (a dark blue) from 1977 to 1979, and Brown for one year only, 1980.  Right as my interest heated up, I saw an auction go by of old Breyer tack, including a Brown and a Blue Canvas Blanket in mint condition.  I bid!!  Imagine my annoyance when, at the last second, it sold for almost twice as much as I was willing to pay. 
About a week later, to my amazement, a single perfect-mint Brown showed up at a much more affordable price, from someone outside the hobby.  I bit so fast.  It was missing the front tie.  My catalog pictures failed to show just how that front was fastened, but my own memory (remember I've been in this hobby since the mid-1970s) recalled some kind of leather tie.  I have since found out the tie should be "bootlace" leather.
Note how this blanket is fitted almost perfectly to the old Stretch Morgan.  It is not the same as the Show Blanket Collection, Silver Jubilee, WEG or Newmarket pattern.  Those blankets have shorter backs and longer necks, almost certainly because that fits a larger variety of molds.
When I succeeded in acquiring this particular prize, I turned my thoughts to Didi Hornberger's Intermediaire Live! show on October 12, down in Harrisburg.  She is the only showholder I know who reliably has a class for "Stablewear."  For reasons of my own I seldom show or judge anymore, but she had asked me to be photographer for this show.  And she said yes when I asked whether I could show in "just one class."
Guess which class.
The class had 7 entries.  The Stretch Morgan and the Bonne Fete are mine.  There are some advantages to being official photographer!  Clearly some people didn't quite understand the class -- two of these horses had only costume halters, and one entry was a strange affair of tutus...
But the other two wore genuine blankets.
I brought out my 1980 Dealers Catalog and opened it to the page with the Canvas Blankets.  For my Bonne Fete I dug out two sets of blanket-hood-and-wraps I'd had since the early 1980s.  They were made by someone in the MidWest, whose name unfortunately I've lost track of.  Each set came with leg bandages.  The quality of these sets has to be seen to be believed.  On my entry's explanation card I wrote that individual hobby artists and home-made blankets were always going to be better than Breyer's.
Bonne Chance got first place and the Morgan got second.

I have more blankets to share, but they will have to wait until later.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Three Strands at Once

 The title of this post reflects its three different areas of interest.  There is progress on TSII #454, the Gold Tipped Parade set; there is my visit to the magnificent Region X Regionals (TRXC); and there is my stable blanket collection, long promised a post and finally started.  My blanket collecting is now slowed to a decent pace instead of the breakneck speed it was at earlier this year.

 We begin with TSII #454.  Yes, that nearside serape was finished and taken to RXR in person, and many people viewed it.  (Some even suggested improvements; thank you, Jennifer. : )  This week, the offside serape was largely finished:
 There was a struggle over which drop to use.  Shortly after the last post, the answer became apparent to me: None of the choices, but a new one!  Utilizing curved ends, to echo the curved corner spots, yet mostly comprised of squares (the main edge motif), we came up with this.  As ever, they are rather hard to make.  Each drop has to be cut, thinned, dyed, edge-slicked (the ends are hard), sometimes treated with oil, and edge-coated -- and all this before the silver goes on.  Hanging is separate yet again, and involves making the rings, all by hand.
 For this saddle, I needed a way to curve the spots after they'd been stamped.  A reverse dapping block, if you will.  I decided the right material was deer antler, neither as soft as wood nor as hard as metal.  (Thanks to Nikki Herzog for providing me with this raw material.)  After some work, this appeared.  The whole thing is visible in the top picture of this post.
 Perhaps some day I shall braid some lace around it.  It just fits nicely in my hand.

I was privileged to visit Region X Regionals from Friday night to early afternoon Saturday.  I took one hundred and eleven pictures, and one movie -- just a pan of the room.   It was an elegant show hall.  Jennifer is right to call it cozy; I did not find it particularly dark.  It reminded me of Greater Pittsburgh MHS in Sewickly, PA.
Friends from the back:  Robin Briscoe and Laura Rock-Smith, old timers both.  To get to this show was a 6 -n-a-half hour drive for me one way.
Of those hundred pictures, here are three.
Naturally my interest was in other people's tack!!   Above is a bridle made by Heather Moreton Abounader (Desert Night Creations), owned by Iva Kimmelman. 
I shot this because  I liked the horse, as well as the fantastic cart.  The cart is surely a Wood Wiz kit of the Meadowbrook!  This entry is owned by Joan Fauteux.
Last and best, this marvelous saddle is by Donna Allen of TX and owned and shown by Kate Dwyer.  Kate was responsible for a lot of terrific harness entries!  She kindly put up with me handling this horse extensively.  I couldn't get over the detail.  Believe it or not, there are bolts on the stirrup necks!  Somewhere, Donna learned to braid; note the buttons on the reins.  Just what I need... another tackmaker to collect...

