Friday, May 22, 2015

Modern tacknology

Earlier this year, I spent a day with Bobbie Allen. She and her husband own a laser cutter, and although we discussed its possible hobby applications at length, to the best of my recollection, tack was not mentioned.

Less than a week later, I toured the robotics lab at Ryan's high school. We looked at the laser cutter, and Ryan told me, "Mom, it cuts leather." I didn't pay much attention. I just couldn't see how a laser cutter could help me make tack.

Last weekend, I met Cheryl Campbell at the Models in the Mountains weekend retreat. Her table was covered with a whole host of laser cut props.
She had several barns...
including this big multi-stall stablemate stable... 
with its own carriage room... 
and tack stall. 
There were also jumps... 
and all sorts of carts and carriages. 
Cheryl uses the laser cutter to cut out and decorate the carriage pieces. 
These were all the kind of things that Bobbie and I had discussed in April. I was excited to see them in person, but none of these props really surprised me.

Then Cheryl told me that she uses the laser cutter to make tack.

Okay, that surprised me.
All the leather pieces of these small scale Western saddles were tooled and cut with the laser cutter. 
This classic scale bridle was made the same way. The laser even "punched" the holes on the throatlatch! 
It took me a while, but thanks to Cheryl, I have finally grasped the real, life changing possibilities of laser cutting technology. Ryan is already well versed in the programs used to run this machine, and I guarantee it's just a matter of time before he and I made something together. I can not wait!


  1. Wow, those are awesome! But I'm really waiting for the machine that will skive leather for me...

  2. Ha ha! Wouldn't that be great?!

    And maybe it's not entirely out of the question. Cheryl is buying pre-skived hides from a local dealer. From what I've seen, the quality is quite good. Trust me, I'm looking into that, too!


  3. I'm not a fan of the laser tooling, but I can see having saddle pieces cut to be completely even/symmetrical would produce amazing results.

  4. I agree, the laser tooling can't hold a candle to beautiful hand tooling like that by Erin (or Evelyn or Darleen or...). Still, I do feel that it's a viable option for new tackmakers and people who can't afford/don't "need" an Erin saddle.

    The part of this that really excites me is the possibility of quickly and precisely cutting an entire sheet of saddle parts. Doing that by hand is very time consuming, and it's always a struggle getting everything perfectly symmetrical. Just the thought of eliminating that part of the process makes me want to weep with joy.

    I won't know if the quality is up to my (ridiculously high) standards, but I can't wait to find out!

  5. Lasercutters are the BEST!

    I still think hand tooling looks the best but I agree, being able to have basic shapes pre-cut would save so much time!

  6. I'm commenting on this one late... but I'm remembering now that there are several of your blog posts I had read and meant to comment on over the past month or so. But I was encountering technical difficulties off and on during THE MOVE when trying to use the new-fangled smart phone on the road. ;) I gave up and figured I'd come back when I had a COMPUTER and a good connection.

    Thanks for sharing Cheryl Campbell's laser work. I'd heard of her somewhere online and had seen a few of her things she'd made, but: Wow! The things she's making are super cool!

    Jeff and I had talked about using our laser to cut leather pieces for model tack and he was actually working on drawing up a western saddle pattern in AutoCAD before we had to pack everything up. I had some trouble cutting out my (very first) saddle kit and that was around the time we thought - "duh... laser!" - haha. The possibilities really are just about endless with these machines and it's really cool to see someone else using them for make awesome model horse stuff! :)