Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Free" stuff, aka Trading is FUN!

Am I the only one that feels like trading is getting free stuff? I am well aware that I am "paying" for everything I get but trading makes it almost seem like I am getting a gift. And who doesn't like presents? Most of the items in this post were paid for through doll trades. Either way, I have gotten some really cool stuff without having to shell out much for actual green money.
This first item is a trade from way back. I was at a show and happened to notice that Liz Roman had some cool tack for sale. I happened to have a CG Valentine that needed tack but was a bit small for regular sized traditional western tack. I borrowed a horse from my friend  Taylor (with the sincerest promise I would not hurt her OF halter horse, I just wanted to see if the saddle was the correct size). It was! So we agreed that I would make a doll in exchange for the saddle. Liz also made the bridle but I actually bought that. It's the one I often use with my beautiful western saddle made by Jennifer Buxton. The bridle Jenn made to go with the set is beautiful but I really like the look of this one on my Victrix. Anyway, I am including this particular trade even though it is from over a year ago. Just about a month ago (maybe a bit more) Liz decided what type of doll she wanted in trade. So this is finally complete and the saddle is finally officially mine.
Next up on the trading is fun list is this Lola resin. Her name is Showgirl (and the reason behind that should be obvious). So far she has not shown all that well in live shows but she does well in photo showing. She may also start doing better at live shows. I have a trade in the works for a bridle to fit her big mule head. Anyway, I haven't had a mule since I traded my Mulinette and since I could trade for her how could I refuse? So I got a pretty mule through a trade.
Next up I got this simply AWESOME jump from my friend Marci Driscoll. It is very much like the jump she made for herself but with brown instead of black accents on the standards. I know it's not a pretty picture but it's the one I have at the moment. Since this photo I have added greenery to the pots. Now I just need a chance to use the jump. It's not officially "mine" just yet as I haven't "paid". I am trading Marci a doll for this as well but she hasn't decided what she wants just yet. I know I want to play with my jump...
 Up next is this super gorgeous tack set I got from Jennifer Buxton. It is actually...the fourth set I have gotten from her. I have traded for all of them. I am starting to think that maybe I am a bum and taking advantage of Jennifer's need for dolls ("everybody needs dolls") but I love her tack SO much and I love trading. Again, I don't officially own this set yet as I still need to make the dolls for the trade. At least I know what they are :) I would have been happy with any style of English tack that Jennifer made me but I was really excited to see that this saddle is a slightly different style than the others that I have. It's not essential but it's fun.
 Then there is this lovely Knightly Cadence. I traded Barb Manley my Nocturno resin for him. I am thrilled at this trade as I have been wanting a KC for a long long time. This guy is a lovely color and is even more gorgeous in person. Now I have the difficult task of coming up with a name for him. He really wants to get some tack on...and maybe play with Marci's jump...(photo by Barb Manley)
 This last photo is for the poles. And this actually was a gift. I don't like painting poles. I am not good at it. I don't have the patience to wait for layers and layers of paint to dry, I can't do stripes without taping. When I tape I end up with paint lumps. It's not something I enjoy. However my friend Joan Fauteux really likes painting poles. And she is very very good at it. She did these mostly freehand! She does use light pencil lines but no taping. They are very smooth and pink!  They go very nicely with my pink flowers. I did give Joan some wood dowels but that was also more of a gift than a trade. And I got the WAY better end of things!
I was very burnt out from showing last year and started selling all sorts of things and really downsizing my props collection. This year I have really started adding things in again. I have a bunch of new potted flowers that I made, new ground poles, a new jump and I also bought some very nice dressage rails. There may be other things as well that I am just not thinking of. I am trying to get my motivation back for live showing but I have actually been having a great time judging. It's so relaxing showing up to a show with nothing (OK, I NEVER have nothing as I have to bring the kids and they have luggage and I need the cooler and so on...). I've been enjoying photo showing quite a bit recently and that is very relaxing compared to live showing. You can take as much time as you need to set up your shot. Though doing photo backs isn't always fun.
So in closing, I really like to trade. I am not always looking for anything in particular but it's possible I can be tempted. Especially if you are willing to take payment in dolls :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

I wanted to do a post about Black Friday. I have run a sale every year for the past several years and have heard many different explanations of where the name came from. Most of this post was taken directly from the daily I thought this was a good, brief explanation of the name
Today, we’ll be taking a short lesson in history, looking way back at the origin of the term Black Friday.

