Thursday, April 19, 2018

TSII #378, Kim's Carousel II

Timaru Star II #378
Restoring TSII #378 has taught me so much.  I got what I was after:  tremendous practice enhancing, preserving and updating a 23-year-old saddle.  Yet its two main lessons somehow managed to cancel each other out!  I learned heaps about restoring, replacing, strengthening and otherwise saving such old saddles; but I also learned that this work is, in cost-benefit-analysis terms at least, just not worth it.  In plain language, it would have been faster and easier to make a complete new silver parade set.  Rebuilding an old one was fascinating but in the end an exercise in indulgence.
How glad I am to be able to indulge, then.
#378 was originally built for the PAS.
The third main lesson this saddle taught me was the least surprising of all.  It is one I've known all along.  No matter how my brain tells me to hurry up and do a quickie -- no matter the reasons, be they solid as gold -- once the tackmaker really gets her teeth into a project, it proceeds at exactly the same speed as do all my past tack glaciers.  It sets its own pace.  Nothing less than the very best I am able to do with the skills and materials I have at the time will do --- and the devil take the clock.
TSII #378, Birds Eye view
Having said that, it became clear in the long course of this restoration job -- four months!  January to April -- that I was changing my approaches and trying out new things.  There was progress.  I started with the breastcollar, as it was a miniature sample of the serapes (hardest) and had something of everything.  On the breastcollar and the hip drops, I was lacing down the original silver tape, which was one layer thick and rather fragile.  In mid stride -- on the bridle -- I was replacing the tape but with only one layer.  At the end -- the skirts, fenders, taps and serapes -- I was ripping off the old tape and replacing it with two layers of fresh new tape.  Only by doubling was the tape strong enough to withstand the handling.  Lacing it down had the Mylar getting gummy with the new adhesive, so I cleaned it off with rubbing alcohol, which worked... too well.  Surpise, surprise,  I discovered rubbing alcohol would completely remove the gold of the Mylar!!  It is silver beneath...
As far as the prism tape went (the colors of the figures), I wanted to retain as much of the original as possible.  In the event, the nearside serape retained two snippets:  the blue saddle and the lower blue platform edge/rounding board stripe.  (Seen above on the buckskin.)  The offside serape retained its tail and pole (seen below).  Everything else, except for the forehead ornaments, had to be replaced.  A hard-learned lesson was to back all the prism tape.  In some cases I only managed nail polish!  but the horse heads and horses were backed with sheet aluminum.  (See below.)  Complete new medallions were made, not without some mental anguish over removing the originals, which dated back to 1995.
Off serape, After (2018)
Near serape, Before (1995)
Ultimately the original ponies, and nearly every piece of silver tape not recycled, wound up in my tack notebooks.  Below is just one sample page, showing holding them down with Scotch Tape.  The detritus is additional prism tape layers/pieces.  Some numbers:  This restoration job took 46 pages across two notebooks, N.A. XIII and XIV.  And they weren't small pages!  (That black stain?  Just a reminder of TSII #456, Star Wars.)
I made a fourth Needle Chisel.  It's second from right in this shot.  I'd needed that size for some time.  After this photo was taken I re-soldered and re-filed it and it is smoother and better than what is shown.
 An unbelievable amount of work went into updating #378.  New buckles and rings, replacing the galvanized with stainless steel, was the least of it.  The cantle was rebraided with new Galaxy lace (the old had turned white).  The seat piece was strengthened with a tree-like lining of metal and leather and a new undercantle was made.  The gold rings (this is carousel!) on the taps were replaced and their inner edges stitched down with the smallest Mylar lacing I possessed.  In some cases the original ring silver tape was kept.
The browband was replaced.  The ferrules on the bridle were stripped of an ancient coating of glue, polished and recoated with nail polish.  Much of the hardest work was, in fact, peeling off glue and coatings of one sort or another.  I learned how in the course of the work:  Rub hard with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol, then wipe with the dry end; Kill all the Q-tips!  When the coating had softened, roll-peel it off, while continuing to dissolve it off with vinegar and more alcohol.   This photo finally captured the process; I was using my needle chisel.
I learned that glue grabs glue and to let the roll build up to large dimensions.  Peeling is addictive.  Once clean, the leather was dyed, Lexol'd and Leather Glow'd.  Alas, after I had spent days and days stripping the serapes, I concluded that such work did not really need to be done, at least on the leather...!  Removing it from silver made sense (it turned various shades of brown and grey and was mildly gooey).  But  I could have left most of that coating... it had done a good protective job for 23 years.  I did leave it on the taps, skirts, fenders, bridle and breastcollar.

