Friday, September 20, 2013

Dusting off the cobwebs

Well... It has turned into a BUSY year here.  I've been slowly crafting away, sporadically.  I've been very busy with our garden.  This year was the most ambitious garden yet, we built an 8 foot tall "T-Rex fence", as I called it, for my cherry tomatoes to climb.  We did it by putting in 10-foot T-posts and then double stacking 4-foot heavy duty hog panels.  In summers past, our attempts at building fencing for the tomatoes to climb has resulted in saggy wire fences by the end of the year...  Not this time!!  We have tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and peas all over the panels out there and our massive structures are still going strong!

I decided to skip the farmer's market this year and keep everything we grow.  We bought a large food dehydrator and between that and canning I've had a lot going on the last couple of months.

Back in July, I had surgery for a mystery abdominal pain that started up last October and had been plaguing me ever since.  No one could find the cause.  I went to specialists and had a bunch of tests done.  Finally it came down to going in there and looking around.  They found some endometriosis and removed it.  They also removed my appendix.  I do not recommend having surgery in the middle of summer.  It messed up a lot of plans: gardening, horse shows, and so on.  The good news is that the pain seems to finally be gone.  They bad news is that endometriosis tends to come back, so I may be looking at more surgery in the future.  For now though, all is well.

On the Studio front, I actually ceased all work on the Stagecoach back in late January.  I found some mistakes in historical accuracy with what I had done so far (the wheels) and me being the perfectionist that I am, I let it get me down.  I really want this thing to be PERFECT, but in all reality, it'll probably take me years to make it, flaws and all, so I've recently decided I better get back to work on it! 

The good news is that I found out I shouldn't put the 200 tiny nails into the wheel rims, BFORE I did it.  The timing was so close, I was just about ready to start nailing.  It turns out this type of stagecoach is a "Concord" and they didn't have the bolts in the sides of the wheels.  That was something done in heavier vehicles, used for cargo, and for another type of stagecoach, less fancy, called a "mud wagon".  I'm glad I learned all of that, before nailing away.

The big, and most recent news on the Stagecoach, is that just yesterday the rest of what will be "The Team" arrived.  They have a long way to go as well.  Each horse will be remodeled, resculpted, painting, and then harnessed up.  For fun, after unpacking them, I set this up.  Behind the horses is the 1:1 scale poster that came with the kit.  I had thrown around the figure of 4-feet long for the whole rig before even having horses to put in front of it.  As they stood in this picture, with approximate spacing, the whole thing was exactly 4 feet long.  I still have a LONG way to go on this project, but I'm getting excited about it again!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Valentine's Day Cards - New!

Here are three brand new listings on ArtFire.  Valentine's Day is right around the corner, but there's still time to order a special, one-of-a-kind card for your sweetie!

All three of these cards were inspired by the January Challenge for the Card Markers Guild on ArtFire.  We were challenged to create a card using "Inchies".  (I blogged about my excited discovery of Inchies a few months ago:  Another Discovery! )  I decided to take off and run with the idea and ended up making three Valentine's themed cards, featuring little inch-square tiles.

On ArtFire: Checkerboard Card 

On ArtFire: True Love Card

On ArtFire: Hearts and a Kiss Card

They were fun to make and I would love to create even more Inchie cards after this!  They are a lot of fun to create, but I wasn't entrirely sure what I would do with them.  Oddly enough I hadn't considered using them on cards!  The growth of ideas like that are why I really enjoy the monthly Challenges on the Card Markers Guild.   

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stagecoach - Wheels are done! Sorta...

This will be a bit of a catch up post on the Stagecoach.  I've been chipping away at the wheels over the last month or so.  They are mostly finished, with a few more steps to go.

After the rims, where we left off in December, the next step was to cut the spokes and shape them. 

The spokes as they started:

Then, once the spokes were cut (48 in all) two sides of each one had to be sanded flat.  The directions said to sand down the sides of the long pieces before cutting, but I didn't have a way to make sure they stayed even all the way down, so I chose to sand after cutting.  This might have made more work for me, but it turned out okay.

Here is how I flattened the sides - a jeweler's vise and an emery board:

Here are 12 of the spokes, cut and shaped:

Around the time I had cut all of the spokes to the specified lengths, I started watching some online videos about wagon wheel making.  It was then that I wished I'd done that sort of research first as I would have loved to add another layer of realism to this project by building the wheels just like real ones are made.  (such as doweling the ends of the spokes to fit them into the rim pieces, rather than building the rim and then cutting the spokes to fit in between the rim and hub) 

Ah well, there wasn't much that could be done about it after the fact.  However, I ended up having so much fun making these wheels that I'd really like to make more in the future.  I would like to try and make them the way full-size wheels are made.

In the meantime, for this project...

This will be a wheel!:

Once again, I broke out my block of foam, T-pins, glue, and set off to work. 

