Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday at Ambleside

I have updated my blog every single day this month. Granted, some of those posts were pretty short, but still... I think that's a considerable achievement. As a reward for all the good work, Cara and I spent the morning at Ambleside.

It's been several months since we've been to the barn, and boy, have the foals grown up! Technically they are yearlings now, but even the oldest (Austin) is several months from his true first birthday.

Speaking of Austin...
Poor Austin! He's much bigger than the others and he hasn't quite grown into himself. Fortunately, he has lots of time to even up and fill out.
Next up is Iris.
I've always been partial to Iris. She's such a pretty girl...
And she still has curly ears!
Me and "my" baby.
Daisy is Miss Allison's last foal.
She's also Fran's favorite.
Last but not least is little Houston. He's the youngest of the group and the most babyish--both physically and mentally.
I like his little raccoon eyes!
We also checked in with Burke who has become quite a handsome three year old. Burke is an Anglo Arabian. I used to ride his mother.
So, that's the baby update. Hopefully it won't be quite as long until our next check-in.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I cannot tell a lie...

I really hate these saddle strings. They cover up so much of the pitiada. I spent hours and hours on that pitiada. The last thing I want to do is cover it up!
I am tempted to go with less obtrusive strings, but reference picture...
after reference picture proves that would be a bad idea.
So I guess I'll live with the strings, but that doesn't mean I have to like them!

(Don't be fooled--this saddle isn't done yet. It's just beginning to look that way!)

Friday, January 29, 2010

My mystery horse

I haven't always been an ultra discriminating resin collector.

When I was a kid, I had a true "this and that" collection. Basically, if it was horse shaped I wanted it. Breyers were my favorites because they looked the most real, but I wasn't picky. I proudly owned a few Hartlands, some made in Japan chinas, several Marx horses, a Hong Kong semi rearing mustang copy, one Julip and several rubbery toy horses.

And then there was this unmarked China horse:My mother found him at a thrift shop and bought him for me when I was eleven or twelve. This was after the institution of the Breyer ban so new models were few and far between. I was absolutely delighted with my new horse, and I didn't mind his big ugly base or the lack of color in his eyes. I thought he was beautiful and mysterious looking. I named him Flamingo.
My best friend and I decided that he was a strawberry roan. Since Arabs don't come in roan, we also decided me was an Anglo Arabian (I know!). Because he was one of my favorites, he made countless trips between our houses. Amazingly, he survived without damage. Except for crazing over his entire body, he is in nearly mint condition.
Some twenty years later, I saw another copy of this particular model in another collector's house. I asked her if she knew anything about him, and she said no, not really. However she went on to say that she'd been told he was probably a Maureen Love sculpt released by a small pottery in California. That sounded right to me. He does look a Maureen Love horse and I did get him in California.
If you have any more information about my dear old Flamingo, I'd love to hear from you. In the meantime, he remains my much loved, beautiful mystery horse!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pushing through

Inspiration: Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't.

For the last couple days, I haven't had it at all. Yesterday I allowed myself to wallow in my lack of ambition. Today, however, I forced myself to get back to work.

I started by tackling my cluttered work area. I don't usually clean my desk mid-project, but then again, I don't usually spend so much time on a single project. Here's the before picture:
And the after. Having an organized work area definitely helps when you're fighting tackmaker's block. No one wants to sit down to a messy desk. Now it's a lot more inviting.
Still, I wasn't really "in the zone." Because of that, I decided not to start final assembly on the Charro saddles. Experience has taught me that it's better to go small and simple when you're struggling with burnout. That way there's less pressure to be too perfect.

Six hours later, I have this to show for my day.
Not too bad considering I could have happily wasted another day reading magazines, baking desserts and playing Bejeweled Blitz!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Almost wordless Wednesday

I'm having one of those days...

The kids will be home in less than an hour and I have absolutely nothing to show for my day. I haven't worked on the Charro saddles. I haven't fixed my email problems. The house is a mess. I am tired, frustrated and completely unmotivated. Ugh. I hate days like this!

Rather than waste anymore time whining, I'm going to post another group of pictures from the National Western Stock Show Parade. This time the theme is Rodeo Queens. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tack Tips--Customizing conchos

I love Rio Rondo's photo etched conchos. They are perfectly in-scale, detailed and super shiny. There is no better way to quickly and easily dress up Western (and Mexican!) tack.

