Tuesday, December 16, 2014

# 800

Are you ready for this? Last night I completed my 800th doll. That's pretty wild and I have to say, I feel pretty good about it. The very first doll was this Arabian rider doll who was completed in November of 2006.
In my first ever blog post, November 2008, I said since I had been making Arabian costumes I figured I should start with an Arabian rider. Made sense to me. I don't think she was bad for the first attempt at anything in this scale. She is not very much like anything I can do today though.
   So in the beginning of November I finally got to meet Jennifer Buxton in person when she came to judge at The Region X Championships. I wish we had met years ago. Anyway, Jennifer has a show-ring style Arabian costume that she doesn't use because she doesn't have a doll to go with that. I can get behind that kind of thinking. So she brought the costume with her and asked if I could make a doll to go with it. When she found out that I was nearing my 800th doll she asked if I would please make her doll as my 800th doll. 
   Of course I did, how perfect is that? The first doll ever was an Arabian rider and what a great milestone another one would be as #800. Challenge accepted!
   So here is the costume.
 I really like this costume. The colors are beautiful, it's very well made and VERY easy to use. All things I like in an Arabian costume. The challenge however is that I did not make the costume and it was made over 8 years ago. How do you match a doll to something like that? Carefully.
   Jennifer asked that I make the doll as "Hollywood" and blingy as possible. Super gaudy and obnoxious? I can do that. And here she is:
I had a very hard time matching the green color in the costume. Noting that Joann Fabrics carried was an exact match and I was looking for exact. The closest I found was some wide green ribbon. I figured I would piece it together to make her long vest. Not the coolest option but if it was what had to be done, I would do it.
 It turns out I did not have to piece together ribbon to make fabric. I have had this wonderful green silk for years now. I keep using a piece here and there for projects but since I bought so much (I was going to make a real-person sized clothing item with it) I still have plenty. It was a fantastic match to the drape of the costume! Not that you can see that in any of the photos since the long vest covers everything. It doesn't HAVE to I guess.

 My photos are a bit washed out and I can't really figure out how that happened so I will just keep talking about the costume. It really is obnoxious. I started with a black shirt with puffed sleeves tucked into gold harem pants. You will be able to see those pants across the show hall. They are shiny and catch the light and are just...obnoxious! But they go really well with the costume.
 Next was the long vest. It was made with green silk outlined in a gold and green sort of braided/fancy trim. In all of the green spaces on the trim I added an emerald green swarovski crystal. That thing has bling.
 If you look at the photo of doll #1 you can see she is wearing sandals. Well that is not safe in any way so #800 was much more sensible and put on some boots. Nothing fancy, just boots. Around the cuff of her pants I added some more emerald crystals. You know, because the pants weren't fancy enough.
# 800 also has a semi-repainted face under her veil. Mostly I did some quick work on her eyes to make her look a bit more exotic. She has on gold triangle shaped earrings with more emerald crystals on them and a veil with gold trim and gold "coins" added. Some for weight and some just because this costume needed more bling.
 The doll does ride well and fits on the costume perfectly. Nothing needed to be adjusted which was a happy bonus for me. I split out the doll's fingers so she can properly hold the reins English or Western, depending on what is correct. I honestly have no idea what is correct on this type of bridle.
 This next photo shows a bit of the drape as well as the doll clothes so you can see how nice a match the color is on her vest. I was really happy this worked out. The green silk has been used to make some of my favorite things and I was happy it worked for Jennifer's costume.
 What am I missing? Oh, the doll has rerooted black hair that was pulled back into a long braid and wrapped with gold thread. Just in case someone peeks through the layers of the veil I didn't want her hair to be boring.
 There is also a decoration on her back which has more emerald crystals on it.
 A vast portion of the vest is actually fairly plain so I wanted to add as many little extras as I could. This doll had to be special, there was no other way to do it.
 So to wrap this up, I have now officially been making dolls for just over 8 years. I have now made 800 dolls in total. Hopefully I can continue to make dolls for years to come and perhaps I will get another cool project for # 900. Thank you to everyone that has helped me to reach this point in my dolling and a special thanks to Jennifer Buxton for asking me to make this very special doll for a very cool milestone.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The coolest people ever

People in the model horse hobby are some of the coolest people ever. I have known this for a long time but it is more and more apparent recently. When I started live showing I got lots of help and LOTS and LOTS of help when I started performance showing. My personal experiences have been mostly positive and the people I have met are very giving and fun. I know it's not true of everyone in the hobby but most of the people I have met, or had interactions with, are fantastic.

Just recently I joined Model Horse Blab which is something I have been avoiding for years because I know I can get sucked into that forum and then get lost for hours. So far I have been doing OK and only check it for a few minutes...every single time I am on the computer. I catch up on posts I am following and sometimes catch something new. I am behaving for the most part. The point though of my mentioning joining was I started sending out PIFs (Pay It Forward) which I think really a better name for that would be random gifts. I have also received a couple of PIFs myself.

