Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quick update on Micro Mini 1:64 scale saddle

I'm posting this from my new Blogger app.  Bear with me here...I'm discovering all this new stuff my phone can do :).  So I did a little more work on this tonight.  Maybe about an hour to do the far side pieces and part of the stuffed panel.  I'm nearly done with construction, but I do need to check it over for final cleanup.   Anyway, for those of you interested here's the photo:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Micro Mini (1:64) scale English Saddle

Oh have I been busy lately!  I'm having more fun doing mini tack than I thought I would.  Maybe it's been such a long time since I made anything, I'm just enjoying myself.  I started work on my micro mini set today, but I have a bit of a headache so I'm done for the night.  My newly painted MM jumping mule, who is now going to be a sport horse of color -- breed undetermined for now, just arrived from Jessica Funk.  He's great!  My first painted MM, my first horse of color...very exciting, at least to me.  Below is the horse + a pic of what I have of a saddle.  Sorry for the low light craft room is lacking in the light department.

This is my smallest English saddle, to date.  I just have the one side & flap done for now.  Enough for a photo.  Well, that's all I have to report on that tonight.

To celebrate the completion of my LB saddle, I gave my stock horse a quick heat gun makeover last night :)  Don't pay any attention to his lumpy neck.  I was performing a tracheotomy on him, and so he doesn't look so pretty right now.  I haven't gotten into CM'ing my own horses yet, except for hack jobs like this!  We'll see what happens.  He looks a little better, doesn't he?  I need to fix his right rear hoof, but he can't stand up otherwise.  I think I need some clay to patch it all up :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

LittleBits/Paddock Pals/Pebbles scale (1:24) saddle -- completed!

Ahh, I can breathe a sigh of relief now...I'm finally done!  Ok ok, no need to be over dramatic.  It's not a relief since there was no pressure, but whatever :)  Let me just post some photos and descriptions.

In the last post, you saw some LB stirrups that I found in my tack box.  Well, my non-UK supplies order came in yesterday and I got a different set of stirrups -- Sulser ones this time.  Normally, I don't like the Sulser hardware all that much, but I like these particular ones *much* better than what I had.  They look to be a good size for this saddle.   Tonight, it looks less off-scale than I did before.  Go figure!  Maybe it's all about photographing it at the right angles.

Also, here's a close-up of a hook that I'm going to use when I actually make some accessories for this saddle.  It'll be for some kind of breastplate, but I don't know what yet.  Nevermind the fact that it's brown leather, not cut well, and sits all high on the horse's neck...I just have it there so I don't lose that little hook!  I'll work out something creative.

BTW, all these photos are shot with my cell phone's camera.  Pretty decent minus the grey bar thing at the bottom, eh?  Maybe that's for captioning...I don't know!

Also, I'll post some other items on my workbench.  I have a brown traditional bridle with flash noseband in the works.  I'm trying to make a nice set for my mom so that when I go to a show, she'll have something to show too.  I'm trying out a few new elements:  braided reins (not laced like you normally see...really plaited), inlaid metal detailing on the browband, and raised noseband.  I don't like the braided reins...the braids are not even, but they start looking better towards the right side of the photo.  It's hard to cut a 3/32" piece of skived down leather into 4 tiny little strips, and then actually braid them.  I'm going to try something else.  Maybe just the regular laced reins.  Hmm, I don't know.

That's it for now.  Time for some dinner -- yummy zucchini pie!  Take care and have a nice weekend :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

LB & SM saddles

I'm coming down the home stretch for the LB & the SM saddles.  I don't have the stuffed panel attached, but it's made so I can at least see how things are going to pretty much look when it's glued on.  This saddle is really looking too big for this model.  So, I guess we could say this is Lg. Little Bit, or is there actually a technical name for the scale that's a wee bit bigger than LB?  Curio?  I don't know.  I really like the saddle though, regardless of whether or not it actually fits this horse in particular.   

Next up, the SM saddle + girth.  Again, I'm not 100% pleased with how it looks on this particular model but the saddle shape & detail looks good for this size.

