Sunday, February 26, 2023

Queenie's 1st Harness

 I swear I didn't realize, when I was choosing these photos, that they were taken 40 years ago, down to the month.  But on the backs it clearly shows:  2-83.  (Where does the time go??!!)   I wanted to revisit this oldest TSII draft harness, which I remember with great fondness (not counting the truly primordial strap-goods outfits I made for my dapple grey Clydes -- more on those later!).  I apologize for perpetual slowness in blogging, so sorry.  I found and scanned 4 photographs of this old harness and then went and scanned the Scrapbook page about it, with its 2 more.  I have always loved this mare, one of my earliest Special Runs.  Her name is Queenie.

According to her registry card, Queenie arrived in July of 1979.  This was only a month after I'd officially opened my mail-order tack shop, the Timaru Star II.  Back then, Breyer was just venturing into the waters of Special Runs.  The models were available through the mail from select dealers.  You wrote a letter, enclosed a check and snail-mailed your missive off into the void -- Bentley's was the dealer for this particular horse.  The living hands of the Post Offal network carried your order, and the awareness that Chicago was 3 days away from Boulder was common knowledge.  (I have a memory of talking to Peter Stone at some live show in the early 80s, asking for the dapple grey Clyde Foal, to go with the Stallion and Mare.  Needless to say, that foal appeared -- !  though not in the numbers we would have preferred.  Queenie has her baby still.)

I don't have much explanation for why these photos are such different colors, though I've tried hard with PhotoShop to bring them into the 21st C.  I do know this reddish concrete is the south-facing foundation of my Boulder CO home.  The dead grass supports the evidence it was February,... it's a slight mystery why there wasn't any snow.

The hames, tugs, large gold buckles and harness brasses found on this ancestral harness were all imported from England, manufactured by Lenham Pottery.  At the time I was not importing them myself, but getting them from suppliers who did;  Cheryl Albelson's Heather Hills Miniatures was one such.  I knew of no American company who made these things.  The ribbons I did myself, using thin wire.  The cart was also a sort of import;  it was made by the German toy company Steha.  It had appeared in our local toy store with a flocked bay horse on rollers and a fantastic riveted plastic harness -- a lure irresistible to me.  Bagging that cart took me what felt like a year of saving, planning and begging my parents for a supreme gift.  I still have it -- though over the years both shafts broke and I mended them with sheet metal splints and lots of string wrappings.  The green pinstripes, faintly visible, I put on myself with drafting-class graphic tape.

I am pretty sure these two photos were taken on the south lawn of our Boulder house.   I can just barely remember the evergreens in the background. 

There were other harnesses being made at this time;  Queenie's did not exist in a vacuum.  I was making Fine and Pleasure Harness, and I'd gotten hold of another cart, made by Ken and Pam Messman, in c. 1979.  But Queenie's was the first complete Draft harness that I made and kept.   On hers I mastered the padded collar;  it was sewn out of very thin leather and stuffed with sheep's wool.  The bells, visible in the center of the saddle, were what is called 'camel bells,' hung from a wire frame.  I must have gotten those in an early (if not my first) trip to the Tucson Gem Show. 

In February of 1983 the Timaru Star II model tack shop had been a going concern for almost 5 years, and I'd learned how to make harness.  Still, draft harness was a big challenge.  Alongside silver Parade sets, they were the most expensive pieces on the pricelist.  These photos were taken on the front planter.  
Dipping into my first Harness Scrapbook, I find evidence that this cart was in my possession as early as c. 1976.  I copied the Steha harness with a riveted one made out of suede purse leather in c. 1977.  A year later I had a good black lace harness, with a folded leather collar,  on a PAS, with the same wooden cart.  This draft harness was, indeed, my first;  the label on its page tells all:

"Queenie's Harness -- a landmark.  Probably made over the winter of 1982-1983.  Photo dated 2-83.  Brasses from Cheryl Abelson;  buckles and hames gotten through Liz Bouras.  The chest drop, saddle, collar & backdrop are still in existence --- 1992"

Here's a close up:

Hopefully in the future I can share more pages from this Scrapbook.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

More Mink Loot, & Etc.


Of all the many subjects I could blog on -- book work, Florida canoe trips, early TSII harness -- more Mink loot is the simplest, and always fun to boot!   Honestly, I think it's because there's only a few pictures that I'm choosing them -- time seems in short supply this month -- but there's a wide variety of art here.  As ever, a Mink order amazes me with its beauty and inspiration, and this time there's some of her Zazzle product as well.  The 'etc' refers to a news paragraph and couple of pix down at the bottom, after all the pins.  This seems to be a pattern here, so bear with me.

