Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 First blog and 2017 year in review

Western pleasure doll. January 2017
2017 was a very unusual year for me. I only managed one blog post so I'm sure not many people really know what was happening with me. First off, in March I got hired on full time as a paraprofessional at the high school in town. I had been subbing as a para, mostly in the same class, since October of 2016. Being a substitute was very stressful for me. Walking into a new situation several times a day was not my idea of a good time. It's also really hard to help the students if you don't know the classroom routines or any of the kids. Full time was great, though I was still new at the job and somewhat unsure of myself. I have teenagers, but dealing with other people's teenagers was a bit foreign to me. Plus I had to learn on the job, there is no training for paras.
    We had school battles throughout the summer to try to get a reasonable placement for our son. With that and taking it easy from the stress of the end of the school year, I was not really in a dolling mood. In general I was a bit tired and burnt out, and I did make some dolls over the summer, but at a much more relaxed pace. It was really nice actually.
Western pleasure doll. January 2017
   The start of this school year was wild. I knew my co-teacher was going to be out the first few months on maternity leave so we were going to have a long-term substitute. That ended up being a huge disaster which ended in her being let go and the school asking me if I would cover the classes for the next 7 weeks. It was somewhat terrifying but I said I would do it so there could be at least some normalcy for the kids. In the 7 weeks I was a teacher I learned some really important lessons; 1. planning periods are not remotely long enough. 2. Teachers really don't get paid enough for all the work they end up doing at home and all of the money they dish out of their own pockets to get things for their classes. 3. I am actually a pretty good teacher. At least when I don't have to do the extra stuff like go to staff meetings or talk to parents.
    So from the beginning of October to right before Thanksgiving I was teaching full time. I had almost no time or energy for making dolls, which came at sort of a bad time since I like to get as many dolls as I can made before the TRXC weekend. I didn't have tons of dolls this year, but I had a bit of a variety, some saddle pads, horse boots and other odds and ends. So, let's have the year end review!  This year I made:
Teeny tiny dolls made in August 2017
14 western pleasure dolls
11 hunt seat dolls
9 casual western/working western dolls
4 cowboys
4 specialty dolls
3 casual English/cross country dolls

3 showmanship dolls
3 non-hunt seat youth dolls
2 hunt seat youth dolls
2 dressage dolls 
2 driving dolls; 1 male and 1 female.
For a grand total of 57 finished dolls. 

Driving entry SNEWRU March 2017
Latte's SNEWRU winnings
Latte's winnings at QVPO
Not as prolific a year as in several past years. But I did manage to get a good amount of dolling time in considering how much else was vying for my time and attention. So, let's have some highlights from the year! There was the debut of my doctor's buggy in March, which I was challenged to show. The driver is the one male driving doll I made this year. I was going to retire Caramel Latte, but after I accepted the challenge to show the harness entry my showing focus changed for the year. Caramel Latte was now my main show horse for 2017. She did very well at the Southern New England Winter Round-up in March. This show is hosted by Brenda Bednar and is a wonderful show with both performance and halter classes. Though I don't bother with halter classes. 
In April I attended Quabbin Valley Performance Open, which is hosted by Joan Fauteux. Joan has been hosting this fantastic all performance show for years. I again showed Caramel Latte in as many classes as I could reasonably show her in. 

Mocha Latte at Baystate Live
 In August I attended Baystate Models Live. Baystate was originally my show about 100 years ago and it was an all halter show. Maria Firstenburg took the show over when I didn't have time to host anymore and gave the show a huge overhaul. It became a huge 2 day show with an extensive division list and now included performance! I have tried to make it every year to support the show. This time around I showed Caramel Latte and Mocha Latte. Mocha Latte ended up with overall reserve champion. You can still see Caramel Latte peaking into the photo. 
Doll #1100

In October I made my 1100th doll.  The occasion went unmarked since I didn't even notice until probably a month later when I was putting photos in my doll book. #1100 turned out to be an upper level dressage doll, so not even anything particularly fancy. This doll used a new pattern designed by my good friend Joan Yount. It has beautiful lapels that still look very realistic and lay flat with much less bulk than past dolls. Perhaps I will be paying more attention when doll #1200 gets made. Though at my current rate of dolling that won't happen until sometime in 2019. We'll see how things go.

Casual western ladies

TRXC sales dolls

TRXC sales dolls
TRXC sales dolls
TRXC dolls and winnings
Throughout August, September and October I worked on dolls for my big TRXC weekend sale. The show was held at the UMass hotel in Amherst, which is only about 35 minutes from my house. I was thrilled to have the show so close to home. It also allowed that my good friend Crystal could come and see the madness that is me showing in performance. She and I have been friends since way before I found the hobby and she hasn't had a chance to see a show before TRXC. That was a treat for me! Also she stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a few of us (both days!) which is always welcome. 
Larry and I and Dunkin coffee
   2017 was sort of a wild ride from start to finish but it was a pretty good year all around. I made some dolls, got a full year in a new job that I love, did some horse showing and had a pretty good time. We did end up with a great placement for our son. I am now much more comfortable in my job and figured out if I just treat the teenagers I work with like my own kids (tease them when they need it, listen when they need to talk, be a bit crazy, etc). I had an excellent showing year and while I also probably had more stress than I have had in awhile, there were mostly good things. Here's to hoping 2018 is another excellent year!