Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years Eve!

I am Far too pleased with myself and this tooling.  But I'm definitely happy.  I can't wait to care more pieces.  I'm out of the "Bee Natural pro carve" so I'm at a standstill with tooling till the new bottle I ordered comes in from WA.

In the meantime I'm working on my donation for model horses anonymous. It'll have some braidwork on it. I can tell you that much :-)

I'm sure that  I don't have to mention that the holidays were bitterwsweet for me because of losing dad this year.  Another friend of mine lost hisDad just yesterday and that is poinant to me because it helps me realize how far I've come.. and how much farther I have to go still..

I hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday and that you have a wonderful new year!  Here is to hoping that 2012 will be happier for everyone. :0)

Friday, November 04, 2011

A little bit of blah blah..

Just a few thoughts... 

Today is day one of Breeders Cup Day at Churchill Downs.. and I know it's not "Derby" but its still pretty wonderful to have a word class horse racing track 20 minutes from me... ONe of these years I'm going to go dang it!!  But for the time being, I'm watching the races via and putting in a little wager here and there.  I'm terrible at betting a horse race because I really just go with my heart..  By the way, if you didn't already know, I was married in the Churchill Downs Museum

I have changed around and monkeyed with my blog.  The old design that I had was outdated and Blogger told me to upgrade.  So I did. aaaaand I don't remember how I customized my old blog and I haven't had time to read up on how to customize my new one.  If you hate the new blog or if your browser hates the new blog, please let me know. I'm not married to the new design.

Again I'm working on changing around parts on my saddle.  Funny how one's "eye" matures as one gets older.  I was absolutely pleasantly shocked at the reception of my "practice" saddle.  Everyone really responded to the simple, understated lines and I'M SO GRATEFUL!  IT was so encouraging and I'm dying to make this reining saddle.  I've been trying to study sheridan style tooling and I think I have a decent grasp of it but it doesn't look quite right to me yet.. 

Anyway, Happy Friday!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I know it doesnt look like I've gotten very far....

But I really have done a bunch of Behind the scenes stuff. 

I wanted to show the real color of this saddle first of all. For whatever reason my point and shoot camera with the macro adds a lot of red to the photos of this saddle.  It's not that red.. I'm using Fiebings Dk Brown with antiquing paste but the camera things it casts more red than it does in "real life"

I am working on a pattern for stirrups made from leather.  I haven't done this in the past because my results had been disastrous but for some reason my brain "gets it" now.  I've also been futzing around my studio and organizing it a little bit and putting stuff in boxes and rearranging.  I've also been reading about Sheridan style tooling and I understand it a lot better now.  Once Again I'm scrapping the pattern and I'm going to redraw something better.  Lots of jumps forward lately.

I've also finally broken down and bought some plastic stencils for geometric shapes.  This should help me tremendously with getting my lines a little more straight and even.

I'm battling full out with some depression issues related to grief about my dad's death.  I'm in "stage two" of the stages of grief.. I'm out of shock and fully into dealing with my loss.  Lots of mood swings going on with me. (more so than usual.. scary... I know) It's been healing though for me to be in the studio creating.  I've put on weight because I'm just so tired all of the time after coming home from work and taking care of my mom.  I just don't have the energy to walk every day but that at least leaves more time for the studio.

My family is more precious now and I'm finding I've become more frank and blunt as well as more forgiving.. I hope that part lasts :-)

I upgraded the template of my blog here but I haven't had time to read and figure out how to customize it more.. so forgive the blandness of it..

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Almost done!

Just need to add stirrups and stirrup keepers.

It's not a dazzling saddle but it really wasn't meant to be. I think I'm going to use it as a working, all around saddle.  Considering how long it's been since I actually made a saddle and I've never used this kind of tree before, I think it turned out pretty well.  I think it's definitely live show quality but it's not the best saddle I've ever done because I tried to do it in a hurry.

I tried to make the seat "cushy" using some foam but I'm not entirely sure how successful it was.  

