Friday, July 28, 2023

Why I Haven't Yet Entered the BCC

During BreyeFest I was asked, more than once, why I hadn't entered the Best Customs Contest.  After all, this was as close as the hobby had got to a Master Tack Class!  It might never happen again!  My immediate answer, fear of Covid, while true and 79% of my excuse, was not the complete story.  There were other reasons, echoing like aftershocks, which more fully explained my stance.  I pondered and puzzled and finally wrote them all up deep in the night after I got back home.  That entry, dated July 17, is in quotes below;  all else is afterwards.

Knowing this conflict would arise (you're a king tackmaker famous for harness in a Driving Theme year!), I planned a harness display from my personal collection for my room at the CHIN (612).  Of course, showing off to the public was not exactly Covid-avoidance; but I was hoping, hoping, I could dare to find a middle ground, and be more open than last year.  The numbers were favorable.  In the event, I did find a middle ground (which boosted my ego as much as the hitch).  My ego has been thoroughly boosted by all the reactions.  You'd a-thought no one had ever seen a model draft horse hitch before!

These display photos were taken by my cell phone.  Above: a heavily-customized-by-me sleigh that started life as a green bobsleigh by Dick Eighmey.  Below:  My Grand Champion of Show horse and harness (circa 2000) put to a Dave Blenkey Draft Cart (1999).  Doll by Anne Field.

A Michelle Huskins Wood Wiz Meadowbrook Cart Kit I made and customized (different wheels, leather on the shafts), circa late 1990s.  Doll by Kris Gallegher.

If you still haven't seen enough TSII harness displays, here's a link to my website's own page on the Canadian 8-Horse-Hitch, my "other" 8-hitch, created from 1991 to 2002 for Ivy Olensky.  The Olensky Canadian 8-Hitch


"2307.17   5 in the morning    There are more reasons than fear of Covid, which kept me from entering the contest.  Behind No.2, pride,[*]  lies No. 3, Time.  The last fantastically detailed piece of tack I made (one that would be worthy of such attention -- ahah ANOTHER reason, the Artist would choose the MOST incredibly challenging & difficult piece) -- took me eleven (11) months:  Eleanor's copy of the Clyde Goehring saddle [next 2 pix].  And I just don't have that kind of time anymore.  George [my husband], Mom, Dad [age 89] and our very lifestyle has evolved to where large chunks of free time don't exist.  

[Ed. where large chunks of free time are expensive and hard to get.]

[*Pride here meaning I didn't need the recognition or fame or advertising.  I've already made my mark,... proven my case.]

"Not anymore, not like they did when the 8 was made.  Remember the record hours-per-day (12) was set on the 8-Hitch itself, back in 1991,...??!

"...The Pandemic was so stressful for us, so crushing and restraining and hard -- so emphasizing of isolation -- that we're still figuring out its legacy.  George & I have always been slow-burning private people, and that just made it worse.  To draw attention to myself in such a public way, after so long (3 1/3 years!) of wholesale ducking & dodging --!!   My 2 reasons of fear & pride are blending here -- becoming one.  How strong a braid they make.

"The more I think about the question the more it appears that ABAFT [my next book] was/is my entry.  Here's the 4th reason:  I chose braidwork over harness.  I saw the choice coming.  How I squirmed --!!  What rotten timing you had, o Breyer!!  But the hobby always does this, always forces you to ruthlessly choose only your uttermost favorite.  Years of surviving BreyerFest itself has taught me this.  I chose what truly was worthy of me.  Braidwork is just as lifelong as harness for me, and more important, it still has mysteries and challenges for me.  Harness does not.  Harness I'd already done, back in the Guide (1998).  In a large way, harness was a closed book.

[Ed.  harness was dormant,... yeah, like a volcano.]

"But the greatest of these was pride.      //      Or was it?  I look at both Dani Boiko's and Sarah's entries and I see the boundless promise of youth:  the future generations.  ...[...]... These brightly shining stars are the best cure & vaccine & protection we could have.  I am coming late to such motherhood as I can manage but I am coming.  The next book represents my sacrifice, the child who takes all my gifts and secrets,... as it should be. 

Dani Boiko's Costume entry.  photo used by permission

Dani Boiko's Costume entry.  photo used by permission

Sarah Hartman's Parade entry.  photo used by permission
Close up of Sarah's.  photo used by permission

"My answer to pandemic, and indeed life, was to do my utmost.  It ill becomes you, Breyer, to ask for what I cannot give, because I'm already giving it.   ... [...] ...  Y'didn't realize what you were asking.  You've made it harder, not easier, to finish this book.  But it will be a masterpiece."