And for my third strand, a beginning to the sharing of my blanket collection.
These charming horses are CollectAs, with 2 Breyers thrown in for scale.  This shot starts the show mostly because my CollectAs are "up" right now, perched next to my computer.  (The Classic Foal Mold collection is also in the computer room.)  The white blanket, on the CollectA Dartmoor, belongs to the bay foal behind it.  The "Fighting Fillies" blanket came on Breyer's Miniature horse mold.  And the leftmost blanket, the littlest one, is the Stablemate WEG 2010 blanket put out by Breyer!!  Stablemate in picture for scale...  (No, this tiny blanket does not open at the chest.)
 The real beginning to my blanket collection is this one, the Grey Wool.  It was created in the early 80s when I was a college student in Fort Collins CO.  I was taking interior design classes as part of my drafting minor.  Samples of fabric abounded.  I pinched 2 nice pieces of woollen material and made two blankets (the other one is dark blue).  Through the years, this blanket has held up to the strictest test:  It fits more horses than any other blanket I've ever had.  The secret is the long chest velcro band and the 3 hooks and 3 eyes on the belly straps.
 How many people remember Breyer's early blanket offerings?  This pair of coolers was put out by Breyer from 1988 through 1990.  Far more popular colors for the same thing were red and blue.  The red and blue coolers lasted up through 1995 using the same model number, 3940.
 Here is another Breyer blanket I acquired along the way, the popular Rain Sheet, 3956.  It was first released in 1995 along with a bunch of other blankets... and it outlasted all but one!  being carried up through 2003.  Eleven different blankets were first introduced in 1995, and all but 3 were dropped in 1999.  This was one of the three; the other two were the quilted blanket sets with leg bandages.  The burgundy version of that vastly popular blanket lasted thru 2001; the blue version is still being carried today, 3847.  Incredible but true:  I think it is Breyer's longest carried piece of tack.
 I have collected many Breyer blankets over the years, but by no means do I have them all.  One collects what one wants.  It wasn't until this spring (2014) that my blanket collecting swung into high gear.  But that is a story for another day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beginning TSII #454: The Gold Tipped

 Designing silver parade saddles has just about got to be my favorite model tackmaking job.  Using the i-kandis, which were so successful in TSII #447, Eleanor's Hexagon, makes it even more fun.  Here we are starting TSII #454, the next in line, with little to go on but the customer's wish for "full silvered" and my own wish for "a little touch of gold."  You see, I haven't yet gotten permission to do that, but already I'm off and running.

This is TSII  #447.  It was a trailbreaker in its day.  I've always wanted to use this technology again and intended to do so with all the parade saddles winning the 2009 Lottery.  Now that we are finally able to start work on them, it was sheer luck and a special pleasure to be able to personally visit this great saddle, recently, in September.
 Thank you, Eleanor.
We start by looking at a real saddle:
 This page is from a Bruce Lovins silver parade saddle catalog, a nicely produced reproduction which can be purchased from the source.  This particular design is called the Deluxe Parader.  I was inspired by my new-found ability to make the "4 tiny squares in 1" concha, used in the Deluxe.  What caught my eye was the gradually expanding line up the center of the serape (drape).  There must have been some inner guiding star that said, Make it gold!  So we go to the time-tested method of drawing a picture.  Years ago I had a standard drawing of a parade saddle to help me, but my patterns have evolved beyond that, and now each saddle gets its own.
You would not believe how much work is in one of these sheets, even at this early stage.  This is its second incarnation...  and it's got many more to go!   But rest assured, those little doohickies are the very ones that will be used in construction, if and when the thing ever settles into a final form.  I stick them on a face-up piece of tape, so re-arranging is merely a matter of prying them up and sticking them back down.  This also explains the ragged edges around the serape, which are Scotch tape remains.  In the drawing, colored pencil is used. 

A custom-made wooden anvil, or stamping block, is used for the stamping of the i-kandis.  It has pins and screws in it to hold up under the pressures and form centers for the various stamps.   My block is much used and dates at least as far back as my Louise Cottam saddle, which used the little star and ivy leaf in the lower right corner.  I much enjoy making my own tools... it must be where my customizing bones are.
The 4 pins near the center are the most recent, just put in for the 4-square concha.

