Monday, July 15, 2013

Noseband detail

 After lots of waiting for help on using the new decal machine at work, and plenty of trial and error (mostly error), I think I finally got the noseband detail pretty well set.  I know it's a tad tilted, but that's about as good as I can do with this.  I end up putting it on blindly, so that's not too bad for not being able to see!  Very happy for today :-)

My Texas adventure

My summer has really picked up in terms of me being busy...apparently I'm not used to that!  My birthday was a few weeks ago, and I haven't even celebrated yet!  I went to Texas for a week over the 4th of July to visit my brother -- very fun time!  Austin is a fun city to visit, and Drew keeps asking me to move there (I think he misses being closer to family), but there are a few things I don't like about it:

(1) Driving -- traffic is awful!  It feels like Chicago traffic to me....rush-hour all the time.  For example, he lives 28.5 miles from his work place and it takes anywhere from 45 min to 1.5 hours to get there.  Ugh!  It's just bumper to bumper all day long, and I swear there was an accident like every day.  How can people get wrecked all the time?  I don't like the highway system either.  Now, my sense of direction is pretty good but this just didn't feel right.  I enjoy driving city streets to get to know a place, but you don't really get a lay of the land when you have to drive highways all the time.

(2) Heat -- I've decided that my Swedish & German genes aren't meant for hot weather.  Those are 2 cold-weather types of people.  I'm meant for snow :)  It was so stinkin' hot that I just couldn't take it.  And I mean it can get that hot up here in IL too, but boy it felt like I was in an oven.  Bonus -- we waited an hour in line for a Gourdough's doughnut (totally yummy), and I got the tannest I've been in a long time.  So the sun is good for making a golden fried Erika!

I must say though, the positives outweigh the negatives.  If I had a few million dollars (I think I really need to crank up saddlemaking to hit that goal!), boy would life be grand there.  I absolutely loved the Westlake area.  It felt almost like Malibu, minus the ocean.  You head over there and you can see these massive mansions hanging out over the cliffs, and it was just a sight to see.

We headed down towards either Lake Austin or Lake Travis (Drew wasn't sure which it was) and we passed by some $13M houses for sale (thanks Trulia!).  I'd say the average price per home was well over $1M in this part of town, with many, many multi-million dollar pads.  It was super dreamy.

There was one castle that we could see from the highway, and it looked like the size of a hotel.  It had an observatory (which would house a telescope I imagine) sticking up out of the trees, so naturally I had to go take a look.  It's on Coldwater Mountain Ct.  The house is so big, it gets its own street.  I found that it's something like 30,000 sqft of home.  Drew saw the place a couple years ago, and it was under construction -- still under construction as of today as well.  You can click here for a slideshow:  Here is another slideshow from the architect's page:

I wonder if they'd have an extra room for me to live in!  :)

We went tubing on the Comal in New Braunfels, TX which was very fun too.  The best place to drop in is at Landa Falls, which I think shares the parking lot with Wursthalle.  It'll give you the longest float on the Comal River.  There's a pretty little park there and you can just head on down to the stone platform and pop right in the water.  The river has a current too, so you can just sit back and relax.  Don't bring any cans!  There are police in the water looking for people with cans, plastic bottles, or anything that can be considered garbage.  We bought a $5 thermos from Walmart in their camping/fishing department and that was all fine.