Here's the opening shot (yes that was a pun):

Two Minkiewicz purple padded envelopes, a flat box that happens to be a t-shirt from Spain, and a large yellow envelope with my Zazzle order of placemats for both self and friend.  I'd better explain that the (Draco Ideas) t-shirt is for the wargamer in the house (they really are nice t-shirts, I have some, and they're cheap!), and we'll leave it at that.

Spread out together:

This is the first time I've ordered placemats from Mink's Zazzle.  A dear friend wanted some of the Christmas ones, and I decided to horn in on the order since I'd always wanted one myself.  They are amazingly colorful and plenty big.  I was a little surprised by how thin they are:

but the image is printed on both sides.  They are glossy and smooth, and just how thick do placemats have to be, anyway?  As an added surprise, the image on the back of the one for me was different from the front.

This caused a moment of disorientation, but it was mercifully brief.  Moving on to the pins, I knew one was Dakkaar the Black Pegasus, and the other -- oh joy! -- was my PinUltimate Sale package.  I had decided to invest in these lovelies as trade bait.  Note to Sarah:  You do know that "penultimate" means "next to last,"--??   So this can't really be the last time you pull off such a sale, eh...?  hint, hint,... !

I was very pleased with my luck-of-the-draw.  An Ad Astra!  A purple Runequine -- Talisman 1 no less.  And oh boy, to my almost-shocked amazement, the Manchado Cave Pony -- the very one I'd made myself pass up when I could only buy two, -- but which had been a particularly close third place for me, (behind the Appaloosa and the Rose Grey).  I'd known all along there was a risk of getting one I'd want to keep,... and here it was.

The Quagga sticker was delightfully welcome.  That is a design I've loved -- I think it is very stylish, a classic and timeless Mink.  A glitter sticker, the dragonlike seahorse (hippicanthus, facing downwards) joins my collection.  In traditional recycling fashion, I even saved the PinUltimate sticker on the package... it's hard to outgrow my 1970s training.

The Ad Astra and the Talisman pin will be up for trade.  I am looking for Bastian and Trinka, early Dancing Horses pins.  I also have a Runicorn (gold/blue) and a Sammy for trade or sale.

The Talisman horse has glitter in 3 of the 4 tiny green circles.  You can't see them in the photo, but trust me they're there.   Only the head has none,... maybe because I haven't looked closely enough.

The final pin to be looked at, of course, is Dakkaar, he whom we have waited for since last June.  I swear sometimes I might be buying these pins just so I can try to photograph them!  No, that's not the only reason, but it sure is fun to try.  Dakkaar was particularly challenging because of his color.  Any light that brought out his feathers also risked reflecting in great washout fashion.  I'm not sure how I succeeded.  I do know it took multiple tries.  The first try wasn't too bad.  It got his offside wing:

That blue on his face is not an eye, but a star.  My second try netted the near wing a wee bit better.

This is slow going.  Somehow my third shot stretched out his off wing.  Even distorted, the image is fabulous, unforgettable.  The star really looks like an eye here.

In finale, I'm happiest with my fourth shot.

He is really a remarkable pin.  Thank you, Sarah; and praise to the manufacturer too.  I will always love these.


In other news:

I haven't joined NaMo / InMo, not publicly anyway;  but I have been using the energy and ideas for my own purposes.  Ever since returning from Florida I have been frantic to resume work on my next book.  ("Advanced Braidwork for the Model Horse.")  It took a couple weeks to clear off the decks (I was busy organizing and saving over 1700 emails, for one thing).  Finally a few days ago I started again. 

 The book itself is a braid, combining drawing, text and photographs.  It attempts to cover, in exhausting detail, the construction and techniques of 8 pieces of braided headgear, made by the TSII across 32 years (1984 to 2016).  I'm already worrying about not being done when I hope, which is now November of this year, the 25th anniversary of the Guide to Making Model Horse Tack.  This dream, so long held, is taking precedence over any horse, even Coney Eye the beautiful!  In a way, this reflects the very first NaMoPaiMo for me, in 2017, when I was making a Parade blanket during the month.   I succeeded then, feeling very daring.  This time around I'm happy just to be working on the book at all,...  I finished a Plate (full page drawing) the other day,...  and I'm always happy to see the gorgeous horses that are born during the event.  Yes, I am watching!  Cheers and encouragement for all involved, in whatever way they can be!

We will finish with a single peek at my latest Florida trip.  This is Caxambas, my new Chadwick, surveying his domain down in Collier-Seminole State Park, standing on the prow of the canoe.  He's wearing Fancy's Hackamore, ... one of the 8.

A lot of pictures and movies were taken of our 5 paddle trips last month.  Here's hoping for time.