Friday, January 30, 2015

Photo Friday

Recently I've been reflecting a lot on how far I've come in the hobby since I first began my obsession with plastic ponies. In honor of these "carpet herd" days (as Grace would call them) enjoy this nostalgic picture from one of my early birthdays.

You can tell I was doomed from the start!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Studio Update: January: Hunter Jump

With a new performance horse mule on the rise in my studio, I decided it's only fair that she gets her own set of props. 

Naturally, I started with the most complex: a hunter jump. I wanted to create something that would last me a while, instead of me throwing something together for the Feb 14th show and then having to re-do it later. This meant cutting no corners for the first time in my prop making career.
My fantasy jump idea was for it to look similar to below, but with different standard 'bodies' as I'm not a fan of that guck brown and peeking brick.

I decided to splurge on some really cool texture sheets to make the standards look like stone. Much classier.

As part of my not cutting corners, I couldn't just chop out pieces and glue them on, I actually had to create a pattern that could give me smooth edges around the standards.

Tada! It worked! Nice and covered, 

and then painted! I was able to slop on some grey and texture it by patting the wet paint with a makeup sponge. The 'mortar' was a pain to paint in there, but the effect was definitely worth all the time it took to do all four (yep, doing the oxer).

Next I had to shingle all the tiny roofs. 

This was by far the most painful part. It meant cutting out strips of very thing birch plywood in varying thicknesses and layering them onto a roof 'base' to get a shingle look. 12 of these. Twelve

After they got all their shingles, they were stained and got white painted trim (aka more birch strips I had to cut and paint white before gluing on).

A small army of roofs in the making
And finally, they're finished!! I was on a skype call with Grace when I finally glued the last roof on, and she can vouch I almost cried with happiness. 

I am so so so please with the way these guys turned out. They obviously don't match the reference picture except for the style, but I like them much better this way. 

And yet, even in my joy, I knew I wasn't done. 
For some reason I decided I should tackle the next most complicated part immediately after finishing the standards: the gate.

This I was following the reference picture style for, too. Right down to the itty bitty diamond cut outs.

First coat of white
It was not fun to glue everything together, and I almost threw in the towel a couple times. Even now there are parts that aren't completely straight, but I'm hoping it'll be less noticeable when it's all painted and the rest of the jump is put together too. 
There's a lot more left, but the standards are happy so I am happy.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Studio Update: January - Side Saddle Set

Somewhere in the process of ordering the cantering mule by Sue Kern, I decided she would be ridden sidesaddle in all her english classes. I'm not sure where the idea came from, but it probably stems from my need to do everything extensively out of the ordinary. Sidesaddle mule it is. 

I started plugging away at the Pelham bridle right after finishing that Portuguese bridle I put together with Grace, because amazingly I wasn't tired of double reins and black lace yet. 

This project was made more stressful, however, by the fact that it had to be specially fitted for her. This meant I could only use a body mold for so many things before I had to build it on her!

However, I was able to sneak some measurements and do most of the dirty work on her original mold. 

Browband has since been fixed and moved lower, I promise
In the end it turned out fine!

Trying to tame four spider reins wasn't all that easy,

But they, too, eventually came together to create a really nice end result! 
Looks like my girl might pull off side saddle after all! 

However, next was the saddle, which I admit I put off for a week after finishing the bridle. I did not want to try and make new pattern pieces and fit a type of saddle I had never made before.
I decided to wing it and just dive in head first.

Still not entirely sure what I was doing, I whipped out some of the new sheepskin hide I bought and created some panels. As you can tell by the bumps in that panel, it took some getting used to. 

That lumpy monster panel was ditched and created a new, never fear
But it turned out just fine in the the end. 

I was worried about adding a sandwich bag, as many reference pictures of people in competition seemed to not have them. My personal preference won over, however, so on it went. 

And I'm happy I did!

