Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Clyde Goehring: Done At Last!

The Clyde Goehring Mexican Silver Parade Saddle set is finally finished.  A flourish of mariachi trumpets would not be amiss!!  It has only been... ummm... fifteen months... !!!  This saddle, TSII #451, was officially started January 14 of 2013... and finished March 5 of 2014.   In the 5 years since 2009 (when it was accepted as an order), lives were massively impacted, fortunes changed hands, aged relatives rose into overpowering prominence and new friendships were forged in the fires of unexpected trials and tribulations...   This all sounds so dramatic and overblown, but, in fact, every one of those things happened: most of them during 2013.

When I look at this saddle today I see much history;  but most of all, I see a friend.  This friend helped me overcome the logjam of working on this saddle in a new and refreshing way.  She went above and beyond any call of duty, and positively outdid herself in helping me finish it.  I really cannot emphasize enough how much Ann Bilon must share the credit for finally concluding one of the TSII's most long-drawn out projects.  Thank you Ann!!! 

TSII #451 was accepted as an order in my Lottery of August 2009... the last TSII Lottery ever,  for the foreseeable future.  The order was for a portrait of a real saddle.  The horse indicated was Alborozo, new just the summer before.  Prior to starting work on the set, I had never owned (or, let's be honest, wanted) Alborozo.  He was a grey and I am not fond of greys.  He was an odd size.  He was only mildly tack friendly.  To beat all, he was hard to get hold of.  I had dealt with him before, making a Domo Vaquero saddle on one in 2009.  In that instance I'd borrowed the mold from the customer.  For the Clyde Goehring a similar arrangement was intended; but as it happened, a neighbor (much closer than the ordering customer, who was in Texas) was able to lend me an Alborozo.  She had two.  It was the more scratched and custom-intended horse of the two.  I was very grateful.
As documented elsewhere, that Alborozo spent so much time on my bench I started to fall in love with him.  This is the secret of tack making:  you bond with the horse.  It can be lightly or deeply, but there is a connection established, which forever afterwards will be present in the piece of tack and in that horse.  I have him now, and his name is SnowHammer, in memory of the snows of New York and the beautiful house on Lake Seneca.  He is, umm, waiting to be freed from carrying this saddle, which he is now heartily tired of...

The finishing of this piece accelerated after the blanket came in.  All I had left to do was the serapes and the latigo-strap covers.  The serapes took a day; the covers -- very fancy keepers in real life -- took a couple of days.  Designing them was a challenge, since I still wasn't completely sure of how they worked in full scale.  What you see here are actually clip-ons!  pieces intended to snap onto the tied-up cinch latigo strap.  There was no other way to achieve the detail demanded...  the saddle could not have been fastened on if the cinch strap had to pass multiple times through such an elaborate keeper as well as have such a fancy tip.  Leather at that scale would not have bourne the stresses involved.  Such was my reasoning.

The serape was the absolute last part to be created -- two halves sewn together, with the seam under the back skirts of the saddle.  Such colorful serapes have been used here at the TSII since the earliest of days!!  1979 -- and they all really did come from Mexico -- Nogales, south from Tucson, where I often visit my parents.  It was grandparents in the days of original acquisition, up through the middle 80s...  The reference pictures clearly show a colorful Mexican serape, as do many other instances of California parade saddles.
The two blankets together make a very interesting texture.  The second person to be clearly credited with helping me finish this saddle, behind Ann, has got to be Lizzie the Knitter.  When you discover I just read Zen and the Art of Knitting, it becomes almost a spiritual thing... !

Possibly because of his stance, I find I prefer Alborozo without the serape.  But this is a personal preference.  With it he seems to have color overload.  The serape is detachable, of course -- see earlier.  In contrast, with Carrick (named Valhombra), the serape has plenty of room.  Without it, the set would be somewhat lacking on this horse.
The pose and color of this horse reminds me of a couple of drawings by western artist Joe de Yong.

