Friday, October 22, 2021

20M: Halters


Although technically the bridles were made first, I want to start this series of posts with the halters.  During harnessing, the halters go on the mules first, underneath the bridles.  We are talking about the famous Twenty Mule Borax Team (hence my abbreviation, "20M"), and my reference is a 16-minute video.  I'll include a link at the end.  It is something of a relief to have too much reference instead of too little.

These tiny halters were begin August 20 and were finished on the 27th.  The horse head shown below belongs to a Stone Pebbles, scale 1:18.  I'm using kangaroo lace, trimmed, skived and beveled, and gold-filled hardware.  I found a Rio Rondo buckle for the crown, and I had rings and squares; but I was flummoxed about the halter squares.  Even if they existed out there, I didn't have time to order them.

So I made my own.

This is the cool part about being a model tackmaker.  I made them from gloss gold ikandis (a brand name of metal iron-on bling spots), using the smallest tube on my hole punch, my X-Acto knife, my needle chisels and some jeweller's metal files.

I was pretty pleased with how they came out.

I make my own rings using gold-filled wire (22ga in this case) and aluminum tubing cores, wrapping the wire around the cores.  My ring use is so small and specialized these days that it's just simpler, cheaper and easier to make my own rings for every piece the TSII puts out, instead of buying rings.

There is a square and ring for the halters' chinstraps.  These squares came from Rio Rondo buckles I had cut in half and sent off to be plated.  Alas, I've lost touch with my plater -- I don't know if they still exist.

The lovely mules are 1:18 resincasts sculpted and painted by Candy Liddy.  Their names, conveniently carved into their hind legs, are Hubert and Leo.

I don't want to think about how badly they must have kicked during that carving...!!

I've always said a change of scale is wonderful as a refresher and to combat burnout.  This scale certainly is challenging for me.  I haven't been this small (nor made halters!) in more than a decade.  But I love how these came out.

At this scale it is no shame to use glue.  The hardest work is getting the lace small enough:  it takes endless skiving, cutting and beveling, shaving it down and feeling it up, trimming the shreds --- and then doing it again.  It's a lot of hand work, but the only way I know to get it right... and I've been getting it right for a very long time.

Here's my reference link.  Although it features the wagon shop for the first 8 minutes (the first half), the second half is rich with harness detail.

New Borax Wagons on Parade

There are other videos of the Twenty Mule Borax Team, but this one sufficed.

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