Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Heat Wave

       There has been a big drop off in views on my blog again. I still have not figured out what exactly makes some people come and read. In the past I have watched YouTube videos about people saving dying channels, and often what the issue is is the title. I am bad at titles, that's all there is to it. And this isn't YouTube, it's a blog mostly about dolls. If I had a YouTube channel (an active one, I do actually have one) I would likely be posting a video once a month, or likely less. While I can sit and figure out what to type and add some photos (lol, as if the photos don't always come first!) but I can't imagine that I could come up with something to make a video about very often. I have done one, it was LONG, and editing took a LONG time. It was pretty fun though. I imagine even if I became a YouTuber I would likely get even fewer views than I do on my blog. 
      I really don't mean this to sound like a whining post. I know there are a bunch of people that always read my blog. Some of you read it every day, and I try very hard not to be boring for you. Sometimes I am just baffled at what gets a lot of views and what doesn't. I know if I forget to cross post a link to my studio page on Facebook I will get a lot less views. I know if I have a title that sounds exciting or controversial, I will get a lot more views. I imagine that a post with the title "heat wave" is not going to get people to click. I guess they just get to miss out on the newest round of what's happening in Anne's mostly mundane life. But you lucky people get to know. 
      The Pacific Northwest got some crazy record high temperatures this week. I was hearing about friends in Washington getting 110+ degree weather. That is quite hot, for sure. Massachusetts was having it's own heatwave. To be clear I want to remind everyone that 3 days of 90+ degree weather is considered a heatwave here. On Tuesday it was 99 degrees at one point. We also get humidity to go with that temperature. Which basically means by the middle of the day you drip sweat just sitting still, your hair is never dry, your clothes are never dry, and functioning is hard. The air is heavy and soupy, and overall just gross. I LIKE heat, but humidity is gross. It was fairly moderate for us, likely not Breyerfest in Kentucky humidity (which we DO get here) but everything was still a struggle. And any time I had to leave the house I thought about whining like an overtired child. I didn't, I just thought about it. 
     But even with the gross weather I was getting some work done. I decided that this week was hoodie doll week. I have really been enjoying working on dolls in batches. So for everyone who has been following along, one of these dolls is for an order and the rest will be for my live sale on August 14th. I likely need to make at least one more hoodie doll for my sale, or at least a casual doll, since I have some rainbow, tie dye, lightning fabric that would make some pretty amazing breeches. 
    The other day I also finally managed a single buckle per side on my bareback pads. The 1/4" ribbon finally arrived, fit the buckles I have, and overall makes me pretty happy. I am very happy to have been able to solve a problem that has been bothering me for a long time. Now I just need to finish up all the pads that are in the works and see if I can talk myself into adding more to the offerings. 
    Today is the first day of the extended year program (summer school). Sort of. It's the day we go in for a couple of hours for "classroom setup" and I have no idea what that actually means. It is also the day I get to be the new kid again. I know the names of the people I am working with this summer, I know they all work at the middle school, and I know that I don't, lol. But I am this summer. They likely all know each other. And even if they don't all know each other well, you do tend to know the people who are in the same program as you, in the same building. So I will be the LHS outsider. Which only bothers me because I can be cripplingly shy if the number of people I don't know is more than the number of people I do know. Maybe the paras will at least be vaguely familiar from PDs we have done in the past. LHS and BMS have done combined PDs (professional development) for the paras in the past. Though it has been at least 2 years... anyway, new experience. I hope it will be awesome. 