The work involved in setting the prongs of the figures/medallions is as difficult and tricky as it's always been.  It is the only way I know to make absolutely sure that silver won't fall off.
Bottom side of pony medallion, before setting
Top side of same pony.  Prongs are hard to see, due to angle of shot.
 This is what the back of one of the restored serapes looks like, before edge-braiding and before its final black-leather lining is on:
 The saddle edges that previously had a thin line of stamped silver tape were now silver edge-braided with No. 12 Mylar.  Mylar tinsel is just about my hardest-to-braid material, but nothing else has got that sparkle!  It matched perfectly the carousel air and bling.

The corona blanket was very challenging, because it came at the end, when the artist's vision is just about drained (and they are looking ahead to something else!).  The original was made of pompoms, and while there is value in retaining original equipment, in this case the temptation to use advanced technology was too great.  (I.e. Melody's type of corona was SO much better!)  I found an LRB (Lorrie Batchelor?) blanket in my spares box.  Thank the god of forgotten purchases!! -- I couldn't have made a corona on my own in the time frame I had set.  With a lot of fiddling, because the corona was too big but fortunately had a fender gap, I made it smaller.  This view is of the process of the darting, having peeled back the chamois lining part way:
Then I darted it smaller sidewise -- too small!! -- and so had to cut some stitches.  Halfway through this tricky operation I realized leaving a hole in a middle would do no harm and gain some flexibility, which was what I wanted.  It looks bad, but all 4 seams have been stopped by dedicated stitches and the gap is hidden under the saddle.  Now the blanket is stretchy and can adapt to different backs.  The finished bottom is pure chamois, a thick but protective layer.
I am beyond grateful for the chance to pull out all the stops, devote myself to a lost art and go completely whole hog on a piece that might have been of interest to very few. Give me leave to do my utmost!  says Isaac Dinesen (author of Out of Africa), speaking of the artist.  Perhaps some of these restorative techniques may be of use to others dealing with old silver tape saddles.  For future TSII Parade sets, however (saving tape medallions for irregular spaces), I think I will stick with iron-ons.

Unless and until they, too, need restoring.

On to NaMoTackMo!  and beyond:  future sales pieces.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Reflections on Restorations

TSII #377, built in 1995, retaped in 2000
I was asked to blog about parade restorations in general and #378 in particular.  I'll start out with a brief overview of TSII silver Parade sets, touch on reasons for restoring, look at materials I've used and then list those sets I've restored.  I'm afraid focusing closely on #378 will take another post!
     Here's my working approach:  I'll use no silver tape (aluminum metal mending tape) unless it is physically held down, either by clinching, pinning, lacing, tying, sewing or braiding.  Its adhesive is only to be used for initial positioning; after that it might as well not exist for me.  Silver tape's beauty, workability and ease of access are great assets for me, and I do use it --- but its gum will die and turn to crumbs.  Of that I am sure and certain.
TSII #378, Kim's Carousel, built in 1995
I've created 103 scale-model silver Parade saddles since 1979.  The first through the 38th were painted-silver, the 39th through the 85th were silver tape sets and from the 86th on they have been made with various other technologies.  Ikandis (iron-ons) are the current favorite.  The first silver tape set was TSII #230, built in 1988.  The last was #421, built in 2001 (85th).  The 84th and 85th sets emerged already laced down, so the last silver tape set liable to need restoring is really #415, the Millennium Set (2000)(83rd).  So that's a solid 45 silver saddles... almost half my production...  twelve years' worth, which could potentially be in need of restoration.
TSII #230, built in 1988, retaped in 1993

