Sunday, February 28, 2010

Something feels different...

I thought I would get the laced rein tutorial finished today, but instead I got sidetracked by the usual weekend craziness. Sorry!

Every post deserves a picture so here's today's:
I didn't take it, but I thought it was cute (and tack related!).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Great Unpainted Army

I was hanging out with Teresa the other day and referenced "The Great Unpainted Army" living in my basement. She laughed at that characterization, but it's really not a laughing matter. I have way too many unpainted resins and half finished customs.
This isn't even all of them.
I think I need to learn to paint... Either that or I need an intervention!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Worth the wait!

My new resin is here!!! This is Glambert, a traditional sized Ravenhill Revisited painted by Liesl Dalpe.
Oh, it's so nice having a new horse to admire.
I know that I should be putting the finishing touches on that harness, but I just can't stop looking at my new pony. He has so many wonderful details!
Thanks Liesl--I love him!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


It's been almost six months since I got a new model horse. That's longer than I usually go between models, so I was absolutely delighted last week when an artist friend told me she was sending a painted resin to close out an old trade.

The only problem? It's not getting here soon enough.Every single day this week, I have waited for the mailman to bring me my new horsie. Every single day I have been disappointed.
It's driving me nuts!

Fortunately today's mailbox wasn't completely empty. I did get the newest issue of Just About Horses. I love the cover photo (kudos to Anne Field and Robin Briscoe for their work on that)...
and I really love the new Connoisseur horse.
Original Finish plastic models don't usually tempt me, but I find that I'm obsessing over this one. I feel as though I must add Spot On to my collection. I'll send my card in, but I'd rather pay for her with tack. So--if you are lucky enough to win one and you'd rather own a saddle, please let me know. That could easily be arranged!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tack day

I've said it before, but it bears repeating--the best way to improve your tack is to spend lots of time studying the real thing.

And when I say "the real thing," I mean exactly that. Google Images is a great tool, but pictures on a computer screen can never compare to real world observation. I like to touch and feel and peek under flaps and flip things over to see their undersides and.... Well, you get the picture!

So, with that in mind, I took a break from my studio and spent the day looking at real tack with my friend, Teresa.
Our first stop was an upscale English tack shop in Boulder, Colorado. I had not shopped there before and honestly, I can't really afford to shop there at all. Still, Teresa and I had a great time looking and touching and dreaming. I was especially impressed with this wall of Butets. Sigh. I just love a good French saddle...After we left FoxCreek, we headed back east to the barn where Teresa keeps her horse. There is a wonderful communal tack room there filled with high end dressage saddles,
and all sorts of interesting odds and ends.
After I was done photographing the most interesting bits and pieces we slogged across the grounds to visit Teresa's boy, Flick.
Flick was turned out in the big pasture and he was not a happy camper.I can't say I blamed him. Look at the mud! Ew, can't it be Spring yet?
Crabby or not, Flick has a cute face!
All in all, this was a nearly perfect Tack Day. My eyes feel refreshed and sharpened. I took lots of good reference pictures for my files and have a few new ideas I can't wait to try out. Best of all, I had a ton of fun.
Hey Teresa, let's do it again sometime--preferably when there's a little less mud!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More customer photos

For the second day in a row, I have some wonderful customer photos to share. This is Kellye's Charro set modeled on a Breyer Alborozo that was customized by yesterday's featured artist, Mindy Berg.I don't own an Alborozo and I was worried that this set might not fit him. It's always a bit of a guessing game when you don't have the horse in hand. Even with measurements, it's so easy to get it wrong.
Thankfully, this time it all worked out. The horse is beautiful and the tack looks great on him.
Thanks for the pictures, Kellye!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mindy's school horse set

I forgot to take final pictures of Mindy's school horse set before I shipped it off, so I was very pleased to receive these photos over the weekend.
Isn't that horse adorable? He's a customized Stormwatch resin that Mindy has been working on for months and months. He's not all the way finished yet, but he already looks great, and yay, the tack fits him. He is the picture of the well loved school horse all decked out to take his adoring young rider into the (schooling) showring for the very first time!
If you would like to see more pictures of this guy as well as Mindy's other creations, be sure to check out her website: and tell her Jennifer sent you!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sweet sixteen

Today Abbie celebrated her sixteenth birthday with a slice of homemade chicken/carrot/oatmeal birthday cake.This was quite possibly the worst smelling cake ever, but Abbie didn't seem to mind. Apparently it tasted better than it smelled.
Younger sister Maggie liked it, too.
Well, that was fun... Now it's back to work!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Speedy middles

Yesterday's tangle of straps has morphed into something resembling a harness... I've still got a ways to go, but it's been a productive day for sure!

