Saturday, September 26, 2020

Performance Only Photo Show Champs

       I thought that we were never going to get the champ results for the Performance Only Photo show. Turns out the judge had done the placings but forgotten to post them. We all are going in 15 different directions these days, mistakes happen. But the champs are up and I am excited!
       In the CM/AR traditional western division, Purdy Zippin Chick got champion
And Bootlegger got reserve champion!
In the CM/AR traditional English Performance division Purdy Zippin Chick got champion
And Bootlegger got reserve champion!
In the OF traditional performance division Bring the Mayhem got reserve champion. 
In the CM/AR traditional Other Other (really, 2 others) performance division Purdy Zippin Chick got champion!

In the OF traditional Other Other performance division Lady Liberty also got champion!
I really enjoyed this show and even with the long delay for champs it had bits of the live show experience. Watching notifications pop up as the classes were pinned was fun. Being able to see the other entries was great as well. Now I need to go find some more photo shows to enter!


Friday, September 25, 2020

I'm Embarrassed

     I was listening to Mares In Black episode #51 the other day and they did a really fantastic interview with Darynn Bednarczyk of DeeJayBe Studios. Darynn made a Youtube video entitled " I am embarrassed to collect breyers".  I watched the video and a lot of what Darynn said about her experience in the hobby have been true for a lot of us. For some reason, loving horses is often seen as childish. Whether it is real horses or plastic ones, we often get judged for our love. Sure, if you have real horses more people will think that is just fine, but collecting plastic horses is a little kid thing. Isn't it?

     I am not sure at what age collecting turns taboo but there does seem to be a time. Often it is somewhere between middle school and high school. So many horse crazy kids sort of grow out of it. And then there are the hobby people. We might put our collecting into the closet for a while, we might even step away for a while. Many of us feel shame about our love of little plastic horses. And it's not surprising, often people think it's weird. 


       When I was 13 years old I saved up all of my babysitting money for a few weeks or a month (hey, it was a long time ago, I don't remember how long I saved, just that I did) and I went to Toys R Us (remember that place?) and I bought a Breyer classic Arabian family. And I loved it (and still have it). I had almost no Breyers growing up because they were expensive. So getting those Breyers was a thrill. Earning them had me elated. My best friend at the time scoffed at me for spending $5 on plastic horses (she thought I spent a day's pay. She had no idea...) that was my first time thinking that collecting horses was something to be ashamed of. 

       I stopped collecting all together when my kids were small because I had nowhere to put the horses, still had no money, and had other things I needed to focus on. Like learning to cook because we could not afford take out or anything pre-made. But one day I was sitting on our ancient dial-up computer (which was a second hand luxury item) and I remembered my horses and figured I could find some on ebay. And I also found the hobby. 
     I started searching for horses that I liked and found photo shows to enter. Eventually I started altering doll clothes which quickly switched over to making original outfits. It was casual for maybe the first year or two but then I decided to see about turning doll making into a business. It was not easy or quick but it worked. I had a way to make some money to help out our family. And it was awesome. 
     But I was still embarrassed. Ethan and I ran into a friend of ours that we had not seen in years and he asked what I am doing for work now. I told him I make dolls and he turned up his nose at me and sneered "you make dolls???" As if it was the weirdest and worst thing he had ever heard. I wonder if the reaction would have been any better if I said I was a stay at home mom. Likely not.
     When I started my job at the school it was exciting for a lot of reasons. It was something very different from anything I had ever done for work. I got to help people, and not by bringing them food (I was a waitress before). I got paid regularly. These were really great things. But one of the most exciting things at the time was I had a more acceptable answer to the question "what do you do for work." Being a paraprofessional is not a highly respected job, and a lot of people have never heard of them, but no one ever acted like me being a para was weird. Once I explained what they are and what they do, most people will say that sounds like the perfect job for me. They are not wrong.