 I've always wondered what happened to TSII #415, the Millennium Set.  It was sold at auction to Angie Diekman for the then-unheard-of price of $1100.00.  Like a fussy mother, I worry about the copper in it.  Copper and leather do not get along.
TSII #415, built in 2000
 I am using the term 'restore' somewhat loosely here.  It could just as well be called rebuilding, refurbishing, repairing and/or conserving, depending on what was done.  These terms have different meanings: for instance conserving means preserving and enhancing what's already there, while rebuilding denotes actual reconstruction.  Each case gets what I think it needs.  My goal for each saddle is to keep as much as possible of the original, spirit and design both, while strengthening, repairing, cleaning, extending the life of, and taking advantage of new technologies for, that particular piece.  A rebuilt piece glows;  it's had a double helping of the fire of its creator.  It should last a lot longer afterwards too.  : )  It takes a brave soul to destroy an old piece, but if the vision of what's to replace it is confident enough, it's worth it, and for a bonus you learn how it aged.  I'm learning about restoring the same way I learned about silvering:  the hard way.  

Over 40 years (officially), my material choices for model silver saddles have ranged far afield.  I've gone through silver paint, silver tape, aluminum sheet, cast pieces, Mylar, sandwich approaches, semi-precious stones and iron-ons.  My materials and techniques have changed so much I'd be a fool to think I've settled on a final method even now.   We still have real metal and powdered metal... and...

Wouldn't it be better to just restore using the materials that that hard-won experience has taught me were best?  Of course, especially if history meant nothing.  There is an even more uncomfortable question:  Wouldn't it be easier and faster, instead of exhaustively cleaning, peeling, rebuilding and reconfiguring these older pieces (especially if they cannot use modern techniques), to just make new ones??
Gentle reader, alas, the logical, cost-efficient answer is yes.

But when has logic and cost-efficiency been the only determining force at the Timaru Star II??!?
TSII #12 on *Opium, remade by Amarna/Elizabeth Bouras
How lucky I am.

In a curious mood, I dug up the numbers on TSII silver saddles I'd previously restored, fixed up and otherwise repaired.  I was astonished.  Starting in 1993, it turned out I'd restored 12 sets!!!  (counting this one, #378).   Of those twelve, two were not silver tape sets, but that's still 10 of the 45.  Ten!!!  almost a quarter of them!!!  I had no idea I'd done so many.  What a field:  redoing portions of a fraction of a portion of one artist's work!!!

Here's the list:
In 1993, #230 - the very first silver tape one, owned by Carol Gerhard.
In 1994, #243, Karen Gerhardt's Wizard's Vale, and #252.
In 1997, #12 and #197, two painted sets originally owned by Elizabeth Bouras.
In 2000, #377, Sapp's (ultimately the inspiration for Breyer's first porcelain), #375 Northern Brilliance and #306 Easley's Airy Indian-- in the middle of this year I invented Mylar-tying.
In 2002, #357, a Classic scale set.
In 2009, #318, Khambour's Pyr spotted.
In 2012, #355, Rouillard's, now owned  by Jeanette Eby.
In 2018, #378, Kim's Carousel.  There is another in the pipeline, #362, Foote's/Evans'.
TSII #355, built in 1993,  restored in 2012
A few patterns reveal themselves.  Very few of the colored-prism-tape sets have returned to me, even though those years saw the majority of them made.  No. 378 is the second to come back, after #243.  Not every saddle made with silver tape needs to be restored (!).  Two of the 45 silver tape saddles have remained with me, #400 Rainbow Brilliance my own, and #309 the Canadian Buffalo (bought back).  Number 12 started out painted but was redone with silver tape -- and I bought it back as well.  The most obvious revelation is that restoring TSII silver parade saddles is so expensive, so rarely encountered and takes so long that only wealthy and older collectors can indulge. It truly would be easier and cheaper to build new ones.
TSII #12 as received in 1997.  Bit by Sue Rowe.
Could there ever be a market for such a skill??  especially after I'm gone...?
But consider.  Many other tackmakers and many other model saddles use silver tape technology.  Many saddles are being made with a single layer of aluminum tape, pressed and stamped into leather.  It's so easy to do that.  The tape can be cut with scissors.  It sticks like magic and it's so shiny.  It looks marvelous.  It'll stay that way for years.
TSII #12, retaped in 1997.
 Four years, plus or minus, depending on conditions.
TSII #12, retaped in 1997.
Even #12 has not escaped; it is losing squares at the top of the fenders as we speak.  : (

