Wednesday, July 19, 2017

BreyerFest Goodies

I am unable to resist posting the traditional "BreyerFest Loot" shot.  I plead temporary insanity.  In fact more Hartlands than Breyers came home with me; one Stone and one resincast also made the trip.  There's tack here too of course:  two blankets (of which you shall hear more -- I'm overdue for a blanket post!) and one fabulous saddle.  The saddle cost the most by far of all these pieces.  It is by Heather Moreton of Desert Night Creations, and it has its own odyssey.

You will note amazingly few of the BreyerFest tent pieces (Speical Runs):  I only wanted two.  Am I really that insane, since it's obvious I can afford them if I want them??  Hah!  One of a tackmaker's tough choices is what to do when Breyer releases a new mold in a different color, after you've already bonded with an earlier one.  I've already bonded with my bay Harley D Zip.  (Great color, hand chosen, hard to get.)  Having drawn the matte buckskin for my Surprise model, I felt I did not want him.  In addition, mane, tail and gender changes do not necessarily make a new model, not from a tackmaking point of view...  and my shelf space is not limitless.  Of course I thought the other colors were lovely, and I may change my mind in the future, but for now...
The same argument applies to Nazruddin.  Though he is beautiful in chestnut, I've already bonded with my palomino (as readers of my website will recall:  he's there now, wearing the TriColor Silver Parade saddle!).
The red halter, worn here by Kaalee/Jezail, is clearly meant for the Marwari.  Kudos to Jody Power of Jaapi halters, by the way, for consistently coming up with a halter design for Breyer's theme each year -- she nailed it this time!!!
 I really wanted the Kaalee (black roan Yasmin) as she is a new mold for me.  Of course I REALLY wanted the Rangoli, but as most of you know -- the odds against were astronomical.  : (   I am falling back on Plan B for him, outlined in an earlier Breyerhistorydiva response:  Wait til he's released in bay and then etch my own.  Remember Rinker? -- I've done it before!

Speaking of Breyerhistorydiva, she is responsible for me desiring my only Zodiacal series horse, the infamous Lobster Butt.
He was a bargain at $10.  Thank you Bonnie V.

The Perlino came looking for me, not the other way around.  But I had always wanted one.  When the seller unwrapped him and I saw the peculiar finish of his coat - neither glossy nor matte, but somewhere in between, a fantastic semi-gloss - I went and counted my money.  Yea, it happens like that sometimes!  Pricey he was, and remains (except for the saddle) my most expensive piece this year.  But I love him dearly and do not regret it.  Perhaps I needed the saw-him, fell-in-love, &-bought-in-minutes experience, and to prove I am not always staid or restrained...

Hartlands clearly dominated this year's take.  I came home with 6 Hartlands and 5 Breyers (and one of those Breyers was an elephant).  Yes, this little guy is a Hartland:  He was released in 1989 by Hartland Collectibles, the very first resincast sold by a plastics molding company.  According to Gail Fitch, approximately 150 exist.  Prior to 1989 (and for much afterwards), resincasts were exclusively the domain of private sculpting and casting artists, who usually painted them as well.
This is Hartland's Miniature Horse, a portrait of Heritage Hopeful, sculpted by Kathy Moody.  He is the first mold of all the Moodys to hit the open market.  Yes, this little cutie started the entire Moody canon!!  If that isn't enough, I got him from Karen Grimm's estate, so he's one of my BHR horses as well.  I said I wanted a driving pony.  Fitting around that mane will take a good harnessmaker, cough, cough, grin, grin...

Here's more of my BHR take.  Talk about a bargain:  they were $1 a head.  Just because the paint had bubbled a bit...!  I took the opportunity to handpick all three.  I've always admired this color.
Only close up does the damage show.
For somebody like me, who does not collect to show, but enjoys 'shelf' models out of all proportion, these horses are a fine bargain.

Speaking of bargains, take a look at these two remarkable finds.  These are Regal Series 11" Hartlands, and both of them were released only in 1967.
Nothing like finding your heart's desire in a body box (right), or (left) on sale late Saturday night!!