       I started collecting model horses when I was 5 years old. From the first Breyer horses I stole borrowed from my mom to the few I got as gifts and the ones I bought with my own money. I took a break for a while, as a lot of us do, and then came back into the hobby in probably 2004 or 2005. And I hid my collecting from almost everyone. Clearly my family knew. We have a small house and plastic horses that multiply is something that is noticed. But outside of hobby friends I didn't much talk about my horses or showing. 
     When I first started at the school I didn't really tell people about my collecting and showing. If I happened to say "I was at a horse show" they were usually quick to perk up and ask where I keep my horse. And I would sort of duck my head a bit and say it was a model horse show. And I would share photos of the dolls I make and the performance setups. Usually they were appreciated. But it was still embarrassing. 
     This year there was a shift. Everything is different. Everything is weird. So far, everything is virtual. We are performing on camera and trying to engage kids in learning when they are at home. It's hard. And for some reason, 2020 is the year that I am not embarrassed about my hobby. Sometimes I am embarrassed by the behavior of my fellow hobby members, but I am not embarrassed by my collection or my showing. And I am proud of what I have accomplished with the dolls. I did quite a few this-is-some-stuff-about-Mrs.-Field chats to all the new and new-to-me kids. What did I tell them? That I am married, have 2 grown kids, I know a lot about special needs because my son has autism so I have been studying autism and related disorders for year. I also told them that I am a doll maker in the model horse hobby and I show my horses and people use my dolls to show their horses all over the world. And I have tattoos. What did the kids focus on? Mostly nothing. Occasionally they ask me where I got my tattoos. They look bored about absolutely everything that anyone says. No one acted like my horses or my hobby is weird. And if they do think it's weird? So what. I enjoy it and I have skills in it. But I can also acknowledge that maybe it's easier for me to come out of hobby hiding because I am successful with it. I do well at performance and I can make a living as a doll maker (not get rich, but can get by, lol). Usually the benchmark for something to be considered OK is for it to be "normal" (you know, something most people like or are into) or if it can make you money. But just maybe, me being proud of my dolls and talking so openly (and excitedly, I was in a good mood!) about the hobby might have helped one person. One person who felt that what they like is weird. Or maybe I just helped me to not be embarrassed. And that is OK too.

Thursday, September 24, 2020


Etiquette: the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

       Etiquette changes depending on the situation. If you are eating dinner at home with your family, it likely doesn't matter which fork you use (or if you use the same fork for everything... or at all). If you are at a formal dinner your choice of fork might be a big deal. For something non-food related an example could be that it is inappropriate to use profanity at most work places. It is not universal, but in general you shouldn't be swearing at work or in professional emails. As the definition states, it is a customary code of polite behavior. What is polite and correct for me at school is not the same as what is polite and correct at a model horse show. But there are definitely some things that are universal about etiquette. It is basically a customary code of politeness. 
     The Internet has done some really strange things to politeness in general. A lot of people feel quite free to just shred someone for having different views, for something they made or for no particular reason at all. We definitely see a lot of this in the model horse hobby. A new model comes out and a lot of people are really excited about it. And a lot of people have a laundry list of things they feel are wrong with the horse. Sometimes you just get a generic "it's ugly" post. It is completely OK to not like something that an artist produces, but there really is no reason to shred the piece because you don't happen to like it. I think these days a lot of people forget that there are PEOPLE behind these things that we collect. Someone sculpted the horse, painted it, made the tack, the props, etc. A person took their time and creativity to create a thing. If you don't like it, move on. If it's not how you would have done it, so what? Make your own thing. Then you can do it just how you want to. 
     I asked a friend of mine, who has judged model horses for years and shows her real horses in showmanship, to critique the above photo for me. She liked it, said it looks correct but she would really like to see this entry from the other side. I said to her that my thought process when I took the photo from this angle was that in photo showing, judges generally want to see the horse. From the other angle the doll is partially blocking the horse. My friend acknowledged that but said the whole photo would work better from the other side, maybe even with the judge in the extreme foreground of the picture. And I agree with that. I do still like this photo. It is a correct photo, but likely it would do better from the other side. The important thing in that story was not that I agreed with the critique, but that I asked for it. That is a basic rule of etiquette for all aspects of life. Yes, everyone has an opinion, but sometimes people just want to share a thing because they like it or because they are proud of it. They don't want to see a bunch of negative comments about why it is wrong or how it could have been better. Sometimes the entire point was to share.
      Another really important piece of etiquette can actually sort of apply to other things as well. Like, don't dish it out if you can't take it. In our house we always say teasing is love. There are definitely lines that should not be crossed, but teasing, and taking the teasing in return, is often hilarious! It's a good idea to keep the idea in mind that critique is a two way street. While I was looking for another way to say "don't dish it out if you can't take it" I found a really great entry in the Urban Dictionary. It says " don't give criticism if you can't take criticism. Don't say thing's about other people if you don't like things said about yourself in return."

