Saturday, October 31, 2009

Crazy Ladies, part one

Happy Halloween!

I am pleased to report that my Halloween has been quite happy so far. I spent the morning at the Crazy Ladies live show in Parker, Colorado. Although I didn't bring any horses to show, I did get to meet my new Hazel for the first time. Here's a picture of her in her current "almost done" state.
I've always admired Jennifer Scott's paintwork, and I am so excited to be adding this girl to my collection. Look at her pretty face! Now if I could just think of a name...
Of course there were lots of other pretty things to look at. Here's a peek at some of the Stone models on Janet's table.
This year Crazy Ladies was billed as the "Yellow Card Extravaganza." Despite being an halter show, there were no Halter (Green) NAN cards to be found. Instead, Original Finish models were judged on collectibility and Custom and Resin models were judged on workmanship.
I really enjoyed seeing all the documentation that accompanied the OF models. It almost reminded me of a performance class!
Here's one of the showholders and judges, Regan O'Keefe studying a class of vintage glossy Breyers.
A few people wore their Halloween costumes. This is Jennifer Scott in the hat and Sheila Anderson Bishop in the horns.
Sculptor/painter/new performance addict Morgen Kilbourn judged the workmanship classes and also found time to check out Teresa's tack box. Take it from me, there are a lot of good things in that box.
Jane also brought her tack box and I was delighted to discover this beauty in there. It's an Australian saddle made by Jana Skybova. This was the first time I've seen her work in person and it did not disappoint. What a lovely saddle!
I took lots of resin pictures, too, and will post them later today or tomorrow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"In progress"

Ugh! This saddle has been in progress for more than six months, although I suppose "in progress" isn't the best way to describe something that's been sitting untouched in a pile for most of that time. I was at loose ends today, so I finally picked it up again.I made the stirrups and assembled and hung the fenders. This was harder than it sounds. I think I had to recut the fenders three times before they fit the junior rider doll properly.
Perhaps I'll get it finished tomorrow. Or maybe it will sit on my desk for another six months...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Look what I found while reading the British hobby forum, Small Horse Talk (
Check out the reference sheet in the corner. If the picture looks familiar, that's because you saw it here first:! The hobbyist who posted the picture reported that her barrel racing Clydesdale was third in its class but was also awarded a special rosette by the judge for originality. Yay!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tack Tips--Raised nosebands, part two

Today I am going to show you how I make a raised noseband in 1:9 (traditional) scale. The first picture shows the supplies and tools needed to create the raised section of the noseband: two widths of high quality kangaroo lace, waxed linen thread, glue, gum tragacanth, an Xacto knife with a #11 blade and 220 grit sandpaper. Not pictured but used to make other parts of the noseband are two buckles, a hole punch, mallet and cutting board.I start by cutting a piece of prepared 1/8" lace. I add a buckle and keepers to one end and punch holes and point the tip on the other. This simple strap will eventually be your noseband.
Buckle the noseband and slide it onto your model. Using an awl, lightly mark the spot where you want your the caveson hanger to attach to the noseband. Repeat on the other side.
Slide the noseband off the model and unbuckle it. Cut slots at the places you marked.
Cut a piece of skived 3/32" lace that is just slightly longer than the distance between your slots.
Unravel two strands of waxed linen thread.
Twist them together tightly and glue to the center of the flesh side of the 3/32" lace.
While that is drying, return your attention to the noseband strap. Although this piece was skived earlier, the area between the slots needs additional attention. It must be paper thin. I achieve this by alternating between skiving and sanding. Work slowly and pause occasionally to treat the section with gum tragacanth.
You'll know the strap is ready when you can easily fold it half lengthwise.
Smear some glue on the skived area and...
carefully place the 3/32" strap into the glue. Be sure to center it exactly over the center of the 1/8" noseband.
Turn the noseband over and gently press the layers together. Run your fingernail along each side of the cord to make the center section pop out. Clean up any extra glue that has squeezed out and treat the entire piece with gum tragacanth.
You may also choose to decorate the sides with your stitch marker.
Add the caveson hanger straps and your noseband is finished.

Do not be discouraged if your first attempts at raised nosebands leave something to be desired. This is an advanced technique that requires a lot of precision and patience. Thankfully, it does get easier with practice!

Note to novice tackmakers--This is by far the most complicated Tack Tip I've written to date and it assumes the reader is knowledgeable about the basics of tack making. Please refer back to earlier Tack Tip postings for more detailed information about finding and using supplies, punching holes, cutting slots, and making tongue buckles.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tack Tips--Raised nosebands, part one

Sophie writes: I would love to know how you create that raised nose or browband effect,it really fascinates me how tackmakers make them so realistic, if that's possible :) This is another wonderful topic suggestion--thank you Sophie! There are several different ways to make raised browbands and nosebands in miniature. I know I've tried two or three different methods over the years. Predictably, the one I like best is the one that most closely matches the way real raised browbands and nosebands are made.

