Tag Archives: leather

Thrifty Find: Garage Sale Leather

I went garage saleing yesterday and had several small successes. Nothing huge, but some fun and cheap stuff. My best find was a big roll of nice, thin, black, small-grain leather for a very doable $5. This should last me the rest of my life as long as I stick to collecting minis!

My precious

When I got home I unloaded my prizes onto the table. I failed to think ahead. You see, my cat Frances’ most beloved toy is a leather strap. In fact, that leather strap is a cast-off from a vest I bought and cut up for tack making. She likes to lie on her strap like a security blanket, and carries it around the apartment.

And now I had brought a whole pile of exciting, tack-room aroma leather home and put it on the table. Normally Frances is the well behaved cat, but she was up on that table and investigating in a matter of minutes.

Since I have plenty of leather to spare, I thought it would be fair for me to make her another nice toy out of this intriguing stuff.

Frances was very pleased, and the rest of the leather is now stashed safely in a tote under the bed.

Saddlebred Show Halter: Redux

In January I learned a valuable lesson about dying leather when I ruined the red part of the two color Saddlebred show halter I had completed for my CM G2 ASB Chryselephantine (who at the time was not done herself!). I resigned myself to having an all black halter and put it away.

But today, armed with my own bottle of leather dye, I set about to redo the red parts of the halter and repair it to its original glory. I’m very pleased with how it turned out and look forward to doing a smart little halter set up soon.

My leather dye came with a dauber for application, but it is much better suited to dying a full sized halter than one for a stablemate model. I wanted a small brush to use that was dedicated to only be used with dye, so I grabbed one of my cheapo brushes from the thrift store and cut it with small sharp cissors into a pointed end. Then, out of my desire for orderliness, I wanted it to fit neatly inside the box with the leather dye. So I used much larger, beefier scissors to cut the brush off (I don’t need a long handle anyway) and then labeled it clearly with masking tape. So now I have a nice new leather dying kit.

Leather dye, dauber, and brush

Leather dying

Yesterday I spent some crafting time with a friend who has been my leather guru. She is a book binder and graciously gives me her scrap leather to use for model tack. What is a scrap to her is quite a big piece for me, so it works out wonderfully. She recently introduced me to the magic of leather dyes, and so I brought over some tack that needed dyed edges.

Leather dye can be fun and creative, and really add realism to a piece by matching the cut edges to the nice color of the tanned side. And leather dye isn’t as expensive as I thought, at least in single colors. And once you make the investment, it will last you a long time.

Unfortunately, my inexperience with leather dye and general clumsiness resulted in the partial dying of the red parts of my ASB show halter. I tried to salvage it but eventually gave in and dyed the whole thing black. It is still a nice piece, but not as fun fancy-schmancy as it was with the red and black browband and noseband.

Then I came home and checked my RSS reader, and read this post from Four Corners Tack: Four Corners Tack: How I make my bridles.

She cuts out her pieces and dyes them before assembling the tack. How brilliant is that? Or how stupid am I to think it would work the other way? Once I get my shelf unit done and the studio back into working order, I’m eager to remake the red and black show halter with this simple new technique.

The ponies look down from their temporary home with my kid's books as Boyfriend and I work on modding my shelf unit.

Tips from other bloggers

Life has been a bit hectic– I’m sick, helping my friends move, and I quit my job –but I have a post or two in the works. Meanwhile, check out some of the cool stuff other hobbyists are posting.

Gratuitous cute picture of troublemaker "Friday" and pal "August"

My new camera! And progress on live show goals

Whee! The camera arrived and is oh so fabulous. It allows me to accurately portray what I’ve been working on lately. For one, my ASB is actually starting to look like a horse! and a palomino at that. She has about a million coats of pastels and a few of acrylic to go, but I am pleased so far.

Look at the focus! The sexy background blurring! I have been waiting to re-do all my photo show pictures until after the live show and until I can invest in good lights, but this camera is making me want to do it now! It’s going to upgrade my photoshowing ten-fold.

Alas, this mare’s coloring is not as smooth as it seems in the picture and she barely has any color on her legs, so that’s the next step. But I find it so much easier to work when I can start to really envision the final product.

This afternoon I started working on an English set for Rugby, my cantering MM Waler. The more I work with leather, the more I love it… it’s so soft and supple and easy to cut and work with… it’s just glorious and I start to imagine how people can make the amazing tack they do, given enough time and skill and practice. Here is a decent picture (finally) of Rugby and also an hour’s work: his tiny headstall, made from one heavily skivved split piece of leather.

I am starting to develop my own techniques for working with leather. I have two exacto knives that I use heavily- a sharp one for cutting and a very dull, wider one for skivving. I also use 300 grit sandpaper for skivving, which really helps to achieve a similar thickness throughout each piece. My glue of choice is generic tacky glue which works fabulously (another great thing about leather). I apply it with a little piece of wire so that I don’t end up with huge globs everywhere. At this scale, the bottle of glue is going to last me forever.

This progress is exciting and I hope to get a bit more done before I leave for the weekend (and see my real horse!) And now, some gratuitous kitten goodness.

Tiny progress

I have managed to make some studio time in the last few days and have been working on a project for the live show. I want to show in performance (who knows when I’ll next attend a live show) but I don’t have that many horses, and no complete sets of tack. I am hoping to make an English set for my micro Appendix Quarterhorse “Rugby,” but we’ll see. I thought an “easy” (har har) little performance project would be setting up my Maggie Bennett rearing horse pewter as a bareback bronc, ala this picture.

Without the people of course! I’m not totally crazed. But a little. After several hours of work I have created tiny, tiny rigging with bucking strap and string cinch. The picture is terrible but at least shows the size (but it sounds like a digital SLR is in my future, hurrah!). I’ve been really making use of my tweezers and new, sharp exacto knife. Here’s a little tip that was invaluable for this project- using an exacto knife on a glass surface makes cleaner, sharper lines. Just buy a frame at Goodwill for $.99 and slip the glass out.

Here’s a little to-do list for pre-show month:

  • Finish rodeo set up including arena, backdrop, finishing touches on tack
  • English tack set for Rugby
  • Finish painting my SM American Saddlebred
  • Make necessary reference cards

I tried to keep that short and sweet and thus manageable. I’ll keep ya posted…