     It is really poor form to give unasked for critiques but also to give critiques while refusing to take any for yourself. No one is perfect. Most of us know it. Critiques can absolutely be essential to growth in many aspects of life. But what if you are just starting out as an artist? Or you just learned to sew and made your first ever thing on your new machine? Or if you have worked hard on your performance entries? Or you even just wanted to show off that new Breyer you bought. Sometimes people just want to share. People are social creatures, even the most antisocial among us needs to be seen (even if they only want to be seen from a distance). Sometimes the shared thing is just that, to share. 
     So please try to keep in mind that when you critique without being asked, it's rude. If you critique things and then fly off the handle if anyone critiques your things, that's not cool either. And please, please remember, if you are asked to critique something remember that a person was behind creating it. A person who likely worked very hard on the thing and is likely very proud of what they did.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Not Creepy At All

       The title of this post has nothing at all to do with the content of this post. Other than to describe the in progress photo of the Hunt seat doll I was working on in my car at the laundromats on Monday. Yes, laundromats. And yes, Monday. Last week I switched my laundry day to Monday and I really liked it. Not doing the laundry, I still hate that, but doing it on Monday got it out of the way on a day I often lack doll making motivation anyway. So I figured I would try it out again this week. I actually brought the hunt seat doll with me and got a good chunk of the work done on her. It was nice. 

      In other laundromat related news, my regular place was super busy and I had to wait for a dryer. And I waited and waited and then just took all of my (very  heavy) wet laundry to another place in town. The other place had one person in it, was super clean and it looks like even though they do not have front loading machines it may end up overall being a cheaper place to do the wash. I may have to give it a try. I am always looking for ways to save money. Even if it's just a few dollars a week. 

      Tuesday I managed to also be fairly productive. I was very proud of myself! I finished up the hunt seat doll, got the gloves painted on the 2 youth dolls I have in the works and all the clothes cut out for the 3 dolls that I am hoping to finish by the end of the week. That may be a stretch. But the bodies are already rebuilt, the clothes are cut out and the hands are painted. Progress. Maybe I can work on hairing some heads before school. I get there pretty early. 

       I usually grab one of the place mats off the kitchen table to take quick doll photos. But even though it is not the best backdrop, I had to grab the really awesome haversack that Lynn Isenbarger sent me. Isn't it cute? She also sent me one of the tiny flamingos from her Flamingo Pond set up for the Pandemic Performance Panorama. I was thrilled to pieces! It might not make the best backdrop but I love it!
       This week has been pretty productive. I like it. I am starting to feel a little less like a slacker. Once I get a few more order dolls finished up I think I will feel a lot better. I don't like orders to linger in my book for too long or they start to feel like they are looming over me. I am making progress and sooner or later I will get them done. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020


       I think I have mentioned before that I am bad at free time. It's true for the most part. Recently I am finding that a lot of what I liked to do in my free time, I can't currently do, or not as much. Ever since I got that migraine the other day I have felt just a little off every time I look at a screen. I get the weird feeling just checking the weather on my phone. The TV bothers me slightly less, but it still sort of bothers me. I can't spend a ton of time on the computer so less emailing, less game playing, less shopping. That last one might be a good thing. I also have to skip some research because I really am afraid of that pain. I have never had a migraine before and I really hope I never have one again. Also, a lot of you have probably picked up on the fact that I have to be on the computer to blog. It's kind of hard. But the thought of not blogging bothers me. I have been doing really well this year. So I have the brightness turned way down on the monitor and I often just look away when I type. I don't need to see it. Or the keyboard really.
     Part of what I have been doing when I am avoiding screens is working on horse boots. I don't think I had any at my last two live sales and a few people have been asking for them. So I have been picking away at some. I am really hoping to have at least a handful of every style of boot I make for my next live sale. Which will be my Black Friday sale. My Black Friday sale last year was my first live sale ever. I really do love having them that way. 
      I have not been putting in tons of hours on dolls since school started back up so between orders and mental burn-out I have not had much time to start working on random dolls to put away for November. Not getting orders done in a timely fashion makes me panic slightly. Not getting dolls done to put away for sales also makes me panic slightly. It's sort of a no-win situation. If I push through the exhaustion I will likely end up completely unproductive for much longer. Or I will mess things up and be mad in a different way. So I just keep reminding myself that I can just do a bit of doll work at a time. Even if I don't start until 4:00, I can work for an hour or two before supper. Sooner or later the time will add up and I will have some finished dolls. 
      I finished up the pink and black western pleasure doll the other day and got a hat for the cowboy and all of a sudden I had 3 dolls finished for my next live sale. Or prizes for the Field of Dolls Online show. I can't actually decide which dolls I want to make for overall prizes. Maybe I will just make a whole bunch of dolls, wrap them, and then blindly pull a couple out of the stack and those will be the prizes. Anyone have any ideas? Suggestions? Dolls that they hope I make for the prizes?
      So screens do weird things to me but I think I will be OK. I ordered some of the blue light blocking glasses and I am hoping they help. They are not cool in any way, but I really don't care. Maybe I will bling them up and make them more fun/ Being able to make it through the day without feeling like poo IS very cool after all. 