Oh, and I have to say the food there was amazing!  I was on a foodcation, so I had to be sure to get to the best eats in town.  We tried out some food carts, which I had been wanting to do for some time.  I was Eat St. and some other food shows on TV, and they always feature some of Austin's best.  Places we ate that were awesome were:  Home Slice Pizza (the line is huge if you go sit down, so try the building next door for overflow people...the slices are worth the wait), Lucy's Fried Chicken (I suggest the fried chicken salad sandwich, try their grits, and drink some sweet tea), ALC (Austin Land & Cattle -- Drew and I were not real hungry when we went, but we shared a melt-in-your-mouth ribeye steak.  The escargot was quite tasty too -- worth trying if you like eating new things.  I've only tried it 3 times in my life, and this was by far the best!), Rudy's BBQ (brisket, outside cut -- yum!), Gourdough's Donuts (super tasty, but get one to share.  It's too rich for one person at one sitting.  The chocolate one was good, but too much chocolate for me), Gristmill in Gruene/New Braunfels (the catfish & greenbeans are super), this Sunday buffet in Blanco at a restaurant I'm not sure of the name (one of the only places in town, and it's on the main road that goes through town -- fancy, southern-feeling place that has good food), and the East Side Fillin' Station had some good food trucks.  The taco place at the far end on the left side has one of the top 16 tacos in the nation.  I had the fish taco and el pastore taco -- highly recommend both, but the pastore taco was the one that won an award.  Get the strawberry limeade they make to finish it off.  I may have forgotten some of the places and I wish I could have tried even more places, but there's only so much time and so much room in my stomach for food :)

We did San Antonio one day as well.  We just cruised by the Alamo, so I didn't get to see it but that's alright.  Doing a drive-by is fine with me.  The River Walk was pretty neat.  Water was gross, so don't fall in.  I do suggest a guided boat tour -- it's only $8.25 per person and it goes for 35 minutes.  The gondolier we had was either a retired teacher or a teacher on summer break, so he was good at it.  There are some great places to eat, but we decided we wanted to eat outside as close to the water's edge as possible.  That lead us to Casa Rio.  It was listed as one of the best restaurants there, so we figured that was worth trying.  We asked the hostess and waiter what they'd suggest to eat, both said the Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas.  It was just ok...I wouldn't get it again, the ambiance was what we were there for.  It reminded me of Casa Bonita in Boulder, CO but the food was better.  Their daiquiris are pretty good though!

The other thing we wanted to do in San Antonio was get a good scare visiting a haunted location.  We're not believers in ghosts necessarily, but sometimes it's fun to just get a little scared with the what-if.  All the haunted walking tours started while we were still at dinner, so we headed to South San Antonio to the Ghost Tracks.  The legend goes that back in the 30's a bus full of children stalled out on the tracks, got hit by a train, and everyone died.  So if you stop your car about 20-80ft back (different reports), put it in neutral, the little ghost children will push you across the tracks to safety.  You're supposed to put baby powder on the back of your bumper or all over the back of your car to see their little hand prints.  Now just so you know, S. San Antonio is a dangerous place to be and not somewhere one should be going alone.  Drew heard it was dangerous, but he had played softball there and wasn't too afraid.  When I got home I read more about it.  I've read that gang members hang out there and rob people who get out of their cars to examine the power hand prints.  We didn't experience any specific gang activity, except at the very end when we were getting ready to leave, a sketchy, potentially gang-looking SUV cruised by.  That is the kind of thing that really scares me -- going to a dangerous place that I shouldn't be in and seeing people go by who who look like they want to kill me!

Anyway, we started doing the track thing and we were inconclusive as to whether or not ghost kids helped us across.  Some other car full of a family was there doing it right after us, so the most fun was trying to get the kids to believe in ghosts!  That was entertaining :)  An odd note -- we were there around 9:45pm on a Friday night examining the powder, and I had turned to just look off in the distance for a minute just to take an inventory of the location (I'm always on the lookout for danger just in case, I don't want to get robbed!).  There, about 50 ft from the intersection was a train!  We couldn't hear it at all...I couldn't believe how silent it was.  Even as it passed us, there was almost no clacking like you'd normally hear with a train.  He didn't even sound his horn until he was like 10 ft from the intersection.  Really strange!  There were so many people there doing the tracks with cars off, lights off, just cruising in neutral over the tracks...that added an element of fear to what we were doing.  After the train passed and the maybe gang-bangers came by, we decided it was time to go.  If you try the ghost tracks, it's entertaining but beware of the potential dangers and remember to be sure you're not the only car out there doing it!  Do it with a group of cars to lessen the likelihood that you'll get targeted.

