Monday, April 19, 2021

Starting Akhal Teke set No. 4

One of the (many) reasons AT4 has taken so long is that I was wholly unprepared for how hard it would be to mount a light-colored stone.  This set intends to use aquamarines, while all my other Akhal Teke sets have used dark stones or the equivalent.  AT1 used emeralds (Brasenose's), AT2 carnelians (painted) and AT3 had sapphires and rubies (Sloan's).  Each gemstone was backed with silver tape.  Using silver tape gave sparkle and depth and actually enhanced the colors.  Why shouldn't the same trick have worked?!?  Imagine my total surprise when I first inserted the barely-blue aquamarines into their tiny bezels and got... no color at all.


This was a poser!  I'm sorry I don't have a picture of that first step -- you'll have to take my word.  With what can only be genius, my husband suggested backing the stones with blue prism tape.  (My customer also suggested blue paint, earlier.)  I gleefully jumped on these excellent ideas.  I made up a test mount, photo'd it (above) and sent it to the owner for approval.  I was sure I'd solved the problem.  

At the same time I made up tests with silver (pearl) prism tape.  I had no other colors of prism tape which were even close to light blue or silver/white/pearl.  The silver tests had a more interesting return.  The stones accented a flash of color in one facet and nothing elsewhere.

One tiny opalescent flash of color

Here's the second attempt with silver:

One flash of bluegreen

I didn't like the overall greyness of these silver experiments as compared with the turquoise blue, so voted them down.  I was sure the turquoise prism tape would work.  I went ahead and set the browband's three stones that way.  I used clear nail polish as my bonding agent.  Oooopsie again:  When dry, the polish completely consumed the facets and the whole stone turned vivid strong turquoise, exactly the color of the prism tape!!

Oh I didn't see that coming.

Now what!!??!!  I don't like to say how many failures came next.  (Again, no pix exist of the strong turquoise effect.)  The turquoise was beautiful but not what my customer had asked for; indeed, it wasn't what I had in mind at all.  For the artist must always have a vision to follow, and I could see that vision quite clearly...  I just couldn't quite reach it.  I tried and tried.  Eventually I tumbled to the fact that I was always viewing the aquamarines against a WHITE background.  They were so pale a color that that's the only way they showed up at all.

So I tried white. 

At first I used Gesso.  I had to reconstitute my much-dried-out old jar, what fun.  Then I painted the inside of the bezel as well as the back/bottom.  I set the stones and waited for everything to dry.  At last I was on track:  Finally this gave me the result I was looking for.  There was a slight chalkiness which I hadn't counted on, visible at close range.  It gave the stones the most indescribable smutty pearly glow.  Rather than upset, I was pleased:  I knew my customer's intended horse was Uffington  :)  and the White Horse of Uffington is a chalk horse if ever there was one!!  After all what is Gesso!!  But after that I put in tiny pieces of white paper - glossy.  Now I was satisfied.

Of course this bridle is unfinished, absolutely in progress!  The cheeks still need their silver bars, and there should be a chinstrap for the bit.  Then there's everything else:  the cape, the 2 neckpieces, the breastcollar.  I had to jump that first hardest jump, solve the color problem, before all else.  Tack rarely fights so hard and I've never had a Teke set fight like this.  Despite its taking so long, I felt the old thrill of justification.  The problem was worthy of my deepest skill, and I still had it in me to rise to the challenge.

Naturally, no one has an Uffington yet, so I photographed it on the only adult Breyer Perlino I had, Shazada my Lonesome Glory.  This turned out to matter, because Altynai/Talisman was a much more difficult color to shoot it on.  Somehow his buckskin coat just didn't bring out the subtleties of the light blue.  He kept overexposing things.  The Perlino had tones of white, pink and gold in the coat that wound up mattering very much.  I chose the ratio of gold to silver in the overall design of AT4 so as to set this off.

This picture shows my new bareback pad made by Anne Field of Field of Dolls.  Deep thanks to Ln for being my proxy buyer!  I know, I know, bridle and saddle don't go together, but this is playing.

Sized for Altynai, colored for Uffington:  This is a dream set, all right.

One cause of my rather slow progress is an injury.  Somewhere in mid-March I damaged my right elbow - I can't even remember how! - and it's been paining me to lift and hold, to squeeze and manipulate.  Using a spray can, for instance, hurts.  Is there such a thing as frozen elbow?  What a slow healer I am.  I see a dr. in May; I'm just tough enough to hold out til then.

Another cause of slowness has been my ridiculously late Christmas letters (!), no longer Christmas but quarantine-caused.  I'm through about a quarter of them.  I seem to have only a few hours a day (the rest is maintenance) and it seems to take an hour just to do 3 letters.  Yet another cause is plain ol' Quarantine Blues, something I'm sure every artist can understand!  We still have questions centering around naturally low white blood counts such as mine.  (Yes, I've asked one of my Drs, but she doesn't know.)  We can only wait, and waiting is....  hard.

On the happy distraction side, I've been totally entranced and had a great deal of time consumed by volcano-watching.  Below are a couple of the best videos on YouTube I've found in the past couple of weeks.  Each one will throw a bunch of side links and some of those will be the live feeds.  Enjoy!

Stefan Forster Icelandic Volcano Eruption

4K Drone footage No music 

In an attempt to darken Talisman wearing the unfinished AT4, I changed my camera's white balance.  But I think it got too dark.  These last pix are unprocessed.

For the first time on an Akhal Teke set, I am using two courses of silver bars for the browband and noseband.  The set just seems to need more heft and majesty for the larger horse.  It really is hard to photograph this!!

I am  deeply thankful for patience on the part of the owner.  I am well pleased with how it's turning out.

1 comment:

  1. Just wow! The colors are coming together beautifully and look amazing on the perlino! Sorry to hear it has been so challenging, but, just WOW!