Monday, September 21, 2020


      There are days that I struggle to get anything done. And then there are days when I have a ton of motivation. Saturday was one of those days.

       I got a message early in the day from a customer who wanted to get a doll for a friend as a birthday gift. Several friends got together to finance the doll. I got started on her when the details of her clothing were being worked out. After all, it doesn't matter what the hunt seat doll is going to wear, I know that she will need a bendy neck and some extra dremeling. And I also know that the gorilla glue takes a bit of time to dry. 


      So we went back and forth a bit and as I got the details I needed I pulled fabric and cut out clothing. I also managed to get a few things cut for the youth dolls I already have in the works. 


        I should have a day off every once in awhile, but I was feeling really motivated so I kept on going with the doll. I got her outfit sewn...


      And that was where I stopped. I did pull a head out but I have not haired the doll yet, painted the face or gloves and clearly she has a way to go before she is properly dressed. But I got a good start on her and this makes me really happy.
      Technically, I have other dolls I should have worked on before I worked on this one. It was a brand new order and no one expected me to turn out a doll that day. I could have, but I did other things. It was the weekend after all. I try to make the dolls in the order of deposits (when I say the deposit is to book your slot, that is exactly what I mean) but sometimes I just have to go outside of the strict order. Sometimes, like now, I am actually working on several dolls at the same time. One has so many details and will need some figuring out for some aspects. And armor, he will also need armor. Some dolls I hate making, youth dolls, so I got all of the bodies taken care of at the same time. And sometimes I just need something easy and fun. Hunt seat dolls are easy and fun. This doll helped me get a bit motivated. I am hoping I can keep up the momentum.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Performance Only Photo Show- Other Performance

 There were definitely a handful of unusual classes in the Performance only photo show. Some classes that are just about always in a show were not there. So we have to sort of pick where to put certain photos. I decided to put Bootlegger and his Native Regalia picture in AR/CM Anything goes. There were 4 entries and he got third (there is another regalia photo that got 1st and the photo is amazing!)

     The next class I had was AR/CM traditional scene. There were only 2 entries and Purdy Zippin Chick got 2nd. And I agree with that placing because the other entry was entirely awesome! Mine is just sort of funny. 
The next class was also just two horses and Purdy Zipping chick again got 2nd with her showmanship entry. 
But the next class of 2 was AR/CM in-hand trail and Purdy Zippin Chick got 1st. 
The last class was CM/AR lunge line (English or Western) and Purdy Zippin Chick (who CLEARLY needs a nice short barn name!) got 1st.

     Technically these photos come from the other performance division and the Other Other Performance division. But I saw no reason not to put them together. As I was putting this post together I remembered I did in fact have horses in some of the OF classes. 
     There were 4 entries in the OF traditional Scene class and Lady Liberty got 1st with her picnic at the horse show entry. This entry has grown and evolved over the years!
Lady Liberty also got 1st with her OF showmanship entry. There were 6 entries in that class. 

That's it, that's all I have for this show. At this point I am not sure if the champs are happening or not. But I enjoyed the show and I loved having a new place to show. I hope that people will be interested in the online show I have planned. I have a group on Facebook, Field of Dolls Online Show. Though if you are interested and don't have Facebook send me an email to and let me know and I can send you the show packet and the class list. The show will be held on SmugMug so you don't need Facebook to enter!