Drew had things to do every day, and so when I got home I was extremely tired.  Who's supposed to be tired after a vacation?  It was a really fun time and I'd like to do it again sooner than later!  Now, back to model horsing :)

I'm still working on my set.  My initial idea to transfer a stitching design to the noseband & browband isn't working out as I had thought.  I'm going to try again, but it's frustrating and slow-going.  I'll try again soon and hopefully have something to report.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Saddle and a haircut?

I think the saddle is finally done (yay!).  

I started working on my pattern idea for the bridle stitching this morning.  In my head it looks good, but we'll have to see how this translates.  Fingers crossed the tranfer will work!  This should work for the noseband and browband.

And, I gave my poor pony a haircut.  She looks pretty unloved in her current state, with gaping holes, and some boo-boos I made with the dremel.  Oh well, necessary step if she's going to ever wear a bridle.  I just don't like that thick, molded, tack unfriendly hair!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Saddle almost done

I'm just about finished with the saddle.  I'm trying a new material for padding on the bottom...rubber!  Well actually, it is like a liquid plastic, but it feels rubbery when baked.  Remember those Creepy Crawler Kitchens from way back when?  Its that kind of material.  I had a heck of a time getting it to bake though.  You're supposed to do it on a low temp for I think 15 min, well that didn't do anything.  I ended up baking at 100 degrees hotter and 3x as long.  Also not the best idea, but it did set-up.  I think my goo is too old!
Anyway, I like the results thus far...hopefully my customer does too!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Does anyone else get tons of spam rereferrer traffic on their blogs?  I've been getting lots ofhits from,, and  Don't click any of those...I read that they can link you to porn or viruses.  But, I was just curious if anyone else gets that too.

My new Affinity came the other day...she (he in my horse's case) is a really cool looking model.  I have lots of racing tack that I want to make, just need to narrow it down a bit.  I almost think another Secretariat set might be cool.  I made one once before and it's a shame it isn't being shown.  It's a very striking combo.  I have a prototype hood on him just for fun...I don't like that one too much.  I'm embarrassed to say what the fabric is too! :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm plugging away...

Does anyone watch Ready for Love? «sigh» Tim Lopez :-)
I end up working on my saddle during the commercials.  I already had the side flap made, now it's permanently on.  I just need to attach the trim, so that'll probably be done by tomorrow.  Enjoy, whoever is looking!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Little progress

I don't know why I'm going so slow.  How's it looking today?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What's "writer's block" called if you're a tackmaker?

I don't know why I have tackblock!  I've been stuck in the same place with this saddle for about a month.  I think the shape is great, I don't love the shiny finish of the spray dye.  It's not bad or anything, but I was hoping for the finish of a new leather saddle.  Not glossy, but has a healthy sheen to it.  I bought some matte sealant, but oddly enough it just enhances the shine so I won't be using that on the saddle.  What to do!

Also, I need to sort out the suede knee rolls.  I think I'll just do some backwards skiver, but I don't think I have anything that's the right color.  Maybe just some backwards natural'll compliment the mahogany saddle tone anyway.  We shall see.  Going to Milwaukee today with my mom for her 2nd Mother's Day celebration, so maybe I'll feel inspired when I get home.

On a side note, I went to the Boston Terrier Nationals in Chicago this past Monday/Tuesday and we earned another Rally title - Rally Excellent in the B level.  We got 1st place, 2nd place, and 4th place with scores of 98, 90, and 90.  I was happy with the 98 because we beat out people who were working on RAE (already have their Excellent title).  There were two other 98's but I was the fastest!  I wasn't too happy with the 90's, but taking into account that we haven't trained at all since July 2012 and I basically plucked my dog off the couch for this show, I'll take it!  He was so tuckered out when we got home...he was extra sleepy for like 3 days after :) 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thank ya, thank ya very much!

I was just getting ready to pack it in for the night, and look what I found...couldn't resist taking a picture :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Classic saddle - not much to report

Time for bed, but I wanted to post a couple saddle pix.  I think its looking pretty spiffy.  I also got a cool new harness part!  Can't wait to try it out!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Classic Saddle -- few more updates

I had to snap a few pix from my cell phone before I left for work today.  Now, I haven't attached the flap but I have it placed just to see how it looks.  Lookin' pretty good!  I still need to do the contrasting stuffed knee roll, but you need to have the main shape down first.  I think we're a go!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Classic Huntseat Saddle -- 1st classic of any kind for me!

