Friday, August 15, 2014

Western lead line

Recently I have started on a campaign to clear out some of my "extra" hobby items. I have horses that don't show in either performance or halter (some that I don't love-love and some that just get overlooked) more props than I need and probably more tack as well (but that's harder to let go of). As usually happens I started by looking in my doll box. Those are easy for me to replace so the usual thing to go first. I don't have nearly as many dolls as some people but I do have a lot of dolls. Imagine that.
   In my doll box I had a couple of 1:12 scale kids that I got years ago for a pony ride set-up I did a couple of times. These dolls are terrible. They really don't bend to sit a horse, or to sit in a chair and are not really good for anything. The perfect dolls to be my next victims project. I got it into my head that I wanted to do a lead line set. But I didn't want to use the Breyer youth because she really is too old for lead line. I have used her in the past but... it's a stretch to be believable.
   So while I was cutting up this useless dollhouse doll I started to think about what I needed the doll to be able to do. It has one purpose, just to sit on the horse, so I wasn't looking to make it super fancy and super movable. But I needed to know how it's arms should be. Do the kids hold the reins or the saddle horn? Do they have the little buddy stirrups or saddles that fit them? So I went to look at photos for reference and most of the best ones were posted in Jennifer Buxton's blog on a post she did in June of 2010. Not only was this an awesome post as all of Jennifer's posts are but the comments were very helpful in deciding what to do for the doll as well. Here is what I came up with:
most of the kids in Jennifer's post were not wearing anything as fancy as this but it does happen. Being that this is a very small child she would probably be holding onto the saddle horn, not onto the reins. All I had to make was a doll with arms that could hold the reins. I managed that.
She also needed a leader and more often than not the outfits match. At least being similar in color and style. So I made a fancy showmanship doll to match this tiny little lead line doll. It was a fun set to do and the little doll didn't take an insane amount of work. She isn't as useful or "finished" as my usual dolls but she can sit a horse for a lead-line class. Her arms move up and down a bit but don't unbend. Her shoulders actually have a gap under her top but you can't tell unless you poke the fabric into the space. And it does solve the problem of what doll to use for a lead-line doll. A super-custom doll. There are probably more elegant dolls that could be used but this is a pretty cost effective way to get a hard-to-find doll.
Oh so the things I learned from the comments; people would really like to see helmets on these little kids. Since I don't have any cowboy hats of the correct size and I could manufacture a helmet that sounded like a good idea to me. Also none of the kids in the photos had the kiddie stirrups but that was another item that would have made people happy. I do plan on making some of those but I wanted to take some photos while I had the tent set up.
   So to anyone who thought this might be a useful post with actual tips on showing western lead line, I do apologize for being misleading. Mostly I wanted to share the little doll I made that was obsessing me this week.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Forgetting to post AKA I am too boring to entertain people

So really I am posting because Jennifer Buxton makes me (and most every other blogger) look bad. Last year she reached 1 million page views. When she was getting close she decided to run a contest/raffle and promised to award a piece of tack of her choosing to the winner (who was randomly drawn by a computer program I believe. I won, nearly had a heart attack when I saw because I was so excited and then waited to see what Jennifer would make for me. She made me this:
It was more than worth the wait and I nearly had a heart attack again when I saw it. Again, from pure excitement. That is an unbelievably good prize! I have never really been all that into side saddle but that might have been because I didn't have one. And when you get an awesome prize like this you really have to show the crap out of it. So I did.
I did the entire division side saddle. It took a bit of creativity but I made it happen. It was such a generous prize I am actually still floored by it. Anyway, I thought I would do a post and hopefully get some more traffic going to Jennifer's blog. She is heading towards 2 million page views and is having another raffle. Oh, I stole got the side saddle photo off of Jennifer's blog here. This is where the current raffle started and the rules are listed, etc. I do really sort of hope that my name gets drawn again. I won't take another prize I would want it to go to someone that couldn't otherwise get an awesome piece of Braymere tack. But it would be cool to be THAT lucky.