Not sure how a real noseband is made? Sometimes the best way to figure things out is to take something apart. Luckily, I happen to have an old broken noseband at my disposal. This was part of my very first bridle, and despite the fact that it's no longer usable, I've been reluctant to throw it away. It's been lurking at the bottom of a bucket for the last couple years.
Close up of the center section of the noseband. This particular noseband has fancy decorative stitching on the middle of the raised portion. I've seen a few enterprising tack makers mimic this effect with paint. I've never tried that myself, mostly because I don't think I could do a good job of it.
Here's a look at the backside of the noseband. You can clearly see that the raised section of the noseband has a second piece of leather sewn to its backside.
In this picture I have started to pick apart the stitches that are holding the two layers together.
I've got the layers separated now and the plastic cord that gives the noseband its rounded shape is clearly visible.
The bottom layer of leather is flat. The top layer is thinner and has been shaped around the cord.
So that's the real thing. Tomorrow I'll focus on its model sized counterpart.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mini donkeys!

Today was a beautiful fall day. It was much too nice to stay at home, so we all got in the car and headed north to Mazzotti Farms in Hudson, Colorado. We spent the afternoon picking pumpkins... and crashing through a corn maze.
That was pretty fun, but as far as I'm concerned Mazzotti Farms best attraction is the herd of miniature donkeys.These guys are so cute...
and friendly!I am partial to the spotted donkeys...
but both my kids liked this little grey one the best.
James really, really liked him. He had no interest in petting any of the others. His heart is true and would not waver from his one true love.Me and a friend.
More photos of our fun day out can be found on my other blog:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tack Tips--Protecting your models

Leah writes: I've messed around with tack making a bit, and here's my conundrum: how do you keep the horse safe (i.e. not scratched) as you work on custom fit tack? Especially if anything (like a saddle tree) needs to be sculpted (eek, epoxy!). I'd love to see a post on that :) This is exactly the kind of question I was hoping for when I posted yesterday. It's specific, easy to cover in one entry, and best of all, I have some good answers!

Every now and then someone sends me an expensive model for custom tack fitting. This is always a mixed blessing. While I find it easier to work with a model than measurements, I aways worry about damaging another person's property. So far that hasn't happened, and I have a whole set of safety protocols in place to ensure my perfect record stays intact.

The first and best way to protect a prized model is to use a body double. This is easiest with OF models. I usually do not collect more than one of a mold, but I own two Lonesome Glorys--a Mosaic and a regular run Seattle Slew. Mosaic is the show horse. Slew is here simply for tack fitting purposes. Of course, most people can't afford to buy doubles of their best resins or chinas. Fortunately, that's not always necessary. Measure your model (here's a link to a measuring guide that works well for me: and compare the measurements to other (cheaper) models in your own herd. You might be surprised at the results. I've found that tack made on a Lady Phase will fit Sarah Rose's Indy resin perfectly, and Dozen Roses and the Breyer Five Gaiter can share a double bridle with only the slightest of adjustments.

Of course sometimes a suitable body double can't be found and you're forced to work with the nice show horse. In that case, just be extra careful. Wash your hands between steps to prevent glue, dye or other products from transferring onto the model. I also guard against accidental topples by storing the model on it's side while I'm not actually using it.

I rarely sculpt saddle trees out of epoxy. My English saddles are built on a handcut sheet metal tree, and I use premade Rio Rondo trees for Western saddles. However, every once in a great while I will make a specialty saddle that involves some epoxy. Here's a quick look at that process.

Meet my victim. He's a Breyer Cigar slightly customized and painted by Chris Nandell. This horse has won several NAN cards and I would be most displeased if I damaged his pretty Appaloosa paintjob.
Like any project, the first step is to gather supplies and reference material. Here are the unassembled components of my future saddle (bass wood strips, wire, aluminum foil and Apoxie Sculpt) plus tools and Native American saddle reference pictures from The Mystic Warriors of the Plains.
The first stage of construction involves cutting the bass wood to size and wiring the saddle into its approximate final shape. I've found that Apoxie Sculpt sticks better to aluminum foil than bare wire, so I will cover all the wire with a couple wraps of foil.
Up until this point, I haven't been concerned with the safety of the horse. However, I really do not want to get epoxy on him, so it's time to take some precautions. I start out by covering his barrel with a single layer of cling wrap. This will allow me to protect his back without changing its shape.
I then cover the rest of his body with multiple loose layers of wrap and secure them with masking tape. His body is completely protected now. No matter how messy my hands are, I can still pick him up without fear of damaging his paintjob.
I've now started to layer the epoxy onto the saddle frame. I can sit the saddle right on the horse to check the fit. The plastic wrap keeps the horse safe and doesn't stick to the wet epoxy. I've also used this method to protect a painted resin while I repaired its broken tail. It worked just as well that time, too!
Hope this was helpful. Please keep the suggestions coming!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I have nothing

It's finally happened. After more than a year of near daily blogging, I have completely run out of things to say. Despite my best intentions, today I have nothing. Probably this is a temporary condition. I've been under a lot of stress lately, and that does take its toll.
Still, I wouldn't mind a little help with topic suggestions--tack tips, performance information, show photos... Please let me know if there's something in particular that you'd like to see. I would also be delighted to publish your guest blogger pieces.
Sorry about the short post. Like I said earlier--today I have nothing!