Thursday, October 15, 2015

When I was seven years old, my favorite aunt gave her horse crazy niece a Medicine Hat and Foal gift set, and was closely followed by Royal Te Appaloosa.My collection grew with every birthday and Christmas, Santa didn’t have to ask what I wanted, every year, BREYERS! 

I made halters and felt stable blankets, I loved crafts (I still do!), and I bought my very first Rio Rondo Western Saddle kit when I was ten years old.  My dad turned my brother and I loose in a toy store after a particularly nasty six hour crossing of rough water in the family sailboat, and I’m so glad the Breyer was too big to bring on the boat!

This got me hooked, and I've been making tack ever since.  Tack making is more than a hobby for me now, it’s my business. I’m one of the lucky people who gets to work doing something I love!

2015 has been a big year for me.  I have made fifteen saddle sets, five bridles, and I’m still working away at the wait list. I opened an Etsy store in March, where I have been selling my sport medicine boots and metal saddle racks in addition to other small items. 

Earlier this year, I was contacted by Breyer to make a portrait barrel racing tack set for their JAH cover.  If only I could go back in time and tell the seven year old me that someday my tack would be on the cover of JAH!  The set was going to challenge me every step of the way.  Babyflo and Fallon Taylor’s treeless Circle Y barrel saddle would require a 100% new design. Pattern making is a skill only gained by trial and error, practice, practice, and then more practice.  While skill is somewhat involved, I truly believe anyone is capable of making beautiful tack with enough dedication and practice!

 The amazingly talented Keri Parker designed the Fallon Taylor doll, and it’s a product of a true master! I hope to own one of her dolls in the future! After a dozen prototypes, and many failures, I finished the sport medicine boots for Babyflo (all different colors, so fun).

The next project was the pad. Fallon’s pad is beautiful, and it was a joy to bring to life in miniature!

Unfortunately, since I was waiting for a Wyatt to arrive (and I couldn’t help but work on the project while I was waiting) I made the pad without taking his mane into account.  The pad was carefully “resized” and I didn’t have to start over completely. I also added some bling to the cutout on the second pass.

I used Photoshop to design the text I would trace onto the leather for the “Team Dynasty” breast collar, finding the right font and using an outline format.  Then I tackled the tie-dye challenge.  I couldn’t get the scale right in tie-dye ribbon, so ended up using Photoshop and iron-on transfers to bring it to life. 

The tie-down was also a challenge because it had a thin clear plastic nose piece, which I solved by coating braided linen thread in several coats of clear nail polish.

 If you can believe it, that spool of linen thread belonged to my grandfather, who was in the U.S. Calvary and made real saddles.  I was really excited to incorporate a part of his legacy into the set.

The rest of the JAH saddle set flew together with a little experimentation, time, and here it is! 

I hope I get a chance to work with the amazing people at Breyer again in the future, and I’m so thrilled to see this set on Morgan Kilbourn’s beautiful Quarter Horse, with Keri Parker’s doll in the saddle! I’m in awe of all the talented people in the hobby, and how much work it has taken to get where they are today. Hope I get to rub elbows with them at Breyerfest Carnival 2016!

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