Saturday, February 28, 2009
I spent a day hanging out with Erin in her studio earlier this month. That was a real treat as I've only occasionally had the chance to watch another tackmaker work. Tackmaking tends to be a solitary pursuit, and it's hard to think of new ways to do things. Erin and I use a lot of the same techniques, but there were a few things she did differently and better. Most of these things seem obvious in retrospect and were immediately incorporated into my own bag of tricks. I hope I was able to provide her with a few similar light bulb moments.
Here is a picture of Erin's workspace after we had made a mess of it. The English saddles in the lower left hand corner are both made by Jennifer Kistler. The Western saddles are by Erin. Erin's Western saddles are hand carved rather than stamped. Each part of the design is cut into the leather with a small knife. I find this method of tooling incredibly intriguing, and Erin was nice enough to give me a lesson in the basics of carving. It will be a while, however, before I can produce anything that looks half as nice as this.
Here is another closeup of parade saddle parts. The poppies were carved by Erin but painted by Tracy Eilers. Tracy is Erin's best friend and one of the hobby's most talented resin painters. So neat to have the work of two top artisan's in one piece!Hopefully some lucky person will snap up this parade set soon--I guarantee that even the most discriminating tack collector will not be disappointed with it.
Friday, February 27, 2009
I came home from Portland with a pair of Western saddles that needed a bit of tlc. The first one was this beautiful pleasure saddle by Janet Edington. There's not much wrong with this besides a missing silver plate. That was an easy fix, and I've really enjoyed having the opportunity to study this saddle up close. The other saddle was a bit more challenging. This trophy saddle is dated 1993, and besides the missing stirrup it is old and stiff with age.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I was really inspired by those lovely Jennifer Kistler saddles I saw in Portland earlier this month. One of the things I was particularly taken with was the contrasting piping between the seat and skirts. I decided to see if I could duplicate that look, and this is what I came up with.
Not too bad for a first attempt! Jennifer does it better, of course, but I'm still pretty pleased with my efforts.
The rest of the saddle is very much a work in progress. I haven't made the panels, and there's still a lot of shaping and cleanup work to do. Unfortunately, that will have to wait until tomorrow as the other people in this house seem to think dinner is more important than saddlemaking!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
So that's what I did.This is why I don't often take pictures of us actually riding. The indoor ring is nice but it's also dark and dusty.I rode Punky first and then handed him over to his mama, Fran. Fran is the only person I know who rides in Crocs.This picture cracks me up. Punky is the kind of pocket pony who likes to be hugged. I don't know why he looks so cranky here.The barn dogs, Cue and Corona, keep an eye on us while we're in the ring.Cara and Allison heading out to the pasture with Cue in pusuit. Cue is a working dog. He doesn't like to miss anything.Fran's Great Dane, Shadow. We stayed a little while after our ride to chat and help turn out some of the other horses. This is one of my favorites--a big warmblood named Hagan.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
So much for the best laid plans... I did manage to get that saddle to Portland, but somehow I forgot to bring it with me on the day of the show.If I don't sell it here,I am going to list it to MH$P later tonight or tomorrow. The price is $150 for the saddle, girth and pad. If you would like to have a matching bridle, that could be arranged. I take all forms of payment and some trades (although I'm very picky). Preference will be given to someone who can pay in full, but time payments may be an option.I do not make very many saddles in this scale and this is a nice one. If you are interested, please email me at email@example.com.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
If you've looked through a good tack catalog recently, you know there are a lot of different choices in equine leg protection. Open front boots, however, have long been the boot of choice with the jumper crowd. These boots protect the horses tendons while still allowing him to "feel" the jumps. They are commonly paired with shorter ankle boots on the hind legs.
Most high end jumping boots are feature a leather exterior and either sheepskin or neoprene lining. Front boots generally have three or four straps which may run parallel to one another or criss cross as in the picture below. You will also see some boots with just two straps, but these are almost always those that fasten with velcro rather than buckles. Ankle boots generally have two straps, although some of the velcro varieties will use just one. In this picture, Dos Equis is shown wearing full protective leg gear--bell boots and open front boots on his forelegs and ankle boots and pastern wraps on his hind. The pastern wraps are made out of neoprene and fasten with velcro.
In this picture, Chuck Waters and Gold Card are competing in a pair of white boots decorated with an American flag. Note, the leather ankle boots behind.
This Grand Prix jumper (Money Talks, ridden by Hugh Graham) is also wearing front wraps. The black stripes at the top of the wraps are electrical tape which makes the wrap more secure and less likely to come undone on course. This horse is wearing leather ankle boots on his hind legs.
And this is Pilot Point and Vicky Miller entering the Grand Prix ring in Ocala, FL completely clean-legged. This horse was an absolute superstar in US Grand Prix League competition in the 1990's, and he often jumped around without the benefit of boots.
Monday, February 16, 2009
One of my favorite model tackmakers is Corinne Ensor. Although she also makes lovely saddles, it's her strap goods that impress me the most. Her bridles and harnesses are amazing--elegant, in scale, and highly detailed. Over time, I've figured out how to incorporate some of those same details into my own work. However, it's just been in the past few days that I've finally unraveled the secret to successfully adding rollers to etched buckles. I have no idea if this is the method Corinne uses, but I think with some practice, I will consistently be able to achieve Corinne-like results. Hooray!
Unlike my previous attempts to make roller buckles, this time I did use either aluminum tubing or ferrule type beads. Instead I bought some very thin (.008") metal sheeting from a local hobby shop.I measured the inside width of a Rio Rondo buckle and cut a long strip of sheeting to match. Using my round nosed pliers, I shaped one end of the strip into a tight curl. I fit the curl around the buckle, squeezed it shut and snipped off the excess with my wire cutters. Of course, each roller required additional shaping and trimming, but that's pretty much the whole story. This particular solution seems so obvious to me now. I can't believe I didn't come up with it sooner!
The results of my labor--almost a dozen 3/32" tongue buckles with rollers.
And here they are in use on a pair of open front jumping boots. I still need to trim the buckle tongues a bit, particularly that middle one. I did not make the nifty rubber bell boots. Those are some of Jana Skybova's. She's yet another tackmaker whose work I greatly admire.The matching ankle boots. I am very pleased with these roller buckles. Not only do they make the boots a bit easier to put on, but they will also reduce wear and tear on the buckle strap.
Unfortunately, every improvement comes with a cost and that cost is usually time. It took me nearly two hours to prepare the buckles for these boots. Practice should reduce that substantially, but buckles with tongues and rollers are always going to take longer to make than buckles with neither. Wouldn't it be great to discover a way to add detail that didn't take more time?