Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finished Western Show halter!

Here are the pictures of the Completed Halter. I'll be having a lottery for buying it. It's price is $170.00ppd and I'll start taking names on December 1st at noon and go till December 2 at noon (Eastern Time). More Details on December 1st!

Monday, November 24, 2008

How to dye an Untooled Piece of 3/32nds Leather Lacing

My apologies that a version of this went out last night before it was ready. I hit the wrong button.....

I know it seems sort of basic to start with an article on how to dye an untooled piece of lacing, but a lot of folks that get into miniatures and leatherworking for that fact, don't quite know how to start. It took me a couple of years and reading to figure out how to dye a piece of lacing and not have it turn out stiff. Hopefully I can save someone a few
years of frustration with this article.

DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that this is the only way to dye a piece of lacing. I am just showing you MY WAY of doing things. Admittedly I tend to be stubborn and sometimes I do things the hard way. Everyone has their own process and it's best to develop your own flow.

Firstly, I use Fiebing's Oil dyes. The folks that have been working in leather for a while all swear that it covers more evenly than the water based dyes. I have to agree with that.

Next, I use little plastic containers with a long "nose" on them to keep a portion of my dye in. I use this for two reasons:

1. I like the control that the needle nose gives me (I am a notorious klutz) for both pouring dye into the plastic container and into my plastic pallet;

2. It saves the dye that stays in the original container from constant exposure to air. I think I bought them as "glue" containers from a seller on Ebay and I don't think that they were too expensive. (I don't recall actual price because it's been so long.)

I also use paint brushes to apply dye instead of the wool daubers that Tandy recommends. I currently use a dick blick paint brush 2/0 that has been thinned out a bit. Again, I have had that paint brush for so long that I don't really recall the price. I know that it's called a "liner" when looking the brushes up on line or in a art/craft supply store. Don't buy a brush that is too expensive. The dye will turn the brush dark pretty quickly and you don't want to ruin a good sable brush. Just make sure that it's a decent brush that won't lose bristles while you are using it.

The natural colored lacing that I use is uncoated. I bought it from Melody Snow - . I use the uncoated natural lacing because I find that the dye goes on it more evenly. If you use uncoated lacing, make sure that you only touch the ends of the piece of lacing. The leather will absorb any oils from your fingers and your dye won't stick where your fingers touched. (Or it could turn the leather a black/grey color where you touched it)

If you don't wish to buy uncoated natural colored lacing, you'll need to "deglaze" it first before dying. You will need Tandy's "deglazer" and a q-tip. Dab the qtip into the deglazer and keep rubbing the top/grain side of the lacing until it no longer has a shiny coating on it. I don't know how successful I've ever been at deglazing so I can't offer much more than that. Make sure your lacing is dry all of the way through before dying it.

I use plastic paint pallets to put the dye I'm using in. You can get these at any craft store, or walmart or any art supply store.

Make sure you have some water handy for cleaning your brush and dilluting your dye. I save old spaghetti sauce Jars for this purpose.

Aways have paper towels handy in case you splash or spill or for "dabbing" your full brush.

It's probably best that you have a few layers of newspaper between what you are dying and the surface you're dying on. I use an old "Drawing Board" that has a resistive surface but if you don't have anything like that, newspaper is fine. Make sure your newspaper is VERY THICK because dye goes through anything. Make sure you wear something you don't mind getting dye on.

If at all possible, try to use natural lighting to dye your lacing. I have a desk that is near a window and I use a desk lamp for lighting.

Ok so those are our supplies. Now cut off a length of lacing that you wish to dye. I try not to dye too much at once because it gets tedious dying a really long piece. I probably dye about a foot at a time max. If you cut a shorter piece, you may need something to hold either end so that the lacing will lie flat, top/grain side up.

Pour some dye from the long nose container into one of the little circles in the paint pallet. Then dip your brush into the water and drop some water into the dye. (You can also use fingernail polish remover to "cut" your dye but I use water because the fingernail polish remover will dry out the dye faster) I "cut" my dye because I think that straight dye onto the lacing soaks into the lacing too quickly making some spots darker than others. I
probably dip my brush into water and then drip water into the dye about 3 times.

I then dip my brush into the dye and I dab the brush onto a paper towel before I put it to the lace. This takes a little bit of the dye off of your brush so again, it'll help the dye go on more evenly.