In the Guide I try to share what I've learned about those conditions.  I noticed tape first started breaking and falling away on areas of leather which BENT:  the tops of fenders, the crowns of bridles, the shoulders of breast collars, the upper portions of hip drops.  Non-disturbed areas tended to hold their tape much longer.  The first restorations I did were simply re-applying the tape.  It wasn't until 2000 and my discovery of Mylar Tinsel that I evolved a method to stop, I hoped much more permanently, silver tape from falling off.  (Remember:  I Hate Glue.  Long story, having to do with a father's sensitivity and my own huge pride.)  The new My-tying method was first tried on #418, the Rainbow Laced, and it was a major design change -- a ton of work and heavy use of the Needle Chisel.  But it held.  I believe it is holding still.
TSII #418, photo by Cabot
In fascinating chapters I moved through cut and shaped aluminum spots, set spots and Mylar lacing, sandwiches with cut-out layers, and cast plates, from #421 (2001) (85th) to #445 (2007) (96th).  There is a whole book here, don't think I don't know it!!  In 2008 I tried the ikandis (iron-ons) with Eleanor Harvey's #447 Zhivago Hexagon No 1 (97th), and knew I'd come home.  I haven't looked back.  All succeeding TSII silver parade sets have used this technology.  But I still keep silver tape for special applications, when it alone can do the job.  See the Clyde Goehring posts!
TSII #447, Eleanor's Hexagon
If you think it ironic I've settled for adhesives after so long and hard a fight to repair their lack:  You're right!!  It IS ironic.  It's part of a twisting tale of adventure, and I'm only sorry I can't tell it all here.  Between braidwork and silver saddles, I've chosen braidwork as my first love.  Silver saddles are very close behind; the two are like two children of the same mother.  There are certainly TSII Silver Saddles with braidwork on them.  I've been in the field long enough to see how the materials I've chosen, for my own reasons, age.  I look forward to seeing how the ikandis, and other materials and techniques, age.  And I do wonder what's next for my silver saddles.
About TSII #378:
As of today, the base plate (bottom skirt), seat, breastcollar, both fenders and tapaderos and hip drops, and the bridle, are DONE.  Still to go are the serapes.  The off serape has only its center medallion pony and its edge-braiding yet to be done.
When all's finished, it'll be NaMoTackMo for me.  There might even be time for an auction piece - we'll just have to see.  : )

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thoughts on NaMoPaiMo 2018

"-and look at how great he is!!"
These words still ring in my ears and in my heart.  It is amazing how powerful they were.  Other people have praised my Brasenose, heaven knows.  But these words, bestowed upon me by Jennifer at my successful finish, possess a elemental strength.  In a world saturated with words, and in a hobby unusually filled with praise, they still manage to stand out for me.

The above portrait shows my new Jacquee Gillespie bridle, which was under construction during NaMoPaiMo.  I designed and commissioned this bridle and she made it come true.  Definitely a dream made real!   (I'm too lazy to use sticky wax or to Photoshop the thread out.)

I wrote a lot about the first NaMoPaiMo:  thoughts on NMPM.  At that time I could barely guess how the second version would turn out.  I can honestly say I was surprised, which is a wonderful thing.   Some of my fears have come reasonably close to fulfillment (the greatest being the burning out of the central star).  Yet, a good many more of my amazed and pleased wishes came true than fears.  Looking back in comparison, I am struck by the number of participants.  Where did I get that first 600 from?  If this is legit, then my hobby has a pretty consistent base population of active, online, creative model horsers who like to paint -- or at least think they like to.  I know I was one of those original 600, but I joined then because I wanted to watch and cheer, and be involved, not because I wanted to paint.
 So there was my first surprise:  changing my mind about 'not needing to paint a horse.'  If this is what defines me, distinguishes me from the crowd, so be it.  She mentioned this in her prize-note to me.  I was honored with the Van Gogh medallion -- during NaMoPaiMo, shortly after I'd finished Brasenose.  As preventative maintenance this was flawless.  Now I have another test medallion, to replace my Rose Jypsi.  A minor surprise was that I was about the only blogger, outside of Jennifer herself, to depict NaMoPaiMo while it was happening.
I was inspired to create a notebook especially for my NaMoPaiMo projects, based on my Tack Notes notebooks.  It is now 22 pages long.  On p. 21 I gave up on transcribing what I'd written in my main Notebooks -- there was too much -- and just entered synopses.   Here's a quote:
[1801.31] [January 31]
"You have to be deeply devoted, professionally disciplined, physically skilled, blessedly creatively supported and have, very nearly, all the time in the world.  It's a narrow path to follow.  Only discipline and isolation, and HARD WORK, will bring that dream into reality, the 3D of life, in the hand.  Don't I say something like this in the Guide?!!!"