The term Black Friday has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or discounts

One of the earliest recorded uses of the term Black Friday has nothing to do with the sales as we all know and love today. In fact, it was first used in 1869 in reference to the financial panic in the US due to a huge crash of the gold market.
why is it called black friday

Black Friday is black because it’s deadly and dangerous

In the late 19th and early 20th century, many Thanksgiving day parades were sponsored by department stores in an effort to sneakily advertise their Christmas sales as early as possible. Later on, it became common practice to only run Christmas advertisements after the Parade was over. From then on, the day after Thanksgiving marked the official start of the shopping season.
where did the term black friday come from
This drove huge amounts of traffic to the city centre, where shoppers would jam into stores and severely injure one another as well as the sales representatives. Policemen and public transport figures called this day Black Friday, referring to the danger and havoc brought on by the manic shopping spree.

Black Friday means huge profits

Olden day accounting practises would use different coloured inks in their accounting books to reflect the store’s sales — red ink indicated losses and black ink showed profit. On this very special day, most merchants would would record their sales in black ink to show positive amounts.
where did the term black friday come from
So there you go. It’s not just about shopping. There’s actually quite a bit of history behind the term that that we now use to refer to the deals available after Thanksgiving. I hope now you’ll understand why it’s called Black Friday.
I also am having my annual Black Friday sale. I usually take orders on dolls for a super low price but this year I have stock left from the TRXC sale (I will stop talking about them when they have new homes...) and I thought they would be great as a blowout sale. Here are the available dolls:
These dolls are prices at $75-$120. They are SUPER bargains. See the MH$P ad for more details.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Doll rush to TRXC

The Region X Championship (TRXC) was held a couple of weeks back on November 3rd and 4th in Albany, NY. As usual I made a whole bunch of dolls to bring to sell. And for people to play with. That is one of the things people like and have come to expect. The first year I brought dolls was 2008 (I believe) My name was still St.Onge so that is my guess.
 The dolls and the people playing with them got sillier throughout the day.
 And these are just a couple of the silly photos, I have more and I know my friend Corrie has even more silly pics.
This years I completely forgot to take any photos at the show. And no one came to play with the dolls. They just did some shopping. Maybe that's because I was judging and it's more fun to play when they think it will annoy me (it doesn't annoy me, *shh* don't tell).
So how do you get a good stock of dolls together for a big sale and still keep the quality of each piece up? You start early and you work really long days. This first doll was a bendy neck hunt seat doll. She was made in mid-September.
 I wanted to include some dolls with sculpted heads so this guy was done pretty early on. He ended up being the only doll with a sculpted head but perhaps when I get better there will be others. I am starting to think there is a cowboy curse as they don't often sell well. Which is a bit surprising to me because a cowboy is just about the most versatile western doll there is.
 I actually made a list of all the dolls I wanted to make for the TRXC sale because it made it easier to see what I had done and how far I still had to go. Showmanship dolls are not overly complex since they don't need to ride and I worked on this lady...
 ...and this young girl at the same time. I often will make several similarly styled dolls in the same time period and then do something different. I do like the ribbon designs and may do more of that in the future. I will probably also work on mixing some ribbon designs with freehand swirls.
I wanted to have a good variety of dolls so I also made a shorted, bendy leg, bendy neck hunt seat lady. And I changed her coat color as well. These dolls are interesting because the shorter thigh makes it so they fit better in most English saddles.
In sticking with the variety theme I also worked on This casual hunt seat doll...
...and this casual western doll. This lady actually got partially redone since she was originally wearing a turtleneck and I really hated it. She wasn't going to be good for anything other than trail riding. And while that is fun, it's not all that fun. So I changed her shirt to a nice button down with a bit of glitter. Lots of people wear sparkly clothes on a daily basis so I figured that would work. She can also do games and could even be a judge.
 Youth dolls are often pretty popular so this little gal was created. I think she is going to stay in my doll crew. I "borrowed" her for NEPC and she and Just Because got along really well. So perhaps she will just stay with me. She has slightly longer thighs than often end up on my rebuilt youth dolls. She looks like a young but not super young girl to me. And my niece is easily this skinny (she's 13) so I think he size is believable.