Nothing like painting oneself into a corner!  Surely such statements will jinx the book!!   Not to praise until it's finished, --- and it's taking forever!!  But there y'go, lots of late-night ponderings and confessions.  Here's hoping that some day, somewhere and some way, there will be tack classes again.

I would have liked for Dani's fabulous costume to've taken second place, at least.

I have the dimmest memory of meeting with somebody named Sarah Hartman at NAN some years ago, talking with her and being impressed by her braidwork...  ... Er-muh-gard, I actually found it:  July 22, 2016 (seven years ago!!) when I was photographer for North American Nationals.  What a memory --!!

Going back through those thousands of NAN pictures (2016, 2018) is discovering an ore-vein of vast riches.

Friday, July 21, 2023

The Traditional Loot Shots


Loot shots have been, for me, a way to gauge "the state of the union," not just of my BreyerFest but of my collecting year.  Over time, they have presented a picture of my evolving interests, my horse herd and my luck.  There have been boom years and bust years.  This year I seem to be more interested in paper and pins than horses, although the horse haul was by no means undistinguished.   Economically, this year was neither boom nor bust, but a modestly successful venture with new interests clearly growing.  Given that I'm still emerging from pandemic, this is a very good sign.

I also discovered that the above "Gross Loot" shot does not contain everything I brought home from BreyerFest.  Despite multiple do-overs, I was always forgetting something...!  My first shot forgot Bravour 54 AND the pins: 

And even the Gross somehow managed to forget the Carousel Stickers.  I had already tucked them in my sticker scrapbook.  Sorry, Laura;  here they are:

Those who know me will be asking why I'm collecting stickers when my pin-obsession is so public.  The answer is BreyerFest swept me away.  I got a sheet of Breyer ones, a NAMHSA sticker and even a Breyer magnet, which I picked up on Friday morning walking in from the Rolex dam road.  Yah, there was an Information Booth near the Beer tent with plenty of them... a bonus of not going through the regular gate.

But let's start with the horses.

I had not had either one of these molds.  I've always wanted a Shannondell in the original bay, but somehow could never find an affordable one.  :(  Although I vehemently detest cold greys, Wells was a wonderful warm color.  Maybe I could trade him for a braided bay, if I don't fall in love first...!      And the moment I saw Jump-&-Drive I wanted him.  What a color!  He was my first choice.  I've come a long way from my distaste of horses on stands.  On Friday, when I first saw and shot the variations, I was somewhat dismayed at the braided one.  What would I do if I got one?  I did not realize at the time how strong the demand would be, later, for the Loose Manes.  (I guess I have good taste.)  In the event, I'm just glad I lucked out.

In the Clarion, symbolically breaking out from years of pandemic seclusion and also of a year of budget restraint, I "broke my virginity" first with a Romeo (silver bay Dundee) and later with a Cancion in glorious chestnut gloss.  Caisey Hoffman deserves mention as a very kind seller who let me make off with her Cancion.  She must have known that once a potential buyer sits down and plays with the horse, the sale is all but done...!

Restraints were breaking down all over the place.  The palomino Stock Horse Gelding completes my conga of this Classic mold and busts my refusal of him (call it palomino overload).  The blanket he is wearing is the first blanket I've bought in years.  The nursing foal completes my Thoroughbred Nursing Mare, childless since 1974.  The Navigator and 4/5ths of the Stablemates are slated for a friend,... whom I have not seen in at least a year.

A similar restraint, that of not seeing local friends, was laid to rest with the halter Cancion is wearing:  It was a gift from K. Beverly who had made it during her Breyer Workshop.  

Next up is what I'm calling Non-Horse Loot.

Books, pamphlets, stickers, 3 Breyer carry-bags, a Jaapi halter (another is on Romeo), a SM blanket, a Micro Stock Horse Gelding, a Western saddle blanket from Carrie Sloan Meyer and some free wristbands complete the pile.  Naturally, the enamel pin promised with the 3 Hip Hop Tales was the horse I wanted above all else!!  See, pins still have my heart...  which is why the two 'Shiny Fantasy' pins, below, were so striking.  I won them at the Resin Renaissance raffle.  Talk about a surprise, almost missed!

Yes, that little chestnut foal pin is the reason I walked into the KHP ahead of time on Friday.  I was so anxious to get him I temporarily lost my sunglasses.  I found them later right on his table...

The VIP pins were an extraordinary gift from Leslie Kathman.  The girl can do no wrong...