My inspiration for this piece a pony sized pleasure harness that was featured on this blog nearly a year ago.
As you can see, it's not an exact replica. Kim's pony is small classic sized so even though most of the straps on this harness measure less than 3/32" wide, they are proportionally wider than they are on the real harness. I could go narrower, I suppose, but you get to a point where you start sacrificing functionality and durability for just a bit more refinement. Since I know this particular harness is going to be used in the stress and bustle of a live showring, I'm not willing to do that.Also, I've prettied it up just a wee bit. Model horse people are all about the details, so this small scale harness will have more keepers than its full sized counterpart. It's also fully stitch marked. I'm not sure that level of detail is necessary, but it sure is fun!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Slow beginnings

I began construction on Kim's pony harness today, but I don't have much to show for my efforts. Believe it or not, this is the net result of three hours worth of work:The other side of the desk is one big debris field.
And this is what my hands and clothes look like. Eek! It's the attack of the microscopic black leather fuzzies!
Tomorrow I will take all that lovely prepared lace and turn into something resembling a pleasure harness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Random collection picture

This is Rune. He is an Indian Silver resin sculpted by Deb McDermott and painted by Sommer Prosser.Like so many of my best models, Rune came to me via a tack trade. I know I've said this before but it's worth repeating: I can be bribed. It doesn't matter whether or not my books are closed. If you offer me something as lovely as Rune and you don't mind waiting... Well, it never hurts to ask (especially if you have a Scarlett you're willing to part with--ha!).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Long weekend

My kids didn't go to school yesterday (Presidents' Day) or today (teacher training day). As a result, my studio time has been somewhat limited. Still, I've managed to make some progress on Mindy's set. Tomorrow morning I'll make the reins and then I get to start working on Kim's harness--hurray!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dick Francis

Dick Francis died yesterday.The Champion steeplechase jockey turned best selling author lived a life full of riding and writing. He rode in over two thousand races and wrote forty two novels. Most of his books were set in the world of British racing, but even those that weren't always had some sort of horsey connection.

I read my first Dick Francis book in 1983. I was fourteen and that book, Banker, changed my life.A horse crazy, book loving kid like me was bound to discover Dick Francis sooner or later, but what made Banker such a revelation was where I found it. It didn't come from the library like most of my books. Instead, I first spotted in among a pile of my father's books.

Prior to that time, it would not have ocurred to me to share books with my dad. I mostly read young adult horse novels and he read... Well, honestly at fourteen I had no idea what kind of books my dad read. I just sort of assumed his books would hold no interest for me.

Dick Francis changed all that. I immediately started raiding his bookshelf on a regular basis. I began with his other Dick Francis books (don't you love the groovy 1970's covers on this pair?) but eventually branched out to other authors as well. I was amazed to learn that my father and I shared very similar tastes when it came to books.
Still, Dick Francis remained a shared favorite. Year after year he provided us with new books to pass back and forth and discuss.
We still do that, although there isn't much actual book exchange these days. Instead we recommend authors to one another over the phone. Nearly thirty years post Banker, our tastes remain similar. I know that if Dad likes an author, I will too and vice versa.
It doesn't matter how many times reviewers compare various up and coming authors to Dick Francis...
He will always be number one in my book!

Thank you, Dick Francis, for the words and the memories. My dad and I will miss you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tack Tips--Inlaid hearts

Happy Valentines Day!

Today's Tack Tip is for everyone who's ever wanted a pink heart saddle even if it might land them on the Tacky Tack blog!This is a surprisingly easy effect to produce in miniature. You will need the usual tackmaking tools and supplies plus a rotary leather punch and two types of leather--lightweight tooling calf and some variety of colored leather.

As always, I start out by preparing my leather. This project works best when the tooling calf is very, very thin so that means a lot of skiving.Once I've achieved roughly the desired thickness, I ditch the knife and go in with sandpaper. I tend to alternate between sanding and treating with gum tragacanth until I have a smooth, even surface. Next, I flip the leather back onto its grain side. Using a clean paintbrush, I wet the leather... and lightly tool a heart into its still damp surface. I used the tip of my awl to do this. Here's my "secret weapon" for creating the round tops of the heart.
I choose the punch size that most closely corresponds to my tooled heart and then I carefully punch out the tops. I want to make sure I'm punching through the leather rather than twisting and tearing. Still, despite my best efforts, some fuzzies are inevitable.
Using a sharp X-acto knife I cut out the bottom section of the heart. The heart on the left has been punched and cut but not cleaned up. To make it look more like the hearts on the right, I will carefully trim the fuzzies with my X-acto knife and treat all the interior edges with gum tragacanth. I don't rush through this stage. The cleaner and smoother the inside edges, the better the finished product will look. The last step is to glue the tooling leather over the colored leather. I am mindful not to let any glue ooze out and ruin the clean and polished look I've been working towards.And that's it--hope your Valentines Day is a good one!