The finished product is much better than I honestly expected. I'm hoping to sculpt a doll which will end up covering half of it anyway, but it feels good to know that underneath it at least looks accurate!
Unashamedly proud of myself on this one.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Studio Update: January - The X-Country Set

The blog has been unintentionally silent for a little while. You guys really haven't seen that many updates, and theres been a lot happening. That said, time to break the silence, one project at a time.
First up is a cross county set. The lucky gal who ordered this is the last person to get a commission at "set price", since now everything is priced individually.
Anyway, first came the saddle.

I played around with more of Grace's technique of making and putting together a saddle,

and I have to admit I liked it better! It's definitely one of my favorite saddles to date, as the cantle area has really started to put itself together for me. 

Next were the boots, keeping with the theme of light blue.

I absolutely love doing color themed things as there's nothing I love more than a matchey-matchey set.

With the actual leather piece parts of the set done, it was time to start working with some lace. 

A very nice figure 8 bridle assembled itself.

Despite feeling tinier than usual! 

That wonky stirrup is driving me crazy

All in all the set has come together very nicely so far. All thats left is a matching five point breastplate and it can go to its new home!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's a Pride Thing

I've seen a fair number of mini whinnie sets lately, and so I decided, naturally, to see if my abilities would hold out at such a small scale. Although no one forced me, as soon as I mentioned it to myself it instantly became a bet to prove some mysterious point. Possibly on how many hours my sanity would hold out preforming near surgery on little pieces of leather.

The bridle came first

The wire for the bit is the same gauge that I use for buckles and buckle tongues on a regular stablemate bridle. 

It was tedious and slow going. I believe that "fancy western buckle" is a small loop of 32 gauge

Finally it was done! The reins are each a single thread from a strand of disassembled embroidery thread.

The saddle came next.

For some unknown reason it wasn't enough for me just to make the set in this scale. I had to make it good.

51 minuscule flowers pressed in with the point of a needle and half of Pride and Prejudice on audio book later, and it's done!

I have to say I'm more than pleased with how it all came together.

Looking at it in person is nothing short of ridiculous. I'm considering even taking it with my to the shows in February, just for giggles, and putting a magnifying glass next to the entry! I mean look at all those tiny flowers.

Whew! I think I more than proved my point, whatever it was. Now that I've wholly satisfied that need, I hope to work more on the x-country commission as well as get started on some real show entries this week!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The New Year

As I think I mentioned before I left, I spent all of last week visiting Stage Left Studios own, very lovely Grace Ledoux. I thought I would get around to blogging about some of our misadventures, but I found myself far too caught up in the moments! 
However, my Instagram nicely documented everything for me real time. If you're still interested in following it it's simply @ebbnflowstudios.

My first time back in Grace's studio since this summer found if much the same as when I'd last seen it. Cleaner maybe? 

We started off our work time by finishing up the last of the raffle work. We wrote thank you to those who entered and packed up the sets for the winners. Once again thanks to everyone who entered!

With that out of the way, it was time for the obligatory dress up.
Upon Grace's request, I brought up my newest addition to the herd: this beautiful Sue Kern mule.
She looked cutest in this hunter saddle by Grace.

Looking fabulous in a SLS saddle!

And finally working could be put off no more. We put on Spirit for nostalgia's sake 

And buckled down to some serious tack making.
I was able to completely finish the Portuguese bridle. 

It didn't have it's curb chain here. Oops!
This monstrosity had 13 buckles. I would have preferred them to be the regular square and tongue, but no! They had to be the little oval ones that you actually have to slip the lace through without cutting corners. 
All in all it came out extremely well!

I also was able to start putting together a western saddle for myself I started a while ago. 
I'm not too jazzed about the tooling pattern and might just can it and start over.

After a week of tack making and New Years fun, it was time I return home. It was good to be back in my own studio, ready to make more tack. Firs however, I had to get the Portuguese bridle on its rightful owner.

Mrs. Lusitano is looking pretty good! Figuring out how to make that Portuguese saddle should be fun (not), but one step at a time. 

Being home meant I was also able to start another commission. 

I haven't made a full eventing set since 2012 I think, so it was fun to reinvent some of the pieces. 

It came together remarkably easy in just one day.

Hooray! I can definitely tell the time with Grace has rubbed off on my saddle quality. Thanks again for letting me spend some time in your studio!