Thursday, February 29, 2024

Black/White/Blue Mecate Up for Offers


This is the story of one mecate, which I am already thinking of as my NaMo piece.  It was finished on the 28th in a minor blaze of glory, and I am pleased with it.  But it's an extra, -- a duplicate, -- turned out in the book process.  I'm now taking offers on it, until Saturday night;  details below.  Its formal name is April 2 Mecate 1.  

This is the first piece of tack the TSII is offering this year.  I'm changing my mind about Peach Rose 2 and the future April 2 Hackamore;  they may wait until BFest.

Showing 2024 on leather popper

 Twenty-five-&-a-half inches long from knot to thread-end, this handspun and hand-twisted mecate is made of embroidery floss and dental floss, plus a bit of leather and metal, and one braided thread button (7P6B with 2 rings).  (The metal is wire inside the leather popper.)  The tassel is multicolor.  The blue is a deep blue, DMC 824, not so dark as navy but not sky blue either, more of an ultramarine.  The popper is signed SBY and 2024.  Hackamore (below) NOT included -- that's Duke's Hack which I'm using to display this mecate with --!

You are bidding on the Mecate only!

Email me (sbytsii (at) verizon (dot) net, text me (814-470-7199),  or pm me on FB with your offer.  This mecate will close Saturday night March 2nd at 8pm Eastern.  (That's a week before Daylight Savings, folks.)  This closing date may be extended if I deem it necessary.  If the amount climbs over $40 there will be no postage charged for domestic buyers.  Overseas winners will need to pay postage separately.  I accept PayPal and personal checks.  You are offering for the mecate ONLY, not the hackamore, not the horse, not the girl,...!  Check here for updates.

Current bid stands at:     $100   bidder 1

Update:  SOLD,  Thank you so much C. P.!

Doll by Field of Dolls

I originally meant to make a copy of April's Hackamore (April 2) during February, in a parallel effort with NaMoPaiMo [National Model Painting Month].  (I had made tack during the first NMPM in 2017 -- successfully.)  What I actually finished this time was two mecates and a fiador:  half the parts.  Recall that, for the book, the making is closely and exhaustively documented, which takes inordinate amounts of time!  The bosal will take longer, of that I'm sure, but the headstall should be swift.  April's Hack, the 5th of the 8 pieces in my next book, is surprisingly simple.  I love its color scheme of deep blue, black and white.  It's another piece where I'm having to eat my words about not liking embroidery floss!  Here Mecate 1 is draped over an obvious horse, the black-white-and-blue Emerson, Eclipse (Beau Soir in my herd).  Don't think you can't just play!

Right after finishing

The reasons I don't want to use this mecate for April 2 have to do with texture, visual contrast and length.  The whole point of the book's pieces was to replicate an earlier piece; but it had been too long since I'd made a mecate and I re-invented how to prepare the strands, thus failing to match them to an earlier, easier phase of my skill.  April's mecate has smooth strands.  It had originally been made in 1996, then disassembled and re-spun in 2007.  Here's a probably-inadequate pic:

I started out with the white strand and, dang, like the over-experienced rope-maker I am, I pre-spun it, combining the white dental floss with the white embroidery floss in two halves.  This gave a rope-like texture, which April's didn't have.  That should have been my first clue I was trying too hard for the situation.  But I was blind and moved on to the black strand, which has a lovely blue trace around it.  Here also I pre-spun the strand separately.  The resulting rope-like strands not only changed the texture, it made the whole mecate shorter, a potential disaster.

These two pix show the details.  It may not seem like such beautiful rope-work would be undesirable;  but my goal was to replicate April's, made when I'd first learned to spin.

See the white strand's rope-like texture

This next shot shows the making of this very Mecate 1.  Both the white and the black/blue strand clearly show as 2-strand ropes.  This also shows the braided-thread strand, a miniature attempt at a mecate's checkered strand.  For Mecate 1 I put it in all wrong, resulting in (to my eye) a confused texture, without clear contrast of color.  

