Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Draft tack

Remember how a few weeks ago, I received a Stone Drafter in the mail, and I called him Monster because he was so big?

He is so big that I had to order in new lace just to fit his big noggin!

I'll back track a little bit. I answered a Wanted posted on MHSP for some draft tack - a halter and a bridle, and when the cutomer decided to work with me, dutifully went out and bought Mr Stone Drafter so I wouldn't have to work from measurements.

While the customer came up with her final decision for her order, I messed around with my leather to see what I could get to fit him. I knew part of the order would involve white lace, so I got experimenting with different sizes.

Unfortunately, the only two white sizes I had in stock were 3mm (1/8") and 8mm (5/16"). The 3mm by itself wasn't going to work, as I dislike the two-piece crownpiece some hobbyists use. I thought I would be smart and trim the 8mm down to 6mm, and attach 3mm straps to it for the cheekpieces and throatlatch.

Unsurprisingly, it was too big!

Frustrated, I put it aside and dug around in my leather bag. The customer by then had decided she wanted a bridle in a shade of brown, so I started to work on that. Luckily for me, I had brown in 4.5mm (3/16") width! I figured that if I could use that for the crownpieces, I could use regular 2mm for the cheekpieces and throatlatch. The difference in width between them would be less than a 1mm, so I figured I could pull it off.

And pull it off I did!

This is 'brandy' coloured lace, darkened with leather conditioner. (The conditioner hadn't fully  set in by this point so the colouring is a little wonky.) With the 2mm straps I could still use the B6 buckles from Rio Rondo (funnily enough, Rio Rondo says those buckles are for 3/32" lace (2mm), but I normally use them on 3mm lace). I did fix that wonky browband hole too.

I was very pleased with how it came out - but it didn't resolve my issue for making a piece from white leather, as I didn't have it in 4.5mm width. I whinged on Blab a bit but eventually caved and bought a 10m hank (at ~$25). I don't think I could have completed this order if I didn't order that leather!

At first I tried to copy the brown bridle, and use 2mm on the cheekpieces and throatlatch, and a 3mm browband and noseband, and cut the straps from the crownpiece right up the middle. But it didn't look right.

(Ignore the chain derp, haha).

I went back and did some more research, and found some pictures of Belgians wearing white halters that had thicker cheekpieces, but their throatlatches were narrower. Lightbulb!

So I went back, partially pulled apart what I had made of the white halter, and gave it 3mm cheekpieces. Then, with a new crownpiece, I cut the straps off centre. The straps for the cheekpiece are now closer to 3mm, and the strap for the throatlatch is closer to 2mm. When put together with a throatlatch made from 2mm lace, I got the picture I was after!

The cheekpieces could theoretically be a smidge shorter and the browband a touch shorter too, but right now they are good as-is.

The real reason for this lengthy post is to let you know I have a surprise about draft tack to share with you in a few days. :D I don't think anyone will care aside from me, but I am super excited, so I will be sharing it with you anyway - so stay tuned!

Monday, November 19, 2012

It followed me home, Mum...

... Can we keep it? :D

Unfortunately this big boy is only here for a short stay, just long enough to get some new clothes of the leather kind. He is one of Karen Grigson's newest projects, and I don't think he has a name as yet. (He's not finished, so ignore the paint marks from Equitana, hehe).

Isn't he fantastic? I can't believe he started out as the bubble-butt Belgian! Check out those fuzzy ears - and that beard!

Karen has given me almost-free rein on the stallion rig I am to make for him. Luckily, with Shires there is lots of variety - so I have a tough choice ahead of me! I do know he is going to look absolutely swish all dressed up.

I don't know what colour his flights (ribbons) will be, so I can't do a snazzy set with coloured nylon like this

or swish coloured leather inserts like this:


(To be fair, I don't think my leather skills are good enough to pull off a bridle like that!)

But there are still plenty of other options. I could go American-style:

or give it lots of bling.

I could go a little bit plain and workman-like,

or somewhere in between.

It's so hard to choose! Sure you don't want to choose for me, Karen?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Order

Simple and effective - silver lace replaces etched or cast plates, and you can't really tell the difference!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Every now and then I get annoyed/frustrated/whatever with some part of my toolbox, and go on a hunt to upgrade it.

Over the weekend, it was my stitchmarker that caught my wrath. What I have at the moment is the Excel brand 5/16" pounce wheel. It isn't too shabby, getting 21 dots per inch, but I know other hobbyists have found wheels that do more dots. (I believe some may do their stitchmarks by hand - I don't have the patience for that!) There was that one on MHSP one time that the seller said did 45 dots per inch! So I knew they were out there.

I scoured ebay for all the alternative names of a pounce wheel that I could think of - pattern marker, pattern wheel, ponce wheel (sometimes it's misspelled), tracing wheel, spike wheel - nothing I found came any smaller than what I already had. So next I turned to Google.

I often use google image search to help me find an international product, and to cut a long story short, I discovered some pictures that looked like stitchmark comparisons, and stumbled across a forum on the model plane hobby. On a particular thread, some forum members discussed making rivets (basically the hole/area/thing on the metal sheets used to make the planes). One of the members mentioned using 'Rosie the Riveter' - basically a glorified pounce wheel, but made with the wheels from watches and clocks to make smaller rivets. How clever!

