Timaru Star II Silver Parade Sets

      Silver Western Parade saddles have long been the jewel in our crown.  Since New Year's Day 1977 when I marched in the Tournament of Roses and first saw them, I have loved these most magnificent expressions of the saddler's art.  From humble beginnings of stamped and painted leather to the silver tape, Aluminum and Mylar used today, TSII Parade sets are continuously evolving!  These two pages do justice to our history.

December 12, 2012.  I am taking the opportunity the birth of my blogspot affords to transfer these two pictures here, where they rightly belong.  The upper is of TSII #450, Golden Sunburst, finished December 1st, 2011 and owned by Robin Amador of California. This beauty is now rightly my signature photograph, used on my business card and address labels.  The horse, of course, is Sarah Rose's Independence, whom I've named Rialto Ripples.
This next picture depicts TSII #355 right after its restoration, which was finished in August of 2012.  This saddle was originally built in 1993.  Recently it was sold, and came back to me for a new corona blanket -- Melody Snow's technology having transformed the field for the better!  In the event, #355 was completely taken apart and redone every which way: cleaned, polished, conserved, updated, strengthened, replaced and tinkered with.   It is the only silver parade set built at the TSII that used Rio Rondo cast pewter plates pinned on top of the sheet silver; and that had a lot to do with its ageing so well.  Even so it was many weeks of work to do everything I wanted to do with the set.

      You are looking at my computer background picture: that's how proud I am of this one.  :)  As for the owner, she has said she'll take it with her to the grave. :)  Every artist has at least one Big Saddle in them; so said Edward Bohlin.  So far, I've had three.  This one, #422, is my third.  My first rightly has to be #23, and my second is #400.  Someday when I have even more time, I'd like to write up the story of these saddles, for within them is contained the story of the development of the TSII parade set.  Meanwhile, we'll just have to content ourselves with these webpages and their glimpses of my two Parade Saddle Scrapbooks.
      My Red Scrapbook documents sixty-one TSII Silver Parade saddles, starting with the very first one (#06)[see Western Saddles for an explanation of our numbering system], made somewhere around the fall of 1978.  It ends with #346, built in November 1992.  The Yellow Scrapbook takes up where Red leaves off, starting with #355 (the sixty-second) made in April 1993, and continuing on up to the most recent ones.  As of 2004 we have made more than ninety.

      What are some of the ingredients for a successful model parade set?  According to my taste, which has developed over the past 26 years, they must look good while fulfilling a raft of requirements.  The materials used must need as little glue as possible, and they must not stink.  They must not tarnish or corrode.  The 'silver' must be made of a material that is easy to get hold of and is relatively easy to work with.  In short, it's no wonder it's taken me this long to evolve my 'recipe'!  Refusing fumes lets out a whole lot of modern epoxies and glues, let alone finishes that could give a hard gloss, so desireable.  The non-tarnishing clause is a killer: you are basically left with aluminum and plastic.  Easy to buy means it could be found anywhere, such as Michael's, JoAnn's, Ben Franklin's, Hobby Lobby: no secret sources.  Nonetheless, in spite of this draconian restraint, I have slowly found successful combinations that I'm happy with.  And, given how they've evolved in the past, it would be no surprise to have them change yet again in the future.
     Visit the bottom of our Saddles page for more on how our numbering system developed, and how silver saddles fit into the overall picture of TSII model tack.

Close Ups

TSII #442.  The "ninety-fourth" silver parade saddle ever made by the TSII was built for Colette Robertson as a special gift.  Although the pictures don't show it, there are some personal motifs on this set... including the grapevine tooling pattern!  Begun 0508.24, finished 0509.23.  Shot in this case on a reclaimed strip mine in central Pennsylvania -- the broken-up shale and scattered vegetation looks suitably desert-like.  Outstanding features of this latest-and-greatest saddle include the gold corner motifs, custom dye on all tooling, and Medieval-inspired tooling pattern... plus that lovely Unicorn Woman saddle blanket and handmade sterling silver bit.
TSII #441.  This fantastic piece was born of combining two that came before it, one with bonded-spot technology and one with golden-figure motifs.  It has a new and improved method of the gold--- like all our discoveries, painfully slow and laborious, but which gives the look I was after.  Again this set was inspired by a book, Reynolds' The Art of the Western Saddle.  The adventures this set went through to get to its owner by show day would fill a book.  Let it be said here that the value of true friends who step in above the call of duty, has never been measured.  Owned by Jenn Merriam of Canada and finished 0503.25.  The "ninety-third."