There you have it:  This sales piece was deemed a mistake merely because it was too advanced!  Undoubtedly I'm being overly critical, as artists are apt to be.  It's still a lovely piece and will be fine for someone else's uses.  There are multitudes of models out there for whom a 25" mecate is just the right size!

Which brings us to the photo shoot.

My doll Chalif, by Anne Field, is my only Western handler in anything like blue.

Amazingly she stands up by herself!  But put a girl on a horse, and no photographer can stop themselves from blazing away.

I particularly like the way she can bend her neck and move her gaze around.

Once again, this particular hackamore is Duke's and not April's.  I needed a way to exhibit just a mecate and Duke's was handy.  The shots show its length.  Duke's Hackamore on its own is also in my next book.  The book will cover four Bosal Hacks, of which April's falls second.

It is so much fun to be braiding again.  April's black-white-&-blue bosal is up next!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Progress Report 3: Peach Rose


The Peach Rose bridle chapter is finished, which means we've reached the nominal halfway point of my next book!   Of 8 pieces of headgear, Peach Rose is the 4th.  Finally, after far more effort than I ever dreamed of, ---a whole lot of other parts, sideshows, preparations, materials chapters and formulae -- real progress has been made.  This chapter is made out like a recipe.  First there's a history, then a list of materials specifically for that piece, followed by steps for making that piece, its own Plate, and photos of important aspects of the making.  You'd think this was what I was after in the first place; but there was SO much else to cover, just getting up to braiding speed!  The Peach Rose chapter is my first and so-far-best manifestation of such a recipe,... and I think we're actually well past half way.

The previous three pieces of headgear did not have the benefit of this approach.  The first and second pieces, Ricky's Bridle and Duke's Hackamore, were simple enough, and their Plates (drawings) extensive enough, not to need an ingredients list.  Malaguena's got to have its list put in afterwards.  I had not known, offhand, that Mala's would take 16.2 feet of 4-ply sinew to build --!!  The below photo of the parts of the gorgeous pink Peach Rose bridle is featured in the book.  (A few more minor parts, like leather lace and a bit shank brace, are listed in the text.)

The Peach Rose chapter has a lot of photographs... forty-two to be exact(!).  The above '102' is a photo number.  The picture at the top, the finished replication bridle laid out, says '132', and that is currently how many photos are in the book.  Compare this to the 83 or so in the entire Guide(!).  I have felt the Guide's lack of photos, even though when it was published it was cutting edge.  Here I am able to rectify the situation.  I just hope I don't go too overboard,...!  The main emphasis of my book, after all, will always be the Plates.

I was trained as a draftsperson.  It has been heavenly pleasure to be drawing and inking again.  However, only a third of this next book will be inked plates.  The writing is fun too -- we're over 100 pages!  It's the photos that are really holding me up.   When one extensively documents the making of a single piece of tack, by still photography, one has to choose which photos to use;  to process them;  to fit them into a page or pages;  to number them, and come up with descriptions for the Photo Numbers List, a kind of index.  And THEN rewrite the text to accommodate said photos!   The process is neither fast nor easy.  It once took me a week to do 13 photos.  Here are some rejected pictures from just two parts of the Peach Rose chapter:

See what I mean by exhausting?  Even so I fear there's a chance that some of what got in is duplication.  My frustrating behaviour is that illustrations for a carefully described procedure will often be added to later on, (and thus references have to be stuck in).  I have also treated different materials (Mala's is made from sinew, the Peach from embroidery floss) differently.  In addition, I've tried to write up the Peach Rose as though it were the first piece a reader turned to, partly because so many hobbyists are more comfortable with embroidery floss than I am myself.  And that means even more references,... which is tough because we haven't gotten to pagination yet!  When I brought this up with my in-house guru, he said to not refer to page numbers at all, but to sections!  So the whole thing is changing constantly.

Here's another rejected photo.  The foal, whom I put in for scale, was later felt to be too distracting.  The beads are examples of Hill Tribes Silver. 

Nonetheless, progress has been made.  Here's the future back cover portrait of the Peach Rose Bridle:

And here's another sneak peek from the back cover.  I tried this out in black-and-white and liked it so much.  This is Ricky's Bridle, worn by Sheila/Gold Dust, the Bobby Jo mold sculpted by Morgen Kilbourn.

 Here's a link to the book's Progress Report 2 blog post.  And here's Meet the 8, the name of the 1st progress report.

My next book is not going to make BreyerFest,... but it might be finished by the fall.  November 6 will be the 26th anniversary of the publishing of the Guide.  If you can't make one year, try for the next...

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Wacahoota at Wykoff


Last Sunday I had the privilege of hiking on a sunny day in the Quehanna Wild Area, in north-central Pennsylvania.  No snow!  New horse!  Practicing taking pictures with the cell phone (I am still seriously behind in this skill).  New-ish hackamore:  This particular piece was made in 2018, and it was never meant to sell.  It's all my own, something that fits every horse in the herd.  It has its own blog post:  Kings Herds Hackamore II.  So, this post will be short, narrow in scope, indulgent and totally cellular.

But what great portraits.

I have shot tack here before:  TSII #442, Medieval Vine.  The wildlife viewing platform (located at the intersection of Quehanna Highway and Wykoff road) is just about perfect for this sport.  It's so much like a barn in its framing that you would never guess you're deep in the forest and miles from anywhere.  I love its warm wood tones and wide sills, just right for the Trad horse.

He makes a particularly good subject for portraits.  The alert ears, the flowing mane, the knowing eye all command attention.  Above all I love the glorious color and gloss!  To be honest, I had the excuse that I needed a nice photo of this particular hackamore for my next book.  I wanted to show the nosepiece up close.  But what I was really doing was playing.

 Playing, playing... wait until there's nobody else there (a few hikers always around), wait even until George has gone off on his own, after birds.  Fiddle with the camera.  Fuss with the reins.  Despite its primitiveness, the cell phone camera does not distort, as my fancy Fuji does.

The first shot taken (second here), showing his forehand, didn't work.  The camera focused on the background.  But the rest of them did work.  The red in the reins and buttons strongly harmonizes with the deep chestnut.  The blue in the nosepiece, actually an accident if you read its post, really makes things pop.  The story behind that blue is so much the classic blessing-in-disguise story!  I gave up on it as a nasty un-finish-able mistake and then decided I loved it as it was...

What a horse!  Yes, this is my first Troubadour.

This is the last shot on location, with me leaning out of the platform and suspending him over the forest floor.

And here's the book shot:

Now, when you read my next book, you'll know how and where this particular photo came from!

Speaking of the book, I just finished the fourth of 8 pieces and am hoping to post a Progress Report in the next week or so.  In this last half of February, eagerly watching the NaMoPaiMo finishers, I am thinking of the first NMPM.   I didn't paint then, but made a piece of tack alongside all the excitement.  I'm in that state now.  Who knows how far I'll be able to get.  My inner heart is in the race and cheering for all.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

My FL Name Game


Ever since I went down to Florida in 2018 and got a name for my Emerson, I've been playing this game.  For two separate years, the result has been one name for one horse for the entire trip.  In the most recent year, however (2024), the result of one trip has been three names.  And one of the intended recipients wasn't purchased at the time!  You know you're in love when you name a horse you haven't bought.  But let's start at the beginning.

The first instance of this very personal behaviour was Emerson and our Christmas 2018 visit to Florida.  The model had come out that year, as a Premiere Club horse, and how fortunate I was to find one on the secondary market (for a bargain price), since I wasn't a Premiere member.  I was greatly impressed by this horse.  My family regularly took canoeing and birding trips down to Florida, and I knew from experience how much easier it was to find a horse name while on the road.  I wanted to both honor the new stallion and find a way to memorialize the trip itself.  It should be obvious: I love naming my horses! 