There is, however, one small thing I don't like about these conchos: Used as is, they can only be attached with glue. I much prefer a more permanent method of attachment. Luckily, these same conchos can be modified to pin on "concho beads" in just a few easy steps.
First, use your metal snips to remove the conchos from the sheet. Sand the cut edge with fine grain sandpaper. You will need a mallet, punch board and metal awl to make the holes in your conchos. My mallet and board came from the Leather Factory. The awl was part of a "Fun With Metalworking" kit that I bought at Hobby Lobby several years ago.
Use the awl's point to mark the center of the concho.
Then, place the tip of the awl on the mark, hold the awl vertically and give it a couple sharp taps with the mallet. This should give you a nice hole. Flip the concho over and repeat. Your concho will now have a slightly domed shape which I personally find appealing.
However, if you prefer a flat shape, you can use smooth jawed needlenose pliers to flatten it out again.
Thread a pin through the hole and your concho is ready to use!
The finished product in use. You can see the slightly domed shape in this picture.
As always, hope this is helpful!


Notice to everyone dealing with me personally: My Comcast inbox crashed today and I lost several months worth of correspondance. If we've exchanged emails recently, please be patient while I try to sort everything out. Doreen Z, could you please send those tack pictures again? I am still hoping that somehow everything will be restored but I'm not counting on it...

Monday, January 25, 2010


I really do love my family, but it is so much easier to work when everyone else has gone to school or the office. The saddle bags which were impossible yesterday became a reality today. Here's a look at how things will fit together. The tree, skirts and saddle bags aren't actually attached yet.
I still need to add the conchos, seat cover and billet straps. I'm closing in on it, though!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This is why...

I don't usually make tack on weekends!

This is the discard pile from today's tackmaking session. These were supposed to be the saddle pockets. Three had layout problems in regards to the stitching holes and one is a skive-through. Ugh! Apparently I just can't think when the husband and kids are home.
Because I am really, really stubborn I did manage to finish one pair satisfactorily.
The other two are going to have to wait until tomorrow as I have completely used up today's patience. In fact, I think I have reached the point where I need to go sit and drink a beer and think about things unrelated to Charro saddles!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tack by other tackmakers

I don't usually spend a lot of time in the studio on weekends and today has been no exception. Rather than update the Charro saddles lack of progress, I am going to share some pictures sent by my readers.

First up is this cute pony bridle made by new tackmaker Rachael Mogielski. Rachael was one of the winners of the Friends of my Blog raffle and received a box of basic tackmaking supplies which were immediately put to use. Looking good, Rachael, and I promise I will get that tutorial on laced reins up soon! From the other end of the spectrum comes this lovely Charro set by the accomplished British tackmaker, Lauren Islip.
She writes: You're welcome to use these on your blog to carry on the theme if progress is slow (it was with me). For some more info, I used an Australian Dye, Saddle Tan, and combined it with natural coloured extra strong cotton (though it looks white in the pics). My saddle tree is painted with enamel paint, though it wasn't as hard-wearing as I would have liked. The rope articles were made by Rebecca Dunne of Griffindoon Ropes, and I added the leather coverings on the reins and noseband. She did a really good job, better that I could have done!
Having never seen one in real life, there was a lot of guess-work involved with the patterns and how things went together. I think it turned out ok in the end!
I think it turned out better than ok, Lauren. In fact I'd go so far as to call it pretty darn awesome. These stitched Charro sets are soooo labor intensive. It's no surprise that there are so few of them in the model horse hobby.

Many thanks to both Rachael and Lauren for sharing! Would you like to see some of your tack featured here? If so, please send a picture to I am particularly interested in tack that was made using some of my Tack Tip tutorials, but honestly, I'm not that picky!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A short break

I admit it--I suffer from obsessive compulsive tackmaking disorder. Once I get rolling on a project it's really hard for me to step away from it. Left to my own devices, I can spend entire days in my studio emerging only for food and bathroom breaks.

So when my friend Carol called and asked if I wanted to meet her and Rasko at the dog park, I almost said no. I had saddles to build and leather to stitch. I just couldn't spare the time.

Or could I?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed the break. I haven't done anything but work on these saddles for the last three days. I haven't gone anywhere. Heck, I've barely been outside... I loaded up the girls and we headed out.
We reached the park and were met by a very happy Rasko.
Maggie was so happy to see him, that she could barely stand still to get her picture taken.
Even old Abbie ran around a little bit.
This counts as "running" when you're almost sixteen years old!
Eventually though, all the dogs settled down and did a lot of sniffing. Carol and I walked the park's perimeter a few times and talked and talked. I breathed the fresh outdoor air and felt more relaxed than I had in days. It was a wonderful break!
And despite the two hour break, I still managed to get some good work done on my Charro saddles!

Thanks for the invite, Carol. The girls and I really needed that!