My main goal of creating the same or a similar saddle in all scales is to see if I can at least accomplish a high quality level of detail, even in the smallest of scales.  I think I'm accomplishing that goal for the most part.  If I'm wrong, do let me know!  Anyway, I'm tired of working on saddles today so I'm going to take a break.  I'll be back sometime soon!

Friday, August 26, 2011

LB saddle flap detail

I've made some more progress on the LB saddle.  I'm waiting on some stirrups for this saddle too before I completely attach the flap.  These small scale saddles work a lot better just to not have adjustable stirrup leathers.  What you see is a completed flap.  I think it looks good after the last wave of modifications.  Scale looks good enough.

A side Breyer no longer making Paddock Pals/LB models?  I tried to find some on their site the other day in hopes of finding a better model than this old stock horse, and I couldn't find any current models.  Hmm...interesting.  Thanks to the folks at, I could see all the available molds in this size...not very many at all!  I think if I could get my hands on a LB Unicorn, he'd make a nice looking huntseat mold after a little CM'ing.  Or, maybe a nice resin.  I was going to try and stick to a jumping horse theme, but doesn't look like that's going to happen!  I don't have a jumping LB or jumping classic.  Ah well.

Monday, August 22, 2011

LB 1:24 saddle -- minor updates

After posting something on MH$P to gain someone else's perspective on the saddle, I guess the flap was too big after all.  I cut off quite a bit and I think it looks better now.  We'll see -- I post pix here so I can get another look at the creation.  In person, they always look pretty good but it's not until I see them on a computer screen that I can tell what needs to be improved upon.  Anyway, below is the fixed flap.  Better, right? 

Does this saddle look too big overall for LB?  I looked up some other hunter QH's and they have such long backs....the end of the saddle winds up about mid-back.  This guy has the saddle going almost to the flank.  He's either short-crouped or my sense of perspective is off.  I don't have any in-between sized models....maybe this would look better on a curio sized horse. Ugh, maybe I should scrap it and start over. 


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Start of Little Bit/Pebbles scale (1:24) saddle

I figured that while I'm waiting for my SM stirrups to get here from England, why not start the next saddle.  Next up is the LB 1:24 scale saddle.  I've got a little less than 2 hours of work (some breaks in between) so far into it, but I thought I'd post a picture.

My flap isn't attached yet...I just have it placed so I can check out proportion.  Also, I haven't started the cutout for the stuffed knee roll.  For now, I just want to be sure all looks ok before investing more time into it.  I did a little faux stitching detail to see how that would look.  That's about it so far.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Why oh why do I keep posting today?

Can you tell that I'm excited to actually have a blog now??  Maybe not, you don't know me!  How long have blogs been around, and this is my first one?  I don't know, I just really haven't been into the blogosphere.  I don't like posting things on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else is out there either.  Maybe I'll like this more because it's about my favorite hobby.  For those of you who like all things model horse, at least I can interact with anyone who has questions or wants to talk horses.

I started thinking about my model horsing activities, and I really haven't been too involved for awhile.  It looks like my last commission was completed almost 2 years ago in fall of 2009!  I've worked on some random things between then and now, but I haven't completed a full set since.  This got me thinking...let me break my thoughts down into the following pretend questions that people probably aren't even thinking:

1.  When was the last time you went to a live show?  2008, the GLC (Great Lakes Congress) in Chicagoland.  I did well in performance, which is really all I care to show anyway.  I always try halter just because, but I never seem to do well.  I'm more proud of my tack :)

2.  Have you ever been to NAN (or BreyerFest or what's the other...Stone County Fair?)?  No, no and no.  I've qualified for NAN a lot, and as far as I know most of the sets I've made for my clients have as well.  I don't know if they go to the big shows, or if my tack does well at that level.  I do know that a lot of my tack NAN Q's it's first time out at regional shows, and quite a few pieces have taken performance champ/reserve champ on the first show.  I should figure out the stats one of these days.   

