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.


  1. Congratulations! Your work is certainly worthy of museums, Susan! How exciting to have this realized!

  2. My Arthur is looking handsome :D It was so nice to see you Susan. I cant tell you how flattered I am that you liked my camel. Great blog post. I have to share!!
    Christine Armstrong

  3. Thank you Chris and Sian. I hope some day this hobby will have a museum. And I hope that camel sees lots of show rings! I think he's better than most camels out there.

  4. This is a really nice camel. I wonder if he was ever cast and offered for sale? Trish Forsyth has made a family of camels recently that are quite nice!