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

So Many Pins

     I don't make a lot of dressage dolls. Part of that is because while I love making fancy driving hats, I don't like to make top hats. And most people do still want top hats for their upper level dressage riders. I really love how she come together though, so I am considering making one for my live sale. I have to see if I get around to it or not. And if I do, I wonder if I will make myself make her a top hat. 
    Jennifer Buxton and I were chatting about bareback pads recently. She posted a photo of a really awesome one she will have available at her Breyerfest sale. She was saying she likes the girth part the best, that's easy for her. I wouldn't say the pad part is easy for me, but it's not hard. It just takes a lot of pins. This is actually the second step of sewing. I leave the back end open about and inch so I can flip it right side out and then I have to fiddle with more pins to get the ends to turn under and lay in a way that actually looks nice. I finally found a way that works fairly well for these. There are still a lot of steps to making bareback pads, but I don't dread this one. 
     I managed to get 5 more pads finished and now I am impatiently waiting for my ribbon order to arrive. I want to see if the 1/4" ribbon is actually the correct size to fit in the buckles I have. If it is, the other 4 pads I have not yet put buckles in may just get single buckles. I will have to redo a few things, but I would MUCH rather have the more typical single buckle on each side if I can manage it. Sometimes just getting the materials I need is a long process. 
     I think tomorrow I will post a surprise. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Western Dolls

      I have been working on a variety of things, all at the same time. I am working on orders, working on dolls for my live sale in August, and I am working on the smaller items, also for my sale. I still have almost 7 weeks before the sale and I actually have a reasonably good start on things. At least I don't feel I am behind on things. For once. So that is nice. I have a few days before summer school starts as well, so I can likely get a good amount more work done. Or I can get nothing done, Hard to say. 
      Last week I was working on this western lady for an order. 
     I was given the basics, the shirt color, removable chinks that would look good with the saddle pad the customer sent a photo of and brown hair. I really like how this lady came out. I also kind of want to make more removable chinks now.  
     I also made this casual western lady for my live sale. Her head is fully haired and her hat is removable. She should be a very versatile doll. 
      I have a very interesting western pleasure doll coming up and I am thinking I will likely also work on a western pleasure doll for my live sale. It has been working out pretty well to make a doll (or two) for an order and a similar type of doll to put away for my sale. I have also been working on the smaller items in between. So far I am not stressed, I feel like I am doing decently, and if I keep up this pace I should be just fine. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Group Project.

     Over the last 15 years I have made quite a few unusual dolls. There have been many that have taken days of work and a lot of thinking about to figure out how to put them together. I have had really complex dolls and then there are some that just need some extra thinking about. When it came to Erin Corbett's Argentinian Polo player, I knew I could make him, but he was going to take some thinking about. 
     Erin sent me a variety of reference pics which helped me figure out what was potentially going to work and what was not going to work. The problem was the uniform shirt I liked the best also was 2-toned, which is not always an easy thing to do. Well, it is usually not at all easy to do. But in some ways I had it easy. I took the reference and went materials shopping at Joann's. I didn't know exactly what would work for everyone, so I bought several options. And since I did the material shopping (or at least the color shopping) I got a head start. 

     For my part it turned out that the fabric marker was actually a lot harder to use than craft paint and a paint brush. So I went with what gave me the most precise lines. 
     To get the shirt to really look like the reference I needed to add several things over the painted parts. The trick with iron on things is to make sure that they are mirrored before you print them and also that they are really ironed on before you remove the backing. That second part is nerve wracking and tricky at times. 
        I do wish that I printed the words a bit larger, but this matched the reference fairly well. For such a "simple" shirt this actually took a lot of time and planning out. 
       Even though the shirt took some extra time and planning, it was the helmet that took the longest to make. Polo helmets are very unusual. Sort of like a safety bonnet really. I imagine the exceptionally wide brim is for extra sun protection. Erin also asked me to make the polo mallet and ball. The ball was not hard, though I totally burnt the first one (it's a baked ball of sculpy). The mallet was another one of those things that took a bit of thinking about to figure out how to do it. 
      Even though it is unlikely to ever show because of the length of his shirt, I did add a belt to this guy. A lot of performance showers, and people who are into miniatures in general, really like the extra details, even if they don't necessarily show. 
      Fun fact that I am pretty sure almost no one knows, I designed the knee pads for the Breyer polo rider that was out several years ago. I am pretty sure I never bothered to tell people because they are super ugly. My experience with mass produced items is that they need to be fairly simple to make and mass produced leather items are not usually top quality. So I made them easy to copy out of easy to source material. And I basically hate them. But I do like the knee pads on Erin's doll. 

