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!