Saturday, March 18, 2017


Last weekend was Southern New England Winter Round Up (SNEWRU). I planned on entering the show ever since I found out the hostess, Brenda Bednar, had added performance. I forgot to enter and forgot to enter and then remembered to get my entry in about 2 weeks before the show. Then for the last two weeks before show day I meant to work on show prep. 
It didn't happen.
Sunday was the day that AR.CM performance was held and I spent several hours on Saturday working on tack fitting in preparation for the show. Two horses, three tack sets each and somehow hours of tack fitting.
 Show day arrived and I showed up right when the hall officially opened. I had to get Caramel Latte's new harness fitted to her. Kate Dwyer made it for me and we didn't have a chance to get together before the show for the fitting. My cart has some unusual features so the set-up isn't perfect just yet. Still it's a good start for a work in progress.
 Caramel Latte's next class of the day was showmanship and I was super nervous. Showmanship is my thing and I try very hard not to screw it up. Once in awhile I screw it up though so I was concerned that I would mess it up again. Once the class was pinned I relaxed. This wasn't a bad start to the day at all!
 Caramel Latte next went into the Other Costume class with this parade entry. The costume was made by Wendy Ward and was actually made to fit on Matriarch. The fit is not perfect on Latte but it's not bad. This time I had some proper documentation for the entry, which was something I was missing the first couple of times I showed this set. I was very pleased with this placing, the class wasn't super huge but it was not super tiny either.
 Next was the other performance class. Since that means no English or Western I decided to do in-hand trail (which sort of is western but not necessarily). The doll decided she wanted to fall over and her drunk look dropped them down to third place. Silly doll.
 I fixed her to take a proper photo.
 At the end of the Other Performance division Caramel Latte managed to get Champion for the division. That was another excellent start to the day and another excellent start to my official goal of the day (more on that later).

Up next was the English division and the first class for Three Day Bender. Originally I was thinking that I would just show Caramel Latte because it sounded like a somewhat relaxing show day to just show one horse. But Tippy came to the show. She got second in Hunter over fences/Jumper and didn't fall over or even try.

 Next was English games. Three Day Bender did the Housewife Scurry game. She does well at this because she is moving at a good pace and fairly straight. The judge liked that in the bucket I had the correct fruits and vegetables that were supposed to already be in there. Sometimes I am good at remembering the details.
 Caramel Latte did a Musical Stalls entry which just wasn't as interesting so she only got fifth place.
 Next was western trail. Three Day Bender struggled with a pattern that she just isn't shaped right for. Plus in my effort to make the poles fit on the footing it looked to the judges like I had an X shape instead of the plus sign shape it is supposed to be. Tippy was not likely to do well with this entry no matter what. The pattern isn't a good fit for her.
 Caramel Latte had better luck in Arena English trail. She didn't fight the pattern at all.
Next was Other English. Three Day Bender sat out this class and Caramel Latte brought back my therapeutic riding entry. It's been awhile but my little Travis doll still works really well for this. I quickly shortened the stirrups with sticky wax and hid the evidence under the doll's legs. It worked out really well. And all the dolls stayed standing the way they were supposed to.
 Next was Dressage and Tippy isn't really a great dressage horse. But I figured I would try it anyway since Caramel Latte is also not really a good dressage prospect. Not bad for a horse that really shouldn't be in the class.
 After that was Huntseat/English pleasure. Caramel Latte managed third and Tippy being not actually appropriate for pleasure didn't place at all.
 Caramel Latte ended up being reserve champion in the English performance division.
 Next up was cutting/roping. I have always done roping with a standing horse so I wasn't sure how Caramel Latte would do with it. But the end of a roping run the horse needs to walk forward and loosen the slack on the rope and wait a few seconds to see if the calf will stay tied. I put a card next to my documentation saying that was what was going on and had all the other roping details correct so it all worked out.
 In other stock work I had Caramel Latte's team penning entry and
 Three day Bender's working cowhorse entry. It was just my entry against my entry in the class or Tippy night not have done as well. The way Tippy is and the way the cow is the cow would likely get run over when he took his next stride. It happens...
 Latte didn't have an entry in other western but Tippy went in with this Extreme Cowboy entry. I can't remember now if the judge said I could have improved it in some way. I am sure she said something. Karen Pajak judged western and she is a very tough judge. She has a fantastic eye for detail and when I mess up she lets me know. She is wonderful to show under because she makes you look at details you may never have thought of or even noticed.
 up next was western games. Caramel Latte did the two barrels and a pole game. She managed third with it.
 Tippy went in with the Housewife Scurry again. Something was wrong with the entry. I think one side of the bridle was sort of loose and floppy looking. Karen is a tough judge but she makes you look at the details.
 Up next was Arena western trail. Three Day Bender had a better time with this pattern though isn't still not perfect.
 Caramel Latte did her gate entry that she has done many times. Karen pointed out that the obstacle is huge and super simple to do. I have been showing this entry for years and it's done very well under several judges. However Karen is absolutely right so I came home and shortened the gate rope. Now I want to show Caramel Latte again.
 Three day Bender really isn't a pleasure horse.
 But Caramel Latte is. I fiddled with this entry so much to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be. It paid off.
 In the end all the fiddling and focusing earned Caramel Latte Western champion.
 And then with other performance champion, reserve English champion and western champion under her saddle Caramel Latte earner overall performance grand champion! That is easily the largest rosette I have ever won. Latte also has a model horse sized neck sash and the cool trophy. What a great day Latte had!
 In the end Caramel Latte won champ or reserve in 3 out of the 4 sections she showed in, overall performance grand champion and 9 NAN cards. I had a friend take this photo so I can keep up with making it a thing. Jennifer Buxton said she hopes this will become a thing and I agree with her. I will likely end up recycling the 3 divisional rosettes (where can I put them after all?) and just keeping the overall awards. But it's nice to have a photo of me with the winner. Tippy could have been in this photo with her ribbons as well but I decided that just Latte would be in this one. She had a very excellent day. And with all of the new NAN cards Caramel Latte qualifies for the NAMHSA performance Legacy award. I am still thinking about whether or not to let her just get that or retire or if she should keep showing this season and go for the Performance Hall of Champions Award. She needs 50 NAN cards for that one. I think she currently has 39 or 40.
I got a new job recently as a paraprofessional at the high school in my town. It's an amazing job and I get to work with some really great kids. Some of them are challenging and at times make me crazy but in general the job is fantastic. I cut back on dolling a bit and my hands thank me for it. I am loving the new job but it was great to be submerged in hobby fun for the day last Sunday. It's always a good time when I see my hobby people.

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!