Monday, December 29, 2014


 This week or so we're currently in is always crazy. There's the leaving of the Christmas guests, the coming of the New Years guests, the weird feelings you have around Christmas decorations after Christmas, and the apprehension that oh my God it's going to be 2015 on Thursday.

Luckily, in the midst of the madness Anna has made the two state jump to come hang out with me for New Years, and share some good old fashioned tack time. She came bearing supplies for a Portuguese bridle, and this drool-worthy muley recently completed by Sue Kern. 

This girl is going to be a knock-out in the performance ring! Watch out, Region 2!

While Anna suffers through the 13 or 14 tiny buckles on that bridle of hers, I've finally been tackling a tack dream of mine:

I'm sure I've talked about wanting to do this awesome RZ Dutton saddle on here before, but it's finally happening! I'm kind of waiting for this project to backfire in my face, but so far, so good...

Anna and I have also both recently created Instagram accounts to share our tack and post little progress updates that don't really merit a blog post on their own. While I love Blogger and plan on keeping this blog running as long as I can, Instagram is great in how fast it is- when I just want to share one step of a saddle, I can have it up and out there in less than 10 seconds. It's also been fun to explore kind of a different demographic of the hobby- I never knew there were so many of us model horse weirdos!

If you're so inclined, you can keep up with my antics by following @stageleftstudios over on there. I'm kind of imagining a weekly segment here on the blog where every weekend I'll post a recap of the best of Instagram that week, so nothing gets left out? We'll see!

Update: The blog has new clothes! I'll probably futz with it a little more, but this is more or less the 2015 look. Woo!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday Raffle Winners!

(This is my 100th post! More celebrations on that topic to come!)

First, of all, WOW.

Anna and my holiday raffle completely exceeded our wildest expectations. Our initial goal for ticket sales was $50, enough to buy a family in a developing nation a goat, but we ended up raising a whopping $200! That's enough to not only get a goat, but also a school kit of supplies for a child, and clean water for a family for life.

That's incredible!

I am just blown away by all the entrant's generosity and holiday spirit!

Anna and I jumped on Skype this afternoon to draw the winners "together" via, and here's what we came up with:

Our first winner is ticket #24, owned by Carol Owens, and the second winner is ticket #201, which belongs to Jennifer Cole.

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you so, so much to everyone who entered!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

All Together Now

I am a very content tackmaker.

I'm comfortably between orders, the raffle sets are going off to their new homes soon, and Christmas is almost here, so I'm embarking on a well-deserved break. 

Seeing as this will probably be my last post before Christmas, I wanted to take this opportunity to post a cheesy "Christmas card" type group picture, and wish you all a very happy holiday!

(The horses of 2014, from left to right: the donkey that never got painted, the surgical mess-up, the Fjord monster, Ellie the mule a.k.a. the studio mascot, this OF from Breyerfest I've ended up using in a bunch of pictures, and my new beau.)

I'm also in the rare position of having enough of my saddles sitting around the studio to stage another hand picture, albeit not quite as impressive as the 2012 edition:

Looking forward, Anna is coming up to visit on the 26th, and I am absolutely over the moon about it. We're carving away some time to sit down and make tack together, which should provide lots of eye candy (and maybe even a sale set) for the blog! Then around New Years, I know I want to get a nice "year in review" type post up here, so this quiet won't last long, I promise.

The holiday raffle is doing better than either of us could have ever imagined, but it's not over yet! These are your last few days to get your entries in before Christmas- help support this amazing cause, and maybe be one of the two lucky winners who will get a pretty Stage Left or Ebb & Flow box in the mail. 

And finally, a non-obnoxious Christmas song to listen to while you sip your hot cocoa, lounging by your tree after you've kicked off your party shoes:

Once again, Merry Christmas everyone! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Studio Update: December 16

The hunter set in this order is officially complete, pending the owner's approval. Woo!

On the customizing side of the table, yesterday I decided I need a big, couch-like Cob type guy to wear some UK huntseat or possibly side saddle tack. 

This was definitely an I NEED IT RIGHT NOW LET'S GO kind of project, and it shows.

I really need to go back and redo most of his neck (I'll never figure out how to do the withers area properly- ugh!), but I think there is cuteness potential.

I'm picturing a sweet bay or black color, with a roached mane and neatly trimmed tail?

I think the end goal is some kind of side saddle pas de deux with this little fella...

How cute??

...or maybe I'll finally make a Handy Hunter drink table entry happen!

On the less cute and fluffy side of things, this was my lesson this week in knowing when to quit:

Dear Future Grace:

If there are noticeable inconsistencies in the color of your piece of leather, don't use that leather. 

I now have a funky looking multi-toned English saddle sitting around, and I don't know if it deserves a bridle. Maybe I'll try dab-dyeing the whole thing a darker tone...


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Studio Update: December 14th

I love when a cross country or jumper set comes together.

It's easy to feel like I'm just making a bunch of disconnected little bits, but putting them all on the horse makes such a difference!

Today I made a breastplate, started a sale set saddle, and watched a lot of The West Wing

I also sculpted a neck and some ears, and worked on an oil paint portrait that will be a Christmas present one of these day.

The moment of suspense for this set was adding the doll...

...and I think she works pretty well! 

Now all I need is a fleece saddle pad for the other set, and this order is off to its new home, hopefully in time for Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Studio Update: December 13th

Today, I finished the boots at long last.

The two saddles, two bridles, two girths, and six boots are done for this order- now all I need is a five point breastplate, saddle pads and clean-up/last minute adjustments, which always takes longer than I think it will.