I really enjoy doing freehand swirls. Not only are they pretty, trendy as well as classic but I am pretty good at them and I get a big kick out of that. The asymmetrical style of these tops makes it possible for me to do them freehand and still have them come out well. I heard about a trick for doing the symmetrical, mirrored designs and will try it out sooner or later.
 This pink and silver lady was not actually made specifically for the TRXC sale. While working through my list I was also working on a few orders and some random sales dolls. She didn't sell when I listed her so she came to TRXC.
I also made this upper level dressage rider. Not all that many people do upper level dressage as the tack and the patterns are much more complex than the lower levels. But for those that do, a doll is becoming a must (because everybody needs dolls). I think this lady has a very sweet face.
 Saddle seat is another style of riding that not a whole lot of people try. For the most part it's tack and a doll that can be used for only one class. I have seen some very creative people do much more with their saddle seat stuff but it is not super common. I wanted to make a doll that was fun and a bit different. The rules on color seem to be getting more lax with saddle seat. I did double check, there are tweed and plaids in real saddle seat coats these days.
I had fun with this western lady. She is in a mix of styles I have been working with this year. Not only does she have asymmetrical panels of printed fabric on her top she also has printed peacocks. I did several dolls with pictures on them in the early part of the year. Being able to print my own fabric makes for some very unique dolls.
 This lady was done in the same style as the pink and silver doll. This top actually matches the reference photo I used pretty well. I think she is super eye catching and though the pictures show her crystals as sort of orange they are in fact red and a pretty good match to her leaf patterned top.
 I wanted to make a western doll that was less blingy because I know that not everyone loves super blinged up dolls. This lady did not want to photograph well. I tried on two different days, with two different horses and she always looked somewhat yellow. I am not really sure how to fix that.
 After I made all these dolls I wanted to take a nice new group shot as I have been using the same one for years now. So I got everyone together and set up for a photo shoot. This is the first time I have horses in my group shot and I do like it, though I think next time I will turn them all the other way. The cowboy in navy blue on the far left was a TRXC doll as well. When I was getting ready to take his photos I noticed his hands were on the wrong side of his body! I had to do a rebuild on him (he is a super bendy cowboy) and I put his arms on the wrong side when he was rebuilt. Luckily I could pop the pins out of his hands and switch them around. But the result is that is the only photo I have of him.

 So there is the rundown of the TRXC dolls. Working 10-12 hours a day four days a week for 6 weeks made it happen. Several of the dolls are still available for sale and are listed on MH$P under Anne Field.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NEPC show report 2012

The New England Performance Challenge was held on October 20th in Spencer, MA. I realize it is almost a month after the show but I was having issues getting all the photos to load and then I got lazy and forgot. *sigh* I hate when that happens. I had several goals in mind going into this show. One was to actually show since I have been doing so much judging. Though I still wasn't totally into it. I have a new mule, her name is Showgirl. She is a Lola artist resin (it's totally OK that the song is now going through your head, that's how she got her name). I can't remember who painted her. Her tack is by Joan Yount and I made the doll. Showgirl's first class was jumper and she managed 4th place.
 One of my goals for the show was to get Flash in the Sky a NAN card in an English class. Still hoping for NAN and I didn't have any English cards with her as she has preciously only been shown in western classes. Flash's first class was Other English where she managed her NAN card with this versatility entry. I took all the photos at a horse show at a little country fair the kids and I attended a few months back. Perhaps some posts will come from those pics, it was a very interesting day. Anyway, Flash is wearing English tack made by Jennifer Buxton, the western set on the table is very cool but I have no idea who made it. I made both the dolls.
 Next Flash was in the arena trail class. She managed third place with her stop on the bridge and show the mail entry. I have heard from judges this entry would do better if the mailbox was open. Well mine doesn't open so until I get another mailbox this is how it's done. The red flowers are some new ones I made recently from lovely paper flowers from the UK. Maybe one of these days I will do a tutorial on how I put together flowers. I have heard people say that flowers are hard to do and I really have to disagree. The way I do them is pretty simple.
 Back to Showgirl. Next up was her hunter over fences class. She only placed 6th so she is so far not doing too well as a show equine. The jump is a temporary one I made while waiting for the awesome one I recently got from Marci Driscoll. I have been doing some really awesome trading recently.
 Showgirl next tried her hoof at dressage. It took 3 people to figure out what lead she was on and get a pattern that would work for her. I can't even remember what was decided other than she is in an awkward point of the stride. I agree.
 another goal of the day was to get Cranky Pants a card in Native American costume. He is my Sencillo resin painted by Liesl Dalpe. I have no clue who made the costume but it's awesome. I made the clothes on the doll but Joan Yount sculpted the head for me. Cranky Pants got his NAN card.
 So back to Showgirl. She then showed in pleasure other type and only managed 5th place. I see her pad is a little crooked but I am not sure if she had other issues or if the judge just didn't like her. I wasn't super into showing and I didn't ask. Showgirl managed no NAN cards so will need to try again at another show. Or maybe stick to photo showing, she's good at that.
 Flash in the Sky managed third in pleasure. But she got her English NAN card which is why she wanted to come to the show.
 I also brought Frank to the show. He is a new custom horse I got from Joan Yount. He is a lady phase with a Zippo head, turned into a stallion and painted into a very nice appaloosa. Pink wasn't the best color to go with him but I didn't have time to make a new showmanship doll so he got what I had. I still know my stuff with showmanship so Frank (which is short for Frankenhorse) got his NAN card. Another goal for the show. I think I didn't bother to show him in anything else.
 Now let's move onto the CM western division and Caramel Latte. She is a Leggs resin (original version) sculpted by Liesl Dalpe and painted by Joan Yount. The tack was made by Pam Perkins, the doll was made by me and the Two Barrels and a Pole game documentation came from Jennifer Buxton's blog. Love that game. And it was good for third.
Next Caramel Latte showed in other western. I again used the versatility class as my entry and even with 15 entries on the table and the judge having seen the same class in the English division it still got 4th place. Not bad.
 My first OF class of the day was Lady Intrigue in therapeutic riding (other English) I am still chasing that last NAN card for her so she came out just to show in this class. She is wearing a saddle made by Joan Yount (ugly girth made by me) a bridle that I sort of threw together and didn't quite adjust properly and I made all the dolls. I guess if I want that last card I have to go back to paying super careful attention to my entry. Apparently besides some minor tack issues (which are BIG things in region X) my doll on the off side of the horse looked like he was going to fall. I say let him fall as long as he stays out of the way of the horse.
This little horse is Just Because. She is wearing tack by Jennifer Buxton and her youth doll rider was made by me. These are some ugly poles I painted (I don't like to paint poles) and the entry was worth 2nd place. It was another of my show goals to get Just Because a NAN card in English. She has a couple of western cards but I was hoping for English and Other.
 Next we will go back to the custom division and Caramel Latte. This was her arena trail entry. These way-better-than-mine poles were painted by Joan Fauteux. Joan loves painting poles and is very good at it. She even does all of stripes nearly freehand. I totally can't do that. Anyway, Latte only managed 5th with this entry.
 But then she came back to get 2nd in western pleasure stock type.
 Here is the photo for the Red Leggs Rivalry. That is a fun side-competition between my Leggs resins and the lopin' Leggs resin that belongs to my friend Marisa Evans. I said we should put them head-to-head (this type of competition is not new to Marisa) and since we both have a Leggs resin, even though they are different, she agreed. The way it works is when the horses are in the same class whichever places better gets the point. If they get the same number of wins per show it apparently then goes by actual points earned. I won this one by like 3 points. (there were more ribbons than just pleasure)
 OK, back to OF. Just Because competed in the hunter over fences class. This jump actually belongs to Marci Driscoll but she let me borrow it for the class as she was judging something and didn't need it. It looks very similar to the awesome jump she made for me.
 Just Because managed to get 2nd place in the huntseat sport type pleasure class. She didn't get to show in any of the classes in the Other division as she was in the English and the Other division overlapped. I will need to bring her to another show to try for a card in Other.
So I was not as focused on showing as I have been at other shows but I did manage to get most of the things I was hoping for. Hopefully all my awesome new trades will get me geared up to bring my A game to the Spring shows.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Miniature Food

