Saturday, September 26, 2015

Purple Reins

 When I got my purple Donna Allen Western set back in April, it looked like this.  The reins were black braided floss.  It looks better on this horse, and in this picture, than it does the rest of the time, "in normal life," -- you'll have to take my word for it.  (And please pardon the bit not-in-mouth -- I really wasn't looking!!)
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.
This picture doesn't make it look like it, but take my word:  the purple reins didn't match.  They just clashed.  They drew attention away from, and darkened, the purple edge braiding, made of nylon sinew (which I didn't have).  Texture-wise, color-wise:  my idea didn't work!!
Now what!!

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.
And now I was happy!!  Now the various purples stood out, each with their own strength.  Now elements went together, didn't fight.  My eye got used to the whole set very quickly, a sure sign the right decision had been made.  I'd had my little fling and felt much refreshed.
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...
(Please excuse the too-close-to-eye;  I really wasn't looking again!!)  This time the purple reins looked right at home.  I now had Pearl Cotton and another beautiful bridle!  Snaphooks are a perfect in-scale device for rein changes.  Problem solved.

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!
The horse is an O.F. Breyer resin.
The bell boots need replacing; they are badly cracked.  Any leads would be appreciated...
Happy Collecting.


  1. Amazing tack :3 I love purple ?3

  2. If you are still looking for new bell boots try here

  3. Thank you A & A for recommending Jana Skybova. Excellent advice, which I have taken.

  4. The brown reins really brought everything together. They really look original to the set.