3.  How many tack sets have you completed since starting in 2005?  Well that's a good question, pretend interviewer.  When I think about it, I *think* I've only completed 15 in their entirety.  That's kind of pitiful isn't it?  In my defense, I have quite a few half finished projects.  Let's see, I've fully created 5 huntseat/jumper sets (4 traditional, 1 SM), 1 traditional dressage, 2 saddleseat (1 traditional, 1 SM), 1 traditional harness, 1 traditional polo set, and 5 traditional racing sets.  I like to try new things, and I'm mulling around the idea of a sidesaddle set, a historical set (Civil War era), something Portuguese or Spanish maybe.. I'm not ready for western yet.  Maybe endurance too, who knows!

4.  What do you have "in the works" then?  1 lg. traditional draft harness, 1 micro-mini western set, 1 SM pony huntseat set, 1 SM jumping set, 1 traditional jumping set, 1 traditional racing set, 1 SM harness, 1 traditional huntseat set....I think that's all.  The draft harness is what I want to finish sooner than later, but it's hard to find the pieces I want.  I'll post some progress photos when I have something worth showing.  If all goes according to plan, this will be my pride & joy piece.

5.  Do you take on commissions?  Yes and no.  Typically I don't take commissions, but I will take them if I feel I have enough upcoming time to get a set completed or if it's someone who really, really wants me to make something for them.  It never hurts to ask though if you really want something, but generally I don't seek out work.  If you can find me, then feel free to ask!

6.  Do you find it odd you're having a pretend interview?  Hmm, yes.  I must be really bored tonight!

7.  Last one, it's good to end on lucky #7.  Well now I can't think of anything else.  My neighbor's house alarm is going off and I'm wondering why.  It's 11:35pm...too early for burglars?  Aren't the police supposed to come when a house alarm has been going off for 20 minutes?  Way to go ADT!  Or Broadview I mean, excuse me.

Anyway, I'll try not to post weird posts from now on.  Just hobby related stuff.  I think I feel a bit campy tonight, maybe that's why :)  In the off-chance anyone actually reads this, I do apologize!  Hope you all have a good day/night and drop me a comment if you want.

Stablemate 1:32 scale English Saddle

I'm trying to post something from my cell phone now, so pardon any typos!  I'm excited for all this new blog stuff (new to me, old hat to everyone else I'm sure), even though I don't think anyone is reading my posts.  Oh well.  This weekend I got the idea to make the same English saddle in all scales, to test my diversity in different scales. I've really only worked in traditional and a teeny bit in stablemate. I dabbled once in micro-mini but it was a western saddle and I still haven't finished. It's a little too small maybe! I've never tried classic or little bits sizes for anything, and I haven't tried MM in english. 

So, here's my progress so far with the SM set. I'm waiting for my stirrups to come from England, as I'm trying a totally new stirrup this time.  I tried a "fancy" stuffed knee roll, but that's hard to translate in 1:32 scale.  I think it looks alright...good enough anyway!  I did a soda can tree, padded knee rolls, nail head that's actually metal (not just dab of silver paint), faux stitching around flaps, and stuffed panels.  I don't have any billets on this for a girth.  I'm contemplating a sticky wax attached girth instead of something with a buckle.  One side will be glued down, and you will only be able to attach the other side with wax.  It'll make it a lot easier for tacking up at a show.  What about a saddle pad?  The last SM saddle I made, I permanently attached the saddle pad.  I like that idea again for ease, but this saddle could be a versatile flat saddle or jumping saddle.  Maybe I'll keep the pad separate in case I want to change out with something else.  Hmm, thoughts?

P.S.  Can't load images from the phone, but this whole Evo4G Google phone + Blogger + Picassa web album is pretty nifty!  I can just upload pix from my phone right to Picassa!  This is new to me :)

The real "About Me" information....

Well hello cyber-world!  This is my first post to my first blog...bear with me here.  What do people normally post?  I don't know, so I'm going to start and tell you a little about me.

My name is Erika Palmquist, and I've created the model horse tack making shop called Fox Valley Tack.  I've been a long time collector of Breyers, yet I didn't know the model horse showing world even existed until 2005 which is when I officially began making tack.  A couple years after I graduated from college, I had some extra free time after work that I wanted to fill with a hobby.  I was online one night trying to think of some new hobbies to get started in, and I accidentally came across some random photos of custom tack and artist resins.  What a neat idea, I didn't realize people did this kind of thing!  I had no idea what a resin was, but they were so beautiful.  Anyway, after further investigation I found out about live showing and I've been hooked ever since.