This saddle brought my skills up quite a bit and I have new plans for the reining saddle that I've been working on, on and off... but now I have a full saddle pattern for this tree and I couldn't be happier about it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breyer Horses Magazine, Just about horses.

I'm in it! YAAAY!! Some folks may not think this is a big deal but it's a big, Fat, Big deal to me!!!  I am lucky enough to be in their Fall Finale Magazine that a whole lot of Folks ordered. I couldn't be more thrilled!  You can order it from here: 


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Covered Shoulders Finished... for now

I'm not 100% Satisfied with the way this is covered but it's closer to my ideal.  There is no tooling for one thing and it doesn't come down as much in the front as I had in mind.. but the next one will be better!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pattern Making

My Achillies Heel is covering the Shoulders of my western saddles.  I can never find a satisfactory way of doing so with each saddle.  Mostly because The trees change with each saddle and because I have a strong desire to make my saddles as real looking as possible.  This is a demonstration and Tour of my frustration over the years.

THe Pinacle of how I'm hoping my shoulders eventually look is demonstrated on my Beloved Terry Newberry saddle. No seams. None. And the shoulders are tooled as well.  I can do no seams because all I'd have to do is stretch some leather over the shoulders while it was wet.  But if I want tooling on them, I can't do this. (I don't think.) 

Saddle By Terry Newberry

Saddle By Terry Newberry

Real saddles are made like this:  The shoulders are covered and then nail gunned or pinned into place onto the tree and then they are tooled.  

I don't think that there is a way that I could stabilize a miniature tree well enough to tool on it or stamp on it.

And just to show it off.. here is the shoulders of my Susan Bensema Young Braided Saddle set.. she can elegantly make a pattern well enough that she can make it look smooth and easy.

Saddle by Susan Bensema Young

This is a saddle by Margaret Olsen. ANd I have a horrible Confession to make that I know that other do as well but I dunno if They'd Fess up to it.  I took this saddle apart. Because I LOVED the Shoulders and when I bought it, I had never seen shoulders covered in this way before. I was both Jealous and in awe.  (I put it back together last week, after 9 years. )  So I MUST Credit Margaret for the way I covered shoulders for many years.

I never ever, even once, took Drafting in School.  I never took any kind of mechanical drawingor used grid paper. I passed Geometry in School by the hair on my teeth!!  I considered myself a "Fine artist" at the time and unless I drew it freehand it wasn't Real art to me and a waste of time. I don't know where I got stupid ideas like that but thats where I was mentally.

So Now that I make patterns and use graph paper and try like heck to make everything perfectly even on both sides, it's exceedingly difficult.  I also have a "right hand" bias that I wish I could get rid of.  But that only comes after practice and a lot of drawing and I don't currently have that kind of time. (when bub gets older though, I will overcome it)

I spend a lot of time drawing one side of something then transferring it onto tracing film and then drawing the other side on paper by flipping the film and finally I have something that is somewhat even.  But that doesn't always work either... sometimes, because of my "bias" i draw it differently.. lol!

Then there is practical Application.  I make patterns out of paper a lot, just to get started and have an idea of shape.  Paper works so well and does exactly what I want it to.. because it's paper and it's easy to get along with.

Then I'll come and use scrap leather. Now I have NO Idea why scrap leather will seem to work fantastically while after I carefully tool, dye and antique tooling leather the same pattern won't fit... or even worse, I'll have an epiphany on how I can do things better and I'll start all over again.

Below are all of the incarnations that my shoulder pattern has gone through:

This is the Direct Trace from the Shoulders of the Margaret Olsen Saddle.
This is the first One Off Incarnation.  You can also see my "backup" plan of using the rio rondo method although I found that pigskin doesn't actually take tooling as well.
This is after I tweaked it a bit.  I can now see how the left side is rounder and longer than the right, although at the time I didn't see that.

This looks like I cleaned up the above pattern a bit. This was on a completely different saddle "plan".