         After I finished the doll I sent him to Jennifer Buxton so she could make sure the stirrups fit his feet. So even though it was Erin that ordered him, Jennifer was the first to get to play with him. We had a group chat going since several of us were working together on this project. I saw one photo that Jennifer took, and knowing Jennifer, there are probably at least a few more. 
photo by Erin Corbett

      The saddle pad and lollipop pad were made by Maire Lanzafane. And even though I didn't say it straight out, I imagine you figured out the tack was made by Jennifer Buxton. I am actually not sure who made the boots (I'm sure Erin knows). The horse was Mel Miller's NaMoPaiMo horse this year. I believe Erin brainstormed this setup after buying the horse. Mel painted the tail wraps to match the intended setup. 
Photo by Erin Corbett

     This was definitely an interesting group project. Even though everyone worked on their part of it separately we did have a lot of discussion and sharing of pieces in our chat group. It also made waiting for the big reveal a bit easier. That is definitely a tough part of being a model horse artist of any kind. Sometimes you just can't talk about what you are doing until the big reveal. This setup was definitely worth the wait!


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Things That Don’t Go Together

       It has been sort of a long time since I have bought any tack. Last year I ordered a new western pleasure set from Mandy Clausen, for Purdy Zippin Chick, which I then blinged up quite a bit. Then this year I saw the awesome pink and black pony parade set Wendy Ward was making, and I had to try for it. It was like it was made for me. Did I need it? Not at all. Did I love it? Absolutely. Do I have some mild regrets? A bit, I really didn't need it. But it really is awesome. 
     So then I saw a really gorgeous western tack set that Evelyn Munday was almost finished with and was offering for sale. Did I mention it was gorgeous? Wait, I said it was Evelyn Munday, so that right there should tell you it was amazing (and if you are not into model horse art, trust me, that means it was amazing). But someone offered way more than I did for that one and I missed out. Evelyn did offer me this tack set that she was getting ready to finish up. And it was (wait for it...) completely gorgeous so I said yes, absolutely. Did I need another western tack set? Um, no. I think I already have 8 (both working and pleasure sets). That is not a lot compared to some black hole collectors, but I don't remember a time when I have used all of my tack all at once. But I no longer owned a piece by Evelyn, so I bought it. 
     Then I was taking a brief look at Facebook (I try not to spend a lot of time there) and I saw the amazing set of jump boots that Jana Skybova had for sale. I have been trying for a set of boots from Jana for years. She had a pink and black set years ago that she took offers on, and they quickly went outside of the range I was willing to pay (notice I did not say they were too expensive? There is a difference between "too expensive" and "more than I am willing to pay") and I have seen other sets of boots by Jana but I kept missing out. This blue set was not my first color choice (clearly, my first choice is always pink) but they are amazing and I love them. And they were a straight sale, in my willing-to-pay range, and when I emailed they were still available. Did I need another set of boots? No. Did I need a pair of boots that was not pink? Most likely not, unless they had been solid black, or maybe gray. But they are awesome. And if I can manage to get pink and black ones eventually, I am sure I can sell these. 
      So I did not need a new tack set and I did not need a new set of boots, but I got them anyway. I have not done a whole lot of model horse purchasing in years. I did a little bit last year, but during quarantine didn't everybody? And I do finally have a bit more interest in new things. There is not really anything I need though.
     Also, since I used a faceless doll to take these pics did I need to make sure everything was great all the way around? Since I was mostly using the doll to measure stirrup length and then the point of the photos was to show off the new tack and boots, I really didn't need 360 perfection in the setup. But like Erin Corbett and her new polo set, sometimes we just do these things. Because we are performance showers. 
      So these new items do not go together. And the color of the boots might prompt me to make a new doll for myself, but I am really glad I have these pieces in my collection. Now there are just a few more pieces, from specific tack makers, that I really need. Then there won't be anything else I "need" (probably). 