Below is a picture of my Arabian gelding Savage...well, formerly mine.  We had lots of fun in 4H and in local open shows, so I draw from my experiences with him for the tack I make today.  I no longer own horses, but I do have a dog that I show.  That's a whole different ballgame!  Dewey, my Boston Terrier, just earned his Beginner Novice A AKC title (not that exciting since it's just an optional obedience title, but we did just start showing a couple months ago -- summer of 2011).  We're working our way towards a Novice A obedience title, and hopefully a Rally Novice title at the same time. 

When I was little, my mom used to make me Breyer play saddles.  She had bought a Breyer english saddle at a toy shop in Boulder, CO when we were vising family out there (which I thought was just awesome because I'd never seen any saddles at the toy stores here).  That shop always had a good selection of limited edition models that my aunt would send to us, but when the saddle broke not too long into having it, my mom said it was too expensive to keep re-purchasing.  So, my mom, being the crafty lady she is, went and got herself some leather & tools from a local leather shop, and she got to work making me play saddles.  She dismantled my Breyer saddle to see how it was made, and actually hers came out much better.  She would make saddles, and I would make little bridles & halters out of whatever materials she had.  Lots of fun!  It wasn't until I went to the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, WI with my mom (I was probably about 10 at that time so that makes this sometime around 1990-91), that I got introduced to actual LSQ tack.  Rio Rondo had a booth there, the one and only time I remember seeing Rio Rondo there, and they had this western saddle on was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen!  We bought some fine leather, a pewter bit, and we were on our way.  For those of you who don't know, Rio Rondo ( has been a long-standing tack making supply company.  They are a great place to get whatever you need. 

I kept my Rio Rondo stuff for years, in fact I still have some of the leather I bought from them that long ago...yes I like to keep things maybe a little too long.  Of course, all of this was before the internet so I just thought that this company sold parts for people like my mom who just want to make playscale tack.  I didn't realize they actually showed it.  Anyway, back to present-ish time...

I had no idea what was going on until 2005 when I really discovered this whole hobby.  I was in awe of the great miniature stuff people were able to make, so I decided to give it a try myself.  Before I began, I picked up a book on saddlemaking.  It was a fairly inexpensive paperback from Amazon ("To Handmake a Saddle", by John Harry & J.H.L. Shields).  It walked you through patterns, assembly, etc.  You have to decide what you can & can't do in miniature scale, but it's a good starting point.  My first saddle was constructed as close to the exact instructions as possible, which I have since modified because all the hand-stitching is just a little too much to do for every saddle I make.  I was happy with it at the time (now, I can see tons of room for improvement), and it wound up taking 3rd at my first live show.  I showed it on a Breyer Strapless with a broken tail...tail broke completely off on my way to the show.  DOH!  But it did beat out other sets, so to me that was proof that I could make saddles good enough to show if it did that well on a broken horse.  I've tried different formulas for successful saddle making, and I think I've come up with some basics not mentioned in the book that work for me.  One tip, soda can saddle trees if you're just starting the cost of cast english trees, and you can still make a perfectly acceptable LSQ saddle.  

I don't think of myself as a top tackmaker, but what I do create does very well at live shows.  I've only taken on a handful of commissions, so I still pretty much just make tack for myself.  I can confidently say that my tack is LSQ, and most of what I make either NAN-Q's right away or at least in a couple shows.  Oddly enough, I don't think I've been to a live show in almost 3 years!  My tackmaking has slowed down a bit due to a few things in real life -- a house remodel, a dog I'm training & showing, and the guitar I'm learning (spend more time playing that than I do making saddles).  Oh well, lots of interests :)

That's about all I have to say for now.  If you got this far reading, thank you for doing so!  I appreciate the interest in my work.  I only take commissions if I feel like I have the time, but it never hurts to ask if you're interested.  Have a nice day!