Timaru Star II Harness

      Choosing between harness and saddles is like choosing between your own children---you love them both equally, but in different ways!  Timaru Star II Harness has been a great love since the first clumsy draft sets were made around age 13.  I was deeply inspired by the model displays of the (then) Patagonia Horse Museum in AZ.    This page documents work dating from 1999 to 2001.  After a furlough from harnessmaking from 2002 to 2004 (happily interrupted by a few repair jobs), I am looking forward to renewing the love affair with the driven horse.

     And now... drum roll!!!!  It isn't every day I get to announce a piece of tack that has taken twelve years!!  Nor one that is more than 5 feet long.  Incredible as it may seem, although I built this harness (it took 7 years) I've never had them all in my hands at once, until July 2002.
 Ivy Olensky's fabulous Canadian 8-Horse Hitch harness was returned to me then, for updating, cleaning, restoring--- mostly golding (gold plating of hardware) ---and to generate new ideas in collar spinners, which had been a problem from the start.  The making of this mighty hitch inspired many of the major improvements in my draft harness technique.  Its history is interwoven with my development as a model tackmaker.  The story of this harness, the horses it is shown on above, and its ultimate home, is told on its own page.  Click on the picture to enter.

Summer 2001 With our interest and emphasis increasingly becoming focussed on Braidwork and Parade, there yet can occur an extraordinary flowering in another field.  This is how I prefer to think of this Four-In-Hand Coach Harness: a fabulous sunset to a long day.  It is based on a real harness, H. Witteveen's Tantivy (the name of his Road Coach) hitch of Friesians.  Witteveen is a Friesian breeder and trainer and coach driver in St George, Ontario.
      The sheer size of this order was daunting---only two other TSII Light Horse Four-in-Hand harnesses exist, and they are much older (and therefore much simpler).  As is so typical for me, an excellent supply of references, including photos shot 'live', catalogs, and Mischka Farm calendars (the very best for model harness makers!!), was not enough.  :(  I had to make up some details (I still do not know exactly how the ends of the traces operate); and I discovered little things along the way, like the strange fact that the lower hame ends are not hooked on both ends, but only on the outside.  Naturally, this discovery came too late to correct the model version of it...

      This harness was a tremendous milestone for the TSII.  Every bit of hardware on the set is gold-plated or gold-filled.  The hames are all individually handmade.  Harness hardware is much more difficult for me to come up with than other types of tack hardware, because you have to plan ahead so much.  Note the stamped box keepers and the buckles on the reins!  The most incredible detail of all is the tongue buckles: I had never before made a harness with only this type of buckle, nor yet so small!!  (Their rollers come from liquid silver ferrules!)  Always before I've used friction buckles, fond friends of proven use from years of playing with model tack.  The small gold initial on the blinkers and drops was executed in miniature with tiny strips of Mylar tinsel on patent leather.  While the trace adjusting buckles came from Rio Rondo, the Four-in-Hand terrets on the backs of the wheeler pair were hand-soldered and plated.  This Four-in-Hand is far, far more detailed than any TSII harness made before... but it is hard, hard, to take on and off the horse.  It very nearly drove ME mad during photographing... a tough call indeed!!!
      The harness was ordered for Breyer's Friesian and Pluto molds.  When it came time to shoot, I scrambled for black horses... hence the mixed-up team... :)

Close Ups

This is a glimpse of our latest (and last, for a long time!) harness order, a Hungarian Breastcollar Pair made for Ann Bilon.  Finished February 2002.  This is in fact the third such set made; the first was for myself in 1994, and the second for Moody (shown below).  In recognition of my desire to pursue more braidwork and Parade projects, and for other reasons, I am retiring from harness-making for the time being ... but not forever.  Harness is too much a part of me to completely write off ... and it's fun too. :)

Here we have the whip to a Hungarian Four-In-Hand harness.  This is my first-ever Four-In-Hand whip --- they have very long lashes!  This is also the first time we've done a white-on-black handle, such elaborate black-and-white wrappings, and this type of taper to the white braided lash.  Finished 0201.08; owned by L. Pervier.

This is a Pony harness commissioned to fit a Donna Chaney Working Hunter.  This was my first chance to work with an Animal Artistry model!  Finished 0111.27, owned by T. Davison.

This harness was completed 0108.10.  It is based on a Scottish Driving harness.  Note the fly terrets (they swing) on the top of the collar and the head.  Owned by S. Quick.

A nice offside view of the Witteveen-based team (Four-in-Hand) harness.  You'll have to excuse `Pilgrim's' white socks!  Finished 0106.07, owned by S. Hurst.

This is a shot of the lead pair on my latest (and best) Draft Four-in-Hand.  For the complete (long and astonishing) story of this harness, visit our Restorations page and scroll down to the bottom.  Finished October 2000; owned by G. Berg.

This harness was my first Trad scale one to carry our handmade hames.  They were made with brass tubing and solder, handfiled to shape and then plated in gold.  Exhausting, and tough on the hands!  Needless to say, I am very pleased with them.  This harness was finished 0002.04 and is owned by A. Bilon.

"Naptha" and "Trionyx" model K. Moody's Red Hungarian pair harness.  This harness was finished 0001.07.  The offside horse is the resincast Utopia.  It sometimes benefits a tackmaker's horse to remain unfinished.

J. Brusky's Red Collar Harness, made for Classic scale "Terrang" and finished 9912.21.  The very first handmade hames were these, made for a Classic.  Perhaps because I've made so much Trad size tack, I find Classic scale a challenge and yet a great relief---and because of that relief, it is often a perfect test-bed for new technologies.  These hames are an example of this odd but real phenomenon.

Express harness, finished 9910.05, owned by S. Robson.  This was intended as a hansom cab harness for a Cob in the early 20th century.  After lots of research I discovered that this sort of harness is still being made today.  It is a cross between "light" and "heavy or draft", having features of both.

      This page shows only a small selection of the harnesses made by the TSII.  I have been creating model harnesses since at least 1979.  I have two fat scrapbooks documenting those twenty-three years.  We have made hundreds of harnesses.  Over time, the techniques have changed, as from brass wire to gold-filled, from large jump rings to Rio Rondo hardware and then to our own soldered and plated terrets etc.; but the basic design remains the same.  Is It Playworthy??  The TSII has made harnesses from Little Bit to Stone Draft and from superthin Fine to the mightiest of Heavy Draft Show... even the Scotch Show and Express ones shown on this page!  If you have questions about who might have made a model harness you have, ask us.