in progress

It Begins Again

I know I promised a post last...Thursday? You'll just have to forgive me, life got busy again!

 I used to think that I was a patient person.  I really did.  Then I made a five point breastplate last month and wrapped up five pairs of boots, one of which ended up being a double and has to be redone.  Strap goods and odd bits of miscellany tax my patience.  There comes a point when I just want the endless parade of buckles and keepers to be over.

And now I'm getting ready to start a figure eight bridle, a full set of leg protection, and another five point breastplate (and a saddle, of course).  It's all for WeeJay, though, and you'd be surprised by how much easier his slightly larger size makes things.

I'm sure part of it stems from the laborious preparation process.  Unfortunately, lace does not come in "miniscule"; most of the straps on my bridles are less than a millimeter wide and thinner than two sheets of copy paper. If I did by lace by the yard or spool, I'd still have to dye it, skive it, and split it by hand.  Might as well cut out the middle man.  I have also learned that I don't like waiting for dye to dry.  It's like watching a pot boil.

Then there's the actual construction.  I spent most of a morning and an entire afternoon finishing a bridle and four pairs of boots.  After the last boot, even my eyes were starting to cross.  I had to look it up - the last pair of boots I made was probably in June.  June! I'd forgotten how long they take.

The good news, though, is that the last donation is almost done and Sugar High Live's box went out March 2.  I took some photos of the Show for the Cure donation, which is when I discovered the messed up boot.  I also ended up reworking the five point breastplate (which didn't fit quite right) and the bridle (the crown piece was a little short).  What you don't see in the photo below are two pairs of galloping boots and a fitted "fleece" pad.

Curb Chains

Curb chains can be tricky.  You have to make sure they don't get twisted when you put them on, and that they're not too short or too long.


Way, way too long! I measured it first, but still got it wrong.  Oh well, too long is better than too short! I'll take four or five links out when my shift at work is over.

If you can ignore the freakishly long curb chain, here are a couple of shots of the rest of the bridle, sans reins.

Poor horse is also sans eyes! He's been a work in progress for time out of mind.  His saddle is also done, and I'll take photos of that later.  Girth, pad, and photos then off to new owner!

Oh, and because I know someone is going to ask where I find the itty bitty chain: I scavenge for some things that aren't readily available.  I keep an eye out at garage sales and cheap thrift stores for jewelry with chains fine enough to use for tack.  I generally have several sizes on hand, because the chain for a curb is often thinner than the chain for, say, a stud chain.

Rough-out Gaming Saddle

Another project started before the remodel! This goes with the gag bit I showed you last time.

I love the way it turned out! There's more to do, of course.  The cinch is drying right now, and I still need to do the breastcollar, finish the bridle, and make the sport medicine boots.  I had forgotten just how much I love working on projects that don't involve deposits, deadlines, or customer expectations! Not that I don't love my customers, too, there's just a wonderful freedom in doing things for myself.  It's a great way to let out some creativity.

Be Kind to Your Brushes

And don't leave them out without cleaning them, or you get this:

Poor paintbrush got left out after a couple coats of sealer on a saddle.  It's a lost cause, but at least it was a cheap brush.  Still, I like to get a little more mileage out of them first.

In other news, I still don't have the room to work on much.  I'm experimenting with some projects I've had lying around, though, including a barrel racing set.  This afternoon I tested out a gag bit.

And here's where I'm doing the work:

Tutorial Progress

Last night I finished the first complete saddle based on the new tutorial pattern.  I found some things that I want to tweak, but the pattern is sound!  I'll adjust the pattern and write up my scribbled notes on the process today.  The second test saddle will be started today, and I'll refine the directions and time myself as I go along.  It could be ready for testing as early as Monday!  Release to everyone will have to wait until I get feedback from my lovely test people and make any necessary adjustments, but I am beyond excited!

The black saddle was the first try.  Since I hate making anything without a purpose, I added a couple of things during the process so that I can hang on to it for my personal show string.  I'll probably include those things as optional steps in the tutorial.

Also in progress for my personal show string is a western show saddle.  It's got the most extensive carving so far, and I'm pretty pleased with it.  Of course I see things I wouldn't mind changing, but I can always sell it and make a new one for myself later.

Show for the Cure Update and Progress

The Show for the Cure was last Saturday and from what I've heard was a raging success!  At least one of my customers was there and had an entry in an english class with a saddle I finished up a couple of months ago.  I'm not sure how she placed, but Jennifer Buxton (of Braymere Saddlery) judged the class and had a photo of the set on her blog.  And I quote: "The tack was made by Anna Kirby and without a doubt, it's the nicest stablemate scale English tack I've ever seen."  Can we say "squee"? That pretty much made my day!  

Jenna, the hostess of the S4tC, got back to me on Saturday and let me know how my set did.  My jaw absolutely hit the went for $255!  It's a charity show and so I know that people are often a little more liberal with their funds, but I was astonished all the same.  

Right now, I'm working on Natalie's WeeJay set.  The saddle is very close to finished, the girth is done, and I'm working on the breastplate and bridle today.  I forgot how much I hated WeeJay's mane.  While glue is drying and such I'm working on a carved western saddle as a sales piece.  I'm thinking it'll be a working saddle when I'm all through.  Photo-etched bits are running low, though.  Gonna have to get some more, pronto.