This post was inspired by the International Model Month Facebook page:
As I get older, I get that outlook on life of "I don't want what I can do to die". It would be a shame to lose all wisdom gained in making miniatures.
Making miniatures is part engineering and part Art. Things can be interpreted in a way where you may have not seen this thing or that thing in real life but by putting your documentation all together MIGHT result in this artistic thing you make. ( I do this liberally in my work.. lol)
These are the Books, Materials and Needles that I use for braiding. I have several learning disabilities (dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, A.D.D. )so I only learn by visualizing and then doing. After I learn how to do a knot I can go back and read the formulas. I have a math Savant partner who can explain "Math type" things to me in a way that I can understand them.
Braiding takes time. That's all there is to it. It's practice. It's not just making a knot, it's also how to handle the knot as you're braiding; "Where did that bight go?"; when to "lock" it into place to make sure it doesn't roam; what materials to use to finish a knot so that it stays FOREVER; how loose to braid it initially for an interweave, how much and when to tighten it down... etc.
Sometimes when I'm having a hard time learning a knot in small scale, I would do it in a larger scale and learn it first that way. You'll have to choose your own way. Each time you "Shrink" a knot and use a different material (real leather vs thread for instance) you are essentially braiding a different knot.
I also have harder time with darker base knot colors and then interweaving it with a lighter color. (Danielle Hart is great at this!)
I originally had a bias in doing knots in that I only liked to use colors that would be found naturally in the old Californio or Spanish way of braiding. These were white, red, black and off white. As time has gone on however, I've changed my mind.
Some knots I've learned, took me a week. Some took me a month. The herringbone interweave I learned when I was pregnant so that took forever!
I might not have even cared about learning to braid had it not been for the aching jealousy I had for Susan Bensema Young's beautiful braidwork. She is also a great and patient teacher and now a good friend and miniatures mentor. She is VERY approachable so you newer tackmakers should do yourself a favor and write her sometime.
List of Books and what I learned from each. Remember that I'm a book collector too so.. These are all investments for me and they are like old friends. Some of these things are redundant to each other but this is just how I learn. I took parts from one and smashed them with parts from another in order to learn fully.
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-"Susan Bensema Young's Guide to Making Model Horse Tack." (I have the older version and the newer version and I reference both!)I use this still for my 4 strand, 6 strand and even 8 strand braiding. The price for it is 100% worth it and if you're serious about miniature making this should be a must have. (There are hundreds of other things in there too but I'm focusing on braiding here) There is a section on making a miniature bosals, the spanish ring knot and how to tie a Mecate. Really you can just stop with this book- but again I'm a book collector so..
https://www.timarustarii.com/tmg.htm (This link will open a new window and take you to Sue's page)
-"Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding"- Bruce Grant ISBN 0-87033-161-2
Readily available everywhere. Quite an old book. This has literally everything in it but I couldn't always follow his diagrams at first. I learned the ring covering for buckles and the 4 bight 5 part knot and the 6 bight 7 part knot raised from the 4 bight 5 part knot. My copy is quite torn up and ear marked.
You can get this on ebay for like $20.00 https://tinyurl.com/48ju6sdy (This link will redirect you to ebay)
-"The Art of Braiding, Basics - Third Revised Edition" - Gail Hought ( I have the older Gail Hought books before the revisions. I'm sure though that the newer ones are even better.)
https://www.hought.com/brbooks-3rd-rev-basics.html (This link will open a new window and take you to Gail Hought's website)
I learned how to interweave smaller knots from this book and the 3 pass spanish ring knot. There is also the Long Pineapple button and the Gaucho interweave.
I learned to interweave from Gail Hought. Gail Hought's Books are so collectible and I have like 5 and I wish I could have them ALL! You can learn to make REAL horse tack from her books. They are not written for miniatures but I adapted them.
- I learned to Interweave and Make a real bosal from this book "The Art of Braiding, Bosal 1 - Revised": https://www.hought.com/bosalnbpromo.html (This link will open a new window and take you to Gail Hought's website)
-You can also check on youtube if you learn visually. The "paracord" and "Sailing" communities are huge and they are always posting videos on you tube. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Knot+Tying (this will open a new window and take you to you tube)
I have a TON of things to use for braiding. I just kept buying stuff - different colors, different threads different artificial rawhides. This is my weaving, sewing, knot tying collection.
-Tandy's artificial rawhide has gone through SEVERAL iterations over the years. The old is that darker actual Rawhide looking type and the Newer is that yellower one .(Not to be confused with that Screaming yellow one) My favorite right now for 1:9th scale is the darker brown one on the blue mandrel. It is very fine and easy to split out. (I am actually missing a spool for that first photo.. no idea where I put it.. lol)
-This is Tandy's Artifical Sinew: https://tandyleather.com/products/artificial-sinew-natural-270-yds
-I've also bought the big spools with brighter colors from "Land of Odds" but it doesn't look like they have them anymore: https://landofodds.com/sinew-artificial/
-For Thread. I use size 80 thread. It's tatting thread that is normally used for making Lace. Because of that, it wants to tangle easier as you're working with it but you can't beat the range of colors. DMC FLOSS is too weak to stand up to braiding and interweaving so I don't suggest it.
-I've also bought from this store on ebay - prices are reasonable and they have exactly the colors I want.
I have MANY needles but the best for making knots initially are the Duller Tapestry needles. Using these type makes it easier to not pierce fibers as you're making the knots. I only use sharp needles when I'm finishing a knot or an interweave.
Let me know if you've tried making knots- "large" size or in miniature - In the comments below!
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