Thursday, August 7, 2014

Buckle Tutorial

I've had a request on how I do buckles, and it seemed easier to just dive right in and do a full tutorial on them here. If you have any questions afterwards feel free to email me or message me on facebook!
Note: Now, as I'm putting pictures with all the words I of course took all the pictures on my camera with the memory card that doesn't connect to my laptop. Sorry for the really awful pictures, I had to actually take pictures of the camera screen with my phone. Hopefully you can still tell whats going on!!

Buckle Tutorial 

First off I'll need you to relinquish all rights to your sanity. You can have it back later, it's just this buckle is thirty two times smaller than a real buckle. That is very, very small. It's important not to take anything to seriously during this or you might blow a brain fuse. 

look. look at that. 

First off, I get my wire from the jewelry department at Michaels (all the other tools I use are from there too). I usually keep three different gauges around for my buckle making purposes.
~26 : The biggest wire, used for bits and nail-heads on saddles and not much else. 
~28 : I use this for my buckle bodies, or the outer square. 
~32 : This is saved for my tongues, but some artists prefer it for the whole buckle (Stage Left Studios). It's important to find a system of the gauges that works and feels best for you. 

26   -   28   -   32
After you've acquired all the right wire, it's time to actually make the buckles!!

My way of making buckles involves making them into the bridle for lack of a better word. This means all the lace for the section should be done. I don't want to get very far into how the whole bridle works together, but you'll need the two pieces you're going to "buckle" together. 

A "bottom" and a "top" piece
In this case I'm doing the curb bit of a double bridle. As a general note about stablemate sized tack: Cheat. Seriously, you can't make this small of stuff without shortcuts. Just by being a maker of 1:32 scale miniature model horse tack you have automatically been given the right to cheat on things. For example, on this double bridle there isn't a buckle on the noseband hanger because it would have made the left side of the face too bulky and crowded. 

you can't even tell
Instead the curb bit hanger lays conveniently over it, so I know there's no buckle, but the rest of the world will never suspect a thing. This is okay.

That said, I start by taking the strap that will go through the buckle and punching holes down most of it. I use a thumbtack and punch into a nail file so it goes all the way through. (If you require reading glasses or glasses at all, put them on now).

This is where you get to really cheat. I take my tongue gauge wire (regularly 32, but since Michael's doesn't carry that gauge in gold, I'm making do with 28) and snip off a little piece, making sure it's straight. Then I put it through the hole where I want the buckle to sit when it's on the horse. 

Next I put a little bit of regular tacky glue on the underside of the lace facing toward the point end where I want the wire to lay and squish the wire centered onto the glue/leather.

While you're waiting for that to dry completely, we can bend our buckle. This is the tricky part that you really have to try a few times to get it right, just getting comfortable with the process each time. You can even try different ways; again, whatever you think will work for you. 
Take pointy of VERY small tipped tweezers (something strong works best for this, so they don't wiggle around when you're bending) and grab a piece of your wire, leaving room on either side of the tweezers. 

then bend each side down

and then move the tweezers onto the side and bend again across with one of the sides. You'll have to tweak it to fit exactly on the leather. 

Then to finish the buckle body all that's left is trimming the extra wire super close to the body, because any little nub you leave sticking out will show up, I guarantee it. 

Next, slide the buckle body onto the leather so that the shortest and squarest side sits on top of the leather, underneath the tongue wire we poked through earlier. This is another area I cheat in. I used to put tacky glue on the other piece of leather holding the bit or noseband, then smush them together and hope the buckle stayed. Now I know better, so I take just a very very small amount of super glue and put a dot on each side and on the back to hold the body of the buckle in place. 

this is a truly awful photo. I apologize

Finally, using tacky glue, layer the top piece with he buckle onto the bottom piece with the bit/noseband. 


Then just trim the tongue wire to fit the buckle, add keepers, and voila! You have a ridiculously in scale buckle!

Hopefully this was helpful and not too confusing (I know the photo's don't help). Don't be frustrated if you don't get it your first or thirtieth time. Practice makes perfect, especially with something this small!

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