I'm unashamedly proud of these guys.

Each boot in this full set has three faux tongue buckles, full stitch marking, and raised kick plates.

They're still easy to get on and off, luckily: While the buckles are fixed, the ends of the straps just sticky wax down into place, as demonstrated by my sticky wax failing to do its job here:

At this rate, a sale set before Christmas does seem like a realistic possibility. I have a gorgeous new dye color that I'm itching to try out- we'll see!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Blogidays Day Twelve: Prop Talk

On this final day of Blogidays, I thought it would be fun to discuss the elusive and often frustrating topic of Stablemate scale props by just going through what's currently in my prop box, and how each item was made or where it was purchased.

First up is my little stepping stones doll/prop. The doll (who's permanently attached to the stones for super easy setting up at shows) is customized from a generic plastic figure I bought in a huge lot a while back- more on her later. 

The "stones" are just little pieces of a dowel glued down to a rectangle cut out from the back of a Breyer box. Painted the whole thing green, and it's that simple!

Flower pots are a performance essential, and mine are from Micheal's a million years ago. They're wood stained with a color of leather dye that I never actually liked on leather!

Same goes for the standards- just various dowels glued together and stained with dye. Paint or real wood stain would probably get better results, but I kind of like the uneven, weathered look that I ended up with. 

Measurements-wise, I'm a total eyeballing girl. I just kind of go with whatever size looks best with the horse (references photos of real jumps for comparison). The jump cups are sculpted from Apoxie Sculpt, but I've had a lot of luck with just plain ol' soda can and super glue in the past.

This little mailbox is another Micheal's find. 

This is exactly how it came out of the package- talk about an easy prop!

Moving on to dressage, my dowel collection comes in handy again. The markers are just square dowels cut down and painted. I'd really like to try some kind of stencil in the future to get cleaner letters than what I can manage with a Sharpie!

My dressage railing is another super easy dowel creation- literally just cut down to size, glued together and painted. 

The options out there for Stablemate cows are considerably more limited than the Traditional cow choices- I personally like Breyer's little running calf. 

(I know Cassie Thomas also has some great little cows out there, too!)

My hunt for in-scale Stablemate flowers has been a long and difficult journey, but for the moment I'm loving these teensy tiny dried flowers I came across on eBay.

They're actually meant for nail art, but they just happen to be perfect Stablemate scale! My only gripe is that they are really, truly tiny, and sometimes difficult to work with, not to mention very fragile! It sure beats cutting out minuscule petals from tissue, though, so I'll take it. 

This is the crown jewel of my prop box: a meadowbrook cart by Argylefarm I had made back in 2011. 

This baby is hardwood, handmade goodness that has never failed to take the blue ribbon in every class it has ever entered! 

While I'm a very stubborn DIY-er, I don't mind turning to other artists for items like this that I know I'll never be able to make myself. 

The girl in green started out life the same
"mold" as her friend in blue!
Maybe the biggest difference in Stablemate and Traditional props is the use of dolls- they're much easier to come by, and tend to be an overall higher quality, in larger scales. While I'm usually fine leaving the riders off my performance horses, there are some games and Other Performance entries I have cooking that could really benefit from little tiny people.

The little guy in red was a product of me grabbing a package of little people at
Micheal's, only to bring them home and realize they're much too small for this
scale! Ugh!

Finding 1:32 scale people is a bit of a treasure hunt. For riders, you have your standard Breyer and Breyer knock-off (the rider with the purple shirt is just slightly too large for this scale- ugh!) dolls. The horizons expand a bit when you step outside of horse-specific dolls and open up your search to just any people in the right scale.

I turned to my good friend eBay, and ended up getting a lot of 20 something little plastic people intended for use with model trains. The two standing men in these pictures were a part of that lot, as well as both the ladies in the previous picture. These were a total jackpot- they're just about the right size, and made of a hard plastic that's easy to saw apart, sculpt on, sand down, and paint to get just the pose I need. 

Moving right along, we have our standard poles and cones, made from bamboo skewers and clay respectively. I've been eyeing some cones meant for little racecars to possibly upgrade from my own less than polished version... I'm sure there's someone in the hobby who produces cleaner ones too!

As for footing, this tiny scale is much easier than the larger versions. For a while I simply used sandy-colored felt cut to the size I needed- no mess, not fragile, and easy to get to and from shows! I've recently upgraded to some sandpaper glued down to a wood plaque:

The hard surface helps the horse and any props stand a little more securely. This little board is my catch-all "arena" base, that can cover everything from dressage to roping.

For my more outdoorsy, trail-type entries, I turn to this grassy base I splurged on over the summer. In my hurry to get ready for my last show, I temporarily attached it to a piece of cardboard, but I think it's high time I secure it down to a cleaner base.

I love its dimension and varying textures! 

That just about wraps up my prop tour, as well as Blogidays! I've had a lot of fun coming up with the posts over the past twelve days, and I hope you've enjoyed them! We'll now return to your regularly scheduled two or three posts a week.

The very exciting news on the holiday raffle front is that we just broke $100 raised for Free the Children! This is double our initial goal, and both Anna and I are just absolutely over the moon. Thank you so much to everyone who has already entered! For those of you who haven't- what are you waiting for? You only have twelve days left until the winners are picked!

Speaking of hurrying up, if you still don't have a present for your model horse-y friend, you're in luck! This holiday halter is still up for grabs here

Thank you to everyone who's been reading and commenting, and happy Blogidays!