At this point in the design process, most of the rough work is done, but many questions remain.  What color will the corona be?  If any?  What about the bridle?  I am not happy with the tapadero... can we improve it?  And WHICH drop to use!!! -- there are three different ones illustrated!!
From left to right: Squares, Triangles and Diamond.  They could all work -- that's the sweeping rush of creation, which spews out alternatives at a far greater rate than they can be digested or implemented.  Time must pass and the customer must be consulted before I can choose which one.

I know I promised a post on stable blankets, and I intend to still -- but this saddle has taken center stage.  I chose to let it.  At the moment of posting, it named itself.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

TSII #453: Roseleaf Roper

With much excitement and pride I present:  TSII #453, Feldman's Roper, nicknamed the Roseleaf!  Finished last night, this is the third saddle I've managed to complete in the year!  It does feel like I'm finally back in the saddle, -- dare I say.

This morning the lighting conditions were perfect for a few railing shots.  I was unable to resist tacking up Valhombra.  He is coming with me as Stowaway to Didi Hornberger's show this weekend (I leave today).  Every show has its stowaway.  A stowaway is a horse that isn't showing, isn't for sale, isn't exhibiting or doing anything useful, but who has to come anyway.  In this case it's because his wife will be showing.
This saddle was built on the ISH, but one naturally wants to try it out on other models.  As it happens I have seen my population of Carricks go from 1 to 3 in the past two weeks, so this mold is on my mind.  (The other two are Bonne Fete and Travis.)  It's a good test of a new piece anyway.
 One of the more obvious new tricks of #453 is the rawhide wrap around the horn.  As before stated, I chose to go with the simple approach.  This is ostrich rawhide. 
Another noteworthy aspect is the blanket.  I gave the customer the choice of existing blankets that I had made, or she could custom-order one.  She chose this one, a very special Reinata of Chris Armstrong design.  It is the one featured on this blog last year: Blanket Kit.

Valhombra makes a striking pose when taken from the front:  almost too striking!  That front foot tends to get exaggerated:
Still this is the best way to see the breastcollar.  Sorry, the hackamore has nothing to do with the saddle!  The colors matched and it was my own.... that's all.  Earlier, last night, we were shooting the saddle alone:
This is the best way to see that there is tooling under the cantle -- and it's not such a great view.  You'll have to take my word that there's rose leaves and the initials "TSII" under there.  Our saddles are all signed and numbered on the base plate (bottom skirt), UNDER the fenders, with number on the off side and SBY and the year on the near side.
If ever there was a color to fit the order, it's this horse!  Stone's Ima Hustlin Breeze from 2003, but in my herd she's called Rayonnant.I think the tackmaker, like a sculptress, sees the saddle most often and best from above.  This set's seat reflects that.
I tried so hard with this seat.  There's a three-layer sandwich of a tree in there, part metal, part leather.  It's not something I'd mass-produce; I admit, it needs work.  This piece truly is one-of-a-kind.  If, after you've spent months struggling with a saddle and finally finish it, the first thing you say is "I wanna do it again DIFFERENT in x--x--x--"  then you're a tackmaker!! 
As it happens, next is a parade set, so I'm one happy camper... for that and many other reasons!
 The braiding on the back cinch keeper is something I've only done three times before.  It's based on Grant's applique braid of 2 passes.
And now for something different.  I always like to see other folks' backyards and views, so here's a small entrant in the Scene class:  my own.
Rather green for October, eh?  but wonderful.  That's Bald Eagle Mountain in the distance. 
Coming soon:  a post on stable blankets!  Keep up with my news on our Tack Orders page, as always.
Happy tacking!

Friday, September 19, 2014

TSII #453 begun: Welts, Rawhide and Stirrups

This particular picture was taken last Friday, the 12th.  It's the beginning of TSII #453, Feldman's Working Roper, the third saddle under construction this year.  If fate is kind it'll be the third one finished this year!  When I think about the old days when I finished dozens of saddles in a year (1984 etc.)!! ... sigh...  but those had barely a fraction of today's detail.

TSII #453 was ordered to match a piece of headgear already made.  That piece was a Roper set, consisting of a bridle, tie down and breastcollar, created for the competitive English shower Karen Grieve, in 2005.  I made a lot of pieces for Karen.  I hated it when she left the hobby!