Editor's Note from the future (Sept 2017).  This is the place to index all 12 (!) other blog posts having to do with TSII #451, so here we go:
Bit Blanks
Goehring Breastcollar Rough Cut
Goehring's Reins
Goehring Breastcollar Engraved
Goehring Bridle & Breastcollar Done
Goehring Stirrups
Goehring's Fenders Etc.
Tree Fun
All Good Things: Goehring Skirts
Stringing Along and Concho Villa
Silver Progress on the Goehring
CG: Almost There

What is next for the TSII?  The number of trips does not seem to be going down:  I just went to MAR last weekend, and the now-typical summer trip to Colorado and Kansas is set.  I'll be able to stick my head in at Springamathing!!  My donation to this year's NAN Auction has already been made:  not a piece of tack, but a Meadowbrook cart kit by Michelle Huskins ("The Wood Wiz") and a copy of the Guide.  I feel my next duty really is to the remaining 6 Lottery winners:  2 Western saddles, 2 parade sets and 1 parade bridle,  and 1 hitched-horsehair bridle & bc set.  In the way of things, that single parade bridle will probably, in the fullness of time, morph into a complete saddle...  that was only to be expected...  Somewhere in there, commensurate with the desires of the artist, will come various auction pieces and trades.   Also somewhere in the next year should come another printing of the Guide... if it does not become available online!!  That's a decision I have not made yet, but for the first time, I admit the possibility.
In conclusion, this little tack shop will carry on much as it has in the past.  Look for horses to be put up for sale:  I have a friend's collection to disperse as well as some of my own.  Look for future electronic offerings of a tutorial sort.  The dream of more pieces as well as another book is alive.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chris Armstrong's Camel

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting with some Tucson model horse people.  Chris Armstrong, of Saddle Pad Cross Stitch Patterns fame, brought her camel sculpture.  We were at a local restaurant -- it was Golden Corral on 22nd -- and I can only guess what the other guests thought.  Let alone the manager!  I was so busy looking at the goodies I confess I wasn't paying them any attention...
This was February 19, the first day I landed in Tucson.  I have been very lucky to be able to visit my snowbird parents for a week every February.  (For, oh, many years now.)  Usually I try and time my visit to fall across the great Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, but this year was different.  I'd spent January away from my own home and was looking at a 12-day trip in early March, and I wanted to place the February run right in between, to give myself some breathing space.  Miraculously, a three-leg flying journey was correctly completed on each end of my Tucson week -- this with a husband who has nothing but disbelief in airports' abilities to handle or connect passengers on the ground...

The local hobbyists couldn't manage a weekend off.  Our only time to get together was the very day I flew in.  I am thankful that it all worked out.  Chris Armstrong, Pat McDonald, Debi Roff, and Lauren from Phoenix all showed up (plus Allen) and we had a fine time.  In addition to the camel, there were three model horses and a pile of tack. 
In this shot you can see the tail and hind leg of my Carrick at left... Debi's arm and shoulder... and my TSII #407 sitting at lower right.  I'll have to do a post on this saddle alone:  Five days later it got donated to Tucson's Mini Time Machine on Camp Lowell road -- a museum of miniatures!!  (Squeal!!)  Along with a Stone ISH and one of my own cross stitch blankets -- none other than Mint O'odham, which has its own blog post.  mint o'odham
(I know, I'm one of those crazy  people who actually name their saddle blankets... )  The blanket and horse donation happened later, after I got home. 
Meanwhile, there was this camel... 
I confess, an original sculpture was NOT what I was expecting from Chris Armstrong.  She did "bootie bags," carry bags and purses from old pairs of pants, and she now offers CDs of Western Saddle Blanket patterns.  But the moment I saw "Camelot" I was hooked.  Possibly because the conformation was so correct.  Possibly the scale of him -- this too was correct.  Possibly because, I confess again, after 35 years in this hobby, I am increasingly attracted to deer, antelope and moose models, and a camel just fits right in.  Or it could be that, almost right away, visions of knotted wool halters started to swim in the depths of my mind...
It's not like we don't have any reference for those.

Chris hasn't cast him yet -- he's not finished.  But plans are afoot.  I all but promised I wanted one.  I did that silly thing, that one thing that indicates falling-in-love, and that nearly always results in a sale, sometime in future:  I named him.
Hump Day.
These pictures were taken by my brother, Allen Bensema.  He happened to be also visiting the family (he lives in Denver), and with great good humour he wanted to tag along.  He isn't the least into model horses, but Allen IS into photography in a big way.  I'm not the only one to see a useful connection!  Plus he's just a wonderful mellow sort to hang out with.  Here is his Flickr page:

Other TSII news:
As of March 2, the Clyde Goehring Saddle is not finished yet.  I have 4 days to work on it before I vanish yet again for twelve days.  There just seem to be a lot of trips in my life!  I anticipate completion, and starting on the next customer (Anja Schmidt) "in the fulness of time."  Which is to say, much slower than I'd prefer!!  but at least it's not years.  At this point we're looking at the last two weeks of March.  If apologies for inconvenience can be accepted after more than 5 years of delays, they are offered.  On the good side, when I showed the Goehring on Carrick to the museum staff, they were suitably impressed. 
I think it put in a good word.