I'm just writing a quick note before I'm off to work.  This weekend, I started work on a 1:12 classic size huntseat set for the Eberl Haflinger pony.  For some reason, I've made saddles in all other scales except classic!  Why?  I don't know.  Couldn't easily find a classic saddle tree from my suppliers, so I decided to make my own so I could actually begin work right away.

So far so good, but you can't see too much progress :)  I just got some new paper-thin leather in from eBay, and it was perfect size for making the seat.  I need like 1/4oz to 1/2oz leather, and boy is that hard to find.  The main body color is called mahogany, though in the picture it looks pretty chocolate.  I'm using a spray dye which makes for a nice even finish.   
(I don't know where my photos went -- I think I deleted my folder they were in.  Doh!)

And I'm just using the photo below for size reference.  It's so much easier to have reference photos on the blog so I can view them on my mobile devices.  Beats having to always come back to the PC just to see a picture.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Patent fastener, option 1

I found some of the Apoxie clay, so I decided to try my pin + clay fastener.  It's just so-so.  It'll look better with paint, but I don't love it.  I started one in brass too, but I can't find my files packed away anywhere so I can round the edges! 
Anyone ever read the book "Indian in the Cupboard" when they were a kid?  I could use a magic cupboard like that!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Harness Collar Conundrum

You gotta love WiFi!  Normally, my phone takes forever to just upload one pic to Picasa over 3G, but over WiFi, it uploaded 8 lickity-split!

So, I've been just kind of working on this collar...more working on it during commercials while I watch TV :-P  I initially wanted to make it for the Totilas mold, though I want him to be customized to be more carriage horse-like.  I'm up in the air about it right now.  It's a decent collar, so I don't want to scrap it.  Here's what I have so far.

But, after I made the collar it just doesn't seem to look completely right on him.  Maybe it'll be better after a customizing.  I bought a GH Valentine & Heartbreaker set on eBay because I thought the mare would make a nice pair for Totilas (no, she does not as it turns out...she's way smaller), but the collar looks pretty good on her.  Her body type or position is just more harness friendly I guess.  I'm thinking of using 2 of her instead of Totilas, but the collar is now too big on her.  Maybe I need more than one harness set!  I don't know...since the collar is a lot of work to make, I think I'm going to continue with Totilas for now.  

Next, I need to make the buckle closure part for the top of the collar.  This is what has me stopped for the moment.  I want to make what's called a "patent fastener" instead of just your old buckle & strap type.

None of these pieces exist in the model horse hobby, so to use them I'm going to have to create them from scratch.  Kind of a daunting task when I am very unskilled with metal work.  I made one once out of needles and clay, and it turned out pretty decent.  But I'm out of the clay plus I want to make something that's totally metal instead of painted.  The paint rubs off when handled so I found out.  That's my patent fastener being held together with some leather scraps.  It moves & works like it's supposed to which is what I want.  I could just use this, but I was keeping that for my draft harness that I'm sort of, kind of working on.

Until next time my friends!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New harness beginnings

I've decided to start on a new harness, this time with a collar instead of breastplate. My sewing doesn't look so nice, but some will be covered by the hames and hopefully the rest just kind of blends in.  These are iPad shots...not all that crisp.  Hmm, oh well.  I don't have too much to say today!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

May have found a nice pairing option (no not wine!)

I think I found an answer to my question about who to pair with Totilas....Eberl's Korsar.  Too bad none for sale on MH$P :(

I'll need to think about this, but perhaps with this pairing I can leave Totilas as an OF so I have an entry in both CM/AR and OF should the show call for a distinction.  I did buy 2 Totilas so I can always CM one....hmm, the creative thoughts are coming to me!  That's enough for Saturday night.  Going to go enjoy my HBO "Game of Thrones".  Night!