The selfies request was genius.  It was yet another example of how I could only do this on my own terms.  I had my husband shoot me.

My largest surprise, which grew and grew, was just how diverse people's ideas were of what constituted an equine form.  One pony was lying down.  Unicorns!  Pegasi!  Carousel horses!  oh, and Carousel Mules...?  Hippocampi?  not one but at least two!  Wait, a lion?  An Art-Deco horse -- what I personally called 'the Akhal-Deco'!?  Wow!  And to beat all, the Lord of the Mountain!!  Diversity indeed...

This last piece, a metallic-blue horse with a pure-anime-fantasy head, provided me with my most notable turnaround in feelings.  At first I was put off by his utter strangeness; I could not grasp what she was aiming for.  Also, I had a few qualms about artists who seemed to appeal to the world at large for every tiny problem or question.  Have they no sense of privacy?  I found myself wondering;  can they not solve small challenges on their own?  Is this what the modern online world has evolved to?
But then at the end, in that torrential rush of finishes, I saw the completed Lord of the Mountain.  Oh my my, AHAH!  So THAT was what she had been aiming for!!  So that was the vision that had sustained her,  -- what was trying to get out.  I know as an artist that the vision must be strong enough to withstand the long processes of birth.  I could only acknowledge that she had, indeed, done it.  What winners all.
Saddle & blanket by SBY, bridle by Gillespie
(How quickly he is broken to ride... : )  That's my Chris-Armstrong-designed Navajo blanket "Klagetoh" coupled with my famous Elk Saddle, TSII #432, built 2003.  This is his first time under saddle...)

I am not a last-minuter myself.  I despise deadlines.  This was one of the reasons I resisted joining for so long.  I had bitten off a mighty hunk to chew.  I had to learn how to color a Trad scale horse and how to paint him with what I had -- under an imaginary but still real pressure.  I learned that smoothness is, in and of itself, an artistic achievement.  Like all such skills, it can only truly be got by practice (kind of like tooling leather).  I value smoothness and hardness of surface:  witness my collecting OF glossies.  (I know my heart shall break when Brasenose gets his first good rub or scratch!)  I've purchased a special travel case for him -- so great has his value become.  (It's actually a plastic briefcase.)  This value is even more set off by the speed with which he was finished - another surprise.  I am reminded of how Ivan Collins, the scale-model horse-drawn-vehicle maker, created his most beautiful sleigh model in what was to him record time:  less than 2 weeks.

You would think this speed would translate itself into a myriad of follow-up dreams.  After all I have 12 unfinisheds.  But here's my paragraph comment on Sommer Prosser's grulla pinto Lucien:
"Seeing this horse answers (for me) the question of whether pro painters have reason to fear NaMoPaiMo -- to fear its building up their competition.   Hah!  If nothing else, NMPM serves as a splendid sampler.  More than ever, (now that I've tried it!) I do not grudge the painting pros their prices.  Congratulations, Sommer, you nailed him!"
(Her response was all I could have hoped.)
photo & sculptures by Margarita Malova
Would I do this again?  My first answer is it's too soon to ask.  Dreams need time.  Conceptions, naturally, should be private.  Brasenose took several weeks to reach the stage where I was ready to share this dream with the world.  You can only break your virginity once.  When I am strong enough: that is the time to ask about next time.
Nonetheless, glimmers are coalescing.  He needs a wife.  My first encounter with him revealed a foal, Malova's sculpture Magnolia the tremendously cute stretching filly.  He is a stallion.  Not for him my childhood collection rules of how gender is defined by personality and how breed doesn't matter in a family.  Too much adult detail and realism is embodied in him, and thus his future family will surely be resincasts like him.  Perusing Malova's sculptures, I saw the grazing version of Gazyr.  I am drawn to unusual, pioneering models.  The first faint wishes are swimming in my seas:  palominos, perlinos...

