I have been working on a Native American costume for a long time now. I don't really know how long but I know I have had the saddle tree for at least a couple of years. Part of the reason they are so hard is there is a lack of documentation out there. You have to know where to look (I still only know a little bit) photos are hard to come by and good documentation is essential to a good live show entry. So part of what I have been doing all this time is trying to come up with sources for information. I ended up picking up a great book for information called Native American Saddlery and Trappings. It's actually a paper doll book but it is very informative as well. That and I got a book on Native American bead weaving.
I did actually start trying to do a beaded costume. I have the bead loom, the super tiny delica beads (I think that's what they are anyway) and I got a few inches of bead work done. I realized something important about that time. I really hate doing bead work. *sigh* so I put the project aside for awhile and thought about it some more. I also wasn't sure how I would do the beading on pieces that were not exactly rectangle.
So after awhile I decided that I would paint the designs on the costume. Native Americans often did this for real so I figured it was OK for me to do it. And let me tell you, even when you are "just" painting on the designs it take a long time. But I think it was worth it, here's my finished costume.
And here's the front view of the bridle. The photos are a little bit dark because they are inside with no flash but the flash photos looked really bad. So this is what we get. I have a live show on Saturday and one of the things on my show projects list was to finish my Native American costume. Before today I only had the breast drape and saddle drape painted. So today I painted the crupper, made all the bridle pieces and assembled it, covered the saddle tree, made the cinch and attached it (in the proper way!), made the stirrups and attached them and put together my documentation. *phew* I'm tired. This took most of the day to finish and the documentation...was also hard to make, lol.
Here is the picture that I mostly copies for the costume I made. The saddle blanket I made was from another crow saddle so hopefully that won't give me trouble. I didn't make the stirrup decorations or the pommel flaps but the rest I did. With more fringe because I like fringe, lol. I like the way the costume came out and I will be happy to show it but I don't imagine I will be making another Native American costume any time soon. Now I need to get some dolls...