Four spokes on: 

All spokes on:

The first finished wheel, a front one, released from the foam.  Wow, this turned out quite a bit better than I had hoped!:

A fun shot to show the size, next to a trusty coffee cup:

Fast forward a few days and I had all four wheels completed:

Again, here with a coffee cup:

Although Jeff and I both liked the wooden look quite a bit (all the more incentive to build more minature wheels in the future!) the directions call for a paint job.  So I've spent several sessions applying a few coats of paint on the wheels - save for the inside, flat edges of the spokes.

The painted wheels:

In what seemed to be a departure from the amazing realism of the model kit, the wheel treads are to be made from thin strips of... wood.  We were disappointed at first, why aren't they metal, as a real wheel tread would be?  I have a theory.  I think wood is used to better simulate the texture of the outer metal band after it has seen use.  I can imagine it would be hard to replicate that look with minature strips of actual metal.  That's my theory anyway.

The strips that are to be the treads have to be stained/painted.  The directions call for using a mixture of "shoe polish and solvant".  That was a bit of a mystery to solve, as I'd never heard of such a thing - and neither of those items have found their way into my life in the past! 

Oh boy... Ok, here we go!:

The tread strips with their first application of stain.  I think they are looking good and my theory of using stained wood for the texture seems to work.  To me, they do look like scratched up strips of metal:

In addition to the tread being needed to fully finish the wheels, I also need to put in some nails...  lots of nails...  Itty bitty nails...

Here we have 48 - Five millimeter brass nails:

But wait, they aren't small enough.  They will be nailed in on the front AND back of the wheels, which are 5mm wide.  So the directions say to cut the 5mm nails in half.  My first reaction was:  You can't be serious...  Then I realized that they were.  So it was needlenose pliers and cutters to the rescue:

Here are 48 - Five millimeter brass nails, that were cut off to be - approximately - half as long.

The process turned out to be much easier than I thought, although a little time consuming.

So, there you have it!  We are all caught up on the Project Stagecoach.  (I just finished staining wheel tread and cutting some of the nails a few hours ago - so those pictures are about as fresh as it gets - haha)

All together I'm having a lot of fun, though I am still intimidated by this whole project - it is so full of things I've never done before.  It is a challenge, but that will make it all the more rewarding with this thing is "rolling"! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Might be an Artist

I shared this gem on my Facebook page, but I thought it was too good not to share here as well.  I can certainly relate to all of this!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our Pets - Bo

For today I thought I'd do another installment of the planned series featuring our menagerie of critters.

This time about the (currently) only equine member of our family - Bo.

In the summer of 2001, I came up to visit friends here in South Dakota.  During the visit, we went to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to look at horses.  In addition to hundreds of wild mustangs, the Sanctuary had a breeding program of registered Paints and Quarter Horses.  Foals were sold to offset the costs of keeping the Sanctuary running.  I have always had a love for flashy spotted Paint horses and I thought I might shop for a horse.

At the end of the day, I had a few possibilities written down.  One was a solid black colt, with a big star on his forehead.  He was a little bit bigger than other foals his age.  He was a favorite, but I also liked a few others.

That night, at my friend's house, I pulled a random horse book off of her shelves and flipped it open to the middle to read.  I had landed on the page about Alexander the Great.  I read that his horse, Bucephalus, was said to be a black horse with a large white star on his forehead.  I told my friend right then that I was going to buy the black colt with the star.  I also decided that he would be named Bucephalus, but that is a mouthful, what could I call him for short?  My friend suggested "Bo".  "That's a good ranch horse name", she'd said.

Baby Bo with his mom:

(I have often joked about how I was drawn to a Paint horse ranch by my love of flashy Paints...  and picked out a solid-colored colt!)

I returned to Arizona, where I was living at the time.  When Bo was weaned, he went to a boarding place where my friend also kept some horses.  I went back up to stay in South Dakota for a while, during the time he was a weanling and yearling.

Bo as a yearling - the only picture I have on the computer:  (I have several other pictures of him as a youngster that I still need to scan in)

I moved back to the southwest, this time to southern California.  I sent a hauler to go get Bo, and my other horse, Joker.  They arrived in California in October of 2003.

Lazy Bo, getting some love from "mom":

Over the next several years, I started Bo under saddle - though I didn't even own a saddle at first, we just rode around bareback.  He also started adding the first batch of many people to what I call his "fan club".  His great disposition has won him fans everywhere he goes.  At first I wasn't sure I would leave him as a stallion, I figured I'd just wait and see.  He got a little bit naughty when the hormones started kicking in - around the age of three - but after that period of time he went back to his normal laid-back self.