As for the future of NaMoPaiMo, it seems assured.  I rest my case as before:  if she never blogs again I will still be amazed and grateful for all she has given us.
"--and just look at how great she has been!!"

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Brasenose in Tack: Headgear

Bridle by Corinne Ensor
These shots are from my 'midnight photo session' (2/20) as well as the morning after (2/21).  Hopefully you'll forgive yet another post on Brasenose!
He really is extraordinarily refined.  Dry -- I'll give you dry!  The result is that only my finest tack looks good on him.  Only my best Corinne Ensor English bridle:
Bridle by Corinne Ensor
I have a fair amount of English tack, even one with a braided browband by me.  But the instinct for refinement began early and stuck hard.

Only the thin metallicism of my Foust costume halters.  We knew this from early on.  Below is one of the few photos capturing the time he wore tack during his painting.
Layer 6, Halter by R Foust
Since the 80s I've had several of these Arab Costume halters that were extraordinarily thin, with metallic threads in them.  Out of my collection of blue, red and watermelon colors, blue's the best for Brasenose!  I'm reasonably sure they were made by Renee Foust, but not 100%.
Halter by R Foust
This is as close as I can come right now to the authentic desert look.  I'm ashamed to confess I didn't notice the tarnished chain until now!!  That means it's sterling, which is a good thing.
Halter by R Foust

Only my finest, thinnest Western tack looks good on him.  Of all my pieces, only the refined delicacy of my Griffindoone curb works -- but that could be its colors:  copper, silver, wheat, white tassels.
Bridle by Rebecca Dunne
Strangely, not Heather's or Regine's or even my own tack works tonight.  Later I might try my Fan Bridle or my Braided Snaffle (which I did:  see below).  For tonight, refinement is the catchword, spread across all 3 cultures.
Bridle by Rebecca Dunne
This Griffindoone style really does have a slender elegance to it that is entirely appropriate. Forgive the curb:  his muzzle is quite small and I just didn't notice!  I shortened it later but it still wouldn't get short enough.

I knew from the start this horse was going to look interesting in a great many cultures' tack.  I did not intend to limit him solely to Akhal Teke gear.  He's a dream of mine and not based on reality, though I shall forever be grateful to his Russian provenance.  I want to try English, Western, Arabian and (eventually) Harness on him, as well as the expected Turkmene styles of neck jewelry.  All in good time!

I am calling this his Calendar Shot.
Bridle by Rebecca Dunne
 He expresses my own Western roots as well as an Eastern refinement (not to say mysticism).  As I can do any horse culture I wish, so this horse, who feels so close to the essence of me tonight, can wear many kinds of tack.  Yet the king should be braidwork.  The blue Tassel and the Dunne seem better, right now, than the Ensor -- because they're braided, or appear to be.
Bridle by R Dunne
I'm amazed, but now that he's born (finished, separated from me, independent:  that calm, measured, assessing gaze!) it's an amazement of a different kind.  Previously, it was all about me:  my skill as a painter, the progress of the job.  Now it's all about him.  He puts my tack collection -- one of the greatest I know -- to shame.  A higher level of detail has arrived, and I can only bow down before it.
If none of my pieces are refined enough -- that just means I haven't yet made a piece good enough for him.

Next morning, such philosophizings have faded.  I wanna know what he looks like with various bridles and hackamores!  Tack show time!  Here's a wild one:
Bridle by Juliane Garstka 2002
This is one of the more interesting pieces I have.  She put such character into it -- the first time I ever saw braided horsehair done in model, and the first real rawhide wrapped buckle.  Juliane made the bit herself out of sheet brass painted silver.  The little tag is my attempt at true museum provenance; clearly, I haven't tagged all my pieces!
Bridle by Juliane Garstka, 2002
How good he looks in Western... it's reassuring...

