Monday, July 23, 2012

Speaking of live shows...

I'm hosting Performance Live Extravaganza (PEL) with Lisa again in September. But this year, we are doing things a little differently - splitting by finish, rather than size. The minis had a poor turnout, so we're hoping this should balance things out a little bit more. I personally am really excited for it, as I have a few OFs that usually get beaten by resins and it will be fun to see how they do on their own.

Late last year, I picked up a Breyer Polo Pony on a bit of a whim, thinking he would be a good games pony.

(Pic from this random place here:

This guy is older than me - he was released in 1974 and was available until 1982. He's in pretty good nick for his age, although his base is a bit warped. That's a shame, because the Polo Pony has a weird triangle-shaped peg in the foot which makes a temporary base almost impossible. :(

While he would be a good polo entry (obviously), I don't have time to make all the wondrous strap goods that a polo pony wears, nor do I want to add slits to one of my existing saddles to make it a polo one. So into the games class he shall go - but which game should he be playing?

There is sword lancers (bit difficult without a doll to hold the sword!):

Pole bending aka Speedweavers (probably too fast for this one):

Maybe he can do Socks and Buckets:

or Litter Lifters (look at the air on that pony!)

Or maybe even the Associate Race:

While I haven't decided yet, you can be sure he will be wearing an obnoxious, fluoro 'PVC' bridle!

And maybe some crazy boots for good measure!

I will also have my BHR Drafter resin home from Karen Zorn by then as well. He looks like this, only Karen has added some wonderful detailed mane and tail ribbon bob thingys.

I don't have any dolls that are appropriately dressed for an in-hand class, and I think that might rule him out of ground driving too. He's not going fast enough for Jennifer Buxton's famous draft horse barrel racing, so I don't know what that leaves for him. Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ultimate Gold 2012

BFF Stacey ran Ultimate Gold live show over the weekend, and I flew in for a 46-hour visit so I could attend and help out.

With a small number of entrants, it was intimate and relaxed, with a small class list. I was super-prepared for performance - that never happens! - and the venue, which we'd never used before, was a comfortable size, with great facilities.

With us we had new-to-model-horses Juanita, who has lots of experience in the real horse world, but was pretty unfamiliar with hobby. Still, with a little guidance she made a great judge. She looked after performance, collectability and CM/AR halter; Stacey judged workmanship, and I judged OF halter.

Let's get into the photos. There's a lot, so jump behind the cut to have a looksee.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mail day!

Well, more like mail week, really.

On Monday, I received an order of syringe needles.

Yes, really. A fellow Australian tackmaker uses these little beauties to punch holes in her bridle straps. I didn't make the connection that hypodermic needles would have thinner metal than that on mechanical pencils, so unfortunately I ordered too small (0.4mm and 0.3mm, respectively). I will place another order later today for some larger sizes. Luckily they are fairly cheap (less than $10 for a box of 100, plus postage). I really truly hope these work for me, as I am anxious to move onto tongue buckle bridles already!

Then on Tuesday I received a new tube of glue.

A couple of weeks ago I was getting super frustrated with the silver plates on a bridle I was making, so turned to the achieves of the Modelhorsetack Yahoo Group. One of the brands that got a few mentions was this E6000 glue, and I used eBay to find a seller. I haven't used it yet, but will later today! I need a couple of silver halters for Ultimate Gold Live.

Then on Wednesday I received my order of a hide from Amazing Lace, the company I purchase my pre-dyed lace from.

Oh leather, glorious leather! I may have spent a few embarrassing moments clutching the hide to my face. Amazing Lace's leather always smells so good. It has a few blemishes, but there is so much of that glorious, practically invisible grain I love so much that I can ignore a few marks. ;)

And then last but not least, I got more leather today!

This is bookbinding kangaroo leather, from Packers, a tannery in QLD. This leather comes recommended by Lauren Islip of Four Corners Tack, over in WA (who I will be meeting at UG - eek!). She bought a few hides and really liked them, so I jumped on the bandwagon and ordered some too, one in black and the other in brandy. They are seconds, but at $15 a pop, I'm not complaining!

It's a bit thinner than my Amazing Lace hide, and the brandy is a bit glossier than I would like, but I'll play with it and we'll see how we go. Bonus: the brandy hide is positively ginormous! I've got no hope of ever using it all up!

Oh, and last week I got a new bottle of gum trag (I can't believe I've almost finished the first one, haha),and a bottle of Edge Kote in black, as well as a nylon edge slicker and some wool daubers. I've actually been using the Edge Kote on the last English saddle - it works surprisingly well. I didn't think I would need it since the Amazing Lace leather is pre-dyed, but it just helps to neaten up the grey edges (which aren't all that grey in real life, but catch the camera flash awfully well).

Any tips on storing these hides? I don't have anywhere flat to lie them out. Should I leave them whole, or cut them into large chunks? That's what I've been doing with my scraps, but I'm not sure if it's the ~correct~ method.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Saddle #3 review

I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about my (what feels like) unending journey with saddles! Don't worry,. I'm starting to tire a little of it too and will take a break shortly, but right now I need to go through what's wrong with #3 so I can try and review it for #4.