This is the shoulder pattern that I think I eventually used on my last cutting saddle.  notice the new darts in the front adding even MORE seams.. lol!

These are my most recent incarnations of shoulder coverings.  The top is the paper pattern. The second on the right is what i used for my last roping saddle and the other two are my most recent attempts at a good shoulder pattern.

Obviously the pattern on the left is older than the ones above. I have a tendency to want to thin things out.  The one on the right is what I think I'm going to use for the saddle that I'm working on now.  I am actually stretching the leather this time to see if my doubts are correct or if I'm way off base.  
The current Shoulder plan and hope, but I can tell that the back part is wrong.. too long.. but I'll cut it out and try to use it to be sure.
And the saddle that I'm working on now, to try to iron out the saddle pattern before I make Chelsea Nichols saddle. Keep In Mind that the fenders will have to be redone.  The new Tree is one of TWMHC's Jennifer Harris Trees with actual stirrup bars.  My pattern was for a rio rondo type tree previously and the stirrups were rigged differently.

I do this for every type of saddle that I make.  (you should see my saddleseat drawings)  My other achillies heel is the second skirt.  those are NEVER right and I'm constantly redrawing them as well.  I can show that in a later post..

I really should find some Computer Aided Design software because I have no fear of computers but I wouldn't even know where to start with those..

Now the world knows why it takes me SO Dang long to make a western saddle!!

A little bit "Studio Tour"

This is my "inspiration Board"

 There is everything on my Inspiration Board from willard Wigand's tiny art, to Japanese Paper craft and Tandy Leather Patterns.  There is also a Snowflake that my Friend Karen Jensen Made, Some Real, BEAUTIFUL Horsehair Given to me by Carol Tuft "Donated" by her Mustang When she was thinning out his tail.

Tiny Number stamps found at a Flea Market years ago.  I figured that these would make great border patterns for saddles, and they do!

1/8th Sized Letter Stamps.  Still need to Experiment with these

Both Sets Together with a Quarter for Comparison.

The top drawer of my Printers Cabinet.  Thats AFTER I cleaned it out.  You can see some of my old, unused saddleseat cutback trees.  I have a new design for them now.
The New Setup for Kitties and me. I know that this looks like a mess still but it's still a lot more organized than it use to be.  My cats have a tendency to lay on me whenever I sit still for more than 3 minutes so I've had to come up with ways that they can be near me but not ON me when I work.

The Original Pieces to Chelsea Nichol's reining saddle but the Fenders won't work with my new tree and the bottom saddle skirt is too small.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Cleaning and Organizing.. which leads to...

Rediscovery of things that I've long forgotten about..... Like.... ALL of the Rio Rondo Kits I've collected over the years after buying out other tackmakers that are leaving the hobby, or that I've just been fortunate enough to have people give me.

I sat down last night to work and found that I absolutely had NO room to work anymore and there are parts of projects on top of parts of projects and it just had to be cleaned!

This is a piece of cardboard that I've used to cut out templates for the bit shanks that I've made.  They really just end up giving me a general shape to work with as I dremel out the silver.  I draw the pattern on the silver with a pin or sharp object, then I dremel my heart out until it looks somewhat like a bit shank. I am NOT Fond of that method.  All of the dremeled/wasted silver makes me crazy.  I hate that it all ends up as wasted dust!

 Here you can see part of my work desk and the spice rack that I got a long time ago at a flea market.  I used to use it for my bits and stuff and for some inexplicable reason I stopped doing so.  I'm going to start using it again and this time, I'm labeling the dang drawers!!  Also, there is a blueprint type setting cabinet at the top.  That top, skinny drawer is sectioned into several small compartments, perfect for keeping rio rondo hardware in sheets.  Also it's from "Hamilton Printing" in Hamilton Ohio. (right near Cincy).  My Grandfather was the engineer/janitor there right after WWII until he retired.  I was thrilled when I found it!

