Friday, October 27, 2017

Intermediaire/INTERSPORT: Halter

On October 15, Didi Hornberger successfully pulled off her eleventh Intermediaire/INTERSPORT model horse show (Harrisburg, PA), and she graciously let me photograph it from beginning to end.  Didi is the old fashioned sport breed, and all I have to do afterward is send her a compact disc with the pictures burned on it.  This is a great relief for me; I have few other ways to transmit hundreds of digital shots.  (I'm pretty sure my email would croak if I tried.)  Not surprisingly, there were 948 pictures (!! okay, I'm surprised).  Idly I thought I'd put up a blog post on the show -- I did last year.  Oh hah hah -- !!  It's taken 4 days just to pick out my favs and only now have I realized one post isn't going to hold them all.  Halter, Performance:  that's an easy split, none the worse for having been used before.

These are one photographer's choices.  I concentrate on portraits, a favorite goal of mine, both horse and human.  I've tried to include something for everybody:  Breyers, Stones, resins, chinas.  Of course I'm also very interested in performance, but since Intermediaire is such a great performance venue and since I couldn't winnow those shots down very well either, there will be a second post later.  Just this post has 40 shots!

Compared to the horses, people are very hard to shoot at shows.  Only one class of people comes close to being both unaware and focussed.  This first shot tickles me pink -- I think she looks elven.  It's Ellen Derr judging a Western performance class.
 Mary Ann Snyder judging Arabians.  The expressions tell you everything.
Why do I go to big shows like Intermediaire?  A good part of the answer is to see what's new!  This year in particular I saw so many new models.   Here's Duende, Breyer's new Andalusian, sculpted by Mindy Berg.  This is my first time seeing him in person.
 Although I own 2 Copperfoxes, this was only my second time of seeing the Finnegan models, the Irish Sport Horse (has anyone else mixed up our two ISHs?!) up close and in person.  He was sculpted by Morgen Kilbourn.  Here we have a glossy Toby and the original chestnut Finnegan.
 This beauty is Loughnatusa, owned by Margaret Suchow.  I confess I like him best.
 I believe all these Copperfoxes were issued as limited runs of 150 or 200 head.  I knew about Brigadier from other sources; still it was a thrill to see this glossy black monster up close.  He's a big horse!  He has ermine spots on his socks.
 This one is Bunny, a new mold from Peter Stone company.  Pretty impressive if you ask me.  I found out she is sculpted by Stacey Tumlinson.
 Sometimes you just feel like the guy on the ground here...
In complete contrast, and to my utter delight, I found this foal a few classes later.  "What is This?!?" I exclaimed.  It is also a new mold from Peter Stone! although this particular one has been factory customized.  Uncustomized, the tail points pretty much straight up and the head is straighter and the nose is up level with the horizon.  "Arabian Foal," it's called.  The tail reminds me of the Mustang Foal from the CollectAs.
This color was called Wonder Woman.  Who's surprised.
 I'm going to go back to an earlier part of my day.  I like to wander around and inspect people's tables.  This delicious assortment was seen on Beth Dickinson's table.  She informed me the palomino in the foreground is a rare Goebel.
I believe this resin is named Lucius.
Back to seeing models for the first time, here's Java.  I find the big cat colors an amazing departure for Breyer, and this one the most astonishing of all.  What an idea!!  I haven't collected the big cat series, but this is the first time I've really wanted one of them.

I'm as much a pushover for cute foals as anybody.
This foal was more than cute; he was spectacular.  I think this is a remake although I'm not sure.
Those eyes!
While we're on the subject of new models, here's Calvin the Blue.  I've already commented elsewhere on his amazing similarity to the Stone Little Bird and Fledgling, horses released in 2000 and which I happen to own.  They were designed by Karen Gerhardt.  When Karen first saw this Calvin, she was pretty surprised; but then she just accepted it.  I hope most showers can know it is her design idea, and pass on the knowledge.
Here's another Stone custom I had no idea existed.  There seems to be no limit on what can be done with plastic hair! 

Moving now on to some resincasts, here's a striking pair.  You don't often see these two together.  Vata, sculpted by Lynn Fraley, is on the left.  Maggie Bennett's sculpture Umbra is on the right.  Note how Umbra's base is in the form of the horse's shadow.
Conformationwise, I have some rump arguments...

There were a lot of good Matriarchs at the show, at least 5.  I own one myself, so I'm somewhat particular for this model.  Even though I see some of these horses year after year, I still love them.
Don't you just  love the color on this Okie Rio resin!  Sculpted by Carol Williams, who also did Matriarch.
And here's a classic, Aashiq by Ed Bogucki, with a stunning rabicano paint job (in oils) by Kim Bleecker.

Despite my efforts, a few Performance shots are sneaking in.  It's because I've classified them as portraits.  You'll forgive me.  This grey mare is a Brigitte Eberl sculpt, owned by Kris Gallagher.

And here's a True North.  'Fess up, Sue, you wanted a Rangoli and didn't get one, so now all the True Norths are just that little bit more attractive.
 To prepare you for what lies ahead, I will hark back to an earlier comment.  It seems there is no limit on what can be done with plastic hair...
Stone calls this type of factory custom "puddle tail."  I think I would've found a more graceful name, perhaps 'curtains'... : )

Indeed there is no limit.  At every show I attend, I find a defining model, one that I remember above all the rest -- one that becomes a 'memory tag' for that show.  Sometimes I merely fall in love with a horse; others I remember with worship and awe.  This show I found something I never dreamed existed, yet it instantly hooked my attention.  How could anyone have come up with this?!?  Elements of Cervine (deer) and Equine are in this shy forest creature, which I am calling the Deer Filly.
I first saw it on the owner's table.  I was astonished and intrigued.  Later I photographed it in the arena.
The 'antlers' are part of the mane, not stuck on separately, or so I remember the owner telling me.  It is a factory custom on Stone's Arab Filly.
The judge liked her too:
So there you have it:  the only model I'm showing 3 pictures of.

I see I've largely left out chinas.  Alas, they can't all get in.  This beautiful Hagen Renaker took top prizes.
Here's a brief glimpse of the winning Woodgrain.  Portraits, remember?  He was in such good shape.
When I saw this etch, I was impressed.  There were very few etches at Intermediaire, for whatever reason.  This one must have started out as a Breyer Valentine.
Here's another case where I own the resin, (except mine is unfinished).  This lovely horse is the Morgen Kilbourn sculpt Maxixe, pronounced Mac-SEE-shay.  He makes a really good Criollo.

Didi runs an interesting show, with fun classes in the Intermediaire half and 'serious,' more open-class competition in the Intersport half.  I'm not clear on which class the Eohippi enter, but I saw my first one last year.  This year there were two; this is the new one.
Nearly half the shots I take when documenting big shows are table or arena shots, of a class as a whole.  Often they are diagonal (across the table) so as to fit as many horses in as possible.  I haven't posted many of these shots as they tend to be of interest only to fanatics (read: boring).  But here are a couple.  This first one is of the class the Eohippi were in.  You can see both of them on the left.  The eventual winner was a tiny Quagga and the above model took second.
Here is part of the O.F. Appaloosa class.  It's hard to beat an Appaloosa class for flash and color.
 A close up, mostly Stones:
To end this post I'd like to zoom in on a model I found particularly enchanting.  After a day of seeing thousands of models it's hard to pick just one, but I could find no flaws in Bogucki's one-ninth-scale Bask.  Normally I don't like greys, -- which just speaks volumes about his quality and attractiveness.  Owned by Niki Hertzog and finished by Nan Wagner.

Coming up:  Performance!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Creating the Snowshoes

For at least 10 years I've been saying I wanted to do a pair of model snowshoes.  In the past month this dream came true.  Now that they are finished, I think the real dream is that I captured the process in drawings and notes, and am on the cusp of drafting several Plates about them.  One plate is already in pencil (the first step).  What could be more me!?  It's almost funny, but these shoes have been a definite step on the way to my next book -- which will be, never fear, about braided model horse tack!

Not every step of making the Snowshoes was photographed.  This post will be an overview.

I began with a jig, or form, made of solid balsa.  I'd inherited a slab of balsa from my father-in-law and it was easy to cut.  This first picture also shows my 'test toe.'  I knew I needed a test piece:  How to do the curve of the toe?  How to lace it?  I was stumped for quite a while, despite my husband's snowshoe book which at least gave me the names of the parts.
 After spending way too much energy attempting to make a metal liner for the toe curve (my test piece still has metal in it), I tumbled to the simple fact that the iron-on strips of wood I was using would hold their own shape nicely on the jig.
I knew about iron-on shelf edging from my own model horse collection shelves.  I knew about using pins to hold things down on corkboard from my early youth, making model airplanes (!).  I had practiced iron-ons with my parade sets.  And, from decades of making 1:9 braided bridles and from this spring's Wicker Chair, I knew what I'd be using for rawhide.  Tandy's Tejas Fine Sinew 30#, of course!

At first, my snowshoe frames were fastened with pins. 
Then I got all perfection-y about it, and decided to use wooden pegs.  I made them from flat toothpicks, of which the kitchen had a bountiful supply.  I shaped the toothpicks with the X-Acto and jammed them through one of my drafting circle templates.  I drilled the holes with the pin vise, visible below (black braided handle).

