Saturday, September 26, 2015
I had designed this set, using elements from 4 other Donna Allen saddles. I hadn't designed the reins. When it arrived, I loved it -- but I somehow took a dislike to those reins. The only other black on the set was edges. I thought those reins should have been purple.
As it turned out, Donna did too; she said, "I was gonna make the reins purple, but I thought it would be too much for you!" Alas for mistaken impressions.
In time, I took this as permission to fix the situation myself.
Last week I needed an excuse to walk, and to do a little something for myself that was "not silver parade." JoAnn Fabrics was a mile away. I had been studying the black reins. I concluded they were made of Pearl Cotton, a material I had never used. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to start my acquaintance with Pearl Cotton. I packed the horse ("Bonne Chance," thank you EJH) in a pony pocket and sneaked it into JoAnn's Fabs. Lousy lighting in there, but--!!
I found a good Pearl color, a dusky lavender. I bought some matching DMC for good measure. The color number on that was 3041, in case you're curious. Remember that all 4 colors of purple on this set (blanket, edge braiding, seat, and bridle/bc buttons) didn't match each other.
I dug out exactly the same snaphooks as the blacks and made two same-gauge rings.
I spent some time staring at this set. What would it, itself, want to be reined with? What would be a good color, that wouldn't clash, if I was going to use that 4-strand braid texture? I pawed through my 2 bags of embroidery floss. I found some nice dark browns. One in particular was a lovely milk-chocolatey tan which went well with the leather color of the tooling. (Photo makes it redder.)
This hank was not DMC and it had no number. It was labelled "Designs for Needle: Made in Mexico." In a flash I knew what had happened to a bundle of extra floss I had been given by my mother-in-law, a bundle I had been looking for recently. I had already distributed those hanks between my two bags of ready-to-use floss. Supreme organization is not my forte; my floss is divided into warm and cold colors, nothing else.
More snaphooks, more rings.
I felt more: I was inspired. I tried to tie some purple floss buttons on the brown reins. After all, the bridle and breastcollar had those, didn't it?? But here I failed. Not only couldn't I match what threads Donna had used for her buttons; I couldn't tie a 5P6B button on those reins, which was what the bridle & bc used. During the first button I gave up. It caused me to ponder deeply on when to stop, always a problem with the artistic sort. Just let this one be...
So now I had some extra purple reins. As it happened, I had a headstall, by Danielle Hart, that had no reins, but four colors of buttons: white, 2 purples and pink! Huzzah!! Matchmaking was a natural by now...
Keep up the good work, D. and D.
Bonus Shots: Purple English.
This outfit has been accumulating for at least 15 years. Fara Shimbo of Boulder, CO made the saddle back in the 1980s; it has her cast-Aluminum-dust stirrups. I made the bridle. I honestly don't recall who did the various leg bandages, boots and wraps -- they came from various sources. (All I can recall is Ensor.) The earnet, the last of all the parts to be attained, was made by Virginia Sherman, who was at Region X Regionals last year (2014). When I saw that earnet I knew I had to have it. Now you know why!
Sunday, September 20, 2015
When I was a kid, my grandparents contributed to my inevitable-equine-spoilage by getting me and my sister horse-themed toys and books. Family legend has it a patient of my grandfather's (he was a doctor) named Claire Sittler started this. But I think I added a good deal on my own. Who can tell? Is horse fever explainable? My love of jigsaws was certainly started back then, with Springbok round and octagon puzzles, purchased in Tucson toy stores and worked in my grandparents' home in Tucson. They weren't all horsey -- we have an Early Motor Cars one -- but my absolute favorites were the horse and carousel ones. (Some day I'll do a post on how the carousel one influenced the TSII head logo.) Today  my collection of jigsaws numbers about 150.
In the early 80s, during college, somewhere in an art shop, I found (and instantly bought) 4 small studio cards carrying images of horses that Ruth Ray had painted. Copper Queen had siblings!! Other people have documented these Donald Art Prints; thank you so much, Paula.
Part of my story is that I somehow managed to lose track of those 4 cards for years. I can only dimly guess when -- late 80s? early 90s? -- amd even dimmer as to when I rediscovered them -- sometime in the middle to late 2000s. When I finally dug them out, I carefully made a scrapbook called Horse Images. I started remembering the puzzle around then.
Madly, wholly without grounds, I began wondering if puzzles existed of all four. Searching the Internet was now part of my life. I'd used it to find horse stamps, not to mention model horses and tack! I slipped into a pattern of occasionally searching eBay with 'horse jigsaw puzzles.' This was not at all steady or committed, just whenever I felt like... a drunken binge of eye candy.
In the fall of 2013 I hit pay dirt.
When Copper Queen arrived, I was amazed at its condition. Only the bottom of the puzzle box revealed any ageing.
Whitman again, but a different line: Crown. The number of pieces was 713. No date.
The side of the puzzle was disappointing. No chance of Golden Ruler or Storm King, alas. "French Provincial, Quiet City, Copper Queen, Village Lane."
This shot shows the pieces after I had separated most of them, so the side-by-side alignments and parallelism, something that would happen over a very long period of storage, was not photographed by me. But it was there.
It took two days to do.
Right about now, my own beloved model horse hobby caused me some discomfort. It has trained me, for many years, to look critically at a horse, and judge its conformation. How I wished, now, I had never been taught that -- for once! Alas, it's true: her head is too small. In desperate defense, I note that her off foreleg is also too small. In fact the whole horse seems to get bigger as you move from nose to hindmost hoof.
The pose is tremendously iconic. It shouts breed. Yet the setting is magical, mystical, haunting. In fantasy the viewer may make of images what they wish. I will justify the small head on grounds of Victorian fashion; old masters portrayed horses like this in the 1800s, laying the groundwork for the Arabian.
But that's another story.
Friday, September 11, 2015
It's almost funny how some model tack winds up with a mix of extremely heavy, hefty parts and light, thin, friable, ready-to-break parts. Call it style, call it ease-of-making (speed!); whatever it is, it greatly enhances the possibility of breaking-in-use. This bridle, acquired some months ago with a saddle, had a big heavy earpiece and cheekstraps, but a crown strap of dainty fragility.
The Black Art of O.F. Enhancement. The skill ranges from white magic on down; maybe more on this later!) Tinkering with another's work is a vast subject, worthy of thick books and forests of terms: Conserve, preserve, repair, refurbish, replace! The field of model tack being relatively new (and most questions being relatively minor), I have worked out my own standards.
Whether the artist has produced a lot of pieces influences me. When the piece is really broken, is missing something or when fixing requires a skill I need to practice (the 'teaching value' excuse), it's repair time. If I think I can get away with strengthening or enhancing, I'll fix it to the best of my ability and time available -- and take notes. The bottom rung of this ladder, I confess, is "I wanna 'cause it's mine now." But at least notes are kept...
In this case I thought I'd "line" the crown strap with another piece of lace. The upper surface would remain the same, but the strap would be thickened. In model tack thickness equals strength. I had to find lace that was the same color, type and density, matching as closely as possible.
Now for the holes:
A final step is to use a rattail needle file to further open the holes. The lining has given the crown strap leather to spare. Since the original featured round holes, this was part of matching the previous artist's style as closely as possible.
The earpiece is unusually large. Proportions are a challenge eh!? I had to hunt all through the herd for a horse with big enough ears! Even the Stone Thoroughbred was small for this bridle... The saddle that came with it was Trad scale, and it also showed some proportion challenges. I did draw the line at shortening the earpiece. Excuse the thread on the nose; that's only me hating sticky wax and not bothering with PhotoShopping it [the thread] out.