On to tack!  You didn't think there wouldn't be any, did you!?  These goodies are all from Heather Moreton, tackmaker extraordinaire.  The photo does not do the color of the mecate justice.  It really is a luscious red, black and white.  The bit at the upper right was handmade by Heather. 

We will end this undoubtedly indulgent stretch of conspicuous consumption with some dino beads.  I got these at the Tucson Gem Show several years back;  but the uppermost Stegosaurus came from this BreyerFest and so deserves to be shown.  He (she?) is truly the last piece I forgot to get into the Gross Loot shot.  I bet you can figure out who these little guys remind me of.

Some day I hope to be even more free to visit friends...

Sunday, July 2, 2023

BreyerFest Offerings: Misc


This third post is a kind of catch-all of some of the things I'm planning on bringing to BFest to offer up for sale, or "almost-free to highest-donation,"  a concept I'm still figuring out how to say.  Like Desert Night Creations' Heather Moreton, I'm not leaving the hobby (heavens no), just cleaning!  (Interior complaining at how much I've hoarded.)  We have a bewildering variety to start with:  Two paper copies of the Guide, a Westerly Design/Karen Gerhardt If I Could Fly tile medallion (above), a Paasche airbrush, some dollhouse hardware from what can only be called "miniature carousel dreams," and a bunch of what I call "Never to be Used Freaks of Nature" or overflow tackmaking junk.  It runs the gamut from 'sell at cost' to a more realistic 'give away for best donation.'

Alongside of this is my mother-in-law's collection of needlepoint materials, one woman's lifetime assembly of sewing tools and supplies which has been sitting around since 2013 when I got it by default.  My mother-in-law, Ruth White Young, passed away in 2020 but lost the ability to sew long before then, and when she asked me what I was going to do with all those precious bags, I replied, "Give them away at BreyerFest to some deserving soul."  She gave me a basilisk stare but then nodded approval.  Unfortunately, I did nothing for a decade.  Now as I finally go through them, I re-assess how vast her treasure is.  Should I ask for a donation and then give it to charity?


From the top:  Here is a closer view of Karen Gerhardt's truly lovely If I Could Fly, still in plastic wrap.  It's a much nicer blue than this pic shows.  Asking what I paid, $75.

Two paper copies of the Guide to Making Model Horse Tack, from the first printing (1998).  These are signed to family members, one my mother-in-law, the other my grandma.  Neither of these people is around anymore, and the copies came back to me.  I do not need these for my own collection of Guide printings  😊  but neither can I let them go for much less than their issue price.  The airbrush was used once.  I'm calling this photo my fifty-dollar shot because every item in it is $50:

Wire, wire, what's on fire?!  I believe this pile had its origin in a desire to make miniature carousel poles.  At a discount this is probably worth $10 a spool (the fine copper wire is free).

This assembly consists of 2 nifty model horse-drawn vehicle carriage lamps (or dollhouse lamps) and a miscellaneous pile of miniature dollhouse nails, screws, bolts and a pair of brass hinges (yellow card).  There's also some metal snaphooks and eyebolts.  Price to be determined.

Next up is some nice white cord and string spools (including 1 nylon sinew), a little rawhide lacing and white leather lace, half a dozen small gauge wire spools, fishline, a wool dauber, some plastic lace (pink & black), a nice large-Trad-scale broom and what appears to be 2 slabs of hard wax (pink and green) for lost-wax casting.  Again, price TBD.


Ruth, my mother-in-law, was an accomplished needlewoman.  She made quilts, cross stitch and needlepoint decorations.  This photo shows her really nice pinking shears on a lace tablecloth, a box with floss samples and lots of floss wrapping-cards (I don't have the word for these), a collection of measuring tapes and a fabulous wooden holder for cording.

Her son, my husband, confided that it was one of Ruth's life goals to obtain every color of embroidery floss made.  That she achieved this should be known and paid forward.  Here is her assortment of homemade floss holders plus a terrific wooden one.  Yes, there's more floss behind those cards.

There was originally a great collection of thread spools, but the son had first claim and he made off with most of them.  These remain:

This is close to the heart of Ruth's collection:  4 pairs of scissors, 2 thimbles, a lot of needles, a box of pins, 2 pincushions and a hard plastic needle case (yellow/clear).  Old fashioned but very effective.

This assortment of needlepoint bookmarks has got 3 finished-or-nearly-finished and 6 others.  It has a price on the package of forty dollars, to my surprise. 

Although I intend to carry out my promise to give away her stuff, I am attracted by the idea of a charitable donation.  One of the best descriptions of Ruth was that "she sure knew how to pick a charity."  It was a strength of hers.

In case you're wondering where the Aida cloth part is, recall that the Timaru Star II makes needlepoint Western saddle-blankets from Aida cloth...


