Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Renaming a Horse

When the world changed its axis back in mid-March, I looked at my 400-odd herd and said to one of them, You gotta change yer name.  A horse called Corona Corona is not gonna be welcome.  This was extremely low on the totem pole of necessities, and time went by.
Unlike most of my horses, I'm not sure how this girl got her name.  Since we don't drink, a direct association with beer wasn't the source.  (However, we have named our cars after drinks.  'Nother story.)  Corona, after all, refers to the rays around the sun, an encircling crown;  it's a good name for a horse with an association with the silver screen.  Perhaps there was a little tack-taste in there too:  In silver saddles, the word refers to a specific type of blanket which encircles the saddle.  (This is one place where I'm not going to quibble with the word today.)  However improbably, Corona Corona stuck to the gray.  She is abbreviated in my Digital Warehouse of pictures as Cor.

The Breyer name of this horse is Stage Mom.  She was the first BreyerFest SR release on the Giselle mold, which came out in 2008.  Stage Mom and Child Star were issued in 2010, in a run of 1200 pieces.  I loved the mold from the moment I saw it, and wanted it enough to consider getting a gray.  (For some reason, I didn't get the pinto Melange.  Not sure why - perhaps I wasn't lucky.)  (I did get the chestnut porcelain Giselle, and since I don't collect porcelains any more than grays, that tells you something abut how I desired her; but she was a different size.)  There were only 2 problems with my obtaining Stage Mom.  I didn't like grays all that much; and this was the first year (2010) I was ever prevented from going to BreyerFest, for medical reasons.  <very wrinkle nose plus glare>
So the gray mare and her smokey foal came to me under pioneering circumstances.  Good friends interceded for me, picked them up in Kentucky for me, went to the trouble of shipping them to me -- a first.  Of course I paid them back.  That sort of thing makes a horse precious.
The foal had its name changed in the intervening years, from Starchild to Smokin Ash, (after visiting the site of a forest fire).  Changing a name is usually an attempt to foster more attention, more 'liking' to a particular horse.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't, and the model winds up in the sales box.
One might naturally ask why I didn't trade in Stage Mom for Valentine.  I loved that warm bay, especially the glossy!  But I had spent the fall of 2010 and the spring of the next year making a bridle and breastcollar under unusually intense emotional conditions on this horse.  This was A. Giddings' set, and it was a trailblazer (below).
TSII #432, A Giddings bridle & bc
When a tackmaker pours more than the normal amount of attention and effort into a piece of tack, they bond with the horse more deeply than normal.  That is what happened with Corona Corona.  This was a bridle that saw me through some of my darkest times.  I survived, and some of the intensities of the journey were embedded, as they can be, in the tack... and in the horse.  There was a lot of emailing during the long making of this piece; Angela was going through a dark time herself.  We comforted each other across the miles and the months.

So I had reasons for keeping this particular pony.  Breyer's habit of releasing horses in multiple colors is very hard on those who need the molds for tack purposes but don't have space or money or psychic energy for keeping multiple copies.  I bond with the first color (that I like) out of a usable new mold and then have to make a decision, sometimes several decisions, later on, when more desirable colors come out.
I can conga some horses, and I have done so... but I cannot justify multiple copies of the same mold in every case.  This is a recurring problem, and it only gets worse over time (through proliferation of molds).
TSII #432, A Giddings bridle & bc

Corona Corona was taught to drive, and assisted in the creation of a spectacular collar harness in 2012.
The collar and bridle were some of the best harnesswork I've ever done.
Here she is showing off on the front sidewalk.  That's my Wood Wiz Meadowbrook Cart kit.

Previous to that, I'd used her in the formation of a Four-in-Hand Chuckwagon Racing Team Harness.  This was in 2011.
Oh yes, there were lots of tackmaking memories in this horse.  The photo record showed her being active for the first few years, and then she quietly retired.
Until now.

My husband has formed the habit of watching South African and other African wildlife webcams.  I peered over his shoulder the other day and saw he was on the Maasai Mara.  What to my wonder should appear but a most beautiful name:  Kalangala, one of the towns or campsites there.  It sort of leapt out at me.
I also happened to be reading one of Laura Crum's Gail McCarthy Cutting Horse mysteries.  I decided to pronounce the 'gal' as "Gail."
I wanted to keep as many elements of Corona as I could, given how long this mare had been living with it, and how many records there were in my files.   I changed Kalangala to Korongala.  This necessitated changing pronunciation a bit:  "Core-Oh"  became "Kore-On."  But it could work.
It could work.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

AT2 - Brasenose's Breastcollar Finished

Better late than never!  More than 2 weeks after the end of International Model Tackmaking Month, I finish my piece.  The breastcollar was begun on my birthday at the end of April...  but the set it belongs to was begun a year ago, near the end of the 2019 IMTM.