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Arrivals

Today turned out to be a pretty good day :)  Work wasn't too bad, and when I got home I had a nice surprise waiting at the Breyer Totilases? Totili? Totilas's?  Whatever, you know what I mean!  I had checked Breyer's website yesterday and say they were backordered, so I wasn't expecting them anytime soon.  What a nice model too!  Question to the viewers:  Who should the large one be paired with in a harness team (AR or OFP)?  I want to get him CM'd so that the front legs look more carriagey, but I was wondering about maybe a CM'd Salinero or CM'd Valentine mare?  Similar body sizes.  I like Valentine's head (I think Salinero is too muley or too much like Cleveland Bay mold), but not sure she'd look good with Totilas.  Send me your thoughts....

Before I came home, I stopped at HobbyTown USA for some brass, a pin vise, a mini drill bit assortment, and to take a look at the Breyer selection.  They're one of the only stores, if not THE only store, that carries Breyers here.  They had a dapple gray pinto Weathergirl that I almost got, but I ended up leaving with a little resin Totilas instead.  I don't know what it is about minis & me right now, and I don't even know what I'm going to do with him, but I really like minis!  I noticed when I got home that he has a big popped bubble in his paint, so he may just have to end up getting CM'd sometime.  Into what, I don't know!  I feel like making a dressage set for him though :)

I'm going to try my hand at making some parts.  We shall see what happens!  I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to raw metal.  I like the pre-made stuff I can get from my trusted hobby supply folks online!      

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2013 Carolina Gold Classic

Let me start off by saying -- I wasn't even there!  I haven't been to a live show in literally years.  But, I can vicariously show through some of my customers, so that makes me just as happy as if I were really there in the action.  None of these upcoming photos are mine -- they were taken by Marlayna Youngblood and her mom, who were at the show.  Hope it's ok that I proudly display them :)
The polo set took 1st at this show -- Yay!  It's my 1st and only polo set to-date.  But, it's really pretty much the same as a regular english saddle with just some modifications and lots of extra accessories.  I did plait the noseband out of a faux rawhide lace.  That was kind of a challenge.  I think I had to restart at least twice because I got off in the braiding.  Braiding isn't my forte.  I really think the tack looks quite pretty with that horse.  I was trying a new leather on the seat which wasn't quite as pliable as I'm used to, but I think the overall result looks great!  I like that it's smooth and not grainy, so maybe if I condition it I'll have better luck.  We shall see.  I should make a polo set for myself one of these days  :)

The harness was the newest addition to the lineup, and it took 2nd place.  Again, this is only the 2nd harness I've completed (I'm still working on that draft harness...slowly but surely).  My first was basically the same harness, I just gained some experience on refining so this looks a ton better.  Overall, I think it's a flashy pleasure harness!  I was very excited to see this one do so well.  On a sidenote, I was looking up the action figure I bought for myself to originally be my driver.  It was Mick from the Rocky I Jakks Pacific line.  I got the guy at Toys R Us for $8, and today -- Amazon has him listed for nearly $80!  Can't believe I sold him!  Oh well.

This racing set was my first commissioned piece of any kind, and only the 2nd racing set I had ever made.  My first, not so pretty but I thought this turned out well.  It always does a good job at the shows, usually taking 1st or 2nd.  Apparently this time around, it was beat out by another commissioned racing set of mine (see below).  I'm sorry for Marlayna, but yay for me...toot toot! That was me tooting my own horn a little :)

All of the above sets I have made for Marlayna over the years, with the exception of this last photo of course and I had no hand in the western saddle at all.  I'm really not a prolific tackmaker at all (this is more than 50% of all the commissioned tack I've made!), so I'm always happy to hear from my few customers how their sets are doing.  She's so great about telling me how they do!  I don't make all that much, and even when I do it's usually something just for me that gets about 2/3 done before I get sidetracked.  Lots of unfinished things I could/should work on.

Well, I just wanted to give a shout out to everyone and tell them what a good job they've done!  4 NAN-Q's for my pieces in one show.  That's not too bad.  Keep the updates coming, good luck, and happy horsing :)