Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tooling 101

Everyone loves a good tutorial, and this is a very good tutorial. Many thanks to Darleen Stoddard of Equiworks for allowing me to share it here!

How to Create a 1:9 Scale Pink Rose Breastcollar

by Darleen Stoddard

Carving little things takes time.  Often I’m asked how the heck I do such things. Explaining is hard without pictures, so with my next piece, I decided to document the steps involved. This tripping collar, made to match the boots, took me the better part of the weekend to make.
First I take a thin, fine grain piece of tooling leather. I trace out the piece(s) for the project I plan to work on.
Then cut them out with a surgically sharp x-acto blade.
Next I dampen the leather with a wet q-tip and trace my pattern out onto it.
And back to the x-acto, with a duller blade. Too sharp and it will cut too deep, too dull and it will catch/tear the leather.
After that I once again dampen the leather and carve the lines out with an awl.
Then sculpt with a tiny sculpting tool.
I continue to dampen, carve, and sculpt each bit as I go, then dampen one final time for stitch marking. This is meant to resemble the stitch marks of the full scale sewn parts.
It eventually looks like this:
At this point I would either seal it if it was staying a natural color, or dye it. Instead I decided to paint the roses. First I paint one darker color, then shade/highlight with a lighter color, giving a more 3-D appearance.
I then sealed it, let it dry, and burnished (smoothed) the edges with an edge slicker.
Assembly usually requires skiving down the pieces that are too thick.
I’m a bit OCD when it comes to fuzzies, so all rough edges/backs get smoothed down with gum tragacanth.  
Ideally the back side should be indistinguishable from the front.
Then hardware is added,
little tiny keepers are made...
and a liner is glueded to the side that will touch the horse, in hopes of protecting it from damage.  
Note that tack should always be removed after use, as even this amount of protection can result in tack sticking to the horse. I speak from personal experience.
And that’s just one little piece of the whole picture, so you can imagine how long a whole set takes to make!
Thanks again, Darleen. The breastcollar (and boots!) look awesome!


  1. Wonderful! If you were using a stamp, how would that work? What do you use as a liner, fabric or finer leather? Why do you refine the back/underside to match the front if you are covering it? What do you seal it with? The tool look like surgical clamps, are they? Thanks so much to both of you for sharing your skills with us as we learn.

    1. Awesome tutorial!! This is Art Leather and was absolutely made with accuracy and perfection!

      Congrats from Brazil.

      Maynard and Patricia.

  2. GREAT tutorial! Amazing photos as usual, thank you both of you!

  3. As always, nice to see how things are made, even if I have no interest in making them myself.

  4. This is an awesome behind the scenes look! I am so wowed by the detail and the amount of work that goes into these, and the finished results are just stunning.

    bonita of A Riding Habit