I have three, three inch, three ring binders.  One holds all of the patterns of my western saddles and tack.  One holds the patterns of all of the english tack and arabian tack that I've made.  The last is my "inspiration" binder.  It holds pictures and references of things that I want to make some day.

...and here is a photo of the insanity that is my studio.  This morning however, I've been working dilligently on organizing and cleaning it up as well as re-arranging it.  I "re-found" my tiny letters and number stamps that I bought at a flea market.  I thought the & symbol and the X and maybe even the z would make a cool border pattern...

More photos soon now that it's getting cleaned up and organized!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Good Weekend

I have to say, the last couple of weekends have been really great.. better than I can completely say via words.. so being someone that loves photos... I'll try to use pictures instead...

BOMB (Bluegrass Outrageous Model Bonanza) Model Horse show:

My beautiful Beasties did really well at the show- Held by Rebecca Jann and featuring a bunch of Region 7 PEople that I seriously adore:

I really don't show off Tom Bainbridge's Work enough.  I would be happy if my whole collection were painted by him.... and to be honest, it practically is.  In this photo is my Stunning Jahangir painted by the Carolyn Boydston and my Rose Khemosabi Painted by Tom B.

This shows the "Dueling" Indys.  My indy, By Tom B; a gorgeous Silver Dapple and Shannon DeWaal Hayden's Indy "Buddy".

My Eberl Maestoso painted one of Tom B's signature Greys.

My Sarah Rose UVM YEsteryear painted to a beautiful smutty buckskin Painted by My Friend Jennifer Danza

My Beautiful Matriarch painted to a subtle dappled palomino by Carol Williams herself!f

Clearly I did pretty well at the show and I am just grateful that I can be the Curator and Keeper of such beautiful art!

More to come tomorrow when I'm more awake!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thank you

Thank you to everyone that Entered the arabian show halter lottery.  I'm truly humbled by the response and the people that continue to support my work.. I'll try to do another one in the coming months and maybe even offer a western show halter with braiding if I get the time! (above photo is from the Festival of Rare Equines at the kentucky horse park a few years ago.  His name is Godfrey and he is a Newfoundland Pony.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Above are Photos of the Fenders to the Saddle that my slow butt is working on.  The photos of them after they have been dyed is not entirely accurate.  The color is warmer and redder than what it shows.  I am very pleased with the tooling and I am now eyeing my original design for the first mother hubbard saddle that I thought too complicated at the time.  I am going to be redoing the bottom skirt to the saddle.  The reiner has a wider back than what My pattern had been used on in the past and the dye I used on the original skirt was old and craptacular.. so it just needs to be redone.

Also, what I think is important news - I bought an Unpainted Stone Saddlebred Last night.  YEs, this means double bridles and cut back saddles are in my future and I do remember the nice folks that have written me specifically to ask for a saddleseat set ;0)

I haven't yet heard how the Western Show halter will be offered by Rebecca Jann...  Will keep everyone posted.

I am going to try like mad to Donate something to Heather Jackson Lain's Show this year and If the NAN Folks will have me, I'd like to try to donate something nice to NAN.

On an entirely different note.....

Today I am trying to not watch the September 11th Attack Memorials.  It's not that I don't think that they are important. I do. I believe that they are very important and I think it's wonderful of the networks to actually have a heart an show them.  It's that I'm too emotionally fragile to watch them.  I am a "weepy" person to begin with and after the loss of my Dad in June I find myself being in almost constant emotional turmoil.

Part of my psyche that allows in all of the artistic inspiration and ideas is also the part that makes me very susceptible to sad movies, sad shows, and sad news reports.  I found this out the hard way, after at 13, my first boyfriend and I had broken up a month before and our class went on a field trip to see the play "Camille" at actors theater of Louisville.  I'm pretty sure I was the only 13 year old girl crying at the end of the play. (it's basically Moulin Rouge decades before they made the movie)

I distinctly remember the day that the attacks happen.  I had gotten up earlier than usual at 9am for some reason.  At the time I worked second shift and didn't get off of work till midnight so I didn't go to bed until 2am or later.. so 9am was very early for me.  I remember turning on the TV, and was sorta shocked to see what was in front of me.  I hesitated for a minute and but then went to wake up Anthony (yes, we've been together FOREVER.. LOL) telling him that he had to see what was on tv... we just stared in shock.  I watched every minute of coverage I could for the next week - hoping against hope for a miracle that they would find survivors in the rubble... They didn't... As everyone knows...  I feel very deeply for the families that lost their loved ones..