Here's an oddball, my Braided Snaffle I was thinking of last night, taken in my traditional shooting spot with the tree behind.
Doesn't work, does it?  The tree camouflages his head, while the green in the sinew buttons clashes with the red.  Worse, the mouthpiece isn't positioned right.  It would work on a real horse, but models have restraints.
We have reached the golden oldies of the TSII.  To my relief (who was wondering?!) he looks great in them.  This is Tissarn's Hack, actually my favorite.
Bridle by SBY/TSII
Another calendar-pose, except the sky whited out.  Such lovely legs.
Hackamore by SBY/TSII
I will end this stretch of indulgence by going back inside, even though such good weather is precious.  This is the hackamore I used for his official Press Release portrait, the one most people would see.  I call it the Kathy's Show Hack.  It was inspired by a full page ad for Kathy's Show Equipment.  I did not know then that split reins are rarely used on bosals.  This piece was made in 1995 and it was the first time I'd managed interweaves on the nose button.  It has remained another of my favorite pieces, even though it's clearly too big for Brasenose.
This strange lighting is caused by the fluorescent light-bulb's tendency to throw a tight beam of light, and here he caught it on his muzzle.
He is well named!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Brasenose Layer 11: Finished

 For at least a week I've been polishing this sentence:  Many microbrushes and Q-tips died in the making of this horse.
Here at the end, it's almost anti-climatic.  As I write I'm waiting for the nail polish on the eyes to dry.  (Photos were taken later.)  It's taking more than one coat, although the first coat did most of what I was hoping for.  Did I read tutorials?  Yes (see the Thank You list below).  Am I following them?  Barely.  I'm like Leonardo daVinci:  read up on something and then forget everything and just do it.  In this last sprint -- details, the homestretch --, I'm reverting to my tackmaking experience of 39 years, and using liquids instead of powders.  Outside of my test piece, a medallion started in January, and Rinker the Appy Etch (completed in 2015 - he took 2  1/4 years), Brasenose is the first 3D model horse I've finished since about 1983.  He was begun the 10th, finished the 20th.  Hard to believe: eleven days, 11 layers!  This record speaks of a lot of pent-up-ness.
This post will show Brasenose without tack, as he was the night he was finished and I sneaked out at midnight to photograph him.  I also went out next morning (the 21st).  After all the dire forecasts, the blue sky was rare and wonderful.  Pictures of him wearing tack were, of course, the main part of the 116 shots (clear evidence of infatuation), but those will be in another post.
Layer 11:  Finished
 In the middle of that night, a combination of snoring and excitement kept me up, so I started blazing away.  I learned to aim the lamps low so as to bring out his shading.  He looked like porcelain.  This is now my high-dollar horse, the one my husband always warned me against, for fear of breakage.  The incandescent bulb (the other is a fluorescent) gave him a deep golden glow.  Charmingly, the photo above shows his 'brazen nose" -- Pearl Ex reflections.
Thank You:
First and foremost, Jennifer Buxton, for birthing the idea of NaMoPaiMo and patiently listening to me when I said I'd never.  May she ever feel proud of what she's created.
Margarita Malova, who sculpted and cast this lovely resin.  To get the conformation as good as this speaks of many long hours and of other sculptures.  How is it the Russians have such a thriving hobby scene?  I'm jealous.
Olivia Miseroy, who posted the tutorial that I followed the most: Painting a Chestnut
Bobbie Allen and Lisa Smalley, who encouraged me with emails at the times it mattered most.
Sarah Rose, who sculpted Jypsi and then gave me one:  my precious test medallion.
Uncle Eli's, the art shop in State College which sold me some Jack Richeson pastel sticks, Pearl Ex and brushes.
George Young, my husband, who helped me clear out the storage barn (amoung many other things).
Last but not least, the Russian Post Office deserves mentioning.  For not much moola they shipped a horse halfway around the globe and let me track him.  Following his progress through some of the ground so familiar to my war-gaming George was a great pleasure for both of us, and a lesson in how other countries ship stuff.  I wish my own P. O. could be that good.
Pastelling is painting with powder.  His body and much of his mane and tail were done that way.  Never having painted a horse before, let alone an Akhal Teke with their metallicism, I was making up this color as I went along.  I kept no recipe.  I shaved the pastels into the bowl and mixed by eye, adding Pearl Ex in every layer.  I wore a mask and gloves.  By the end I had my favorite approach, scrubbing in the sparkling powders with a very short, broad brush, dusting with Mom's old Japanese moth-eaten bamboo and then going out to the storage barn to spray him.  The third brush down is the dedicated Pearl Ex brush.
Copper sparkles got EVERYWHERE.

