Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Two-Day Breastcollar

Last Friday and Saturday I pulled off a feat that hasn't happened in years:  A breastcollar was made in only 2 days.  My previous Akhal Teke breastcollars certainly took longer -- remember Brasenose's took an entire month!  This 2-day record is probably previously held by a braided bc back in the dim dark past,... but for now, I'm well pleased by what happens when I really just buckle down.  Very little computer and nothing else happened on Friday the 15th, and the following half day saw it finished.  "It's in me."

Only a few pix were taken during this marathon of concentration.  Here is the first shot, showing the general size and design of the breastcollar, and the buckle and strap.  I was up to the bezel stage at this point (the frames for the jewels).

The bar-shaped metal spots (iron-ons) were already made, and that was a huge help in making the 2-day possible.  But I still had to create all the square plates, cut all the bezels and curl them, and fit them to the plates.  What was new this time was that I tested each tiny circle of bezel to its individual plate's hole, BEFORE they were set (hot glued).  This seems so obvious now, but, I confess, 'twas not always.  I used to really struggle to get bezels to fit after plates were set, cutting and fussing and risking breaking through the leather.  This new way took more patience but went faster in the end.
A tackmaker is always investigating new materials, and I chose to use chamois as an extra layer of padding for the center medallion (or plate).  Having sharpened my knife to where it easily cut garment leather, I ran the risk of shaving too thin, and had to add back.

A stage I had temporarily forgotten about, with the setting of jewels, was the silvering of the holes.  Above you can see that the lower left (8 o'clock position) hole of the central medallion has had silver tape laid in its bottom.  This is to reflect the jewels' light and color.  The third photo (above) shows the silvering of two of the offside holes.

For reasons of reward I chose to hang the drops before the jewels were put in.  This turned out to be all I could do on one day.  Making the rings and hanging Rio Rondo's teeny findings was harder than I'd anticipated.  I made my rings too small at first.

Next day I tackled those rings with more understanding.  I make my own jump rings with a short bar of Aluminum tubing and a piece of stainless steel wire, in this case 24 ga.  Need I mention the work included sharpening my wire cutter... by hand... !!

When the jewels go in they do so in a rush.  It's a smelly process with clear nail polish as the adhesive.  I use Sally Hansen's Diamond Strength.  (There's a certain justice in the fact this polish has actual diamond in it.)  Each sapphire and ruby is chosen for color, clarity and fit.

While the above photo has been PhotoShopped, this one has not.
This shot is included to show the entirety of the tack.  I've left the straps long for the owner to trim as she sees fit.

Now for the fun part!  Alas, it is snowy and cold (and dark) outside, so we must be satisfied with indoor shots.

I have seven Lonesome Glories, but only two glossies, this dun and the black charcoal.  The charcoal is precious and too dark for comfortable tackmaking.  But the drawback to the dun is the white face -!!  Sometimes creative cropping is called for.

These photos show the real color, but it's even better in person.

I will end this post with an interesting photo of every piece and part of Teke tack that has been made so far, for the two Giveaway sets.  The light-colored leather ones include 2 neckpieces, the breastcollar, the cape (crown piece) and the reins.  The dark-colored reins are for AT4.  The unfinished neckpiece at lower left is the extra, made in the course of AT3's two.  Whoever is lucky at BeyerFest can choose the gemstones they want for it.

In future news:

Draw a deep breath people:  Time to push the reset button.

I would very much like to complete AT3, AND at least print out my much-belated Christmas letter, before I start NaMoPaiMo.  Those two are lined up for the remainder of January.  February will bring a combination of work on AT4 and Orlik, with a slight emphasis on the horse!  March will undoubtedly play catchup with finishing AT4 and working on a pair of small-scale harnesses.  

Beyond that, the only thing I'm seeing is a hazy wish to get back into braidwork... possibly another paintjob,... and whatever comes down the pike.  The faintest of wishes are manifesting themselves, as buds beneath the snow: working on my own belt (full scale braidwork), misc Trad headgear, misc harness and horse drawn vehicles (you don't think I could own a Troika and not make the sledge, do you...)!  Thanks go out to certain understanding customers, and encouragement to sculptresses and tackmakers.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Lost and Found

Two intensely personal gifts came home to me today.  Both were from women I admire greatly:  One is a dear friend who is my same age -- and the other is my own beloved mother.  Both gifts have been lost in the mail for much too long... and one of them has been lost for decades!  Mom's envelope of music (AZ) was postmarked December 17 --  my god, exactly a month ago -- while the box with the book in it (VA) was shipped December 21.  Since when does a package take 28 days to travel from VA to PA??  Yeah, they have 2 states in between them -- but it's WV and Maryland at their narrowest....

...while an envelope from Tucson to State College PA usually takes a week.

Part of the explanation is Christmas,... but there's so much more.  I admit, 4 days were added on to each mailpiece by our house decontamination procedures.  Even so, it does not take a rocket scientist to deduce that these items were dangerously close to being lost in the mail.  One of them, sheet music copies, was on the brink of being replaced; in this case, it would've been relatively easy to do again.  Mom is always sending me music.  She is my best source and she's been doing it ever since college.  Sheet music is replaceable, although my Mom's touch is so precious to me... especially now that she's become so frail.

But the book turned out to be dang-near irreplaceable.

