Thursday, December 9, 2010

Failed project #748

After Christmas shopping a couple of days, I arrived home just as it started to bucket down with rain. It had been a horrible, sticky and humid morning, so the rain was a great relief - and perfect for tack making.

I bummed around for a bit, fiddling with unfinished projects in the too-hard basket, couldn't find anything interesting, and so moved on to the Jennifer's Buxton's English girth tutorial. Except I decided to mix it up a little and not put elastic in.

We all know I can't cut straight to save my life, so a shaped girth (which I have always admired) would be a pretty difficult test for me.

First up, I gathered my tools. Since my leather range is pretty limited, I used a piece of my lace leather offcut for the insert, and glove leather as the skiver. The skiver is a pain in the bum as it doesn't like most glue, I think because it is waterproofed by the tannery it comes from. It sort-of works with Tarzan's grip (a glue I have a love-hate relationship because it tends to go stringy), but only on the underside, so I brought along some super glue (Selley's Quick Fix super glue gel) just in case, as that stuff sticks to anything.

Next came the pattern. My 'home' scale is classic - I just feel more comfortable working in this scale - so I had to design this freehand. I took one of the girths off a Robyn saddle and measured that for length and width, and scribbled (okay, folded and marked) where i thought the curves should begin and end. I didn't (and still don;'t) have any idea, if the proportions are right, but who cares! It's only a practise piece. ;)

I traced the pattern onto the lace leather and cut it out and shaped it, doing my best to make sure the edges are rounded and not vaguely pointy like they always seem to end up with me. Following Jennifer's tutorial, next came the skiver outer. (FYI, Jennifer, if you're reading this, I think there is a step missing in your tutorial. There's a picture with the gum trag, but no description of what to do with it.) Here's where I encountered my first problem. After gluing on the base to the inside of the skiver, I didn't really wait long enough for the glue to dry before folding over the edges, so I couldn't pull it tight. I also think this skiver is too thick, which made the curve not as obvious as it should have been.

While waiting for the skiver to dry, I used the original pattern to cut out the display bit that goes on the outside. Of course, since the skiver made such a different to the shape of the girth, the pattern no longer fit, so I had to round off the edges free hand so it would fit.

My next problem was how to affix the outer pretty section to the skiver edges. Experience tells me that the skiver does not like Duco cement or Tarzan's Grip, so something else was in order. I tried Selley's Craft Glue, but like the Duco Cement, it peeled right off. Something drastic was in order, so out came the super glue. I applied it to the backside of the pretty piece and attached it to the skiver, trying not to glue my fingers to the project.  The downside of the super glue is that it caused the girth to completely stiffen up - albeit in a curved fashion as would fit around a horse's barrel, but still!

I decided to stop here since the project was obviously not able to be rescued, and didn't bother with buckles.  While fiddling with the girth today I did find that by stretching the girth, the glue broke a little inside and it's not so stiff any more, but I don't think super glue is the appropriate type to use with this skiver. So either I need to look into different glues (again), or try and find a different skiver (again).


  1. You're right. I missed the part about coating the skiver in gum tragacanth and stretching it around the girth body. I've fixed that now, but I do think the glue was your biggest problem. I use Aleen's Super Thick Tacky Glue. It has a quick "grab" but doesn't set up right away. You have some time to pull and stretch things into shape. Also it dries flexible and it cleans up well if (when) things get messy. Personally, I do not think I could make a girth like this with any kind of super glue.

    Hope that helps!

  2. I don't think we have that glue here in Australia, Jennifer. I do think the major issue is the skiver - since it's been weatherproofed it resists all glue and likes to cause all sorts of drama. If I do find a different type of roo skiver/glue leather (or freak out quarantine and maybe purchase calf skiver from the US) then my first try would be with the Selley's Craft Glue.

    Can I ask - how thin is your skiver?

  3. I almost always skive my skiver. The hide I have now is good quality, but a bit thick for my taste so I skive... I find this to be highly neurotic, though, so I tend not to advertise it!

    This is the kind of skiver I use.