Sunday, February 2, 2014

Granger and Teller: Rawhide Bridle approaches

 Today's post -- actually a peek at my tack collection -- concerns just two model bridle makers and one style of headstall.  It also answers the burning question Why You Should Never Freeze Your Glue!!  Oh, the adventures of a wandering tackmaker...

The two artists are Margaret Teller, regretfully gone from us now (I should say, making tack in another dimension), and Shannon Granger, delightfully alive and well but probably not taking orders!  Shannon comes first, because today I put together the piece you see above.  I had picked up the reins at BreyerFest 2012.
So much happens inside the ballrooms at the (then) Holiday Inn North!!  now, the Clarion Inn!!  I can remember NAN being held there..  ahem... In that space (just right of the door), during the Artisan's Gallery of 2012,  on July 19th, I had the great pleasure of meeting Shannon Granger, publisher/editor of Model Horse Performance Magazine.  We had corresponded a lot, but I'd never seen her.  A Scandinavian, was my first thought... followed by, How sweet, how nice, how disciplined!  She had brought a selection of peices for sale.  One of my collecting goals is a piece from every noteworthy tackmaker I like, not a small ambition when you've been in the game as long as I have (thirty-six years this June).  But really I just wanted those reins.  They were only $50... believe it or not, all I could afford.
To her credit, she tried very hard to get me to trade, but I was learning 'cash is cheaper than my time' and in the end she let me talk her into the sale.

Sometime later in 2012 (my only clue is an email of mine dated Sept 18 that mentions it), Shannon posted a small contest on her blog.  Whoever made the most comments before her counter reached thirty thousand (I think) would get a small piece of tack.  Well, I had recently gotten bold about leaving comments -- in hindsight, a step towards my own blog.  What a chance.  I must have left lots of comments because I won the contest.  I knew right away what I wanted.
It took a lot of talking.  I had a bit and reins.  All I wanted was a matching headstall.  Shannon was a tackmaker I respected, and to have her exploring my favorite form, the braided rawhide headstall, was a pushover for me.  But as you can see, it also took some patience.  Perhaps this is a good thing.

In the meanwhile, I was able to purchase a complete saddle from her in March of 2013, the Aqua Gaming set.
Photo by Shannon Granger
I was so impressed I did a blog post on it.  Spring Colors
The above 2014 picture shows a tiedown for this very set.  I'd had no idea it even existed until I opened the package two days ago.  Some artists can hold ideas in their heads for a long time.   This should NOT surprise me -- !!!  I am still deeply touched.

So the headstall arrived and I put it together with its reins, made two years before.   The bit is from a friend, similar to those marketed by Marsha Ensor and probably a copy of those marketed by Robin Clark many long years ago.
Shannon kindly listened to me wanting certain decorative elements: the buttons on the tied brow.  She hadn't done such a thing before.  The design of this headstall is the classic Old West sliding doubled loop.  I'm still not sure it has a name... I learned about it in Tom Hall's Western Tack Tips books, and had seen it earlier in museums and books.  These two tackmakers, Shannon and Margaret, are using candlewicking to execute it in miniature scale.  The great part about this design is that it can be completely adjusted without any buckles or hardware.

As soon as this bridle was completed, I turned to my collection and pulled out Margaret Teller's piece, ordered at BreyerFest of 2002, down paymented then, balance paid in September, and arrived on Halloween.
Same material, the offwhite candlewicking.  Same design, a Western headstall that adjusts with no buckles.  Same scale.  And, same price -- fifty dollars -- how about that.
It even used embroidery floss as adjunct materials, in this case the mecate (leadrope).  But here the similarity ends.  Margaret made her buttons with wrappings of matching-color thread, and drew on the interweaves with a colored pen.  Her design is simplified.
Yet when I first saw these pieces, my reaction was the same:  I had to have them.  Does anyone really understand this passion?  Or the pleasure in seeing different approaches to the same thing, the variations on a theme that is the heart of all collections?  I have loved and enjoyed and yes played with Margaret's bridle and hackamore (I was lucky enough to get two pieces that year from her) ever since, which is to say, for the past 12 years.  They've stood the test of time.  Will Shannon's piece do the same?

There are other tackmakers who have used this material to do miniature rawhide braidwork.  It is a splendid sub-collection within the model braidwork canon.  Two names that come to mind are Kathy Wiggins and Linda Spiesschaert.  I have photographs (remember those things!) which I should digitize some day...

MEANWHILE, didn't somebody mention FROZEN GLUE?????

Y'all know I spent two months in New York, and just came back home to central Pennsylvania (Jan. 30).  My family is efficient and we were packed up a day in advance.  I knew cold would not hurt the horses and so they and the tackshop all went out into the truck the evening before.  We had to leave the next morning bright and early.  The cold snap was back in action, but I honestly did not think anything in the tack shop could be hurt.
Was I ever wrong.
What good is it to be dinky and careful about saving glue?!?  In my defense, the bottle does not say "Do Not Freeze," and I had no idea white glue would react this way... this had never happened to me before...  but oh, my, how suddenly solid it all got... 
the consistency of cheese spread.

I dug it out -- talk about recycling, in this case the bottle itself -- refilled the glue with a larger bottle I happened to have (you can see it above right) and rolled on.  Lesson:  use easily-obtained materials if you possible can.

Here is a link detailing a bit about my husband's job while we were up there.
OWLeS: Ontario Winter Lake-effect Storms, by Channel 9 Syracuse
He is in the airplane.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. As you said, it is really neat to see different artists' approaches and style on similar works. All of these are really lovely.