Yes, alas, something terrible must've happened to that Arab stallion on the right.  He is the Superb issue #9916 in Red Bay.  'Superb' meant the model was glossed.  All those little spots are paint flecks, which I am hoping I can remove; but the legs are another matter.  Still, conferring with model vets gives me hope.  I am thankful his sheer beauty was enough to save him.  Sometimes people don't know what they have;  I paid $5 for him.

Why am I so quick to grab such a doleful case?  Take a look at what I already own. The red on the right I've named Prince King Kamehameha, and his necklace is his symbol of authority; he's the ruler of all my Hartlands.  I got him in 1979 from a neighbor family, who had obtained him on a US Army base in Germany(!).  That means I've had him for 39 years.... and in all that time, I've never seen another like him...
Both my 11" Arab Stallions here are featured in Gail Fitch's book, Hartland Horses and Dogs (2000).  In the middle is #99131, Red Bay with white face and stockings, issued only in 1968.  I named him Merlin.  His tail and front leg are broken but you'd never know.  The factory eyewhites make a difference, don't they?!
Put together, it becomes apparent the new one is a bit darker than Prince King, especially in the face.
My new Saddlebred is #9936, Cherry Red Bay, but not a Superb.  What a pair she'll make with the new Arab.  H'mmm.... think I'll name him Maharajah...
It's enough to make a person declare a new breed.

But I have found my next breed to fall in love with, and it's the Akhal Teke.  Nearly 2 years ago, at Region X Regionals in 2015, I photographed a Sarah Rose Khan.  I was so impressed by his conformation and all the details of the spine.  Then when Sarah released the Mini Khan, I had to get one.  (Collecting the mini Roses has been a great pleasure!)  In other adventures, I hired Jenn Danza to repair some ears in 2016; I thus had drawn to my notice what a good painter she was.  She's right in my own state of Pennsylvania!  I decided to plump for this horse, and the deal was struck.  I was to pick him up at BFest this year; and he was worth the wait.  Jenn had fulfilled my wishes to perfection.
I had commissioned a "golden bay, so light you couldn't tell whether it was a buckskin."
I wanted a hardy little runner, thin and lean and ready to race over the desert.  Apologies for the slight out-of-focus shot below.
He is dearly perfect, and by far the most detailed, per inch of horse, paint job I possess.  I knew after NaMoPaiMo I was hiring a good painter, but this exceeded my expectations!
Those little black-rimmed ears -- !!
Thank you Jenn.

Blankets.  There had to be some, eh?  I got lucky and was able to talk a seller into splitting the Eve and Claus set.  I also got lucky with my Karen Grimm/BHR purchases; this Stone Morgan was hers and I got him for the blanket.  There were 2 Stone blankets of Karen's available but I already had the red-edged one; this one is rarer.  Thanks again to Heather Wells for all the work she is doing with the Grimm estate...!
These model Baker blankets were only offered by Stone in 2001.

And finally, my big ticket purchase for the year was a Western saddle.  This deal has been in the works for at least a year as well.  Heather has done blogs and videos on the making of this piece.
It did indeed take her 4 years to finish.  Her final blog post of this saddle is at
She had this saddle, plus other pieces, displayed at the Morlan Gallery (Transylvania University, KY) exhibit "Enough to Swear By," in the fall/winter of 2016, which was all about miniatures by famous artists.  At that time I made an offer.  No one else apparently made an offer.  To make a long story short, that's how I got lucky this BreyerFest!
Thank you Heather for the opportunity to purchase a saddle which I know meant a lot to you.  I will treasure it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Miniature Wickerwork Chair part II

By gaw, 'twas quick at t'finish.  This is a quote from James Herriott, but I find it relates to a lot of model projects.  After over a month of preparatory work, I did the entire bottom of my chair in just 2 days -- July 1st and 2nd.  My chair differs from the original tutorial in several ways:  it used smaller thread (Tandy's #30 Fine Sinew), the diamonds are different (because I goofed), I used thick cardboard instead of mat board and as a consequence there are two courses on the edge of the seat (not one), and I used braided buttons on the feet instead of merely wrapping sinew around them. 