So in other news I am trying to think of small things I can make to sell at my big TRXC sale in November. I already have judges kits:

removable work chaps:
Removable cross country sets (vest with pinny, medband and watch)
and random mini food.
I haven't been able to think of anything else. I will of course have a variety of dolls to sell but I thought a good variety of smaller items, accessories or whatever, would be fun too. Any ideas?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Post weekend show report; QVPO 2014

 This past weekend I attended the Quabbin Valley Performance Open held in Spencer, MA and hosted by Joan Fauteux. Joan has been hosting this all performance show for many years and it's one of my favorites. This year we had more people than normal, including some that traveled a long distance from other regions. It was wonderful!

I have been showing performance for a lot of years and for the longest time my goal was to figure out how to show the same horse in enough classes in a division to have a shot at a champ or reserve champ rosette. I have also made myself crazy rushing around and have forgotten little details (like jump flags, taking boots off for classes where they are prohibited, etc) so this show my goal was different. I wanted to make sure I didn't forget those little details that are so important to a good performance entry.

My first class of the day was Judged Stockwork. I decided to do a Reined (working) Cowhorse entry. So this entry started with research. I didn't really know much about Working Cowhorse so I learned about it. I watched a YouTube video on Reined Cowhorse, I found a pattern that was commonly used and I found photos that I thought would help emphasize what my horse was doing. I made my documentation, had a detailed list of what the horse should be wearing (even made closed reins for one of my bridles!) and then on show day it turns out none of my cows were quite right so I borrowed this cow from Ann Harris. I love Region X!

Bootlegger is the horse. He is a customized (by Alicia Miller) Rose reiner, painted by Meghann Lorei. I have no idea who made his tack but the doll is my Elecktra doll wearing some ladies cutting chaps and a borrowed hat.

 Bootlegger got 2nd in his Judged Stockwork class and went on to get 3rd in his Timed Stockwork class with his Team Penning entry. New documentation was also made for this entry.
 I had a second entry in Timed Stockwork and that was Hurricane Deck with his roping entry. His tack was made by Pam Perkins (not sure on the boots) and I made the cowboy and the neckrope.

 Hurricane Deck also went into non-competetive ranch scenes with his ranch roping entry. This one was fun because I really wanted a standing cow so I asked Ann Harris (again) if I could borrow one. I also ended up borrowing cows from Jackie Rossi, Laurie Lape and Linda White. It just sort of happened. Two cows in this scene are mine. It was good for 3rd place but it was a ton of fun having that borrowed herd on the table.
 Next was Reining and Bootlegger changed his clothes and got back in the ring. He is wearing a saddle by an unknown maker, a bridle by Danielle Hart and I made his doll. Only 5th place but the class was large and quite competitive. Hurricane Deck went on to receive Reserve champ in the Stockwork division but I apparently forgot to take a picture of that.
 Next was the western division and it was HUGE. My natural trail entry terrified me so much I didn't take a picture. My newly repainted Godiva resin was on a bridge on a not-too-level diorama. She got 3rd for that but she was taken down as soon as the class was pinned. Next was a ginormous Arena Trail class where I had two entries that didn't place. After that was games but I skipped it because I was getting stressed and rushed and that was not allowed for this show. I wanted to do well in the classes I showed in even if I had to skip here and there. Next was other western performance, still no photos and no placings.

Then we had western pleasure-stock type. Mocha Latte did extremely well earning second place in the class. She was only beaten by the undefeated Kahanamoku owned by Marisa Evans. Mocha Latte is a Loping Leggs resin sculpted and painted by Liesl Dalpe. She's wearing a saddle made by Pam Perkins and her bridle was made by Danielle Hart. I made her doll.
 Phases of Godiva is my Godiva resin sculpted by Morgen (Kilbourn) Rossomando and painted by Liesl Dalpe. Her tack was made by Pam Perkins and her doll was made by Joan Yount.
 Next up was the other performance division. It started with showmanship and I was determined not to screw up this entry like I did at TRXC last fall. It's those little details I was talking about. My paying attention paid off with a 1st in showmanship. Hurricane Deck was painted by Mindy Berg. I made the halter and the dolls in this scene.
 The next class was the scene class. I wanted to do something where I could put my showmanship horse right into the scene without changing anything. And I wanted to use mini food because...well, because mini food ☺. This is a horse show picnic scene. The riders are having lunch and Mary (any doll that is named in documentation is always named Mary for me. Not sure why) stopped by after her showmanship class to visit. Hurricane Deck wants that fruit salad on the end of the table!
 Here's another view of the scene. It was fun to do and a quick transition from showmanship so I didn't have to hold anything up or rush.
 Penelope is my newish Calliope painted by Sophie Nordstrom. She's wearing a pack set made by Sara Kucharski with some accessories by me. The doll is a fisherman Dan doll wearing Mego camo.
 Only good for 4th in the scene class but still fun to set up. My footing is my super clever (and occasionally messy) roll-up diorama. It almost never lays flat. The card says something about Dan being on a hunting trip.
 They also did other performance-generic with a packing scene. The documentation explained how packing trips are a great option to see some remote areas that are only accessible on foot or by horseback. My Elecktra doll had fun getting into another set-up.
 Hurricane Deck (who was getting dressed for costume) was champion in the other performance division. What a great day he was having!