This is a rare glimpse of how I carried him.  There was a lot of carrying, as the barn was across the driveway and around the end of the house.  That was one aspect that surprised me: learning to smuggle him under my poncho, in plastic wrap, through all kinds of weather!
Layer 9 with wrap
The mane and the tail-tip cost me the most effort and took the most time.  Somehow the Apoxie mane accepted pigment differently and was harder to color.  I spent large portions of the 17th and 18th de-painting these areas.  I used rubbing alcohol with Q-tips and microbrushes and a plain brush.  I'd get the hair ends white enough, but somehow the orange I wanted was missing.

I did try a touch of tan Leather Dye, which was exactly the right orange color! (you can see it on his forelock), but it was so tricky to use liquid to blend pastels on Apoxie that I couldn't do a lot with it.  The Pearl Ex tempted me, and I'd paint it on his light places --  so addictive! -- but with each matte spray sealant coat, it'd go duller.  It took several layers to build up a satisfactory metallicism.  Worse, the Pearl Ex seemed to make the white parts get coppery and darker, and then I'd have to start de-painting all over again.  After a couple of rounds of de-painting, I gave up.  Natural bleached ends was going to have to be good enough.
Delightfully, the rump patches that had troubled me earlier were consumed in the ever-darkening layers.
On the 18th I peeled away his blue tapes.  His star had nothing to do with pigments, merely being scraped clean by a knife... !  The stockings started similarly, but needed gesso to cover up some wire armatures that showed through.
I was not ashamed to be using nail polish on his hooves and stockings.  I put on a light spotty coating to enliven the gesso - it gave a living-skin color, texture and protection.  I even used it for his eye whites.  The color was right, a pale translucent-y pink.  I'm ignoring warnings about longevity.  I've painted horses' hooves and eartips with nail polish since the 80s.  I'm only sorry I can't remember the name of the model airplane glue I painted King's hooves with back in 1982 or thereabouts.  It's still there and has lasted far better than anything else.
 The above is from Layer 11:  not really another layer, but what I'm calling the detailing.  The front feet had been used for handling and the hooves had a coating of 'everything.'  I lightened them and added one coat of pink nail polish, and that was it:  I was happy.

Here's a look at the last pastel layer.
Layer 10 Near
This is the famous shot put on FaceBook, which inspired Jennifer to award me NaMoPaiMo Champion of the Day:
Layer 10  Off
I did try Rub-n-Buff when I got to the irises.  This metallic paint has been an old friend forever and I intended to use it when an Akhal Teke was first decided on.  But no.  My Rub-n-Buff tubes had dried up into rock and only hard specks could be got out.  For the eyes I dissolved the specks in rubbing alcohol and then had to add pastel powders, which of course had Pearl Ex in them.  This impossibly custom mix turned out beautifully gold, just what I wanted.  At the moment, two layers of nail polish is required, but I'm reasonably happy with his eyes.

Hah!!  Reasonably!!  I'm bouncing-off-the-walls happy!!  He shines, he shimmers, he's got a head-snapping glow to him.  He's humming with power, he draws all attention to himself.  He's all-a-quiver with life, the kind a newly-finished piece of tack has.  It's a subliminal vibration.  It'll slowly die out, but now while it's fresh I'm loving him so much!!!  Without his compelling deadline to finish I feel lost.  It's always this way.  I am fortunate in that tack wearing, testing and making is right around the corner.

Layer 11 Near Forequarter
I know I said the shape of his mane was a clear indication of my intentions as regards the Akhal Teke's traditional neck jewellery.  Nothing could be easier for a tackmaker who specializes in Silver Parade (since 1979!).  When the time comes I expect making Brasenose something Teke will be do-able.  BUT --- that time has to be right.
Layer 11 Near  Outside  Rail
I have two Silver parade sets to restore before July.  I have at least two pieces of headgear and a saddle I want to make - remember I'm supposed to be making only the pieces I WANT to make?!?  And I've got at least one grandfather saddle in the works too.  As much as possible gets to be squeezed into the three (?) months before May because May and June are basically lost to me.  Every year I promise myself I'll make tack in Colorado.  And every year those two months are the time of great travel and family time, but precious little tackmaking.  Those who cannot learn from the past are doomed, etc.  It's a hard lesson.

I'll finish with a private glimpse of what my horses' lives are like.  You didn't think it wouldn't happen!  Completed hip drops from the restoration of TSII #378.
Next post:  headgear time.