Monday, March 20, 2023

Progress Report 1: Meet the Eight


Progress is being made on my long term tack-like project of the next book.  It is definitely slow going, ... no surprise there!, ... but, indeed, things are progressing.  Particularly on Malaguena's bridle (above, on Fancy) I am well past the half way mark.  I've been here once before, writing my first book in 1998.  (Twice if you count 2016 and the pdf-ing of the Guide.)  Unfortunately, or possibly fortunately (!), like so many of my greatest pieces, this one is running away with itself.  My book is getting bigger and bigger, more grandiosely ambitious, by the day.  I am very grateful to my incredibly understanding sponsor of a spouse.  Like Jagger, I can't complain,... but sometimes I still do.

Belatedly it has dawned on me I could put out progress reports.  Shouldn't you all at least see the eight pieces, when one of the goals of the book is to spread their fame near and far?  to broadcast them as widely as possible?  to make them more available...?  Advertising!  I'd had no problem posting pictures of the drafting table on FB!  Here's one of those:

You can see the actual tack, in this case April's Hackamore, lying on the drafting board.  I could follow the precedent of the 20 Mule Harness progress reports, except I'm not going to aim for every week, (it's been somewhere around 32 weeks already).  I decided to just put up 8 pictures of the eight pieces of headgear.

Seventeen pix later,... (!) ... I'd discovered I hadn't processed some of those photos; I didn't know where (or when) some of them were;  I found others I'd totally forgotten; and, in one case, I'd never photo'd the piece at all, even after 12 years -- !!!  Well, thank heavens the weather has finally been so nice today.  I hustled Rinker and his hackamore out onto the deck and shot him.  He's still wearing it, looking dazed, ... as well he might.

Here are the eight headgear pieces in order, or, at least, in the current plan of order.  Ricky's Bridle is first.  This piece is based on the full scale bridle of (the real) Ricky Rocker. 

I think it's the easiest of the 8 to make.  It features slit braid cheekstraps and browband.  Here's my Sheila, named Gold Dust, wearing it and a matching saddle [by Terry Newberry].  While the book should have saddle-applicable braiding instructions in it, like Spanish Edge Lacing, it is not a book about saddles per se.

Second is Duke's Hackamore, the perfect training Bosal Hack.  His is straightforward working stuff:  the Fiador and Hackamore knots.  His bosal is even more primitive than the one in the Guide.

Thirdly, and what I'm working on now, is Malaguena's Braided Rawhide Bridle.  This piece has thrown me for a loop.  I've been involved since last fall trying to get up to speed with all that this piece represents.  Its consequences are enormous.  Rendering down instructions for it has been like writing a miniature book within a book.  I'm hoping that afterwards, I can move faster on the others, since all of them, in one way or another, use techniques and skills first introduced with it.  Malaguena's has definitely been taking the lion's share of my time and effort.

Malaguena wearing her bridle
Some of these photos will be in the book; others, not.

Picking myself up off the floor after that overwhelming effort, I suspect the Peach Rose bridle will be next.  Although it is simpler than Malaguena's, it has to come after hers.  It was made in 2004, and will explore alternate materials (read: embroidery floss instead of artificial sinew).

Here is a photo of Tissarn herself which I had totally overlooked.  It was taken on the back deck during springtime,... you can tell from the flowering tree.  How desperately we are all longing for spring,...!  The saddle is also called the Peach Rose, TSII #446, built in 2008.

For those of you who are curious about where I got this name, Tissarn, the answer is Richard Adams' novel Shardik.  It's a place name, a town on the river Telthearna.  Although some of his names are borderline bad puns, others are incredibly beautiful and well worth pinching for a horse.

Moving on to the fifth piece, we are back in the world of hackamores.  Indeed all the remaining four are hackamores:  three bosals and one mechanical hack.  This one is called April's Hackamore and it's the one I hadn't processed the pix of just yet.

April's Hackamore was made in December 1996.  The mecate was disassembled and re-spun in 2007.  Just to be confusing, this horse is not April.  I no longer own April.  This is Kiopo Quitamancha who is standing in for her, ... they had that lovely color of apricot dun in common, and both are Indian Ponies.

The sixth piece is the famous Fancy's Hackamore,  already thoroughly blogged about in 2015.  What you see here is the original, which was unfortunately lost that year, starting the whole saga of posts about it.

Hopefully you can see how the detail and complexity of the pieces is increasing.  We shall see if I am really up to carrying out this ever-more-audacious dream of not just documenting them but instructing how to replicate them!

Seventh in line is Tissarn's Mechanical Hackamore.  This truly lovely piece just happens to be my favorite of all the 8.  Indeed it is my favorite headgear piece of all I've ever made.  Viewing it now, I shudder at the thought that I haven't even started the braided buttons chapter yet!  There were some serious baulks to doing this book:  I didn't know how to pass on something I'd learned from the full scale braiders and then practiced and refined for decades.  However, at least one baulk is gone:  I'm finally ready to try.  Drawing up Malaguena's has actually been a relief:  there was a way forward, even if it is convoluted and rabbit-holey.  Yet writing up button formulae is only half of what's left.  I've still got to explain how to follow them and what they mean.