Friday, June 25, 2021

Why the Chicken Crossed the Road Photo Show

     Last night was the live results show for the Why the Chicken Crossed the Road photo show. The judging was done on Facebook so results rolled in at different times on different days. Part of what I like about a show being on Facebook is you can sort of see real-time results. Unless you judge like me. I always judge first, write down my placings, and then post them all at once. I am mean that way, lol. I do that on ponybytes as well. 
     I think the first results that came in were from the halter portion of the show. And I was really surprised to say the least. I don't remember the last time I placed in halter. Or maybe I just haven't paid attention. But there were 120 entries in the pony and miniature class. To get an honorable mention was pretty fantastic. 
     In the other performance division, Purdy Zippin Chick got an honorable mention with her saddle training entry in the other performance class. (41 entries)

And Mocha Latte got 6th in Scene with her portrait painting entry. (56 entries)
In the creativity challenge, Mocha Latte was 6th in No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (24 entries)
Mocha Latte went in to Look Before You Leap with this jester performance entry. It was a bit of a stretch but managed 5th place. (23 entries)

     None of my entries placed at all in English. Which was a bit of a bummer. But this show was ginormous and many of the entries were exceptional. 
      Things were a bit better in the western division. Bring the Mayhem got 6th in Extreme Cowboy (19 entries) again proving that an OF horse can show with CM horses. 
    Though Purdy Zippin Chick's 1st place entry in Western Gymkhana and Games was much more impressive. (56 entries).
Purdy Zippin Chick then got 3rd in the Western Pattern Class (47 entries)
5th in Western Trail. (63 entries)
And 4th in the Western Rail Class (63 entries)
     Danielle had a dozen "good egg" awards. She decided on the themes before the show and as she found photos that really matched her idea she took note of them. Mocha Latte won the good egg award for "it's the little things". Danielle liked my use of props, especially with the tiny jar of Liquitex modeling paste and Rustoleum primer. 

Thank you Danielle for an amazingly fun show and a new idea I may have to steal for my show. I am thinking I might add some halter classes...

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Prep Work

      For many aspects of life you need to do some prep work. Or at least you should to do the thing well. Recently Elecktra was going on a job interview. I prepped her on the way over and she told me they asked her almost every single question I did. But she was prepared with some really excellent answers. If you are taking a test it's a good idea to study a bit. And most craft projects, at least the ones I do, take a bit of prep work. Some more than others. I had another struggly day the other day, where it was hard to get into anything, and nothing got finished. But I did get a good start on a bunch more bareback pads. I need to sew the fronts and backs together and do the finish work, but I am further along than I was. 
     I also got a start on the 2 parade dolls I need. I may just pick away at this 2 dolls for a bit. I don't need them for any particular date after all. It would just be nice to have them. Since apparently I NEED to have 2 parade sets. So I got started. Maybe on days I finish my other work early I might do a bit more on each of them. Just pick away until they are done. I did get some other clothes sewn along with these outfits, but I didn't get anything finished. 
     The third horse for the 2021 Breyer stablemate club is Tobias. A lot of people have been throwing shade at this little horse. I have seen so many people saying that they don't see anyone saying they are keeping them, that they see ones listed and just sitting, and when people have him in hand they have so many bad things to say. I happen to think he's excellent! Not only do I adore this mold, but this is the first stablemate club release that I have received that doesn't have some weird flaw (like a gouge or crap in the gloss). I think he is wonderful and I was very happy to put him on the shelf with my others. I used to have a very large conga of this little model, but now I am down to just 5. He's great. So far I have loved every single release from the club. 
      I was waiting a bit to put my entries for the Breyerfest Open show into the classes. But then the other day I decided it was silly to wait. My entries were ready and I might as well just do it, it won't take long after all, they are already on ponybytes. Lol, sure it won't take long. Well if I had managed to actually get all of the information on my photos in the first place, then yes, it would not have taken that long. But I was checking and so many didn't have breed and gender (which is required, even for performance photos) and I saw one photo that had just the totally wrong documentation attached. But I finally got everything fixed and unless I lose my mind and completely retake some of my photos (which I have not ruled out just yet) I am done entering the Breyerfest Open Show. And now I can move on to other things. Like maybe seeing what seminars are at Breyerfest. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Letters Home- Utrecht

     Today I am continuing my series of my doll, Little Elecktra, and her visits to friends around the world. Elecktra is visiting Anna Dobrowolska-Oczko in Utrecht in the Netherlands. All of the photos are by Anna.