Also, I used a much simpler cushion.  Miniature upholstery, despite being that blog's main offering, is not my forte.

This chair was finished so quickly that no pictures exist of doing the entire lower half, nor of finishing out the top rim.  This is where I caught up:
Here (above) we see the top has been woven to the correct width and has had its binding put round.  In full scale this "edge braid" is made from the stem wicker somehow (I've always wondered!!) but in model, the effect is easier to achieve.  A simple overlay does the trick.  I did wonder whether my white-glue choices would work on the sinew.  Up to now, my braided rawhide bridles have hated glue and I've used as little as possible on this material, turning to fingernail polish in the last extreme (as for end conchos).  However, Elmer's and Aleene's worked well enough... what a relief!
Above, the ends of the stems on the bottom are uncut.  I've started one of the legs, wrapping sinew down from above.  This is my original working end.  The other legs will use separate strands.

Clipping the stem ends would've been even more fun if my nippers had been SHARP.  As it was I used scissors along with them.
I had grand plans for those legs. First I had to insert separate strands for the three, and wrap them down, gluing all the while -- there wasn't any way to keep them wrapped before I braided my buttons.

Instead of merely gluing my sinew standing ends, I tried to bury them, as is proper in rawhide braiding.  This is a shot of where the needle had to go to thread a standing end.  It looks simple but the needle tip just about jammed into the seat binding.
(Above) That needle is actually bending, to avoid the seat binding.  You can see it pressing down on the seat binding.  Because it could bend, this worked.

Leaving the legs for a moment, the seat binding, two rows of 3-strand braid of double sinew, was something I had to invent on the fly.  The original tutorial called for one row of braid.  I tried 4-strand and then 5-strand braid, but these were too narrow.  In the end I decided to go with the plainest, most obvious solution.  Although I'm not pleased with how the butt ends met up (I had to forcefully glue them)(center of back, visible below) the rest of it is fine.  There is a heavy, elegant simplicity to that binding;  it is not out of scale with the rest of the chair.
The binding of the lower half was similar to the upper rim, with one difference:  I was able to bury my ends very nicely, and make it look much more like the braid flowed together, -- as if it was continuous.  On the upper rim the binding ends just turn under and stop.  Charmingly, the lower binding made an arch out of the center front edge (see below).  This happened totally by mistake but it gave the chair an understated elegance.

Back to the legs:  this was my first try of a braided button for a leg.   Emphasis on "try" as it turned out a failure!  A 3P5B (Spanish Ring Knot) was the wrong size for such a long, narrow diameter.  I went for Pineapples (4P5B) and was happier.
What I hadn't realized was that it mattered which direction I wrapped the sinew around the leg.  In two of the 4 legs I had to go back and re-wrap, so that the sinew came up from below and left, instead of from above and left.  That was the best way to do the buttons -- have the dead end fastened at lower left. 

And before I knew it, all weaving was done, ends glued and hidden.  I made a cushion out of fleece padding and white denim.  I knew from saddle blanket-making that white denim is perfectly in scale for canvas, and I wanted a very simple white cushion.  In the event it is probably a little too simple.  It's also probably a little short.  But I like it.
I signed the chair underneath.  Now for the last step:  dyeing.
I had known all along that this project would require dyeing, unless I wanted white stems to remain.  I had even taken a bottle of dye all the way to Colorado, in readiness.  In the event, the dyeing took place at home, in PA.  I used a color I'd made up myself, called Half Tan.  It was four-fifths solvent, a very light dye.  It matched amazingly well, darkening things only a little bit.
Outdoor photo shoot!!
 This truly looked like wicker.  Apparently I've got the mythical "good ol-fashioned shrinking-ray." (quote from Julie Froelich)
Like a good saddle, the ultimate test seems to be whether it looks comfy to sit in.
I wish I had a suitable model setting...
For those of you who have read thus far, Be of good cheer.  I am working on a Bosal Hackamore, and it shall come to BreyeFest with me.  When done, 'twill be auctioned.  The colors are natural lace, silver, White, Deep Blue and Deep Green -- inspired by our Maine trip.

Come and visit room 610 at the Clarion!!