It is a matter of debate when I lent that book to Eleanor.  The publish date is 1983.  I acquired it somewhere around 1989.  We tried to work out the lend date and came up with the late 1990s, somewhere between 1996 and 2002.  I remembered lending it but she did not, and it was subsequently lost to history (pardon the pun).  Years, decades went by, and I tried to replace the little paperback, but never could.  The only mentions of it online were scholarly tomes costing upwards of $170;  while I loved the subject, I couldn't justify such a price merely to satisfy one fading memory of a thin little paperback.

As previously mentioned, decontam is causing all my presents to arrive at once.  Eleanor had promised me the mini-me Smart Chic Olena/Smart N Shiney after I told her that I did not own, or desire, any of the mini-me Trads... and that I only collected palomino Stablemates.  It seems Breyer can find a loophole into even in the most defended collector's heart.

Although neither of these is strictly a Christmas present, (since I previously owned or had access to them), this feels like December 25 all over again.  Santa has been good to me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Akhal Teke 3 Progress

One of the reasons progress has been slow on Akhal Teke presentation set #3 is that I made a mistake.  It is embarrassing to admit, but I didn't detect anything wrong until I reached the bezel stage of the second neckpiece  (which has 3 rows of spots instead of 2).  Without really thinking, I had made it the same length as the first neckpiece.  (The bases were pre-cut.)  A test-fasten revealed that its strap was just a wee bit short.  Oh the sorrow of that wee bit!  DUH, Lonesome Glory's (and every other horse's) neck gets larger the further down it goes, --- and one might just want the second neckpiece to be a bit longer.  Lesson learned!  Play with your tack, before during and after construction!!

Here is a close-up of No. 3's second neckpiece.  No PhotoShopping this time:  This is what it really looks like.

I could figure no way to make the first one longer without serious damage.  The strap (and buckle) is sewn in before the spots are hot-ironed on, so I'd have to peel some spots off to install a longer one, and all the spots are one-time use.  Worse, the neckpiece was the wrong color for AT #4; retrofitting it would mean more sacrifices of the existing jewel plates.  For reasons probably of pride (and possibly of profit), I chose to make a whole new neckpiece.   That is what you see here:  an entire second attempt.  It came out beautifully, thank heavens.

AT#'s pattern is four sapphires and a ruby in the middle, which shows up at the throat.  Here it is on a Lonesome Glory (this body is Goin For Gold, known in my herd as DunRovin):

And here are both neckpieces, a 2-row and a 3-row, for AT #3.  These two are adjusted to the middle of their ranges; their buckles are at the middle hole of their straps.  Although hard to see, note the dark brown Edge Cote;  in person it gives definition and heft, a nice touch for so light a leather color.

The first attempt will probably show up for sale or auction sometime around BreyerFest.

To my two oh-so-patient customers:  Your orders continue to be my first priority, getting the lion's share of my attention, even ahead of Orlik!  Thank you so much for your understanding.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Orlik, By a Nose

My NaMoPaiMo decision is still ongoing.  I have 4 pieces of tack to get through before I can pursue NMPM with a clean and free conscience.  I also have about sixty Christmas letters -- !!  Talk about too much to do...  And she thinks she can paint two horses in a month?!?  Methinks it will be a miracle if I get even one started.

But it's always like that.

I thought you might like to see the galley proofs of the latest Nudie Selfie photo shoot.  By now this pattern is nicely settled in:  This will be my fourth National Model Painting Month.  As is traditional, my husband takes my Nudie Selfies.  Also traditional, I'm standing in the TSII tack shop and pony room, a delightful place (if I say so).  What is Not traditional is the hat.  It's cold out there!!  Fear not, when it's warm again the Tilley will reappear... *

Above: uncropped.  Below, a different shot.  In this case,  Ziggy the carousel horse (behind my right elbow) is less visible.

 To round out the Orlik shots, here is a different perspective of the room.  This is the corner just to the right of the above shot:  The horsiest corner, where the two longest walls of shelves meet.

Why Orlik?

Because he's a bit more attainable, a little more do-able.  He's not a leap off the cliff into something I've never done.  Believe it or not, I'm still healing right now, spiritually if not physically.  I'm recovering from an awful year -- one whose terrors are not over for us, nor likely to be for a while.  Yes, I said I was ready for diversity.  Both dapples and roan will be new for me, although I'm not at all planning on a hair by hair...  :)  Orlik chose his color when I fell in love with this photo.

Another reason for choosing Orlik is the faint, although quite real, vision of a Troika.  I already have two similar horses finished, one with the neck turned --!!  I have long wanted to get back into harness... a 'failing' made apparent by my accepting a harness order...

Ziggy Stardust has not chosen his color to such a detailed depth yet, so that's why it's Orlik by a nose.  But this decision is not cast in stone:  Ziggy is not far behind.  He's closing in, on both a color and a name (gold-point Siamese)(Coney), and I was so comfortable with the idea of painting him that he got some Selfie Nudies too.

The smile is real.

I have not yet signed up for NaMoPaiMo.  But it's only a matter of time.  I thank in advance the tack customers and the letter-readers:  I appreciate your understanding.

* I name my hats.  The silver-and-rawhide Tilley broadbrim is named Coondoondah the 11th (this is an Australian aboriginal word meaning "hat").  The blue-and-purple tassel hat was called an Inca hat and this has rendered down in the family to "Inkerhat."