                              Hi Mom!                   I am visiting Anna in the Netherlands and her my-sized friend Jaga. I got to pet a pony, his name is Candy Boy, and the dog. Dogs are always good. I miss Tiny Abby, but I am getting to meet so many new friends, both human and animals. It's been wonderful. Jaga and I discussed how weird it is to be our size living in a giant world. Kind of like Gulliver's Travels sometimes. Good thing that the Brobdingnagians (all of you big people) are nice. Everyone I have visited has looked out for me as well.                                            I got to take a ride on Raaf, who seemed very unimpressed about the whole thing. 

       He's a very cool horse and I was happy to be able to get a ride on him. 
     Things have gotten a bit busy and I am going to be heading to Australia to visit with Glenn Rowling. I will write more soon!


     Little Elecktra.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Father’s Day

       Father's Day was on Sunday and Ethan was scheduled to work. He has not had a Sunday in almost 2 months. So that was a bit frustrating, but we are flexible. Elecktra came over in the morning and we had steak and eggs, did some Father's Day gifts and visiting. Then Ethan went off to work, we went to do some errands, and then went for a short visit with my Dad. The Father portion of Father's Day was sort of short this year, but I think the dads appreciated it. 
      I cut out some pieces for bareback pads and my two parade outfits I need to get into. The rest of the day turned into a sales post day. I got photos of the clothing items I needed to list on ebay and got all of the listings done. It's amazing/shocking the amount of effort ebay wants you to put into the listings. They recommend you put in a ridiculous amount of detail (they have drop down menus) but also that you list things for a pittance. Sorry ebay, I can't list this $150+ dress (which I didn't pay that much for, nor I am selling it for that much) for $6. Yes I realize it would likely sell faster that way. Anyway, I got a bunch of listings done and now those things can just sit until they sell or until I get tired of storing them and give them away. There comes a point where I just need to purge quickly. 
     I was also doing listings for my Not going to Breyerfest, Clarion, Facebook group. My "room" is 511 and I have a variety of things in there, with more to come. Currently I have some Breyers, a bunch of micros, and a few props. I am planning on digging through the props tote and potentially adding more to my "room". I may even go through the tackroom, who knows. 
     So I got a lot done, including a very long nap. The weather has been flip flopping again, and Sunday had higher humidity than we have had in a bit. It was a good day for a nap. But I was also productive, which makes me happy. Hopefully I can be productive with doll work this week. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Best Day

      Yesterday was Travis's last day of school. I found out in the morning that it was also a half day. There is nothing quite as weird as the last day of school being on a Monday AND being a half day. Seemed like a waste to send him in. But Travis really likes Mr. Tom, who is currently his teacher. 
      So in the morning I got some housework done, gathered laundry and so on. In the afternoon Alex came over. She was Travis's para at school for a couple of years. Alex left to go and teach (the good ones often do that) and we haven't seen her since December. It's been a long time and they sure missed each other. 
     One of my favorite things about Alex, other than she is awesome and fits in perfectly with our family, is that she makes such a solid effort to engage Travis. And she is good at it. He was clearly not sure what to think about her being at our house, after all, that is not where Alex usually is, but she kept talking to him, telling their inside jokes, and pretty soon he was laughing with her like he always does. 
      Ethan had music playing and Alex and Travis would get up to dance often. Or jump and be silly. Whatever they felt like doing. At one point Ethan leaned over and said he loved that she really comes over just for him. I almost cried because it is true. A lot of people like Travis. A lot of people enjoy spending time with Travis. Alex and Travis has a special connection and she is really Travis's friend. She likes us too, but it's Travis she comes for. And that is awesome. 
     Elecktra has a new job, which is just one street over from where we live, so she stopped by after work. We had a cookout to celebrate Travis's last day of school and after we ate we played cornhole. That is one of the few games we can get Travis to play with us. And anything we can get him to do with us is awesome. When it was time to leave  Travis pulled both Alex and Elecktra into a group hug. And it was awesome. 
    And then he posed for a photo with Elecktra. It was definitely a good day. Good food, a good friend, both my kids. Definitely a good day. I didn't get a speck of doll work done, but it doesn't matter. I did some chores and I got to see some great people. It was basically a perfect day. And now I am (maybe) ready to get back to work. 