I received these dolls. I even have used one of them to make a gift for someone (I will post photos after Christmas)
 and just this past weekend I got this GIANT bag of Kisses. I will never run out of chocolate! (that's a lie)
I also signed up for the Blab Secret Santa which was SO much fun. I had a great time getting a gift together for my person and I received this great group of gifts from my Secret Santa partner.
There were doll making supplies, treats and chocolates, cozy socks and this AWESOME CM
I have never been into decorators but when I opened this I was so excited! It's a pink and black horse with wings and a pink crystal necklace on my favorite stablemate mold! It is MUCH cooler in person and I am actually excited to show in the fantasy class at a show now.

I think the most touching gift I have gotten from a model horse person recently was from my friend Jennifer Buxton. She mentioned she sent me a "little" present in the mail. It arrived today and it is indeed small in size. I would not call it a "little" gift. I opened up the little package (which came with the most adorable card that I totally forgot to take a photo of) and this is what was in it.
As usual when receiving a piece of tack from Jennifer I was awed by all the incredibly detail. I have never seen a stable halter this fancy! It still has tiny tongue buckles with rollers! Stitch marks, buckles on both sides of the crown and under the chin. Then I turned it around...
...and it has a name plate. I was amazed, awed, very touched and I came right home (seriously, I opened it at the mailbox) and got Enchanted Even down and put her in her new halter. Of course it is a perfect fit, looks absolutely gorgeous on her and is just so amazing.

This is not a "little" gift in my opinion. Eve thinks it's pretty fabulous as well. She is still wearing it and I think she is smugly looking at her shelf-mates and taunting them. What a lucky pony. And I am lucky too, to have such a great friend. Thank you SO much Jennifer for sending me this amazing "little" gift, I love it!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Human Trafficking

    I'm in human trafficking. 
    Don't freak out, it just means I sell dolls. But if you read my blog or know me at all you already know that. I've actually been selling dolls since 2007. I have never yet been to NAN to do room sales or to Breyerfest to do the artisans gallery. Some day maybe. What I do get to do every year is sell all weekend at The Region X Championships (TRXC). There is nothing quite as fun as seeing the people who are buying your work. My first weekend sales were at Region X Regionals which was the first incarnation of the annual championship show that region X holds. 

    In 2008 people played with the dolls. A lot.
 The dolls were dancing.


and being sweet to each other. Among other things. Since everyone was so into playing with the dolls that year I got a swing-set for them to play with the next year.
There really wasn't much playing as I recall.

   This year I had all sorts of things for sale. I had dolls as usual but also extra chaps, eventing kits, judges kits and miniature food items. I love making the miniature food. It's a fun distraction from regular doll making stuff.
And in the end while I do enjoy making other things I will always first be into human trafficking.

It makes me happy and seems to make other people happy too.

*note* top photo was by Jennifer Buxton. Used with permission. Brenda Bednar posed for the first and last photo so I could have them for this post.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Meeting Jennifer

Years ago when the newest incarnation of the biggest Region X show of the year became The Region X Championships (TRXC) it was decided that no one person would host or be expected to host, every single year. It is the regions show so everyone should help. With that in mind many people stepped forward offering to host the show. This year it was my friend Marisa Evans turn. Marisa is one of the busiest people I know and several months ago she asked if I could do something small for her (I can't remember what) and I asked if she needed more help. We carpooled from last year's TRXC so had been working on the list of volunteer judges. I offered to help her with anything she needed help with and became the co-host. So I actively started looking for judges for the show, specifically out of region guest judges.
   I immediately thought of Jennifer Buxton. She and I have been trading buddys and online friends for many years. Anyone that reads her blog knows at least some stuff about her and her life so I knew she was an experienced judge and would be a wonderful judge for both halter and performance (the qualities that make for a good stakes judge) and I emailed her to see if she was interested and could fit a weekend trip to New York into her schedule.
   She said yes.
   I was as excited as a little kid at Christmas because not only did we now have two amazing guest judges (Eleanor Harvey was returning this year and is always very welcome and appreciated) but I would actually get to meet Jennifer. I got on Google chat and told Marisa right away (how else do you talk when someone is at work?), I told my daughter Elecktra. I am sure I told my husband. Marisa and I decided to keep Jennifer a secret for as long as we could because I knew we couldn't be the only ones that would be excited she was coming.
   So the time went by and we finished plans for TRXC and then it was just time to finish getting dolls ready since I always have my big TRXC weekend sale every year. Friday came and I had a full day of making sure the house was clean, last minute errands and waiting for Elecktra to get home from school so we could head out. We finally got to Albany, did some hall set-up, went to dinner and when I came back I got to meet Jennifer finally. And from the first moment it was like I had known her forever. I love it when that happens. We have a lot in common but enough differences to keep things from getting boring. I heard stories about her kids (I NEED to meet them!) and I told stories about mine. We shared dog stories and stories upon stories. It was a wonderful weekend and I was sad that it had to end. I wanted to get home to my guys (Ethan and Travis stayed home) but Jennifer lives so far and I have never left New England. But I might just have to find a way to make that happen. Hopefully soon.
   I have never had any awe of Jennifer, I am in awe of her tack, I can't begin to make anything as beautiful and realistic, but she has always been a person I wanted to meet. I am very glad that got to happen and hope that she can come out and judge at TRXC again in the future.

