Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sharing the Hobby

Most of the people who learn I make tack for model horses have a hard time believing there is a whole community of hobbyists who share a love of tiny tack and collecting model horses.  Countless kids collect and treasure their Breyers, but not many of them are even aware of the model horse collecting community, especially if they have never attended Breyerfest.  Sharing the hobby with others is one of the biggest reasons I started this blog, and I was delighted to get a phone call from Linda Waller at The Horse Collaborative asking for more information to write an article about my tack and the hobby.  The story can be found by clicking here.
It makes me so happy when I see the response from people who have little to no knowledge of our hobby show interest in what we love. I hope the article encourages more to get involved, and fall in love with the model horse world, as so many of us already have.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fenders & Symmetry

Most performance show participants use dolls these days.  That means that having a fixed fender would prevent "action" in the saddle.  Probably not an issue in some classes, but for gaming it's a must!  I hang my fenders on sturdy pins mounted on the lower skirt, providing a free swinging fender that still adjusts, and can take some pressure from the rider. It's critical that the fenders are perfect mirrors of each other and mounted in a way that provides symmetry.   
 Symmetry. One of my favorite words having a tad of OCD. Nothing is more important in a saddle's structure.  It's a chain reaction if one piece is out of place.  When the pommel is crooked, that makes the seat crooked, which makes the upper skirt crooked, etc.  Imagine spending countless hours tooling something and then having it look sloppy when put together! It's a slippery slope that can ruin all your hard work, so it's important to take the time and assemble it symmetrically. 
I make marks on the upper skirt before assembling it to make sure both my rear conchos are symmetrical. A hint: It's a lot harder to make accurate measurements when it's already being put together. Make sure that the horn is centered on the gullet, and the rear cinch is mounted symmetrically, and your saddle will look neat and clean!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RF Tack Gaming Sets - Saddle Blankets

The color accented gaming sets I make generate more excitement than anything else I post on my page, and each one is unique.  Balancing color on a set so it doesn't look "tacky" (excuse the pun) while still achieving a wow factor can be a challenge. I really important part of it is the saddle blanket. I love to search images of real tack, and experiment with different methods of bringing it to life in miniature.  Here is a photo of my first ever color accented gaming set, that was a commission based on the customer's real life saddle.  A good reference photo is key!
Another first in this set was the pad, which I had a good reference photo for.  I got to put my sewing skills to the test, and the result was a good mini version of what I set out to replicate.  I took a small piece of the green leather to a fabric store and matched it to a quilting square so the lime greens match perfectly. Nothing like having two versions of one color that clash to distract you from admiring a set! Making a pattern for the saddle pad, I sewed the edges (inside out) leaving a place to turn it (always on a straight edge to make it easier), and then used a black accent thread to "quilt" it onto felt.  I sewed it onto a larger piece of felt and then trimmed it down to fix exactly.  The wear leathers and corner pieces are glued on with tacky glue (great for fabrics!).  Here is a similar pad I made with different colors.
I have made other gaming pads, here are a few photos:
These have matching thread designs:

 This one is simple but clean:
 This one doesn't have any corresponding color, but is an authentic pad you would see gaming. The cutback withers make it ideal for models like Ruffian.  I used zigzag scissors on the edges, and rounded the tips for a scalloped look. I also made a pink pad with the set before mailing it to its new home.
Well there you have it, a little collection of the gaming pads I've made, and a little on how I make them. Now back to moving chores....

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Figures that NAN 2015 would be in CA...

I've made about fifteen saddle sets this year, and many other tack projects that I've thoroughly enjoyed (except those few frustrating "why can't I get this right" moments), but I'm packing up my studio for a whole month.  The reason for this? We are a military family, and my husband's career in the US Coast Guard has meant many adventures moving.  This time we are moving from Rohnert Park,CA to the Miami, FL area. That's right. The year that NAN is finally on the West Coast, and we are moving to Florida. The movers are picking up our things next week, and I will get to start making tack again whenever they can deliver our things to the new house (which we don't have lined up yet, of course).  So what am I going to do for my tack making fix the rest of the summer? Well, I thought I would update this blog with some tack making how to's and other ramblings related to the model horse hobby.  Since this is my first post in many years, I'm going to share some of my favorite photos of my past tack projects.

First up, a lime green gaming set. I love working with color, it gives me so many opportunities for creativity!
 Next, a youth sized roper set.
 Here is the reference photo:
I use tooling leather cut in strips and then skived down for all my bridles, it not only has a smoother grain and finish than lace, but it's SUPER easy to put the straps into the keepers! No more fuzzy edges, and it's much stronger for how thick it is, meaning you can crank down that nose band without fear!
 Halters: It's almost impossible to make a halter fit a horse correctly without it being custom made for a specific model, so I rarely make them for auction.  I love to get orders for them, and this order for a Phoenix resin turned out beautifully!
 This set was a commission, and very different from any bridle I've made before. I love making new patterns! Don't be afraid to make a pattern, it becomes much easier with practice!
 This English set was my last project I could squeeze in before our move, and I'm tempted to keep it! It's a really nice Hunter/Jumper set, I'm thinking I'm going to make a 5-point breast plate for a X-country set up.