Fran saw that I wasn't impressed and said "I know it's not wonderful but there are at least three good ideas on this saddle."
I looked again and, by golly, she was right. Closer inspection revealed a whole host of creative techniques and innovative ideas. Although I wasn't wow-ed by the finished product, I was able to glean valuable information by studying its construction.
That was a really valuable lesson. I love looking at other people's tack--good, bad and indifferent--and I am always on the lookout for the next good idea. Sometimes they come from the most surprising places!
Here's where I found my most recent good idea:Yep, that's Linda White's article on making an English saddle that was featured in the most recent issue of Model Horse Performance.
Now, I know how to make an English saddle, but in the interest of continuing education I read the article in its entirety. I was struck by the fact that Linda makes the seat section of her saddles first and then moves on to the flaps. I've always done it the other way around, and it occurred to me that Linda's order has merit. I often run into problems when I try to mesh a finished seat section to a finished flap section, particularly when I am working with a new pattern. Perhaps I should make the seat section first and then build the flap section around that? I decided it was worth trying.
Six hours later, my work desk is a disaster:but I have this to show for my efforts:
Long story short--the new order worked fabulously! In fact, it turned out to be a huge time saver. My original pattern for the flaps didn't fit the completed seat at all. Had I cut and detailed the flaps first, I would have undoubtedly had to go back and start from scratch.
Like all good ideas, this one seems totally obvious in retrospect. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner, and I am grateful to Linda for making me rethink how I do things. I'm also grateful to my good friend Fran for teaching me to look beyond the finished product and see the value of its individual parts. That is perhaps the best lesson a tackmaker can learn!