She was using a method I had never seen before applied to the model mecate. I had seen it, a little, in experimental form, for Arab costumes and halters, in the hands of Kate Jennings of California. I had also seen it in larger scale, that is to say, full scale (by which I mean "real life") in books in the book store and in sewing stores. It's called kumihimo, a Japanese art of braiding using a wooden form. The separate strands are crossed (braided) according to their patterns, and fed into a central opening; the rope emerges beneath.
|Photo by D. Hart
I had also run across the kumihimo approach, or 'mechanical braiding,' in a book on Victorian human hair memorial pieces, given me by a good friend some years ago. This book did not use the word kumihimo, and claimed the method originated in Europe. But the approach was the same: crossing the strands above an opening and feeding the result down a central opening. Weights are used with this method, on both ends of each strand. Incredibly complex braids resulted.
Danielle's mecate is superneat and clean. It looks as though it was made by machine. Words like 'neat,' 'tight,' 'smooth' and 'polished' come to mind. It gleams, it does not look shreddy. If you prefer a near impossibly perfect mecate, one that might almost be computer-controlled, this might be your favorite method to collect.
At the other end of the spread is Jacquee Gillespie, of Beautiful Horses, down in New Mexico.
This lady does full-scale horsehair braiding, specializing in mememtoes of one's pets and horses that have passed on. Give her some of your departed horse's hair and she will make bracelets, rings, tassels, keyrings, necklaces and other items from it. I am positive she knows how to make full scale mecates and bosals, too.
The shot shows what a good nick was made when Jacquee discovered the model horse hobby. She has made her own silver buckles, conchos and ferrules. In communication with her I found out she uses dog hair and alpaca hair in her model tack. I am nearly one-hundred percent certain this mecate was spun from some type of animal hair. It has the shaggy look of a full scale mecate. If, as a collector, you prefer the charm of the real stuff and its methods rendered in miniature, this is the approach for you.
And then there's me.
That is the fun part. I do not seem to be able to leave model braidwork alone. : )