I thought today that I didn't remember what day of the week that it was when the attacks happened... but as it turned out I did. It was a Tuesday and clearly, I'll never forget it.  I think that eventually this day of remembrance should become a national holiday here in the U.S.

Another Arabian Show halter for sale - LOTTERY INFO

Ok, Business first.  Lottery info for the Arabian Show halter

My work has been used at countless Live Shows in Performance (and some halter!)
and is Live Show Quality and correct. I have also been fortunate enough to have
been invited to Sell my work out of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
Giftshop as well as the Autry National Center's Museum of Western Heritage Gift
Shop. (and I have sold pieces through both venues)

I do not currently take orders because my time in the studio is very erratic.  (between work, an ailing mom and a three year old....) I don't have a large production schedule so this could be one of the few pieces that I offer this year.

This halter has been made with Real Black Leather that was professionally dyed.  There is a tiny, working roller buckle at the poll and there are two keepers. (one "roaming" and one stationary)

The Beads, the conchos, the jump rings and the nose plate are all real silver.  The conchos and the noseband have been hand made by me and hand etched.  All silver, with the exception of the chains, have been coated to retard tarnishing.  There is a long lead with a "Stopper" on the end of it that is of course, attached.

These halters have gone top Ten At NAN several times on "other showmanship" set ups.  They have NAN Qualified countless times on horses across the country. 

You can also buy it if you just want to play with your ponies, like I do. LOL!

*****Lottery Information**********

The halter is $80 Postage paid and a lot of people really love their arabian show halters.  I don't know of too many that have been offered for sale over the years.  This is one of those pieces of tack that is rather "classic" and always works in Live shows and Photo Shows.

I'm going to go ahead and start taking names for the Arabian Show Halter tonight at Midnight EST (Monday September 12th) and it will run through Wednesday September 14th at 9 pm Est and then pull the name on Wednesday.

I go to bed at like 9pm est so as soon as I get up and can get to the computer in the morning,  I'll acknowledge any entries that I've received overnight.

The winner is drawn by a number system. I put each name on a spreadsheet which automatically assigns a number to them. Then I use the random number generator online to pick a number. The winner has 24 hours to contact me. If I do not hear from you within 24 hours then I will draw another name.

If you are going to be out of town or away from your computer during the time that I draw the name or 24 hours afterwards it's up to you to let me know this when you submit your entry.  If you can not check email every day then it is up to you to let me know this when you submit your entry. In those cases a phone number would be helpful as well as a good time to call. (I Have a munchkin, I know how my heart sinks when he's JUST fallen asleep and the phone rings)

Please email me at OR If you know that your ISP is wonky about putting emails into spam folders or discarding emails please let me know when you submit your entry.

PLEASE PUT "Arabian Show halter Lottery" IN THE SUBJECT OF YOUR
EMAIL. In the body of the email, I need your name, address, and phone number (in
case there is an email issue between ISPs)

I accept Money orders or Pay pal. My pay pal does allow credit card payments. I DO ship internationally and my work has made it to Great Britain, Australia and Germany. My pay pal address is 

I can not do any trades right now.

Shipping is postage paid to the Lower 18 states in the United States. Anywhere outside that will incur shipping charges. I do not make you pay for boxes and bubble wrap, only the actual shipping and insurance.

You can only enter the lottery if you are over 18 years of age. If you are under 18 years of age you can have your parents enter the lottery, just let me know this when you submit your entry.

Ok that should do it for the Lottery Info.. more in a few!