Next up was the sporthorse division. Phantom, an Eclipse resin sculpted by Mindy Berg and painted by Joan Yount, is wearing BCS tack (Jennifer Buxton) and boots by Joan Yount. The beautiful jump was made by Marci Driscoll. I made the doll. I was impressed that Phantom got 3rd place in such a large class.
 Here is just another view of the jump since people like it ☺
 McQueen also got into the jumper class. He is wearing BCS tack, boots are BCS as well, doll and jump are by me.
 I skipped hunter because I felt moving jumps was just too time consuming so I started to set up for dressage. McQueen (after taking off his boots and switching dolls) managed 3rd place.

Next up was the English division starting with games. Phantom played with this Housewife Scurry entry. I really like how this entry turned out.

 Caramel Latte made an appearance in the Other English class with this therapeutic riding entry. The tack is BCS tack with the halter and dolls by me. My Elecktra doll managed to get into this scene along with my Travis doll.
 Arena trail was next and Enchanted Eve, painted by Angelica Nelson was in with her mailbox entry. The tack is also BCS tack and the doll is by me.
 Caramel Latte was in Arena Trail as well with this rope gate entry.
 Pleasure ended the English division. Enchanted Eve got first in sportype while Caramel Latte got 4th in other type and McQueen got 1st in other type. Only Enchanted Even got her picture taken.
 Next I jumped over to OF to show Lady Liberty in showmanship. She mostly comes to the show for showmanship since she is on a mission for her Superior Event Horse award in showmanship. She managed another card for her effort
 Things got a little hectic about now since we were running out of time in the hall so I jumped back to CM to show Hurricane Deck in Indian costume...
 Then back to OF to bring Lady Liberty over to scene...
 And back to CM for call-backs (I skipped a class as well). Hurricane Deck continuing his very good day got champ in the costume division. He also got reserve champ in Four Square which was an extra championship. You had to submit the classes you wanted to count for points towards the award at the beginning of the show.
 After that I jumped back to OF where Lady Liberty managed champ in OF other performance.

Overall the day went well. I skipped classes when things got too crazy and had a really nice show day. I should skip classes more often.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

So when I wasn't looking I made 700 dolls

I have been a slacker about updating my doll book. And updating my blog. So today a customer asked me how many male hunt seat riders I had made. So I got out the doll book to count. If anyone is interested the answer to that question is 4. Four make hunt seat riders in over 7 years and over 700 dolls. But unfortunately I have to make either what is ordered or what I think will sell. And sometimes it seems model horse people are not overly fond of make riders.

That actually leads in nicely to the 700th doll. Because as I was printing out the photos and numbering them I realized that doll # 700 was...
a male rider! This is the new male doll from Castaway Toys. It is a very similar body style to the old Mego dolls but far superior in the fact that there are not rubber bands used in the construction of this doll. He will stay where you put him. Crazy thought, I know. And since coincidences with dolls are happening today I will post a photo I took for a customer...
proving this guy can stand in the saddle, hold his arm up, hold his reins and rope in the other hand, etc. This is a talented cowboy! This is actually the second cowboy I have done on the new Castaway body but I do like it and I think I will be making more of them in the future. Since they don't come with a specific head (this is a Mego head) they won't all look identical like the Breyer guys, they are shaped more like real people than the Breyer guys and they behave so well, what's not to like? I don't know that they would make a good hunt seat rider but they sure make good cowboys.

