Archive for the ‘Western’ Category

I’m really good at starting projects and abandoning them. 99% of the time it’s because I run into a Problem that I don’t know how to tackle, or there is something that needs to be corrected, but correcting it would require a lot of work. (or a complete do-over, which is very unappealing when you’ve already invested so much time into the piece)

This is exactly what happened with the western show saddle I started four years ago.

In this case, the Problem was how to cover the tree. For whatever reason I never really tried to work it out, put it aside, and got distracted with other things.

Last weekend I came across all the pieces while cleaning, and was going to just throw them out. But nooo, I decided that it needed to be revived.

Maybe a change of pace is what I’ve been needing to get out of this creative slump? Unfortunately time was not kind and the leather had darkened with age. The more I looked at it the more I realized that yes, this really does need to thrown away.

I hate starting things over but in this case I think it’s for the best. It makes me a bit sad to think of all the work I put into it going to waste, but then again, so much time has passed that it doesn’t really matter much anymore. One good thing was that I had created digital copies of the pattern and tooling pattern, which already cut out a lot of work.

So, version 2 has been started, beginning with correcting my lopsided re-sculpted saddle tree. Since the tree was the Problem originally I figured I would start with covering that first.

It’s um… kind of weird.

But it’s a start, even with it’s weirdness. And it’s created more Problems. My pattern is way off. I’m having to readjust everything, which in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t discover when I first started working on this four years ago.

One thing I haven’t had to re-work much are the fenders, so here they are right now. I haven’t done any tooling in four years so I can’t say that I’ve improved there. I also don’t understand why my first attempt at it had to be such a complicated pattern but whatever.
These were created a day apart and there’s a lot of difference between the two. (or is that just me?) I think that has to do with the tools I’m learning to use and just practice/trying to figure it out.

I can say that I really like the stitched detail. For those wondering, it’s paint. I don’t think it’s possible to actually stitch something that tiny, and I’m not eager to try it out.

So yes… this is where I’m at with the saddle right now. I’m taking it slow and not pressuring myself to make it perfect. It’s not going to be perfect and maybe not even “good” but that’s ok. I haven’t made enough saddles to consider myself “good” at making them, and who knows if I’ll ever get to that point.

I do want to mention that on Mares in Black‘s most recent podcast, I was really inspired by what I believe Kylee Parks said about customizing: to just go for it and figure it out. I don’t customize but it still struck a cord with me. Saddles intimidate me because I don’t know how to figure them out, but the only way I will is if I just go for it and keep practicing. So uh, thanks for that.

Hopefully I won’t have to re-start this one in 2023…

Read Full Post »

For the longest time I’ve been wanting to learn how to make better barrel or gaming reins. The easiest way to make them is with a regular three stand braid, and that looks nice enough:

But I wanted to take it further and recreate this in miniature:

Weaver Leather Barrel Reins

I did some searching on different paracord braid styles, found two tutorials that I thought would work, then made these:

I really love the result, and wanted to share how I made them with you. Keep in mind that this is not an easy complete-in-20-minutes type of project. It may take hours, and will require a lot of patience. While the braid patterns are quite simple, the tricky part is keeping the strands (in this case, 8 strands made from split embroidery floss) in order, which is hard to do, especially in miniature!

You will need:

  • Embroidery floss in two colors (you can use more than one if you’d like but two will simplify things)
  • Two 1/8″ buckles
  • Two hooks (to attach to bit shanks)
  • Two small jump rings
  • Fray Check

My hardware is from Rio Rondo, but you can definitely make this yourself from wire.

A common length for full-size barrel reins is 8 ft. In 1:9 scale, this is around 10 1/2 inches. To start, draw a 10 1/2 inch line on a piece of paper. Make a center mark at 5 1/4 inches. From the center, add two more marks at 2 cm and 4 cm. Repeat on the other side.

You will use this drawing for reference when you adjust your finished reins.

Because it’s better to have more than not enough, measure a 12 inch piece of embroidery floss, then double it to make 24 inches. Cut two of these in one color, then two in the second.

Knot together at the top, then separate the four strands. In my first attempt, I split each strand into two, so I had four strands with two colors in each – if that makes sense?

The first braid we’ll be doing is a four strand flat braid. Rather than attempt to re-explain that, HERE is a link to the tutorial I followed.

This braid is pretty easy and quick to do once you get the pattern down. Continue braiding for about 12 cm, then tie a single overhand knot.

Next, we’re going to do an 8 strand round braid. Separate your four strands, then split each one in half. For this specific color pattern, keep all of one color on the right side, and the second on the left.

Again, HERE is the tutorial I followed for the braid. This braid is also very simple, but like I said, keeping the strands separate in this scale is tricky until you get the pattern down. It’s also slow-going because it’s so small, but the end result is worth it.

Continue with this braid for about 9 cm, then tie another overhand knot. Whew!

Arrange your strands into four, like we did in the beginning, and continue with the four strand braid. When you’ve gone another 12 cm or as far as you can, knot the end and trim off any excess.

Tie two overhand knots in the round braided section, keeping them about 2 cm apart. Use your sketch for reference, and keep them loose until you have them positioned the way you want them:

Eh, close enough!

The four strand braid has a natural twist to it which is unavoidable, but really annoying in miniature. I tried to tone it down some by pressing the entire braid with an iron, and it seemed to help.

To make adding hardware easier, saturate each end of your reins with Fray Check (or something similar, regular glue should work as well) and let dry completely. Do this close to the knots on each end. Once dry, cut off the knots.

Thread on a buckle, bottom to top. (if you’re using etched hardware, bend the buckles slightly beforehand) Add your jump rings/hooks, then fold over your braid and thread it back through the buckle.

Repeat on the other side, then go back to your sketch and adjust your reins to size. You can further adjust them on a model too. Lastly, determine where you want to trim the excess braid and cover it generously in Fray Check. Trim once completely dry. Please note that this will not permanently seal your braid ends, but it will help keep them from unraveling. Excessive handling or threading them on and off the buckles will cause them to come apart, so re-apply if necessary!

Your reins are now complete!

The braid pattern can be changed up by switching the order of your threads (the links I referenced show some good examples of that) and the color combos are endless, so have fun!

Read Full Post »

I’m attempting to make at least one tack piece every month this year. This weekend I had time to put together the first, a western bridle made to fit Breyer’s “Wyatt” mold:

This was based off a photo of a Billy Royal bridle. I chose it because there were two new things I wanted to try making: the knotted browband and the leather ties attaching it to the bit.


The browband was a lot easier than I thought it would be. (good reference photos help so much!) The stitching shouldn’t go all the way to the end though. I always make my browbands too big at first, and made the mistake of adding the stitches before fitting it properly. Something to keep in mind for next time anyway…!

But aside from that minor detail, I’m really happy with this bridle.

The leather ties work just like the full-sized ones do. There’s no way I’ll be changing the bit out though, so they are glued in place, but I love the added detail.

I also love details like this, which you can’t even see but it’s still there so it makes me happy:

So, January? Done! February…? I have ideas…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »