Monday, June 27, 2016

My 1000th doll

I am a bad blogger. I forget to post often for months at a time. Currently this is only my third post this year. I am a slacker.
    In January, as I was updating my brag book (photos of all of the finished dolls I have made) I realized that I was fairly close to 1000 dolls. As in I would get there sometime this year. Friday I made doll #1000. I wanted it to be an unusual doll because #1000 is a pretty special spot in the doll lineup. I have been trying to come up with what I could make that would be different and fun and I asked for opinions on my doll page on Facebook. I did get a variety of ideas but none of them seemed quite right. But I did get an order for a very cool doll from Laura Skillern. She wanted a Pony Express rider.
Now the thing about Pony Express riders is they were wiry and very light because their horses needed to have as little weight as possible so they could get the mail delivered as quickly as possible. Being the rider needed to be slight all of the available male dolls on the market were out for this type of rider.
With that in mind we decided turning an Yvonne into a pony express rider was the way to go. Yvonne can move in ways that almost no other doll can. She really is the perfect choice.
So between starting off giving a doll a sex change and the unusual costume a Pony Express rider really turned out to be an outstanding choice for my 1000th doll. I have never made one before but I certainly enjoyed the challenge.
    This weekend was one of the busiest non-horse-show weekends I have ever had. Thursday my sister (who flew in from North Carolina) helped us with all of the shopping for Elecktra's graduation party. Friday she came over along with my friend Crystal to cook for the party. That was an all day event. Saturday was running all morning and the party all afternoon. A combined graduation/18th birthday party is a big event but I had a lot of help (and I forgot my camera! Dad let me borrow his but I don't have the photos yet) and it turned out well. Yesterday we had an impromptu cookout with my best friend from high school and were gone most of the day with that. So busy. So tired.
    But this morning the first thing I did was type up all of the names of the people entered in the free doll contest, print them out and cut them into a bowl. Elecktra consented to be my name puller for fairness.
Here she can be seen making sure the names are thoroughly mixed (they are also folded so she can't see them).
and it's more fair if you don't look while you pull the name so she looked away and pulled...
Heather Downing! Heather wins a free doll of her choice. Once she decides what she wants I will put it in my work rotation and she will get a free doll in the mail fairly soon after that.
    In the nine years I have been making dolls I have had an incredible amount of support from the hobby. I have a large variety of repeat customers for dolls and now for my horse boots and other horse accessories in my etsy store and the miniature food as well. It has made it possible for me to stay home and raise my kids (and still be my son's caregiver) and contribute financially to the family. I am more appreciative of that than I can ever put into words. This drawing was to say thank you in a small way for all of this support. Hopefully I will still be making dolls for many many years to come.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Another Superior Event horse

I've done it. Finally. It only took two and a half years from this post, but I did it. Lady Liberty Finally earned her superior event horse award in showmanship! It arrived Friday but I haven't had a chance to share until now.
After Therapeutic riding, Showmanship was the class that always meant the most to me. It was the class that I "knew" from real life. The very first time I showed in the Showmanship class My friend Corrie McDermott talked me into it and basically set it up for me. She said Liesl Dalpe had originally taught her how to do it correctly. Here's my very first showmanship entry. (and as an aside, this is the first photo I have ever scanned in my life!)
This was from the Northeast Model Horse Expo held April 5, 2008. Pretty much right away I was hooked on showmanship. The first time I needed to judge Showmanship was at the very first Quabbin Valley Performance Open on May 16, 2009. I told Joan I didn't know enough about showmanship to judge it correctly. When I mentioned my concerns about judging the class to Liesl she showed me a live demonstration with her real showmanship horse. All of a sudden a class that I only knew how to do one way I really understood. What looks like a deceptively simple class is in reality very precise and easy to mess up.Like this entry.
This was from TRXC in 2013. After doing this class for 5 and a half years you'd think I would think when setting it up. But I put the judge and the handler in the same quarter which is a huge no-no. Sadly this photo lives in Brenda Bendnar's album on Facebook with a very lengthy discussion attached to it. And so much shame (mine).
I did well in showmanship for a long time and then I started to slip. Or Lady Liberty got old and maybe a bit beat up. A performance horse sometimes has a hard life.
I started getting third in showmanship and I couldn't seem to get that last NAN card I needed. It was a frustrating and familiar pattern. The same thing happened with my therapeutic riding entry. So I revamped everything. New, super detailed documentation, new perfectly fitted custom halter and a brand new showmanship doll. And it worked.
Lady Liberty received the last NAN card she needed for her Superior Event Horse Award at NEPC on October 17, 2015. I nearly cried when I saw that blue ribbon. Not gonna lie about that. I also filled out the paperwork for her award the very next day.
    Lady Liberty earned her quiet retirement but I wanted to give her one more shot at showing. So I put her in the open OF showmanship class at TRXC 2015.
Good times. THAT is a good way to retire! She also got a top 5 to round out her show day and her showmanship career.
Lady Liberty did show in other things besides showmanship but the last few years she has done showmanship almost exclusively. But it was fun working towards the award. I guess my next goal will have to be big as well. I was thinking Caramel Latte would work towards her Performance Versatility award but she managed that two shows ago and it seemed far too easy. So her new goal is a Performance Legacy award. She only needs like 9 more cards for that one. When she gets it there can be a nice variety of classes in the photos!

Monday, January 4, 2016

A milestone is coming

This morning I updated my book of finished doll photos and realized I have made 942 dolls as of this moment. Cool. Last year I made 135 dolls. I made 145 dolls in 2014. I knew it felt like 2015 was a slacking year. The point is though I am 58 dolls away from 1000. That is a huge milestone for me and one I have been looking forward to. I should reach that most likely before the end of April (if we rely on averages). That also is very exciting to me.
    There is no way I could have made it to nearly 1000 dolls and 9 years of doll making without all of my wonderful customers. Whether you ordered one doll one time or several dolls several times I appreciate all of your business. And now here is the exciting part for you. Starting right now everyone who places an order will get their name entered in a drawing. If you order one doll you get your name in once. If you order more than one you get your name in once for every doll you order. And once I reach 1000 dolls I will put all those names in a hat and pull one out and that person will receive a FREE doll! I know I love free stuff and winning so I thought this was great. I have been wanting to do a drawing for a free doll for awhile but wanted to wait for something really special. The 1000 doll milestone is it.
    Thank you again for all the years of helping me keep Field of Dolls Studio going. Now to see if we can make 2016 the best year ever!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 doll year review

   Yes, I am a huge slacker when it comes to keeping the blog updated. I don't have many excuses for that other than not usually having anything to write about. I don't go to a ton of shows, but I try to remember to report on them when I do. In progress photos of dolls look terrible (dolls are often pretty scary until they are finished) so I don't do those. Some customers want their new dolls to be a surprise once they get them to that first show so to be safe I don't share most dolls I finish. And did I mention I have a lazy streak? Sometimes I can work feverishly for 10-12 hours a day, 6 or even 7 days a week and then sometimes I have trouble finishing even one doll in a week. I hate those weeks.
    So what have I managed to get done this year? Here's my list:

41 western pleasure 
16 casual/working western ladies
13 hunt seat dolls 
12 cowboys
12 specialty dolls
11 youth hunt seat dolls
7 saddle seat dolls 
5 casual English dolls
4 side saddle dolls
3 driving dolls
3 cross country dolls
3 dressage dolls
3 male youth dolls (4 if you count one of the specialty dolls)
2 showmanship dolls. 
     for a total of.....are you ready?....135 dolls made this year! 

    Not bad for being as much of a slacker as I often feel I am. I may have missed something but that is a pretty clear idea of what I did this year. Apparently people are REALLY into western dolls. 
   I've also made lots of other things. Bunches of pairs of removable cutting chaps, eventing sets, miniature food (both 1:12 scale and 1:9 scale), saddle bags, saddle pads, dusters and I may have missed something from the extras list. So I guess I have been sort of busy this year. Just not blogging.

   This year I worked more on making my etsy store noticeable. It's been open since 2012 but got very little business until this year. Things started clicking over there finally and I am pleased with how it's all going. Now to get some new stuff in it!
   Let's see, what else? There may have been something but I can't think of it at the moment. It's been a pretty good year at Field of Dolls Studio. As with all years there have been ups and downs but I am ending on a pretty decent high note. I want to thank each and every one of my customers for their orders and purchases. From the smallest etsy sale to the largest order I have ever gotten every sale counts and everything helps. Thank you all for Keeping Field of Dolls Studio in Business for NINE years now! Here's to you all for your continued support and a wonderful 2016!
And now to end on a silly (and somewhat controversial) note; piles.

*note* no dolls or crystal horses were hurt in the making of these piles :)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

TRXC 2015 recap

   TRXC or the The Region X Championships, is one of my favorite times of the year.  For one thing it's my biggest selling weekend of the year and I get to actually interact with customers. That is a rare thing for a business that is largely Internet based. 
    I had a really great  display of my sales items but completely forgot to take a photo of it until about halfway through Saturday. Oops. Maybe next year I can remember to get one at
the start. 
     TRXC is also great because where else can you wear a tiara and have everyone act like it's completely normal. (photo by Kate Cabot)
    And once in awhile really awesome goodies show up on your table when you are not looking. These fantastic boots were made by Darleen Stoddard. I may need more boots of all kinds from her.
    But of course TRXC is also a big show. Actually, it's two big shows. There is the regular open show with a fairly full class list and there is the stakes show. For the stakes show you need to have a region X card that was issued at a Region X show in the past 3 years. You put it up with your entry, a steward comes by to check it against your horse tag and the class is judged as usual. I had a crazy plan for this year's TRXC. I was going to show mostly just in the stakes classes but I was going to show every qualified horse I had. That lead to shameful things such as having to ask to borrow dolls from people. Luckily for me my good friend Joan Fauteux had everything I needed to borrow and since she was hosting she couldn't show and didn't need any of her things. 
    The other thing I borrowed were photos. I don't always get the best photos and I don't know how to improve them. So when I had the opportunity to use some really excellent photos for this post I jumped at the chance. The first stakes section was patterned performance. I had 3 entries. This first entry is Bootlegger. He is a Rose Reiner painted by Meghann Lorei. His saddle and boots are by an unknown maker. His bridle was made by Danielle Hart, the saddle pad by Elise Partenan and I made the doll. They managed Reserve champion is a class of 11. (photo by Sara Roche)
    Mocha Latte also entered the patterned performance stakes class with her dressage entry. The tack is by Jennifer Buxton, I made the doll and the flowers and I borrowed these dressage rails from Joan. Latte is a Loping Leggs resin sculpted and painted by Liesl Dalpe. Top 5 is not to shabby! (photo by Sara Roche)

    Bootlegger also did a working cowhorse entry in the Action Western Stakes class. I switched out his bridle for one made by Pam Perkins (reins by me) and my Elecktra doll that I made. Another top 5. (photo by Sara Roche). 10 in the class.
    Hurricane Deck wanted to play too. He is wearing a saddle by Pam Perkins, with a saddle pad by Sara Kucharski. Boots and bridle by an unknown maker (because I can't remember which bridle this is and can't see if well enough to say who made it). I made the doll. I have gotten really into roping lately. It's a fun entry to study.

 Next was the Action Enlish stakes. Halestorm entered with her Handy Hunter entry. Her tack was made by Pat Coulter, the beautiful jump was made by Marci Driscoll (I made the weird topiaries, don't blame Marci for those) and I made the doll. (photo by Shane Langbauer) 9 in the class.
    Phantom also entered Action English with her jumper entry. She is an Eclipse resin sculpted by Mindy Berg and painted by Joan Yount. Her tack was made by Pat Coulter, her boots by Jennifer Buxton and her bell boots by Jana Skybova. I made the doll and the jump.
    Two top 5's in a class I was thinking about skipping isn't too bad at all!
Phantom entered the games class with this housewife Scurry entry. Reserve champion in a class of 13 made me happy. (photo by Shane Langbauer)
Next up was the pleasure Stakes class. There were 19 entries in the class. First up for me was Enchanted Eve. She is a Victrix resin painted by Angelica Nelson. She is wearing her awesome side saddle tack made by Jennifer Buxton and a doll by me.
 Bootlegger also played in the stakes class. I was very pleased with my top 5's!
 As a point of interest Mocha Latte entered the open western pleasure class with a couple of her nearly identical friends. We got a kick out of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th placing of this line of Loping Leggs.

The Trail Stakes class had 19 entries. Mocha Latte was wearing tack made by Pam Perkins and a doll by me. The poles were mostly made by Elizabeth Mace but one was made by Joan Fauteux (for me, not one I borrowed). I was more than happy with Reserve Champion. (photo by Sara Roche)

    Phazes of Godiva (a Godiva Resin sculpted by Morgen Kilbourn and painted by Liesl Dalpe) also entered the trail stakes class. She didn't place but I wanted to share this photo (by Sara Roche). She is wearing borrowed tack so I don't know who made it, a saddle pad, saddle bags, doll and diorama by me.
 This trail entry/photo had to be shared as well. Enchanted Eve still wearing her lovely side saddle tack. (photo by Shane Langbauer)
The other performance stakes class had 19 entries. My first entry was Flash in the Sky, a Matriarch resin painted by Joan yount wearing tack by an unknown maker and a crazy super bendy doll made by me. People like the super bendy doll. This extreme cowboy entry got a top 5.

 Bootlegger also entered the other performance stakes with an Extreme cowboy entry. He got Reserve champion in the class. I made the cowboy curtain :)
 My last entry was Hurricane Deck with his Native American costume by an unknown maker, doll by me, in the costume stakes class. I nearly skipped it because I was tired but they got a top 5 which made me happy.
As many of my friends know I was chasing a final NAN card for a superior event horse award in showmanship with my OF Lady Phase Lady Liberty. I did finally get that last card at NEPC and was very excited to finally get it. Lady Liberty now gets to retire but I figured she could have one last show and it was very worth it! 
I showed Lady in the open showmanship class even though I didn't need any more NAN cards. I was happy I did though since she got to go out with a bang. Not just another NAN card but a first place! I made everything in the entry other than the horse and the footing.
Lady Liberty also went on to get a top 5 in the OF other performance stakes class out of a field of 21 entries! (photo by Shane Laungbauer).
 I do have some photos of halter day and I may share them at some point. Mine are not great but I did get some nicer ones from Shane and Sara. The results of performance day was 10 top 5's and 4 Reserve champions. I got at least 1 top 5 in each stakes class I entered. It was a really good day for me for showing!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

NEPC 2015

Yesterday was the who-knows-what-year-we-are-on of the New England Performance Challenge. It is an awesome performance show held each October by Nancy Timm. I haven't gotten to do a ton of performance showing recently so I was really looking forward to this show. I volunteered to judge the Novice division but because of a last minute cancellation by another judge I also ended up judging OF harness and OF English. So my focus needed to be mostly on judging and showing could happen if I had enough time, my focus of the show changed a bit.
   First of all I had to show my Mule, A Little Mayhem, in a bunch of English classes. She got new custom made-just-for-her tack from Jennifer Buxton so she had to come out. Her first class was Other English and I showed her in a versatility set-up. She and her new tack (and new doll and my Elecktra doll) did quite well.
Here is a photo of her with just tack in case anyone wants to see. 
 I also decided to show Mocha Latte in English. I was going to show my pony Halestorm but then while tacking up I discovered I accidentally sent her girth out with some tack I sold (oops). I did get that situation worked out but I have no other pony-sized girth so I showed Mocha. She is also wearing Braymere tack. Her first class of the day was English games. I think this may have been the first time I ever showed her in English. Anyway, just 7th place but there was a lot of show left.