Start at one end of your lacing, and hold the brush so that you can pull the bristles sideways across the top of the lacing. Make sure that you do not get the dye onto the sides of the lacing. Putting dye on the side of the lacing will make the lacing stiff and make the lacing hard to skyve later on. Pull the brush sideways across the lacing until your run out of dye.

(you can see above where I slipped off of the top of the lacing and accidently hit the side)

Dip your brush back into the dye in the paint pallet and stir it up a bit to make sure that the water and the oil dye are well mixed. Then load up your brush again, dab it on the paper towel and start where you left off. This will leave lighter and darker spots on the lacing, but this is ok because you can go back and fill in light spots later.

When you have gone across the lacing the first time with dye, let the dye dry before starting the second coat. It is important not to put too much dye on the lacing at once because the dye will go too dark too quickly and become sort of "metallic" looking.

(Lacing after first pass)

Then Start your second coat. I usually start from the opposite end that I started on the first pass and repeat the directions above. The number of passes depends on how dark the dye is. For the DK Brown that I'm using, I usually do at least three passes and then go in and fill in any light spots and even it out the best I can.

After the lacing completely dries I will finish it with Super Shene or Antiquing paste. How you finish it is up to you :-)

I Hope this helps! If you have any questions, please leave me a comment and let me know!


I have some new folks visiting from the "SITS" blog and I want to show them the scale of my work. So forgive me if this isn't very interesting to folks that already are in my hobby or already know about miniatures.

Above is a halter that I finished recently that is compared to an American Quarter. Underneath it is a catalog page from Sergeants Western Wear catalog showing a real "life sized" halter so that you can get the feeling of what I'm making.

My work is 1/8th of life size scale. Doll House folks work in 1/12th scale. I'm not sure how that translates to the Railroading folks or I'd compare my scale to them as well.

The next braided bridle that I'll be working in will be in 1/6th scale which is quite a bit bigger than my regular scale. (about the size of a barbie horse or a johnny west "thunderbolt" horse)

My "how to" article mentioned in the last blog post will be about dying a 3/32nds piece of leather lacing. I actually get asked how I do that quite a bit and it's not quite as easy as it sounds. I've taken pictures and everything :-)..

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Promise..

I've been reading a whole lot of blogs lately. Not just miniaturist blogs, but blogs of all kinds. I must be nuts but I'm thinking about doing a "How I do this" kind of post in the near future. So I promise to do one. I have no clue what I'm going to show folks but I'll think of something.

I also read back through my other blog posts and they're pretty boring. I'll try to liven it up around here a bit.

I'm seriously exhausted today. boy decided that he didn't want to sleep past 4:45am so I heard him in the monitor at that time, and at 5 am.. and every 15 minutes afterwards. (as he did yesterday morning as well..) So I'm not going to be informative or interesting today but I promise it's coming soon......... :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Inspirational and humbling

Please visit Morgan Kilbourne's blog today. She has Published a link to a video of a Miniature Artist that is astounding. In fact, his work has become very inspirational and has my mind reeling!

Also, I'm very close to finishing the Blue and White Western Show Halter mentioned in my previous post. I don't know when I'm going to get time to completely finish it up because of the upcoming holiday (I have to clean and cook!) but I'm hoping to be done with it by December 1st! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sneaky peeky!

Above are Sneak peeks of halters I have in progress. The blue and white one was made for a Peter Stone Ideal Quarter Horse and is 1/8th Scale. The Red and Black one was also made for a Peter Stone Ideal Quarter Horse and is also 1/8th Scale. Both will be for sale when they are finished. I'm hoping like mad that I'll that I'll have them done by January 2009 at the latest.

The blue one will be lotteried off to my yahoo group and the red one will be first come first served. They're both going to be $170 postage paid.

Monday, November 17, 2008

whirling, blur of a mess...

No, not my studio (well, yeah, my studio too) but my brain. This weekend I got jack NOTHING accomplished despite my best efforts. Saturday morning, at 4am munchkin's diaper leaked so the poor thing started to cry and woke us. It was my turn to get up with him (I let hubby sleep late on Saturdays since he gets up with munchkin throughout the week) so I jolted awake and bounded up the stairs as fast as I could to see what was going on..