Although this next shot is the official 'finish,' I liked the above one enough to position it first.  It is a bit less retouched -- for some reason my camera makes his ears superlong!!

Due to, shall we say, interesting circumstances, Brasenose gets to model his beautiful emerald breastcollar against a backdrop of nearly the same green.  I rarely see Pennsylvania at this stage of Spring, because (since 2011) we were always on the road by the middle of May.  Not so this year.
I am grateful to Anna Helt and others of IMTM.  What a great idea!  Some of us needed a little extra time to finish our pieces.
And of course I am very thankful for Paula O'Keefe's help in obtaining the Rio Rondo dangles.  They really make the breastcollar!
 This photo shows the truest color.  Yes those are real emeralds.  The central stone is a green sapphire.

A few more views:  Quartering angle from the near front:

And close up on the off side.  Once again I failed to retouch his ridiculously exaggerated ears.  During this photo shoot I renewed my appreciation for sticky wax, something I normally detest.

Here's the chest.  I had to torture a 13mm gold ikandi to make the dome.

 Instead of delving into just why pieces are so late this spring, I thought I'd cruise on over to past examples and to how these are made.  As it happens I've only made one other set.  AT1 (Akhal Teke Presentation Set No. 1) used "carnelian" (red) instead of emerald green stones, and it was all silver.  It took over a month (March 20 to April 22) and I learned so much.  AT1 was sold during BreyerFest 2019.
 Here it is on my Charcoal Lonesome Glory, Obi:

And on Emerson / Palatlakaha:
The red looked particularly good on a perlino:

Here is a rarely seen shot.  I took my new Rocket (now named Alzucar) into the AllTech Arena during BreyerFest last year and blazed away when no one was watching.

Naturally I've blogged a lot on these Ahkal Teke sets.  There are a total of 8 posts on them:  Six are from 2019 and two are from this year.  Let's have an index:

Starting an Ahkal Teke set
Ahkal Teke  Jewelry Decisions
Ahkal Teke Buckle Questions
Ahkal Teke 1 - Starting the Bridle
AT1 - Bridle Finished
Ahkal Teke 1 Finished
AT2- Brasenose's BC Begun

And, of course, this one you're reading.

Now for a couple of review photos from the making stage.  This one shows the pine block where I stamped out every one of those hundreds of little bars of metal (aluminum)... and domed everything that was domed.
And this one, which shows the steps in making one of the square plates.  In this case it's a silver one from a 6mm square gloss silver ikandi.  (Ikandis = hot fix iron-on metal bling spots)

Having come this far, it's only fair to confess that I have a small stash of rubies,... of citrines,... of aquamarines,...  of garnets, sapphires, cubic zirconias, opals and others.  (I've been going to the Tucson Gem Show for many years.)  Think of what colors would look good on Wink!  or Altynai!!

My supply of ikandis, while large, is not bottomless and especially not now, when I've discovered Alora's Ikandis are no longer available.  :(  They're almost certainly made in China, but surely that is not the sole reason Alora's vanished.  I'm in the process of researching new sources for ikandis.  If anybody has any ideas for a source, I would be exceedingly grateful and glad.

Meanwhile I'm reminded all over again that this beloved hobby is still, even now, full of one-of-a-kind pieces, unique sources and scratch-built beauties. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

2005.06 Thoughts on Ben Hur

image from tumblr / Ben Hur 1959
My system for writing dates was inspired by Stardates (you Trekkies).  A post title starting with numbers thus indicates a private diary entry from my Notebooks, kept since 1977.  2005.06 translates to May 6, 2020.  It's time for some of my Notebook writings to appear;  I just can't decide whether here or on FaceBook.  Notebook entries are often written by hand in the middle of the night; this one was.
Despite the title  :)  this has nothing to do with horses.
image from pinterest /  Ben Hur 1959
"...for down in that haunted hell even time was lost ---"

This perfect quote comes from Ben Hur -- I think.  Oddly, the next quote that comes to mind is an entire story, Stephen King's novella about a jail break, out of Different Seasons.  Shawshank Rebellion? no, Redemption. ?!!?  Odd because I can't imagine 2 more opposite authors.  Yet they both have had tremendous influence on me...!!  I love them both, and rejoice in the variety of my collection.  :)   
Both the leprosy cell & the jailbreak are the same idea.  And both seem very appropriate right now.  We are in prison.  Like all prisoners we have come to an adaptation, an acceptance of our unnatural situation, and are putting in time.

image from pinterest /  Ben Hur 1959

On Ben Hur.