So when I wasn't looking I made over 700 dolls. I have actually to date made 703 dolls. One of these days I will count just how many of them were male riders.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Miniature Food on my Desk

Recently Jennifer Buxton did a blog post on the miniature food Lauren Mauldin has on her work desk. This isn't the first time miniature food has been discussed on Jennifer's blog. Or mine really. The model horse hobby is filled with people that enjoy miniatures. Miniature horses, miniature tack and sometimes just anything tinier than normal sized. I collect miniature food as well but I am very particular about the pieces.
This is the miniature display case on my desk and my collection of miniature food (so far). All of the pieces are artist made from polymer clay. For me to add a food piece to my collection it has to be something I like, obviously, super realistic and priced well. I have no desire to pay someone $50 for a plate of cheese and crackers (they don't take THAT long to make). Plus the lower priced items are often from lesser known artists and I have always enjoyed supporting new artists as well as all artists in general.I made the soup, the ice cream sundae and the pancakes.
I also have this tiny cake made to look like my wedding cake. The artist charges about half to 2/3 less than any other artist that copies cakes and she did an amazing job! It's just about an inch and a half tall.
   I enjoy miniatures of all kinds and I always have. Miniature food is my most recent choice for collecting but I am always on the lookout for other cool miniatures. Things that are smaller than usual are just cute.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Doll year in review 2013

 This past year has been a pretty great dolling year for me. Things have clicked into place nicely for the business end and I am very grateful for it. Some people think it is luck because they figure that what I do is easy. Well sometimes it's not overly hard (I've been doing this for 7 years after all) but it's still work. Sometimes it's a lot of fun, but it's still work. I feel that I am doing well because of hard work and a little bit of luck thrown in. And I am grateful for all I have managed to accomplish. Not only can I have a job that is pretty fun (most of the time) but I can stay home and be here when my kids need me. I have the ultimate "mother's hours".

I have made a lot of dolls this year. And a good variety. This year brought us the new Yvonne doll by Zica Toys. I love this doll! She is super realistic and very fun to work with and show with. The first Yvonne I made was a western pleasure rider. Which is fitting since I made the most western pleasure dolls (as always) with 64 made this year. That also includes a few working western ladies that I put in because they fit better than in the "other category.


coming in second place in the year end doll count was hunt seat dolls. These versatile dolls are useful for most English classes including lower level dressage if they are wearing a dark colored coat. I made 20 hunt seat dolls, mostly in traditional navy blue or black coats

 But also a few special ordered huntseat type dolls. This one I believe is used for hunter hack.

There was a tie for the third place spot in the how-many-I-made list. I made 18 cowboys

 including this cute little junior cowboy.
and I also made 18 saddle seat dolls.
The "other" dolls won out in the fourth place spot with 17 made (but I will show them later)
and then came the youth hunt seat dolls with 9 made.
side saddle would have beaten the youth hunt seat dolls if I combined western (5)
 with English (5) but I felt they each needed their own category. Several of the side saddle dolls both English and western, were convertible dolls with removable aprons so they could be used for other classes.
in the number 7 spot I have dressage dolls with 6 being made. This one was reserve champ in OF dressage at NAN this year. Photo by Joan Fauteux.
and speaking of NAN, this is the first year I had horses entered. I sent Caramel Latte to go in 4 performance classes and she came home with NAN champ in CM huntseat pleasure other type! I still hope to go to NAN myself one day but it was sure fun to be part of the action by watching on the NAN cam, stalking the results and the near constant texting with my friend Marisa. She was my co-proxie for NAN. This photo was taken by Erika Ipes.

So now some of the "other" dolls I made. This is Rick Grimes from the Walking Dead. He has been in some very cool set-ups that have grossed out some showers. That's a win in my book.
and there was this cool military/action type doll that I made for my daughter for Christmas. She wrote up a wonderful character profile and I copied that. She was a fun doll to make and very different from the average doll I make. Though at some point I might have to make some casual dolls with cargo pants and combat boots. Why not?

So in all here is the rundown of the 2013 dolls:
64 western pleasure ladies (with a few working western thrown in)
20 hunt seat ladies
18 cowboys
18 saddle seat dolls
17 "other" dolls
9 youth hunt seat dolls
5 English and 5 western side saddle dolls
6 showmanship dolls
6 casual English dolls
6 upper level dressage dolls
2 cross country dolls.
for a grand total of 176 dolls made in 2013! I wonder if I can beat that in 2014