 Later that Roper set landed in the hands of my customer.  She entered my Lottery and asked for a matching Roper saddle.
I had made two Roping sets at this point (2005), one for Ann Bilon and the other for Karen.

Jump forward to 2014.  I don't know where most of July, August and Sept went, unless Blanket Fever (collecting Breyer blankets) is something of an excuse.  I'm hoping for a post on that subject sometime soon...
Just like TSII #452, the shoulders and horn of #453 got done first.  One of the big 'pioneering' efforts on this saddle was the braiding on the welt, the line (usually of stitching) that goes up the side of the shoulder of the pommel.  After decades (1979 to 2001) of hand-sewn welts, things changed with TSII #423 (Eleanor's Braided-Edge).  I invented an elaborate way of braiding the welt, which I used for 5 saddles and three years, up to 2004.  Here is TSII #423:
My other saddles that featured this fantastically challenging welt braiding are TSII #424, #425, #426 and #428.  It was a kind of flat braid.  And then came the Elk.
This saddle, built in 2004 (oh gosh it's ten years old!!) changed everything... again.  This time I tried using the welt's stitches as a ladder upon which to do the Three-Strand Applique Braid, which I'd just found out from Bruce Grant.  And to my amazement, it worked.  I've been using this trick ever since.  

Until now.
Why do artists stray from the path?  What makes them unpredictably seek out the unusual, the variations, the spark of difference?  The ability to err slightly, says Lewis Carroll, is what saved our DNA from extinction.  All I know is I did one shoulder with a lengthened Applique and then had no idea how to do it again.
I really struggled.  "Is anyone going to notice if the 2 halves are different?" refers to the thought of doing the usual thing on the other shoulder!  But in the end (it took overnight and 2 tries) I was able to catch and document what I'd done.  And the two halves did match.
Next:  a rawhide-wrapped horn.

I'll be honest.  I don't like Wade trees or saddles.  I think the thick neck looks ugly.  I was greatly relieved, after online research, to discover that not all Roping saddles had to have Wade-type thick necks.  A mere wrap of rawhide around the neck was enough.  But how to do it in miniature... I'd never done this before.
This is my second try:
Yes, that's real rawhide, even though it looks like plastic wrap.  Deep research (thank you Carrie) brought out that often a strip of mulehide was laid up across the front of the gullet; but dang it, I didn't want to cover up any of that beautiful braiding.  Call it pride.

The same thing was giong on with the stirrups.
Despite clear reference showing the overwhelming majority of Roping saddles having rawhide-covered stirrups with ONE row of (very plain!) stitching down their sides, that was NOT what I was building!  In defense I might point to the drawing I had submitted to my customer and she had approved and passed:
which clearly showed a stirrup with two braided edges.  But the truth is I am stuck on my own habits of fancy braiding and will use almost any excuse to do it on as many parts as possible.  Never mind reality; the artist wins on this one.  It's a Working saddle and as such should have plain parts.  I restrained myself on the tooling and on the silver.  But I decided to use real rawhide wherever I could.  Thus it was that the stirrup tread wrap wound up using some of my best rawhide... and covered the braiding as well.  Ah well.  Compromise, in a twisty sort of way. 
I did learn not to waste my rawhide on the stirrup neck wrap, because you absolutely can't see it.
We have progressed to the fenders.  I keep being reminded that even though it's not harness, there's an awful lot of strapwork on a Western saddle.  The fenders are a prime example.  Two buckles (one a tongue), two keepers (three if you count the chafe) and a separate billet with holes... and there are two fenders!  The chafe is there to prevent the buckle from scratching the horse.  A bit of personal trivia:  I make all my chafes out of long-worn-out moccasins.

As it turned out TSII #453 had to have three fender keeper straps made -- one broke.  This is the little troublesome doohickie strap that encircles the whole mess, gripping the fender just above the stirrup.  Some have flarings, or wider parts, which in full scale are sometimes tooled or marked.  At this model scale I consider it an accomplishment to have that flare at all.

TSII #453's flared fender keeper straps were cut from wide lace by hand and custom-dyed, then edged and greased, and handmade tiny friction buckles were put on, by both gluing and wrap-tying (I believe in overbuilding).  Hand-skived, leather is very fragile, and one strap got too thin and broke.  I tried to mend it... you can see the effort above, with the single stitch in the middle of the long right-hand tail of the strap.  But there was no tolerance for a knot (the knot would have been too big).  Glue didn't stick (and I hate glue anyway.  More artist pride).  I just made another one, recycling the buckle.
 And the fenders were finished.