Friday, October 10, 2014

my CM Stone pony

Last weekend I attended the Albany Area Regional Performance (yes, the show is really AARP) in East Greenbush, NY. It was so much fun! There were not  tons of entrants but the competition was fierce as with most shows in Region X. My goal was to not forget little details that I should know by now and I think I pretty much got that down. Part of the reason could have been the show was a bit more laid-back than some. 
    I had thought about doing a blog post on my show placings but Jennifer Buxton beat me to the punch with her post. I can't compete with her writing so I thought of another post I can do. Don't get me wrong, Jennifer took nothing away from me, I may never have gotten around to doing the post and it might have been thoroughly boring. But my blog is sad and quiet so I thought of something to talk about.
   My custom Stone Pony.
This is Halestorm. I believe she was customized and painted by Julie Brooks but I am not 100% sure on that. I bought her from Joan Yount. Part of the idea of buying her was to compete head-to-head with my friend Marisa and her custom Stone pony Electric Mayhem.
Electric Mayhem is a Stone pony customized and painted by Liesl Dalpe. That one I am sure of because I am pretty sure I watched at least part of the process.
    So I got Halestorm and I put some tack on her and showed her at Baystate Models Live last summer. I think I missed some of her photos but here is the photo evidence of her appearance at the show:
 Fourth (and last) in games.
 Fourth in trail
Fifth (and last) in hunter over fences.

I think after that I chose to keep her out of pleasure but I checked the show results and this is all she shows in.  I will note several problems with the entry and put them forward as reasons Halestorm did not do very well. One: while she is wearing AWESOME tack (it's a BCS set made by Jennifer Buxton) it is a bit big for her and the stirrup leathers were meant for an adult so they are too long. The doll also is not a good fit for the saddle. The end result is an entry that looks less than awesome. 
   Halestorm also showed in the open classes at The Region X Regionals (TRXC) last year. I don't seem to have any photos but here is what I found in the results:
Fifth (and last) in hunter over fences. I think that is everything show showed in.
 I believe she was wearing some tack I made and had an adjusted (partly remade) doll that still did not fit the saddle very well.
   So the end result of the start of Halestorm's showing career was a show pony that was not good at performance. But everything is fixable so I fixed it. 
   I did a trade with Pat Coulter for this super AWESOME pony tack. I have tried a lot of English tack makers over the years and so far I am very fond of Jennifer's tack and now Pat's. That's it. So Halestorm got a new tack set from Pat which is a great fit for her size and I made her a new doll which also fits properly in the saddle. The started the day with hunter over fences
 Then moved on to English games. I want to make a note that the photos in the Candy Race documentation were taken by me at the show at the Blandford Fair (Blandford, MA) in August of this year. When I saw the game I took a ton of photos to use with my pony. And then I made a whole bunch of tiny candy!
 After that was Other English and I decided to try a therapeutic riding entry. The photos in the documentation are all also taken by me and are of my son in classes or shows. The doll on the horse is my "Travis" doll and the leader doll is my "Elecktra" doll. It's fun to have both my kids in one entry.
Those were the classes she entered in the English High Action division. Halestorm ended up with Reserve Champion!
Next was dressage. I believe this was Halestorm's first time in dressage. But I thought it out carefully, check my details and it worked out really well. 
 Next for us was Arena Trail. I found a semi-interesting poles set-up and it paid off as well.
 Last was English Pleasure Other Type. Halestorm got first while my other entry, Caramel Latte got second.
 The result of the Low Action English division was the Championship rosette for Halestorm!

 It's completely possible that on a different day with a different judge Halestorm might not do as well as she did at the AARP show. But she was shown a few times before with poor results and some careful tweaking improved her showing in a big way. I guess my advice for anyone that is looking to learn anything from my blog (if there is anyone out there like that) is make sure your tack fits the horse it is on. And not just fits but fits well which extends as far as not having extra long straps on anything. If you use a doll, make sure it fits on the horse and on the tack. And documentation is not an option but a must. The easier your documentation is to read the more the judges are likely to actually read it. I have never met a judge that wants to read a novel while judging.
   In closing, I am glad I didn't give up on Halestorm's showing career. I want to, again, thank Pat Coulter for a great trade and making me a really fantastic tack set. Now I think I am ready to have that head-to-head competition with Marisa and Electric Mayhem.

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?