For reference, I was attempting a general-purpose saddle.

The Tree
Glue spots aside, I had two other issues with the tree.

The first involves the arms at the front. In the KeriOkie pattern, the arms of her tree fit into slots in the upper flap piece. While this might be closer to true life, I think a few hobby tackmakers choose to forego the arms, and just glue the finished tree right on. Honestly, trying to get the arms to fit into the flap was just a pain in the butt, and more than once I had to hack them down to get them to fit into the rest of the saddle shape. This means there are bits of where the foam is visible (the blue spots here and there). Decision: the arms will be removed from the tree pattern.

Thought: I also wouldn't mind putting in a bit of a cut back as well. Right now it's pretty flat through the front.

(Edit: The more I look at the picture above, the more I wonder if it is just my blondeness not realising that there's a cut back already in there.... Gosh, I have my moments sometimes. Will have to experiment and see if I can work with it before I go and scrap this tree pattern.)

And I think the tree that made it into the saddle is bent in the wrong place too, maybe a touch too forward? It's not a soft curve either, but I think that may be more a result of assembly and me getting frustrated.

Next up is the cantle. For this saddle I chose not to use the blocking method to stretch the method, and I think this decision had a run-on effect in terms of the creases in the seat and the ugly finishing on the rear of the cantle. Decision: return to blocking out the seat skiver.

The Flaps

In the photos, it appears that the lower flaps are poking out from underneath. Though it's not really visible when the saddle is held in the hand, I think that my pattern failed to take into account things like the roundness of the horse's barrel, the assembly, thickness of the leather, etc. The lower flap is shorter than the upper, but I don't think by enough. Decision: make the upper flap longer/trim the lower flap shorter.

Flap shape: I showed Lisa a photo of the saddle on Sunday, and she suggested that the flaps were too round. I just cruised around online briefly now, and found a good photo of this Tekna saddle (no model number) on a horse:

It's a pretty good shape, so I think I will use that as the basis for the next pattern. (But really, I know next to nothing about flap shape. I just found this interesting blog by a saddle-fitter and in this post she talks about billet position and how it's not a one-size-fits-all scenario for horses. I'm planning to go back further through her archives and see what else I can find!)

In previous posts I talked about wanting to get rid of the 'junk' in the pommel area, where it's clearly visible how the pieces and layers intersect. I thought that if I made the channel between the panels underneath wider at the front end, I would be able to lift the very front of the lower flaps higher, and thus be able to over it with skiver and hide it away a little.

I kind of failed in this aspect; in assembly I forgot about my idea to try and hide that area away, so while there is more room there for a high wither, it still looks messy. For reference, here's a great picture of an English pommel.

Click for a bigger version.

And here's my saddle, haha:

(Click to see it in all its messy glory.)

The real saddle is so smooth and big! I love that everything is drawn in and tidily hidden away. It all blends seamlessly together. I'm wondering if the key might be to eliminate the front bar on the lower flap - this part here:

That would eliminate the whole 'hiding it away' part of the process if there wasn't actually anything there to hide. And then one long piece of skiver could be used to create the roll of piping in the pommel, and then it would follow the length of the saddle underneath and be the piece that sits behind the panels, if that makes sense. (Edit: just learnt that this piece is called the sweat flap!)

The Skirt
The skirt shrunk somehow, so needs to be wider (pommel to cantle), but I think the height is pretty reasonable. I also screwed up several times putting the pins in, which left holes in the skirt. The pins are still wonky, so I definitely need to fix that for next time.

The Panels
One thing I didn't like about the panels on saddle #2 was how the panels showed the definition of the two levels of foam. I had a genius idea of flipping the panels over, so that the panels still have the depth afforded by the two pieces, but it's not visible. Success!

I did use the blocking method on the skiver used to cover the panels and underside of the lower flaps, but still have some ugly wrinkles. As much as I like the look of the blocking method, I might use a method I've seen other tackmakers use - wrapping the panels individually and then attaching them to the saddle. That way I might be able to get the bend in the foam and ensure the leather follows through as well.

I also just noticed that the panels are wonky - one is longer than the other. Le sigh.

Something went terribly wrong at some point. I mentioned this in an earlier post that the section of the lower flap that holds the back of the panels somehow ended up wider that the seat. At least now I've identified it, I think it will be an easy fix - just make the rounded ends of the panels smaller and not so wide - so it shouldn't occur on the next saddle. Hopefully.

Other Stuff
Just a couple of other little things. The D-rings should be back a little (when I make the skirt bigger next time, they should be hidden underneath), and I think the stirrup keeper needs to be down a little more as well.

Any other criticism I need to take into account before I tackle the new pattern?

And I promise the next post will have nothing to do with saddles!

C'est fini!

Well, it's done.

I don't particularly like it, but it is finished.

At this point all I can see are the faults and things that need to be fixed.

I wanted to take this to WA in two weeks and show with it at Ultimate Gold Live, but, lol, that's so not happening.

Instead, I'm going to review the faults and things I don't like with this saddle, do some more pattern surgery, and go head down, bum up and work on another incarnation.

And order some stirrups from Allison!