Bo and I posing together, February 2005:

I remember one night there was a get together going on at the stables.  A bonfire was going and people were hanging out talking, eating, and having a good time.  One of the little boys asked if he could ride Bo.  I tossed him up there, bareback, with just a lead rope tied to the halter and turned them loose in the arena.  Over the next two hours, Bo must have packed around five or six kids and I think the oldest was only six years old.  One of the ladies there asked me how old Bo was and I told her he was three.  She was amazed that he was so well-behaved for that age.  Then I told her he was a stallion!

Out for a ride on my "wild" stallion.  Puppy Jessie along for the ride.  This was a first for all involved - Bo had never carried a dog, I had never ridden with a dog, and of course little Jessie had never been on a horse!  We all did fine:

My favorite way to ride, even after I owned a saddle:

After several years in the southern California desert, Bo and I found ourselves back in South Dakota in late 2007.  It's funny how the world works sometimes.  We are now about an hour or so from where he was born, after being so far away for many years.  I guess it's fair to say that Bo has been well-traveled at this point.

Bo and I on our first snow ride, winter of 2009:

We also got started in an exciting pursuit - mounted horse archery!  Specifically, Plains Indian style horse archery.  I've been to a few clinics and during one I took Bo with me.  I think we both did outstanding.  I had always dreamt of being able to ride with no hands, (at a run!) but these pictures still amaze me when I look at them.  I was so focused on shooting the bow that it wasn't even until I saw the pictures that I realized I had done it!:

Bo is my "main" man and he's been there for me through so much in my life, including a marriage, divorce, another marriage, and several moves.  Other horses have come and gone in my life, but Bo has stayed.  In dark times, I've thought that he may have to find another home, but I'm so glad he is still here with me.

Last summer I achieved a dream I've had since I was a girl and that was to show a horse.  I wasn't after ribbons or fame or fortune (probably a good thing!  haha), but we showed in a local circuit of three shows over the summer.  At the end of it all, I was stunned when we won the Year End award for High Point Halter Stallion!  We also won our first blue ribbon in riding at the last show of the year - another unexpected, and very welcome, surprise.

At the very first show in our Halter class.  We didn't do very well - he fidgeted, I fidgeted - we were both nervous!:

The second show, in Halter, we were both much calmer.  The judge, who is a respected horsewoman in the area, exclaimed, "He is a mannerly boy!"  (yaay!):

I didn't ride at the first show, but at the 2nd show I was brave and got on.  Here we are in the arena during warm up time.  If you see worry on my face - you're right!  The arena was packed with 30 or so horses, all going different directions at different speeds.  We had never been in that sort of situation, but Bo didn't miss a beat.  Once again I was so proud of him:

Riding in our first class, I was SOO nervous.  I think we placed 5th, out of 9 or so:

At the 3rd, and last, show for the season, we won Halter.  The judge seemed to really like him.

Again at the last show, I heard our number called for first place in our riding class!  Yaay!!

What's next?  I'm not sure, but I still have plenty of horsey dreams and I hope Bo will be the horse I reach them on.  He is still a stallion and can still be counted on to give pony rides to kids and adults - with or without a saddle.  He truly is a one in a million (or more) kind of horse. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Slow Start Here, But Busy!

A much belated Happy New Year to my readers!  I hope you all had a great Holiday season and that your 2013 is off to a good start!

The year has been off to a slow start as far as blogging and such (obviously!) but I have been very busy "behind the scenes".  I have several new greeting cards that will be on ArtFire very soon.  I've also gotten back to work on Project Stagecoach, after taking a bit of an intimidated hiatus.  I had to build the wheels and I was very nervous about that.  However, it went MUCH better than I had expected.  In fact, I had so much fun that I've given serious consideration to going into a side business of making miniature wagon wheels!  Yet another iron in the fire I suppose...  First it'd be nice to finish the leviathon stagecoach project.

I will be catching up on Stagecoach posts here soon; I've been continuing to take pictures every step along the way.  In the meantime, here's a bit of a teaser photo - the finished wheels:

"Finished" is a loose term, because after this they had to be sanded, painted, wheel tread applied, and itty bitty nails put in around the rim.  I'm in the midst of all of that now.  So in that picture, they were finished as far as the rim, spokes, and hub all being in place.  I think they looked pretty sharp as plain wood.  I hope I can get some more wheels made from scratch in the future for different projects or maybe just to try selling on their own. 

I've also been tatting away.  I made several bookmarks and gave a few out as Christmas presents.  I also finished my first doily, using a two color thread technique that my Granny explained over the phone.  I'm now working on a pattern Granny sent me that is a wedding dress for a Barbie doll.  She told me that she won a blue ribbon at the county fair with the dress.  I'm hoping to enter one of my own in our fair - in August.  I hope I'll be done with it by then!  So far it's been slow going.

I guess that's it for an update.  There is a lot more to talk about, but I don't suppose anyone would really want to read 20 pages of my ramblings in one stretch!  So, until next time - stay crafty my friends.