Because of this, I ingested LARGE amounts of caffeine to wake up which sent my brain into overdrive. I was able to get some time in the studio but I couldn't focus for anything because my brain was whirring too fast.

Yesterday was spent going to my parents with munchkin and going out to eat so (Marimbas in Shelbyville!!!!!) I didn't have a lot of productive time in the studio.

I need to engrave some keepers for a woven knot western show halter but I can only work in the studio when munchkin sleeps. My engraver is UBER noisy so I can only engrave when my husband is home, and feeling generous about giving me time to engrave. We have a basement but it is currently unfinished, although I guess I could go down there to engrave and munchkin wouldn't wake up..hmmmmm........... That's a thought.. I could eye the treadmill and guilt myself into getting on it too..hahaha

Yesterday during my brief time while munchkin slept I looked on youtube to see if anyone had put up some silversmithing videos. I was richly rewarded and I now have some more ideas about how to make my tiny silver bits more 3-d. I know that I could just sculpt the buggars and then cast them, but casting costs more money than just hacking them out of silver one at a time. Hopefully, eventually, I will make the bits more uniform and maybe I will be able to cast them. Right now the "process" is very hit or miss so I'll just keep them to myself.

Above is the "silver graveyard" - a collection of stuff that has been pulled off of finished pieces or never passed the muster to be used on pieces I was working on. I am still very proud of the tiny silver oak leaves. They taught me a lot about how silver works, or doesn't :-)

I have a harder gauge of silver on it's way from Rio Grande (not rio rondo). Heather Downing mentioned when I saw her at Breyerfest that she felt that my bits were bit flimsy. Although I disagree with that to some extent, (because you don't need a lot of weight to control a model horse <G>I decided to test the waters with some 28 gauge silver to see if I liked working on that better. I think it may hold more detail than the thinner gauges.

We shall see, and I promise to whine about it on my blog! YIPPEEE!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Finished! The Californio Style Mother Hubbard II set

It only took a year and 10 months! And it is already sold! :-)

Next up is a bit of a departure - a 1/6th scale braided bridle. And I've started working on a woven western show halter in 1/8th scale that I'll be offering to my yahoo group whenever it's finished.

Friday, November 07, 2008

sooooooooooo close...............

I am so close to finishing up the cinch for my mother hubbard II saddle. I think just a couple of more hours and I should be finished... I am still trying to figure out a way to do more on the cinch but I just don't have a lot of room to work with.

After I'm done, I'm going to clean. My studio is a TOTAL mess from when I was pregnant and couldn't do a lot. I just brought the magazines upstairs and put em on the floor. LAST Year's Breyerfest models are STILL in the studio waiting to be un strapped from their boxes... and my catalogs and reference all need to be organized.

Above are photos of the chaos......
Then it's onto braided bridles!!! I'm thinking about a silver snaffle braided bridle in blue or green.......

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


As of today, I think I have a plan for the cinch! It isn't as fancy as I had wanted it but it will definitely be appropriate! Now to carve out time to work on it and finish it!

My next project will be a braided bridle or two. I really have a strong desire to do more of them.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Happy Voting Day!

I won't attempt to "wax poetical" about how lucky we are that we can vote in this country. I'm sure that everyone knows that voting is a great privledge not afforded to everyone in the world so we should feel lucky and "blessed" that we can decide our leaders this way.

Please, be nice to the poll workers and everyone in line with you. Please resist the urge to stab the person spouting off about the candidate that you hate with a pen. :-) Please resist the urge to tear the opposing candidates bumper sticker off of the cars around yours. If you can't play nice then you can still play but it would be more pleasant if you're not psychotic about it :-)

Above is a patriotic picture of the arabian stallion "Good Thunder". "Good Thunder" is a champion in many disciplines (native costume, saddleseat and more!) and at the final Arabian Horse Nationals held in Louisville, Ky in 2006, he carried the American Flag on Friday and Saturday Nights.

My apologies for the all of the "noise" in the picture, I was using my old Point and Shoot Camera. (only 5 megapixels as opposed to the EOS Rebel that I use now which is 10) The noise reducing plugin that I use "Noise Ninja" only made the grain worse so I left it as is.

Supposedly there will be at least a 2 hour wait to vote around here today. My husband is going to come home early so that I can go vote without toting munchkin along. I would imagine that 2 hours in a line would be torture for a 10 month old! I wonder if I still have my old "Game boy"......