Sanding and staining were done, and then varnishing.  True to a tackshop's practice, the stain was Leather Glow and the varnish none other than Super Shene, four coats.

The next step was to cut grooves in the sides of the toe and tail.  NOT in the center part, oddly.
Because the tail was the smallest part of the lacing, I started there first.  There is a cord around the inside of the areas of the toe and tail, called a lanyard.
Although it was relatively easy to figure out how to tie the tail lanyard, its execution was challenging.  Bevelling the holes was next to impossible and their sharp edges did a deal of fraying on the sinew.
Lacing the tail, I got into the real heart of snowshoe-making.  Many pictures of both full scale and miniature snowshoes later, I got this far -- I was deducing the math entirely on my own.  I think I redid the tail 4 times before I decided to stop counting the re-dos.
Note that I was most comfortable orienting the shoe tail-up!
(Somewhere in there was a lot of toe-lacing on the test piece.)

If this next shot looks like a success, I can only say it was temporary.  Note the uneven bottom row (next to the crossbar) on the toe.
What happened next was that I finally turned to the vast sea of information called the Web.  In short order I was possessed of multiple ways to tie snowshoes.  On Sept 16 I made up a master cord (toe cord, which carries the user's weight) and laced the center.  To my uttermost astonishment, IT WORKED THE FIRST TIME!!  The math counted out, everything fitted together, and I couldn't be more pleased!!

It had taken all my toe and tail adventures to bring me to the proper frame of mind to appreciate what a miracle that was...
Somewhere in there I had re-laced the toe.  Note there are 6 rows and no unevenness at the crossbar.  I had done both centers by Sept 23rd.  This odd photo made one shoe look larger.
On the 28th, I made a difficult decision.  I was going to undo the toes and re-lace them, for the millionth time, and get them right for once and for all.  It meant undoing even the toe wraps (one of which had been glued).  Those wraps were there to protect the shoes from ramming into rocks and logs -- something my husband insisted happened.  (He was a snowshoer and had definite, if sometimes bothersomely work-adding, opinions... not the case with horse tack.)
I was picky now.   For the umpteenth time I undid the lacing and re-laced... again
 and again.... and
finally got it right.
It was now the end of September and more than 40 hours had gone into the snowshoes.  Pioneering pieces are always going to be longer.  After an almost-argument over the bindings (they had to actually work, so that the user's toes pivoted around the master cord, plus no boot could slip forwards or backwards), I slowly evolved them towards something I was happy with.  The bindings took an extra week.  Why does the littlest detail loom as the hardest to finish!?  Because the artist's mind has already moved on...
My model horse friends would know this was a Betsy Breyer boot.  I was less sanguine about the wider world of doll house miniatures and even less about the Winter Sports section of eBay.  I had discovered there was a contemporary market for miniature snowshoes in the full scale listings!  This was not unlike the salesmens' samples of model saddles in the Old West --- except those saddles were 1:4 scale.  (When an Old West Americana auction says "miniature saddle" they usually mean 1:4 scale, which for model horse people is ridiculously too big.)  The miniature snowshoes, though, were a decent tiny scale.  They had a different problem:  a lack of detail... and a consequent lack of price.
Oh well.....
toys versus miniatures again...
 I knew what I wanted from the start:  to auction these snowshoes but to keep the instructions, drawings, notes and draftings.  That was the real harvest.  With the Guide as my example, I wanted my next book to be based on a pile of inked vellum pages.  Computer aided drawing and PhotoShopping is all very well and good and I intended to use it, but there had to be a starting point.

Photographing the snowshoes was, like every other step, surprisingly hard to figure out at first but then fun and easy.  I wanted to boast about my tackmaking skills but make it clear only the shoes were the subject of an auction.  In the end I dragged out Steve the general-purpose Western Handler, dressed over so many years I can't recall who did what except I did the belt and bolo, LaJewel my best standing resincast, a Williams Matriarch finished by Katie Richards (thanks Katie!), my famous Elk saddle (it has the most rawhide braiding of any in the house) and my only solid-rawhide Fully Braided Rawhide Bridle, the year 2000 one.  There I was, polishing silver with a Q-tip and wondering whether I'd used any coatings on that bridle 17 years ago.  I hadn't.
Then I went outside.  Over the years my favorite photographing spot has grown so much moss I often have to PhotoShop the green out.  It's a problem, but fortunately a small one.
Clouds cannot dim my delight at having finished these shoes.  Light, balanced, exquisitely detailed, they are everything I dreamed they'd be:  the model maker's vision come real.