Somewhere very west of Orlando, we passed a park sign near its lake.  And I found my name.  Few horses in my herd have five-syllable names, and this one gets cut down in everyday use to Palat, but it was grand enough to satisfy my requirements.  The emphasis is on the second syllable:  Palatlakaha


The next instance was with Chadwick, the 2022 Collector Club Web Special.  (There's a pattern here:  Clearly I love this mold!)  Despite initial reservations about this horse (he has his own blog post here), I did indeed learn to love him, and carried him south with our Christmas canoe trip -- which was actually in January of 2023.  He found his name all right, while we were in the City of Marcos Island.  The adventures we went through finding it - driving around Marcos Island sight-seeing and birding - and the joy and wonder of that day combined to give this particular name the greatest level of glory and power yet.  Truly when I found it I felt the name was too good for the horse.  It took a while for him to get used to it.  Caxambas


Somewhat naturally, this name has been quite hard to pronounce.  We never got a chance to ask a native.  I find three ways to pronounce it:  Cacks-Ambas (awkward);  Cass-Ambas (what I'm usually using); and Cah-Zambas, a version probably acceptable but which I just don't use.

To this day I'm reminded of the beautiful city which had this name as a road and a bay.

Image from Google Maps:  South Marco Island FL

This past January my family went down to FL for our traditional canoeing and birding trip,  and I took along an unnamed Classic scale horse for the game.  Here he is posing on the rocks of Huguenot Beach.   There was nobody else around (which almost never happens!).

 Later, we were paddling on Puzzle Lake, which only exists when there has been a massive amount of rain on the St John River.  There had been!  In case this all looks familiar, it's because my FaceBook cover picture was taken here, back in 2018, under similar conditions of flood.  There is an unnamed (!) island that is only an island when there's been too much flooding on the St John.  It looks like StoneHenge rising from the Amesbury Plain, if you're out canoeing on Puzzle Lake:


This is our magic place, a place that only exists every few years, and it's even more rare that we get a chance to actually land there.  It's only the second time in our lives that this chain of events occurred.

Can you spot the horse?  Balanced precariously on the bow, just for this series of pictures, taken at the exact same location my old FB cover shot was taken:

 It was at this moment that we named the island, and the horse wanted to share such a royal title:  PalmHenge.

Not just crossing my own beams, the model horse life and the canoeing life, but adding in the rarity and specialness of the place to my family. 

But even at the time, I felt this title was a heavy load for so small and undeveloped a horse to carry.  Later, when we went hiking in Paynes Prairie Preserve, he found a name he liked a lot better.  He told me so pretty strongly (they do this), and I was relieved.  It was the name of a trail in the Preserve.  Chacala   This shot was posted to my FB:


So he will be known as Chacala of PalmHenge.

I mentioned an unpurchased horse.  I had been wanting this one since he was released, and over the vacation my desire hardened into commitment.  

Photo from eBay (the one I wound up buying)

Another trail in the same Preserve suddenly seemed perfect for this gorgeous but expensive Morgan.  Now I ask you:  Is this not an amazing name?  Wacahoota

When we returned home, I scoured eBay and consulted with a dealer friend (thanks Margaret again!), then plumped for one a good deal reduced from his issue price.  Today (Sunday) we went hiking in the Quehanna, central Pennsylvania; and this picture was taken at the Wykoff Run wildlife viewing platform.


He is starting out his life in grand fashion!

The third name was seen on a lake we passed in Florida.  Lochloosa   This is the least of the five, and goes to a horse who has been known ever since I got him (2018) as Loughnatusa.  Now that is a tough name to pronounce!  Like PalmHenge, the horse himself was telling me he wasn't quite comfortable with it.  I think in this case Lochloosa was chosen because it was similar but easier to say.  The horse in question is mentioned in a blog post:  The Traditional Loot Shots.


The fabulous blanket is by Nichelle Jones.


Production Notes:  One reason why this post took so long was that getting all the Florida pictures off their various cameras somehow took psychic effort at a time when I didn't have any extra.  Another reason is I've been trying to work on my next book as well as fit back in from a long trip (we had to replace our windshield, still ongoing!).  I'm hoping to post a Progress Report on the book soon.  Another delay was waiting for Wacahoota to arrive;  and, I got to re-learn how to download cell phone pix!  Living in the digital age is a constant challenge for me; but the REAL challenge is time management!  Thank you for your patience.