Thursday, March 24, 2016

Studio Update: March 24

I feel like I've been so productive, and yet I'm struggling to find photo evidence.

Basically, I've been in a very cross country-type mood lately, judging by my current projects. There's this micro diorama, kind of a sequel to last year's version:

I have a massive reference folder of fences and obstacles from the London 2012 Olympics, and this guy has been near the top for years now.

It's still very much in the rough stages, and I have a whole 'nother post coming together about the process of this project, but it's been fun so far!

The other time-suck on my desk is also of the eventing variety, and also a project I've been itching to tackle for years now: this awesomely tacky Devoucoux saddle from a Braymere post a while back. 

The wrinkled skirt has since been replaced- sigh!

I bought myself some high-quality leather paints for a racing set a few years ago and haven't really had the chance to use them since. So far with this saddle I've been really pleased with the paint, and all the touching and handling involved in assembling it hasn't seemed to phase the painted pieces. I do have some anxiety about paint flaking off or chipping away, but *knock on wood* so far so good!

I'm off to make some very red panels!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Thick of It

I don't know how many English sets I've made in my "career" so far. If I had to guess, I'd say somewhere between a good few and a bunch.

What made this week's set different than the past many, is the fact that it's made entirely from 3mm tooling cowhide. 

Here's a thickness comparison reference for you:

The cowhide is easily double the thickness of my normal leather, skiver, which still needs to be skived down quite a bit to be usable for mini scale tack. Using this super chunky stuff meant at least double the skiving time on every. Single. Piece.

Grace, you ask, if it takes forever to make usable, why use the thick leather in the first place?

Good question.

While there's nothing especially wrong with my skiver, I've been looking for a leather with a smaller grain for a long while now. 

Skiver saddle, sometime in 2015

Cowhide saddle, circa today

Besides the more discreet grain, this thicker leather also has a bit more body to it, which makes all the little tiny straps and whatnot feel slightly less fragile.

It's also much better at holding little details like stitch marks, and I like its overall well-oiled, quality kind of look.

The added prep work time means charging more for cowhide sets than skiver ones, which I don't love. My prices are slowly increasing over the years as the quality of my tack increases (I hope!), and I do my best to be fair to myself and my customers, but pricing is still super tricky for me. 

At this point, I really like the cowhide and I'm not sure if this is a full transition away from skiver or just a fun departure. I feel like the big skiver grain will bug me much more now that I have a better alternative...

I was really pleased with how these boots came out! The new leather definitely molds to the leg better and holds a nice shape.

And of course, what pad color could I possible choose on St. Patrick's Day but spring green?

For this set, I aimed for a good kind of starter English package to cover jumper, hunter, and your trail/games/other classes in the English division. I figured as I'm not currently taking commissions, it'd be convenient to offer a full package kind of deal instead of leaving someone wanting for boots or a breastplate or something. 

Having done a few basic/general purpose sets back to back, I'm really itching to try something a bit different next. I'm thinking some crazy eventing set or something?

Any other tackmakers out there, I'd be interested in any leather suggestions that might split the difference between the cowhide and skiver- thinner than cowhide with tighter grain than skiver?

(Update: this set is now up for grabs on MH$P here!)

Friday, March 4, 2016


2016 has been extremely light on the hobby side of things so far. Basically, all I've done is...

...this basic English set I started before Christmas and sold in January. 

I have been busy in the studio, but my January and February were spent cramming on art school application projects...

...with the ponies neglected in the corner.

After spending so much time and energy on application projects, the last thing I wanted to do was spend more time in my basement studio on tack. But then I saw Anna of Dreamflite Design list some seconds of her wonderful western tree cast... there is now a bunch of western-ish pieces strewn around the tack side of the work desk. 

Western saddles are always a challenge for me, and this one will require all new patterns, so I doubt I'll get it done anytime soon. Mostly because I've been struck by hobby inspiration once more, and I have a whole host of project ideas cooking!

I've entered this weird stage of being a hobbyist where I'm not even really a hobbyist? I don't really have a model collection (other than my bag of OF bodies for tack fitting), I don't have a high interest in pursuing showing at the moment, and I'm more than happy to just make things and sell them so others can put them to good use. It's an interesting limbo, but I'm quite content for the time being. 

A few things I'm excited about, in no particular order:
  • Gorgeous mini artist resins, particularly Mini Hazel (must! acquire!)
  • Breyer's new SM molds!
  • The barn trend sweeping my blogisphere- I just love props, man. I'm currently aggressively fighting the temptation to make my own (it'll be so small! Hardly take up any room at all!)