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Bareback Pads

      Bareback pads are an item that is slightly trickier to make than some others, but they a pretty cool thing to have. I keep on looking for buckles that are large enough to accommodate the wide ribbon so I an have a single girth buckle, which is the most common, but so far the widest buckles are just not wide enough. And there doesn't seem to be a grosgrain ribbon in between 1/8" and 3/8" ribbon*. The largest of the buckles I can find are too small. So I make double buckles, which I have seen on real pads, and it takes a bit longer to make everything. If I switched to a leather girth I could easily make a single buckle, but then my bareback pads would be quite a bit different than they are. So I keep on doing it this way. And looking for different ribbon or different buckles. 
      I also keep on looking on Spoonflower for different fabrics that I think would make fun model horse items. Some stuff is just too big. Some patterns work out pretty well and I end up with some pretty cute prints on tiny items. None of these bareback pads are quite finished yet. As I was doing the finish work I realized that I was out of buckles! So I ordered lots of buckles, to solve that problem, and I can just work on more bareback pads, or other things, while I wait for them to come in. I still have time. 
       The other day I was thinking about doll storage. Dolls, for the most part, are super durable, and don't need anything particularly special for storage. But some people would really like something special to store their dolls in. So I had the idea of making doll pouches, potentially similarly to the micro pouches, but doll sized, with a super smooth lining fabric. I also though of doll sized plastic boxes, potentially decorated with custom stickers. I don't know if either item would be something people would be interested in. But I would love to hear thoughts on that.

*note* I looked up 1/4" ribbon, again, and found a website that looks like they actually have it. Most places will give you 3/8" and call it 1/4". We'll see if I get what I actually need...


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Hunt Seat

     School was finished on Tuesday, weirdest last day ever. But really, the weirdest school year ever. Wednesday I didn't have to get up quite as early, but my alarm (that I had already turned off) went off anyway. But I went back to bed for a half hour before I got up to get Travis off to school. After that my goal for the day was lofty. I was going to stay awake and I was going to function! This is not always easy. Especially when you are really burnt out from the weirdest school year ever. 
     Anyway, I did manage to stay up and I got to work, almost immediately, on sewing a couple of hunt seat outfits. I already have the clothes cut out, the bodies were prepped, and the heads were haired. The dolls were well started and I wanted to see if I could finish both of them on Wednesday. With a whole day available to me I didn't see any reason why I couldn't do it.
     So I got the 2 hunt seat outfits sewn, and a couple more hoodies that were cut out, and then I baked some bread. Ethan has been asking for some bread, but I thought I needed time to let the cream cheese warm to room temperature. Nope, this recipe is soften in the microwave for 45 seconds. Anyway, I made some bread. Then I got out the paint box and painted the 2 doll faces. After that... I took a nap. But it was not a super long nap. Just a little one that I earned for making it through the weirdest school year ever. 
     After my very small nap I got out the doll box to get into dressing the two hunt seat dolls. I started working on both of them at once, but once I had the shirts and breeches on I moved on to working on one at a time until each of them was finished. And I did it. I did work for most of an extra long day, but I managed to meet my goal and get the two of them done. One of them is a commission and the other will be for my live sale, which will be August 14th. I am really pleased with how these two came out. They didn't give me a hard time (which some dolls do) and I was able to stay motivated and keep on working. Now I feel a bit accomplished and don't have to push myself as much the rest of the week.