A Little Mayhem also showed in English games and she managed 4th against the tough competition. Looks like this team is going to do OK.
Next was Arena trail and I had completely forgotten to look through my documentation ahead of time to see if I had an appropriate trail pattern. I was very pleased with second place. I did notice when uploading photos that my long poles are two different colors. I was in a bit of a hurry.

Mocha Latte also did Arena trail but she only got 8th place. The judge said she would have liked to see her a bit further up in the obstacle because her head is turned a bit. I agree with that assessment. I do like this obstacle though so I will likely use it again sometime.

One of my show goals for the day was to get Caramel Latte a NAN card in Other Performance (anything) so she would qualify for a NAMHSA Performance Versatility award. She got it with her pink panther costume but now that I have looked around the Merit awards page I might try for a Performance Legacy award with her (I think that's the one). I need some more cards for that but not really that many. 9 or 10 I think. So maybe that will be the new goal for her.
I only own one set of dressage fence pieces so I decided Mocha Latte was better suited for dressage than A Little Mayhem (though mules can totally do dressage). So I found a pattern that worked for her, set it all up and it was worth it! Mocha finally gets a nice placing.

To finish out the English division Mocha Latte also got first in Huntseat pleasure other type

 and A Little Mayhem got 3rd. Both of them went to callbacks but I has skipped so many classes in the division they didn't have a chance at any champs. I wasn't looking to get them so it all worked out.

Next was the western division and Flash in the Sky started off in roping with tack by an unknown maker. I think the bridle was made by Pam Perkins.

And then Bootlegger did Other Stock work with this team penning entry. I was very pleased with his second place.

Bootlegger also did the Housewife Scurry but he only managed third because I forgot (and the judge noticed) that the other vegetables that should have been in the bucket were not in it! Oops. Sometimes in a tough class it's the little details that make the biggest difference. Oh, this was speed games. His tack was made by Pam Perkins.

Flash in the Sky did non-speed games with this two barrels and a pole game. Reference is from Jennifer Buxton's website. I think this would have done better if Flash was actually paying attention.
Flash in the Sky Redeemed herself in Other Western with her Extreme cowboy challenge entry. The bendy doll probably helped.

Bootlegger also did an Extreme Cowboy Challenge entry in Other Western but the doll was just sort of sitting there (I was running to judge and not paying attention) so it didn't look too convincing.
My real focus of the day was OF Showmanship. Lady Liberty has been working on a NAMHSA Superior Event Horse award for a long time. Showmanship can be a tough one to get because it sometimes gets lumped in with Other Western. Lady got her Register of Merit in 2012 and we have been working on the rest of her qualifications since. She has just missed a NAN card a few times (third place is very sad when you are working towards a big award). It was great to get a first in this event. I completely stopped showing after this class (I skipped CM western trail and CM western pleasure with both of my western horses) and I just concentrated on finishing the judging.

The few near-misses on this last card inspired me to revamp nearly everything in this entry. There's not a lot that goes into showmanship but I made her a new doll, a new fancy show halter and new, very details documentation. When I set up the entry I paid careful attention to everything I know about showmanship. I didn't want it to be one of those days when I spaced and put the doll in the wrong quarter or something. That would suck.
   So tomorrow I will send in my cards and application for Lady Liberty's Superior Event horse award. I may bring her to TRXC in 3 weeks and show her one last time in showmanship but I think now she will get to retire. She's earned it.