Saturday, November 18, 2017

The art of failing

One of my friends posted this on her blog today, and I liked it so much, I immediately asked if I could share it here as well. Thank you, Melissa! P.S. Your saddle doesn't look nearly as bad as you think it does.

That Artistic Failure - Tack Making

by Melissa Addison

The month of April 2017 was National Model Tack Month in the model horse world.

As a model horse artist that likes to show in performance and have tack for my models that looks realistic, I can admit freely that I have always hated the prices of model horse saddles. I mean really, some of them come close to costing what a real saddle can be purchased.

So when I saw National Model Tack Month I was excited to join. I was going to prove that those saddles didn't need to cost so much and these people were committing highway robbery. I was also going to make the saddles for the donation models I was doing for Longmire Days 2017 (blog coming soon) as I had asked several hobby tack makers if they would donate and was met with dead silence or no.

After coming off a successful February of NaMoPaiMo (National Model Painting Month) - I was very excited to get this tack on the road and prove my point.

So I purchased my supplies from Rio Rondo. This right here is close to $65 worth of supplies. 
Then came the first part - cutting out the pieces. Not hard at all -right??
I mean it's just following patterns and directions. I can do that. 
I am just going to say right now - that took me over two hours to cut these out. Two hours and nothing that resembled a saddle or even close to it. Just pieces. My ADHD was kicking in and I was literally having a panic attack at this point.
Then came dyeing the VERY SMALL leather pieces - Just a note - I am working on a 1:9 scale saddle here. LOOK at all those little pieces - OH MY GOD!!!

So staining - let's just say it's not like painting at all.   
It's disastrous.
At this point - I was five hours in and freaking out because the pieces seemed to shrink and not be the same size as each other and all this crazy stuff. 

Needless to say, it is now November. This saddle is still not finished. Every time I get near it I freak out and literally have a massive panic attack. So I put it in an envelope and will be sending it to a friend who makes tack to do what she wants with it. 

This was a real dent to my ego, believe me. And a much needed failure. We all have to fail and this failure proved to me that as artists, tack makers, are CRAZY and deserve their prices even if I don't want to pay it. 

I will try again next April to join the Tack Month - but I think I will start with just a couple of halters or something. 


  1. I like that line "much needed failure." Painters are crazy too.

  2. I love everything about this post! I think more people should try making their own tack/props/dolls/ paint their own horses so they can appreciate what was put into the really gorgeous LSQ stuff that ends up in the show ring. I have tried a bit of everything and I know what I am good at and what I would rather have someone else do for me. I still wish I could make my own tack...but I'm glad I have people I can bribe to make it for me :)

  3. Thank you for posting Jennifer! This has been a whole new experience for me and I am definitely going to take you up on my next tack endeavor.

  4. Making one's own is a life changing experience. Whether it is customizing (repaint, reposition, whatever) to sculpting your own creature, to casting your own resins, to making your own rider/handlers, to making you own obstacles, vehicles, props, and all points in between.

    By walking in another artist's shoes you begin to understand the process they go through to learn and grow as an artist, as well as begin to appreciate the time and materials it takes to reach the levels of professionalism and proficiency it takes to really make it big in the hobby.

    For some this journey will be a failure, for others a smashing success, but for all it is a learning experience and as a collector, shower, artist...where ever you fall in the spectrum of the model horse hobby this learning experience is a gift to yourself.

    Do what you enjoy, enjoy what you do.