The book makes it clear that leprosy is very contagious and that there is no cure.  The reason Ben Hur must not find his mother & sister is the danger of infection, and all the consequences thereof.  "How much more painful if he became as we are!"  Yet the movie downplays this fact to the point where it is barely recognizable.  I don't recall hearing any mention of "infection,"  "contagious,"  "danger"  or even "catching"  !!  let alone "mortal"  !!!

As near as I can tell, in the movie Ben Hur's chief danger in visiting the lepers is seeing ugly people -- !!!!!! 
image from pinterest  /  Ben Hur 1959

Did Wyler (the director) think such distinctions too subtle to portray?  Did he believe leprosy could be cured, & therefore was not to be feared?  He tried hard to portray a noble & self-sacrificing woman, Esther, but again her chief danger appears to be witnessing disfiguration!!!!!   The actuality of polluted clothes, of a contagious environment, is shown only through the food-lowering device scene.   So much main action & emotion centers around merely seeing the lepers.  Touching them is (to me) [portrayed as] very casual.  I am left w/ the message that if you can bear to look upon a disfigured face, you are a noble Christian woman of great sainthood !!!!!

What a chance for the lesson of contagion -- passed up, passed by, turned down, left untouched.  It must have been too much for him.

Several days later.
I recall now the mother's efforts to escape from Esther and Ben Hur.  These were legitimate acknowledgements of the contagious nature of her disease.  But her weakness betrays her; she can't get away, and he touches her.
Esther's goodness and Ben Hur's stoicism are apparently enough to justify their sacrifice and gamble that Christ will heal them -- something the audience knows, but which they themselves could hardly count on.

In the book it is only Amrah, the old servant, who thus risks her life by going to be with (touching) the lepers.  Originally I was going to comment on Amrah's uneducated status and how she is guided and ruled solely and entirely by her feelings of the moment -- something so common today.  Then I recall I'm currently suffering a bad injury from having been guided and ruled solely by my own feelings of the moment.  Humans are such reactive creatures.

One of the most poignant and memorable scenes in the book, where the mother expresses her love of Ben Hur by kissing the sole of his sandal while he lies asleep, is completely missing in the movie.
But I understood her perfectly.

Whoever heals us will be as God.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

AT2: Brasenose's BC begun

As I hoped, I began work on Brasenose's breastcollar on my birthday.  It is going quickly and well.  Lessons learned with AT1 (Akhal Teke Presentation Set No. 1) are definitely coming in useful.  Something desired for a year is finally coming together!
     Let's begin with this shot, which shows just about everything.  Here is the garment leather base, cut large enough so I don't have to add a strip!  The glass dishes hold the various cut and prepared ikandis (hot fix iron-ons).  The doming (dapping) blocks, one metal one plastic, are in the left background.  My sole dapping stick is middle left (it turns out to be a 3/16").  Even the jewels, mostly emeralds with some sapphires, are visible in the middle of this shot.  I plan to have the central bc jewel be one particularly green sapphire; truth is, I haven't got an emerald big enough for it.
The pine wood block is my stamping block.  Not only were all the metal strips formed there, using the chisel (seen resting across it, above right); the square gold plates were domed there too.  When the tiny bezel strips are set in to those gold plates (below), I position them on the round bolthead on the stamping block, so as not to lose the plates' shape.
You can see that very bolthead in the upper right of this shot.  It's the largest, flattest-looking, shiniest one on the block.
I'm cutting the bezel strips from larger 13mm rounds.  Those gold rounds were also visible in photo 2.  They are resting just behind my Rio Rondo sheet of Akhal Teke leaves in gold.  Amazingly just one round supplied the whole breastcollar.
I watch/listened to Howl's Moving Castle while I made this.
This next shot shows the tiny bezel strips, waiting to receive the jewels.  The strips have to be cut and shaped individually by hand.  This is some of the hardest work:  getting them small enough to fit down into the holes.  I alternately trim the holes wider with a chisel and cut down the bezels. If you thought I was pro enough to get them small enough before gluing,... well,... think again.
Work remains.  I need to make a buckle and install it, and finish the offside end.  Setting all the jewels, hanging all the leaves, and painting the edges with Edge Cote will be the last steps.
And Brasenose will at last be properly attired.