I love miniatures. I especially like nicely made realistic miniatures. That is probably why I am so fond of so many model horses, model horse tack and cool props. I just love cool miniatures, I always have. Recently I saw on Facebook some really awesome miniatures done by a lady names Kim (that is everything I remember about her). She does really fantastic, detailed, highly realistic tiny food items. And other things, but I mostly like the food items. So I started thinking about miniature food. I used to make miniature food from play dough and it was pretty good. But the stuff that people make from polymer clay is really impressive. I figure you can learn anything on the Internet so I started looking for tutorials. I found several, both in print and on Youtube. I read or watched and figured I could follow the instructions pretty well and make some cool miniature foods. So here are some of the first results.
Bread was the item recommended as a very good beginner project. It's not too hard to make nice, realistic bread. And I have to agree, it was not hard to make these. However I have since then learned some other cool tricks that I want to try out on other bread.
I also worked on some miniature pastries. Again, I have since then learned some cool tricks that I think will make for even more realistic pastries on the next batch. Plus I finally got some corn starch so everything can stop sticking to me...

One of the real foods I make that people love so much is pumpkin bread. So I figured I had to try to make a pumpkin bread. I didn't have instructions specifically for this color bread so I sort of guessed at it. I think it came out OK but I do think I can do a better job. Especially with the new tricks I learned. I just have to find the time.

I also wanted to try making some pies. Thanksgiving is coming up and most everyone loves pies. The first one I made was actually the pumpkin pie and that one is my husband's favorite. The key lime had to happen because key lime is my favorite kind of pie and the last pie is cherries or strawberries and cream. That one was to test the clear sauce. I would do it differently next time I think.
The pumpkin pie was the only one I actually had detailed instructions for. That may be in part why it looks better than the other ones. Though I do think they are all fun. And really small. I want to do some even smaller sooner or later. I know, I am crazy, but you all knew that anyway.
So since I like to make things and I don't have room to keep everything I ever make I decided to open an etsy shop to sell my miniatures and other non-model horse craft items. So far only a few people have found their way into my shop but hopefully more people can find it soon.