This lovely piece, uniquely for my tack, traveled to Europe during construction (a family trip in fall 2007) and then further traveled to FL in December.  It was finally finished in January of 2008.  This is just about the most beautiful pair of Romal Reins I own.  The decoration in the middle of the shanks is just that:  ornamentation.

Here's a photo that probably won't be in the book, but which shows the entire piece.  The hackamore on the left was sold to Jennifer Buxton.  The right is Tissarn's Mech Hack.
The color is a bit better in this photograph.
The last of the 8 pieces is Rinker's Hackamore.  The earliest picture I can find is this one, showing the bosal and the mecate (left).  The bosal was made first, in 2007 (replacing an earlier one);  the fabulous mecate was made in 2009.   Someone in the hobby said it reminded them of Anasazi art, and the name stuck.  I have blogged about this black-and-white mecate in May of 2014. 
The black and red bosal was inspired by a magazine clipping showing a full scale one.  In 2011, I looked at the bosal and the Anasazi and said I needed a headstall to tie the two together.  Thus was created one of my favorite Bosal Hacks, initially known as the Anasazi and only later, after Rinker was born (2015), given to him and referred to by his name.

Clearly I needed to do this research!  My Braid Scrapbooks show only part of it.  Here's the last two shots of Rinker's for today.  Ignore the way the horsehair tassels have been aged into bending all funny;  some got wet, dried that way and I haven't yet been able to fluff them up again.
I need to explain that browband concho.  I made it myself from Argentium and solder.

The title of the book will be "Advanced Braidwork for the Model Horse."  I don't know when it will be done, but I'm having a blast working through the challenges.  The satisfaction is deep.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Chincoteague Pony Pins, plus Unicorns

 A most pleasant premium has arrived:  Chincoteague Pony pins sold to benefit the Sea To Bay model horse show!  There are a total of 4 pin designs to choose from.  In addition to the two you see here (the mare and foal count as one pin), there is also a lying down pinto foal and a cantering chestnut filly.   Difficult choices!  I'm going to include a link to their order page later in this post;  I believe these pins are still available.

I'm not sure how I first became aware of these little cuties.  On my FaceBook?  On the Model Horse Sticker Swap and Shop FB group?  Around the second week in January, Jeanette was messaging me with "I thought you collected pins."  [Jeanette Eby, hostess of Sea To Bay]  Somehow she didn't explain;  and since I was on the road at the time, I couldn't make purchases.  It wouldn't've helped if I could've;  the notice, when I saw it, was only for gauging interest.  The seller was trying to collect advance commitments.  Yet these pins instantly intrigued me.  Mink and Breyer are not the only sources of lovely enamels.  It took some hard thought, but I made my choices and committed to a future order.

All these pins carried a freshness and clarity that seemed to blow straight off the Atlantic.  They are small -- the walking mare here is only an inch and a quarter in length;  the pinto filly is an inch high.   Their prices were equally small:  Each equine was only $12.  The mare and foal were $25. 

To someone used to Mink's beautifully detailed horses, these might seem abstract.  But therein lies their artful charm.  I find them refreshing.  Their conformation is correct, their colors true to the ponies.  Each one recognizes an actual Chincoteague Pony.  As pins, I found them well made, with crisp edges and rich gold and silver metal -- gold for the black and chestnuts, silver for the white & red pinto.  There was something appealing here -- a wild beauty, for a good cause.

The artist's name is Isabelle Pardew, of Hummingbird Circle Studios.  Here is the order page for the Chincoteague Pony pins, and much other Chincoteague Pony artwork as well!
Here they are next to a couple of my Mink Dancing Horses.  This gives you an idea of their true size:
but who says little horses aren't just as appreciated!  This may be as close as I come to collecting minis and micros...!  We shall see, ...

In the meantime, the latest Imperial Unicorn arrived right alongside the Chincoteagues.

This is Azuriel, "Copper" of the metallic Imperials.  The edge metal is copper and so are all the rims.  With this pin I learned that the eyes of this series are often solid metal.  The screen-printed dapples are a delicate feature in an otherwise solid-colored animal.  Yet, typical of Mink's Unicorns, the mane and tail are incredibly bouffant, giving this pin great character.  

Here is my collection of every Unicorn pin Mink has produced so far:  Two originals, two Celestials and three Imperials.
My camera has made the Moon Mystashani into a golden morsel, but she is really silver.  I confess the Celestials are always going to be my favorites.  Still, the two oldest, the original Unicorn 1 and II, have a strong power of their own.  They came out by themselves, with no precedent, driven by who knows how much daring and desperation!  I am very glad to have them.  They paved the way for so much and so many to follow.
Of the three Imperials, each one is different.  Anuksamet, with her Bismuth rainbow coloring, is certainly striking;  while Mishkazelle (Rose Gold) is my top choice for glitter (unfortunately not shown well in this photo).  Azuriel, then, celebrates only copper.  But it is a very pure metal, and that royal blue background compliments it gloriously.

Translating the Imperials into pins is hard work.  I hope I can continue to be lucky enough to snag each of these beauties as they make their way into the world.