Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Halter Construction

Here is the post I had planned to do yesterday, before it ended up being time for bed.


For a while now I've been gathering tools and supplies to start trying to make some model horse tack.  I decided to be brave and go for it yesterday and I thought it'd be good to start with a halter. 

Tandy Leather was having a big sale on lace in December and I ended up getting 4 rolls of black calf lace, two of 3/32nd and two of 1/8th inch. 

Two of the rolls - calf lace for days

Mainly I wanted to have it to use on the Stagecoach project; I'm going to need a LOT of leather to make the harnesses when it comes time for that.  (Unfortunately I need 1/4" black lace for an important part of building the Stagecoach itself, but I didn't realize that at the time, so I'm still on the hunt for that)  Looking back I kind of wish I would have gotten some natural and/or brown lace too, but the main focus was the stagecoach and I'm planning to make everything there in black... I think.

Anyway, my plan for yesterday was to start out with making a leather halter, but I sort of chickened out and decided to do a "nylon" (ribbon) halter instead.  I have a bunch of 1/8th inch ribbon in my paper crafting supplies and I opted to go with a nice hunter green.

Let's do this!!

I used a real nylon halter to copy.  This one has nylon that is 2-3 layers thick on each section. 

I ended copying the real halter, down to the direction that the material was wrapped through the rings and back on itself.  I also heat sealed all of the ends, I thought it would look even more realistic that way and also help keep the ribbon ends from unraveling.  I tend to burn candles when I'm in the Studio, but this was the first time I actually used one of them in making something. 

Not just pretty, but useful as it turns out

To do the heat seal on the ribbon ends, I heated up the end of a small metal ruler that I have and then pressed it flat to the end of each piece of ribbon.  It worked wonderfully.  I also used the candle to heat up the end of a straight pin to make the holes for the buckle.

Speaking of the buckle, I used a Rio Rondo buckle, then shaped it and made a tongue for it, using this tutorial from Braymere Custom Saddlery

I had a couple of problems, buckle-wise.  I have a sheet of them in all different shapes and sizes to choose from and I spent a bit of time with a piece of scrap ribbon trying to figure out which one to use. 

So many choices...

I thought I'd picked the right size, but, based on how difficult it was to work with in the end, I think it might be too small?  I'm still not sure.  One problem is that I wasn't able to make my buckle tongue a tight enough fit, so it was flopping around on the buckle - not helping.  It looks like I need to get some smaller round nose pliers; the smallest circle shape I could make was still huge compared to what it should be.

The hardware needed a little prepping and after struggling to do the first tiny halter plate using my finger tips and sandpaper, I realized that I did in fact have MUCH better tools to use.

Behold, the jeweler's vise that has been living on the edge of my desk since I did the stagecoach wheels.  I've used it for other parts of stagecoach construction along the way - it really is a handy little thing!  But in between periods of coach work, it just sits.  It worked beautifully for several parts of building this halter, first for holding the hardware bits while I smoothed them out.


It also worked great to hold the end of the halter crownpiece while I burned in the holes with the heated straight pin.

After using sandpaper on the first ring, I switched to using these. 

I knew they would be useful... someday...

They seemed to work much better, especially for sanding off the burs on the insides of the rings, like the one in the picture above.  I had gotten them at a sale at a hardware/tool store while wandering around with Jeff this past summer.  They looked like they might come in handy - and they did!

Here's a quick peek during construction.  Unfortunately I didn't take much pictures while I was actually building it - I was having too much fun, but I figured I'd better take at least one in progress picture.

Coming along...

Another detail I added to the halter was a rolled throatlatch, using the real halter as a guide and this tutorial, also from Braymere.  I didn't actually roll the ribbon, but did use the technique of folding it in half and then gluing the tabs over the rings.

Overall it was a fun project and though it took me three hours (way longer than I had thought) I didn't mind.  I was just trying to get it done before bed, that was my only goal, and I pulled it off. 

I'm hoping the next one will go faster, a lot of time was spent trying to decide the right size for everything.  I'm still not 100% sure if it fits just right, I think for one, the bottom piece, under the jaw, is too long.  However at least now I have some sort of template to use to make the next one.

Maybe I'll be brave and make a leather one next...


  1. WOW! It looks fantabulous!!! I do not think I could ever do something so intricate! Way to go!

    1. Thank you! It was fun to do and I'm already looking forward to the next one and continuing on with my miniature tack making adventure!

  2. Looks like it turned out really well! Hopefully the next one will be easier though, but good for you for sticking through and finishing it. :)

    1. Thank you! It was a bit of a challenge, that's for sure, but I'm glad I stuck with it and I'm looking forward to making some more of them! :) (and bigger projects too)