Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tack Tips--Crown pieces

In this tutorial, I will show you how to make a traditional scale one piece crown piece for a hunter type English bridle.

As always, I start by preparing the lace.  
I use 3/16" kangaroo lace, skived to a medium thickness.  It needs to be thin enough to drape over the horse's poll and easily pass through buckles and keepers, but not so thin as to be excessively fragile.  The throatlatch part of the crown piece receives a fair amount of handling.  It can't be paper thin.  
Now it's time to split the lace.  This is an advanced skill that requires a steady hand and a very sharp blade.  
I position the blade on top of the lace, making sure it's centered and the blade is at a ninety degree angle.  If the blade is not straight up and down, the cut edges will be angled and messy. 
When I'm happy with the placement of the blade, I press down until the knife cuts through the lace.  Ideally, this will give me a nice, clean split with both sides measuring just a hair over 1/16". 
I lift the blade slightly and slide it up over the lace.  I re-position the knife, cut and repeat until the split is long enough to go around the horse's throatlatch.
I trim the cheek piece and place the strap on the model's head.
I mark the distance across the top of the poll...
and then  split the right side of the strap.
The crown piece will now look like this.
The next step--trimming the crown--is optional.  I place the tip of my knife on the back edge of the crown, right at the beginning of the split.
I gently and carefully trim off a tiny slice of leather, again making sure that my blade stays at a consistent ninety degree angle. 
In one continuous motion, I cut all the way across the crown until I reach the other split. 
Reducing the width of the crown in this manner gives the piece a more refined appearance. 
I punch holes,
add a buckle and keepers... 
and voila! The crown piece is complete...
and ready for use!
As always, there are as many ways to make tack as there are tackmakers.  This method works well for me.  If your technique is different, please tell us about it in the comment section!

15 comments:

  1. beautiful work - you make it look very easy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This tutorial is deceiving. Splitting lace well is HARD. It takes a lot of practice to do be able to do it well consistently, and there are still some days when I can't do it at all.

      Delete
  2. So... when are monocrown bridles going to be a thing for models? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I'm sure someone's done it already, but not me.

      :)

      Delete
  3. Thanks so much braymere! i was wondering if you would ever share this secret with us lol! mind telling me where you got your lace and leather from? and in the future could u please make a post about cheek peices? like how do make the buckle at the end that connects to the bit? THANKS

    ReplyDelete
  4. Got some serious deja-vu reading this post Jen! I've just started back at college for my second and final year and I started on my double bridle today - by making the crownpiece! (or as we call it, headpiece). If only this post had been a day earlier, I would have got some photos to do a guest post for you! I will have to ask the others in my group and see if anyone took any photos... (It's also a little more complicated making a full size headpiece unfortunately!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Corrie, I would be delighted to have another full size tackmaking post from you, no matter what the topic!

      Delete
  5. I do this in much the same way as you do Jen. The only real difference is I use a straight razor blade ( in one of those cheep little holders) to split the lace. and a Tandy side beveler to skive . I am far to wobbly to be able to do either with an Exacto .

    ReplyDelete
  6. I make my crownpieces using 1/8"lace rather than 3/16" lace. Could you do a tack tip on how to attach crystals to a browband please?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Interesting read, Jennifer!

    I use 1/8" lace - i am not hugely fond of the thicker straps as I think they look a bit bulky. I split mine using a technique from Kerren M (can't remember surname - the UK lady). I tape the lace against a straight line on my cutting board, and position an aluminium ruler, and then slice with the craft knife. It's been fairly successful for me so far!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I used to use the 1/8" lace, but changed to 3/16" after several customers told me they had trouble with super tiny throatlatches. I liked those throatlatches and it PAINED me to go with the wider lace. The 3/16" looked so thick and clumsy to me. That's why I started trimming the top. Now, I have 1/8" over the poll but straps that are just a little bit more user friendly. Best of both worlds? I hope so.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ahh, good thinking, 99! I did wonder as to the purpose of narrowing the poll section. Thanks for explaining. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I always manage to cut the throatlatch part too short which is why crownpieces are my absolute LEAST favourite thing to make in tack!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I use skived down petite tooling calfskin that I cut into lace myself, it's LOT of work but I think the end result is worth it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yes I use custom width leather too, and I make the throat a smidge narrower than the cheek. I split the leather by cutting freehand, which often goes wrong! I might try your 'chomp' method next time! Would love to try a 'comfort' headpiece on my next bridle, padded with the noseband hanger going over the top of the headpiece.

    ReplyDelete