Speaking of the Timaru Star II, did you ever see such a wild mess of miscellaneous scraps in your life!  Even I don't know what's in these bags!  If anyone sees something they've gotta have, let me know and I'll deliver it at BreyerFest (but not before).   I think I'll let folk pick through them in room 612 if there's anything left.  This really is free-to-good-home, though I won't turn down a donation.

In this photo, there's a piece of brown nylon (or vinyl) sheer on a peel-and-stick backing (the dark brown rectangle at top), a red-&-white corona blanket made from plush and felt-tip, some leather scraps, a bunch of empty findings envelopes and (far more interesting but far more useless) 2 bags of Never-to-be-Used Freaks of Nature.  I must have outgrown the drawers I originally had for this class of stuff and bundled them in here.

 Odd bits of leather, of tack, of braidwork, small broken items, a metal currycomb I made out of the teeth from a Saran Wrap box.  There is just no telling!

For example, here's the above photo's upper right bag's lower right corner:  That grate-looking thing is a 13mm ikandi iron-on cut full of holes, accompanied by a genuine braided-thread ring (two-color edge braiding around a jump ring).  Above their tiny cute tray (itself a plastic buckle) is at least one solid metal watch gear under a leather scrap.

The whole bag is full of this kind of stuff.

Here's another photo of the same species:

Perhaps the leather can be stamping practice for somebody, as it was for me.

This last photo I do know what is.  It's some kapok plus two plastic sheets, one white one black, embossed with perfectly-in-scale rubber floormat pattern for model horse-drawn vehicles.  They could also be used for stalls and barns.  See, it isn't all madness.

Thank you for picking through with me.  Happy hunting!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

BreyerFest Offerings: Jaquima & Raven


This sweet-faced Peruvian Paso stallion, sculpted by Randy Buckler and painted by Laurie Jo Jensen, is for sale, with free delivery at BreyerFest.  He's a solid cast resin dating from the 90s:  1996 to be exact.  Not gonna lie:  he's had his share of adventures.  Not only have I fixed up his shelf rubs (largely successfully if I say so), I've made a whole new Jaquima (Hah-kee-mah), the Peruvian halter, to go with him.   This beautiful hand-braided and Hill Tribes Silver-bead halter was my 2023 International Tack Maker's Month piece.

First the Jaquima.  This lovely custom halter was blogged about back in April:  Zoltan's Jaquima .  (The name I've given this horse is Zoltan Cometa.)  That post shows the jaquima nearly finished and has a wealth of detail about it.  Here, we'll include pictures of the finished product and remind you that everything is all hand braided, the hooks-&-sliding-loops work, the braided rope is pose-able and the beads are Hill Tribes Silver.  

Close ups:

The TSII typically has about two or three pieces of headgear for sale per year.  The material is artificial sinew (makes the world's best miniature rawhide!) and dyed cotton thread, woven on with a needle.  There is also nylon thread on this tack:  the smaller, less yellow braided buttons.

As the April post claims, I don't intend to make an entire Peruvian Paso saddle set for this horse.   The jaquima would be an excellent prop for breed classes, or it could be the start of a great tack collection.  😀  A collector could either contract another tackmaker for the rest of the outfit, or be inspired to make their own.

Zoltan was the unfortunate recipient of some nearside shelf rubs.  This is the "before" shot.

After more adventures than I care to tell, this is what he looks like today, "after."

I used my pastelling experience from 4 times through NaMoPaiMo, but it still isn't quite perfect.   He gained several coats of satin finish Krylon on his near side, while the rest of the horse is a glossy finish.  Rubbing with a polishing cloth has only partly equalized the situation.  There are still some slight irregularities.

In the course of his years with me, he accrued some strange white lines around his eyes.  Something dried out;  I'm not sure what.  Here's the before (note the white chips in the forelock):

And here's the after.  I treated these with drafter's ink.

In the end, I'm a tackmaker not a painter.  I did the best I could with him, but this has made me appreciate the services of professional restorers just that much more.  I can recommend a couple of outstanding artists for model horse vetting, and there should be more coming up.  Zoltan is now in the "As is, Where is" category of sale.

Discounted from earlier (April):

Horse now priced at $140 and jaquima at $160 for a total of $300.  If purchased without the horse, the jaquima will be a bit higher, $180.  Free delivery at BreyerFest, room 612 of the CHIN.  Or text or call me at 814-321-2980 and make an offer.

Shipping to the lower-48 would be about $25 given the weight of the resin.  International buyers would need an individual postage quote.

Thanks for reading!