 Apparently this is also 'Rosie the Riveter', according to google.

Unfortunately they are hand made by some guy in the Czech Republic, and though I found a US dealer, they are more expensive than I was willing to spend. So I kept looking.

Further searching with the term 'rivet maker' led me to this detailed review on a product called the 'Trumpeter Hobby Rivet Maker'. Go have a look, I'll wait.

The further I read, the more I liked this product - even if it was made from plastic, the last picture of the actual stitchmarks was pretty compelling! Still, I expected it to be pretty expensive, so I didn't get my hopes up as I searched for a dealer.

Lo and behold I found a dealer a) in Australia, b) with cheap shipping ($2!) and c) with the product at the cheap price of $8.30! Of course I bought it right away.

It arrived today, and it was with nervous apprehension that I opened the rivet maker, and gave it a go on a piece of cowhide.

Well! Are you impressed? Because I'm impressed. Here's the breakdown:

Excel (first on the left): 21 dots per inch

Wheel D: 23 dots per inch
C: 34 dots per inch
B: 28 dots per inch
A: 45 dots per inch

(Then at the end is a line of A next to the Excel - big difference!)

Aside from wanting to switch out the handle (the plastic feels cheap compared to the aluminium of the Excel), I love this thing, and can't wait to test it out!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Leather delivery!

Oh my god it smells SO GOOD.

Now, what should I make with this abundance of beautiful colours?

Edit: this was also my 100th post. Ooops, should have made it a bit more special I guess!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I have a Monster.

I answered a wanted ad on MHSP for someone looking for tack for their PS Drafter and when the customer agreed to work with me, I had to go and remedy my lack of PS Drafter bodies!

Today this big boy landed on my doorstep.

This won't come as any surprise to people who have seen a PS Drafter in person before (or own one), but holy moley is he BIG! I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this giant.

He is, obviously, just a body, so at some point I will give him a coat or five of gesso, just to make him all one colour. I won't do it right away though, as the first order for him is a white bridle, and we do need to be able to see it on him! I do like the flames drawn on his right side, though.

I can't wait to get making some tack for that ginormous noggin!

In other news, I have a lovely view of my garden from my room, and it's a great spot for blackbirds and white-browed scrubwrens to scurry about in the undergrowth. On one of the tree ferns, my Dad has hung an elkhorn, in which I thought a pair of tiny scrubwrens had been building a nest.

Yesterday, I looked up and spotted a male blackbird making himself quite comfortable, sitting on top of the elkhorn/nest. Although I didn't think I'd have any success shooting through my filthy window, I grabbed my camera I took a few shots of the blackbird, and the scrubwrens hanging around nearby. They are a bit blurry and could use some editing, but I'd thought I'd share anyway. Enjoy!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Incoming shipment.

The ponies have a cart.

Repeat: the Karen ponies have a cart!

This adorable little spider phaeton was made for me by Reuben of Kulp Enterprises. It's black (all metal) with silver trim.

I even got single shafts to go with it so I can use the ponies on their own as well.

Although I do eventually intend to get the ponies their scurry cart, I can't afford Bill Duncan's prices now (or ever, lol) so this phaeton was a bit of a test as Reuben didn't have any pictures of non-wooden carts on his site.

I'm fairly pleased with it. I can just see Apollo or Tommy rocketing through a cones course now!

Reuben also made me this adorable gig for Rosie.

I just love the detail in the slats, and the stain on the wood.

Unfortunately I managed to botch the measurements and the shafts ended up too narrow for her fat Welshy-ness, so I have to send it back for a new set.

In the meantime, I guess I have a couple of harnesses to work on!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Nylon surcingle and girth

Last night I finished my first attempt at the featherweight racing surcingle and girth, using 6m grosgrain ribbon. I don't think they turned out half bad!

I was really taken by the yellow ('Daffodil') colour when it arrived, so I opted to create a yellow and black set for Ruffian. As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn't entirely sure if I would be able to create a seamless transition from the elastic insert to the nylon, plus I didn't know if superglue would be enough to hold them together. So I secured the end of the elastic with superglue, and the end of the nylon with Helmar Fray Stoppa, and when they were dry, sewed them together.

Have some crappy iPhone photos.

(No, I can't sew, so sue me. :P)

Then I wrapped the join in leather and superglue, mostly as extra security to keep it all together, but also to protect the model from the scratchy edges of the elastic and ribbon.

Ta-da! My first join. :)

I don't like how the grain on the two pieces goes in different directions, but that can't be helped.

Unfortunately the first join was in vain, as the resulting girth...

ended up being too short. Oops!

But it was good practise for finishing off both the girth and surcingle. I even managed to put (non-working) rollers on all the buckles so it does up a little easier.

The finished set:

I tried using 1.5mm nailheads on the surcingle to replicate the studs on the real surcingles, but I think they are just too big for model scale. They don't look terrible per se, just not good enough to use again in the future. On the plus-side, I think the 2mm strap looks much better than the 3mm I've been using previously!

When I get some racing stirrups (when I have cash lol) I will be selling this set.