Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Engraved Bits since 2009
I began making my own bits in 1978, but it's not the purpose of this chapter to cover deep history. Yikes! Just looking at my scrapbooks reveals a whole 'nother post on reaching today's first bit! Classic delay, mission creep, distraction and tangential zebras, not to mention okapis ... pause ... OK, let's focus on the first of my 'engraved,' as distinct from 'made from scratch,' or even 'cut and stamped,' bits.
Bit Blanks, Goehring Breastcollar Engraved.
Late in 2009, in November and December, there was an unprecedented outburst of creativity. No less than the Emerald City Bridle appeared, (and a companion Sapphire Halter)! These pieces were for Jackie Arns Rossi.
The next bit in the series has to be Angela Gidding's bridle of 2010. This piece had a great many meaningful layers put into it, as it was built very slowly over a long time of healing. Serious medical issues were going on. But the photo of the bit turned out so fantastic that I've used it ever since as inspiration. People think it is real (full scale). Possibly the curb strap helps with this illusion... or maybe it's just a lucky shot. The degree of close-up-ness came out perfectly.
In 2011 the healing went into high gear with TSII #450, the Golden Sunburst Saddle, with its tie-in to the movie, Tangled. This was/is my FaceBook Cover Picture saddle, the one with the golden flames on the unfinished Independence. I am trying to restrain myself to one picture per bit, but this is the last time I'll succeed.
In 2012, an outburst of a different kind happened when Heli of Finland ordered a Hitched Horsehair Bridle like one I'd done before. Most of the piece was made using a standard cast pewter bit, but at its end I got my act together and made a pair of extraordinary double-eagle shanks.
In 2013 came the most extraordinary outburst of all. Psychologically this was the hardest year of my life thus far, dealing with my mother-in-law's moving to a nursing home (two different ones in 4 months, at age 93!), at the distance of a thousand miles. There was nobody local whom we trusted enough to handle the mail, let alone everything else. I remember that year as terrible, terrifying. Yet when you look at the tack that came out, it is beautiful, triumphant and celebratory. The Goehring Mexican Silver Parade set may have taken the longest ever to build (15 months), yet I rejoiced in every moment of it. It was a never-ending saga of model tackmaking at its best.
Clyde Goehring: Done at Last!
Back to bits: Here is where the Goehring started, with a bit! This one, too, had extra conchos laid on top, which adds a marvelous depth and detail.
Moving on to 2015, the next bit I engraved started life as a large curb. I've seen these around but I really do not know what metal it was made of. I guess I was worn out a bit (!) on engraving, and took the easy way out. This is another bit of which no separate photo exists. The saddle is TSII #454, the Gold-Tipped.
Deep in the fall of 2015, the next bit made its appearance. This one had lots of character, since it was based on the squirming tentacles of Davy Jones!!! There is a blog post which includes its saddle design ideas in general: Tricolor Tapaderos
For the 10th engraved bit, I was on a roll. Although this particular design did not involve a lot of engraving, it was tricky and hard to make. In a bit of bad luck, the method used to hold the bit to the bridle covered some of the upper shank. Still, it should be obvious what this bit is supposed to represent.
I mentioned other bits back at the beginning of this post. This is going back in to deep history, despite best intentions. (When you're interested in model bits, time seems to vanish.) I first purchased a couple pair of the right-hand design (below) in 1991, and have kept one as part of my own Malaguena's rawhide bridle (built 1995). It's been a touchstone for me, down through time. "It hasn't tarnished." Here's that bridle, modeled by Fancy: