Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Koi & Water Lilies: TSII #401

Telling the entire story of one TSII Silver Parade Saddle may prove impossible.  They are all connected;  yet I shall try.  I'll start by looking at its construction -- notes and drawings from the Yellow Parade Scrapbook -- and move on to where it fits in the year it was born, 1997.  Then its subsequent history, or Provenance, will be presented.  Photographs in scrapbooks and shoeboxes are my main references -- photos reigned supreme for me back then -- and my own memory.  (Strangely there are almost no notes in the N.A. tackbench notebooks for this one.)  In the course of all this are a couple shots of this saddle on completely different horses, showing who it looks good on!  Like most great pieces of model tack, I believe it gets roughly 15 minutes of fame spread over its lifetime.  More of this piece's time just happens to be rolling round right now:  it gets to switch owners.  We can only hope that the new owner, and others beyond, will understand and appreciate a little more what they get.
FOR SALE AT BREYERFEST 2019:  One dream of a koi pond saddle, custom built to a horse the original owner sculpted, created by a master of the prism-tape scale-model silver parade set (a field she very nearly created, and certainly helped spread).  TSII #401 went on to win National Champion gold that year; it came back to the home tack shop 13 years later for a thorough refit.  The saddle was sold to Sue Peet circa 2013, an undisputed work of art within the hobby.  It is now on the market due to Sue's failing health.

Lots of current pictures are on the TSII FaceBook page.  This post has mostly historical pictures.  At the end there is one current shot.

TSII #401 was ordered by Susan Rudnicki (today Hurst) in April of 1996.  It was finished almost exactly a year later, having been started in February, and it was shipped April 24th, 1997.  (All my records back then were handwritten.)  The page in the Yellow Scrapbook for Koi & Water Lilies looks like this:
These design sheets are the first place to go when looking up a particular Parade Set.  This one tells us when work started ("begun 9702.26" in the upper left corner)[February 26, 1997], when it ended ("end 9704.23") and how long it took in hours ("52.2 hrs").  The double starting dates can be interpreted as a project that got started and had to stop for some reason,... a phenomenon with which we are all familiar!  Fifty-two hours is consistent with 19 days (from April 4 to 23).

I had never tried fish-scale stamping before.  I had never tried fish before; previous prism tape animals were horses, a peacock and a buffalo.   (Prism tape = holographic film)
The design sheet also tells me this is the 77th Silver Parade Saddle the TSII has ever built.  We are currently working on the 104th.  The count started in 1979 with TSII #06... that's another story.  :)
Somewhat unusually although not rare, there are several sheets of drawings tucked into the 1st page protector for Koi & Water Lilies.  The first one is on the back of the design sheet itself:
This page (above) contains actual patterns.  See the serape outlined in the lower right half.
This page (below) must've been near the beginning of the design stage.  I'm not even sure it is all my work.  Susan Hurst requested the fish; she had gotten into koi ponds in a big way for her own home.  She provided me with references in books and magazines about koi.
Here are more actual patterns.  As the TSII Parade Sets mounted in number and I evolved the 2 Scrapbooks, they became an additional place to stow the patterns used in making the tack.  For some reason (stubbornness?  pride?  laziness in regenerating?)  I kept patterns of absolutely everything I made.  The primary storage was in numbered envelopes, but many Silver Saddles generated heaps of drawings and ideas that would not fit and would not be used again.  But I didn't want to throw them out.

Susan sent me one of her resincasts, "Wall Street Trader," to make the Koi set with.  While this was expensive it also was not rare.  When you invest this much in a custom saddle you can afford it; and I cannot work to measurements -- there must be a body.  The level of detail of a TSII saddle at this point meant I really did need a body.
I believe it was Susan herself who sculpted this horse.
Another close up of the original #401:

In the interval between 1997 and 2010, this saddle was sometimes generously lent to other showers in the region.   I am including this shot, kindly permitted by Barb DiAnnabella - many thanks!  Note how the shorter back of this horse necessitates leaving off the hip drops -- but it still looks fantastic.
Bogucki's Dozen Roses under TSII #401, photo by B DiAnnabella
Where does this saddle fit in the general sweep of TSII history?  The 1990s saw the rise of Prism Tape Silver-taped sets.  Starting with Karen Gerhardt's #243 in 1989 (Wizard's Vale), slowly at first (one in 1990, five in 1991, one in 1992) and in step with some Western saddles featuring Prism Tape, this colorful material manifested in my tack as the ultimate expression of beauty.  It was the hottest technique I had yet found.  The jewel-like flash and lightscatter properties of the prism tape were irresistable.  Photos don't do them justice.  They must be seen in person.  From 1994 to the end of 1997, ten more were built, including my own Rainbow Brilliance (#400).  In 1997 alone, five Prism Tape Parade Sets were built, as well as six other Western saddles (some of them very colorful) and one Portuguese saddle, my first.  The first great wave of confidence following my marriage (1988) was at its height.

The saddle immediately before #401 was Rainbow Brilliance, which I kept for my own:
A bit of cheating here:  To preserve the number 400 for myself, I did not use it until I was ready to start Rainbow, which was some time after Koi.  I suspect Koi is the actual 400th saddle.  The saddle immediately following Koi was #402, Rainbow Comet, familiar to everyone who has bought the Guide -- (the bridle is on the back cover):
It was like me to show off this fabulous masterpiece in my book, without exactly telling how it was made!  I couldn't; I didn't know how.  Even to this day that would be a tough job.  After twenty years, silver tape has gained a competitor in my silver saddle business (another story...)  and prism tape has been upstaged by genuine precious stones.  But the design of these TSII Silver Parade saddles remains a high point of my artistic career.
Another saddle to come out of 1997 was Eleanor Harvey's Ripple Wave silver-border.  It was quite a year.
Xanadu by Bouras wearing #401
In 2010 Susan returned Koi & Water Lilies to me for retrofit.  As I've documented elsewhere, almost half (45%) of my silver tape sets have been returned for updating, repair and conservation of one sort or another.  Such lucky saddles.  Koi's stay took 18 days during March.  I pulled off the scallop borders and put on hot fixes, my latest technology.  I replaced (with much firmer fastening) some silver tape panels and put the old ones in the Scrapbook.  I replaced some of the prism tape.  The bridle was thoroughly updated and strengthened.
And I took the opportunity to make a much better Corona blanket, having gotten Melody Snow's book in the interim.
I documented the result with just one photo.
Rammas Ichor / Ramses by Carol Howard wearing TSII #401
That summer, Susan Hurst showed the saddle at NAN, having qualified it earlier.  It took 4th in Parade in CM/AR Perf on a Matriarch.  Yes, it fits Matriarch!   In addition, we have a picture of it on Victrix:
C Williams 'Victrix' finished by S Hurst.  Photo by S Hurst

Fast forward to nine years later, today.  In May of 2019 Sue Peet asked me to offer the set at BreyerFest.  Her health had reached the point of no return... and her dear husband Bill had passed away only weeks before.  Peet had collected some of my best pieces -- she had had the NAN Auction Braided Bridle & Breastcollar of 2009, my best bridle to that point.  I said yes.  The box arrived today.  The saddle sits on the horse Sue Peet had chosen to display it with:

You can find me in room 610 of the CHIN.   The lion's share will go to Sue Peet.

 Update as of Thursday morn June 27th:  I should have known.  I'm choosing to auction this one too.  High bids will be posted here.  Closing Friday the 12th at 8pm EST.

Bidder 1:  $950.00
Bidder 2:  $1100.00

1907.12  Congratulations to C Robertson for her winning bid!