Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Three Mecates again

Since August 7 I've made three mecates, and each one has been nerve-wrackingly, mind-tearingly difficult.  There has to be a better way (she says), all the while perfecting, measuring and note-taking on this most challenging of model braidwork pieces.  Up to now I've said this is the second-most difficult piece of tack I can make (behind bosals).  But I'm changing my mind.  Bosals are merely braided buttons:  extended and doubled, but still buttons.  Mecates are rope-making in miniature, a whole 'nother ball game.  It's a wonder I'm sane (??).

This post will cover the three and then take a close look at how we solved a problem on the last one.

The first one made (on the right above) took over 40 hours and just about drove me crazy.  I'm referring to it as L1 or Brown/White/Check (the check is black & white).  Check refers to the checkered strand, the 'fleck' as it is sometimes called...  A lot of mistakes were made with this one, and I sweated them out one by one:  set the threads at opposition not combination!  Learn to 'stroke' it and get the irregularities out, even though that destroy it...  How to repair a strand cut short,  knowledge which (frighteningly) came useful soon after...!  This mecate, 29 1/2 inches long, is currently for sale:
$200.00 plus postage.
[Ed Note:  SOLD 1809.28 - Thanks!]

The second mecate was the Roby Canyon Grey and it took an even 20 hours.  This was the triumph, the successful one:  it has the lovely grey strands in it and the unusual check strand, half grey half black.  Its length turned out 31 inches, one-ninth of a full scale 24-foot rope.  I am measuring the rope alone, from the head of the popper to the tassel knot.

And the third mecate, on the left in the first picture, was finished yesterday.  This third one is known as L2 or Black/Brown/White/Check, with the check being dark brown & white.  It took 23+ hours and came out at, depending on how you stretch it, 30 1/2 or 30 3/4 inches.  It turns out to be extremely difficult to exactly predict the length, for all that I kept exhaustive measurements.  (I'm working on shrinkage rates...)  The Roby mecate had had serious strand waste-ends and I was trying to eliminate that while still reaching 31 inches.
L2 was terrifically challenging also and I think I am justified in not making any more of these for a while.  Managing the artist so they don't burn out is a constant balancing act.

So what's so hard about spinning thread together and making ropes?!?  I've made a couple dozen of these so far...!!  and I think I've put up more posts on mecates than anything.  (By actual count there are 8 posts (not counting this one)!  Okay the Goehring had more, at 13, but still...)

Many model tackmaking skills are used in the making of these ropes.  This time we will look at attaching a further length to a strand that came up short.  This is what happened to the first mecate;  it also happened to the third -- and we got pictures.  :)

In this shot we see the ends of the strands coming out nowhere near each other.  The shortest one, white, is at 3", equalling 27" as it happens.  Since my goal is 31" this is tragically too short.  Heroic measures are called for.  Since I have the experience of L1 to draw upon, I know what to do.  Unspin a bit, attach 3 new threads, hope they hold, and re-spin!  Easy, right....?
This shot has a lot of info.  The clothespin has held the core end, giving it weight and distinction.  The finished rope is on the upper left.  The three new white thread extensions, clipped from the spool, lie below.
It's messy, attaching thread.  Open the existing strand into its 3 threads for about an inch.  Use the knife to spread and fray the last quarter inch or so on both ends of a join.  Overlap and roll the ends together at the same time smearing them with Elmer's.  In this shot each join happened at a different distance from the end of the threads, which is a good thing:  the bulges are staggered.  Don't take this sentence out of context...
Wait for the glue to dry.  Then spin two of the three threads together.  The third may be viewed at upper left, waiting its turn:
Putting in the third thread.  The strand is white no longer - the grey is from dirt on my hands - but I'm ignoring this.
And done.  What a mess.  The ends are obvious.  I take the scissors and trim and clip.

Better.  There's a bulge but it's manageable.
With the shortest strand magically lengthened, I finish out the mecate.  Seven inches on the ruler corresponds to 31", so that's where I decide to tie the end knot.  You see it barely made it -!
Tying the end knot.  Crown, crown the other way, wall.  Each strand has to be pulled through each time individually, with its 3 or 4 threads guided through the eye of the needle.
With the mind of its own that tack is known for, after this end knot is tied, tasselled and covered, I measure it again and find it's half an inch too short.  There Ain't No Justice.
Also, I forgot this button's interweave...!  Adding it the next day, when I had spunk again, covers up some sins but commits others.  Eh well, I can always find errors in these pieces.  Hopefully others will like them.

Next up is the hobbles for the Roby Canyon set, and their hangers.  When they're done the whole Hackamore and hobbles will be up for offers on MH$P, with a reserve.  I have dim dreams for the first Roby bosal and the L1 mecate;  they would make a fine Hackamore by themselves.

I also must buckle down harder on the Braidwork book... dreams which must be dragged into reality if we are ever to progress.

And this November is the Guide's 20th Birthday...

1 comment:

  1. "Overlap and roll the ends together at the same time smearing them with Elmer's. In this shot each join happened at a different distance from the end of the threads, which is a good thing: the bulges are staggered. Don't take this sentence out of context..."
    Thanks for the chuckle!