TSII #440.  Words start to fail around this point.  I never believed I could do this: top #422, and yet it happened.  This saddle was inspired by a book, yes two books, and had a long lead time, which only partially explains its quick construction.  The classic motif of bucking bronco and longhorn steer are here.  The owner said it best when she remarked upon receiving it, "I'm inspired to stay in the hobby" even though she is leaving it after more than 30 years.  Owned by K. Grieve and finished 0502.11.  The "ninety-second."

TSII #439.  It seems that in this business your most recent is your greatest.  Not always true, but in this case yes; it's been almost a year since the last parade saddle, and at last I have something I'm proud of.  Based on Bohlin's Dick Dickson model but happily without those wrinkles!  Firsts include the type of silver used (bonded aluminum), the lining with thin skiver (thank you Michelle), the silver braiding on the solid silver pommel, the double line of braiding on the cantle, a Melody Snow corona, and inspiration from a High Noon auction catalog.  Owned by D. Snow and finished 0501.22.  The "ninety-first."

TSII #431.  In accordance with the wave of tackmaking improvements going on, this set, called "West's Silver Eagle", has once again set a standard I will find difficult to follow.  This saddle uses groudbreaking technologies with its handcut 'flames' and silver plated feather drops... not to mention those intriguing little eagle 'medallions', actually jewelry pieces, created by German artist Anya Brethauer.  And, if that weren't enough, every one of those little round spots was formed, cut and filed by hand, using my latest tool, an Arc Punch (homemade).  Owned by D. West and finished 0402.03.  The "ninetieth."

TSII #430.  This extraordinary Mylar masterpiece was conceived and executed as a test: what can be done paradewise with only one material, Mylar tinsel?  If the scale is right, quite a lot.  After the efforts of #428, this was the first set I could look at---the LB scale is safer.  Number 430 was started after #429, but delays in design finalizing for #429 placed it in front, and so it was finished earlier, 0311.04.  A.Mueller owns this little cutie, decorated with sterling silver teardrops, handmade formed spots, sterling silver domes, and a customized Rio Rondo bit.

TSII #429.  One more example of how my numbering system may be off by one, but the quality of the tack is not off.  This unique set, owned by G. Kirkpatrick, was commissioned on a weather theme---how appropriate!  Rainbows and water, sunrise, clouds, lightning and (on the chest) a tornado are seen, while the blue beads suggest rain drops.  The horse is a Little-Bit scale resincast by Tiffany Hoffman 2001; the individual is named Poco Gatti.  This 89th Parade saddle was finished 0311.24.

TSII #428.  This set was finished September 3, 2003 ---a solid two years since the one before!  Yes, it has taken me that long to figure out how to follow the act.  This saddle is based on (the real-life) Bohlin's Stanwyck saddle and on the Brydon Bros. set shown in the book, Saddlemaker to the Stars.  It uses the ideas of #423, Eleanor's braided, as well as the formed-spot saddle #422 (below); and yet it stands on its own.  With this set comes the fulfillment of the ideas of formed spots, and the braided trim---first used on the face ornament with this saddle.  Owned by A Bilon.

TSII #428.  Here is another, earlier view of #428.  This shows the horse involved, and the green blanket.  This saddle was issued with three different blankets, because I could not make up my mind!!  As of this writing, my favorite is a tie between this green one, and the lightest-muslin one shown above on the rack.

TSII #422.  Finished September 15, 2001, the day of the service at the National Cathedral: a good saddle to start a new century with.  Based on Louise Cottam's Bohlin set.  Owned by C. Partee.  "She won the Lottery."  Time between Lottery and completion of order: 14 months, somewhat shorter than average.  First-ever formed-spot set; continued thanks to Eleanor Harvey, Candy Evans and Christie Partee... and Edward Bohlin.

TSII #421.  This is Lowe's Little Bit Blue & Green, a true one-of-a-kind.  As explained above, it may well be my only 'sandwich' saddle.  Finished March 2001, it is the "eighty-fifth".  This set benefitted greatly from the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, where I re-discovered Rio Grande gems (and also Fire Mountain).  These companies make silver jewelry findings and beads.  Don't you think these teardrops are just perfect?? :)  Expensive, but worth it.  See our Lynx page for Rio Grande and Fire Mtn.

TSII #418.  Finished in October 2000, this saddle was the first to use the Mylar tinsel technique, called My-tie.  It is also the first variation on #400 Rainbow Brilliance, my own parade set.  Owned by A. Wisniewski.  I have to say I'll not make a set for this model again; it was extremely difficult to accomodate the swollen, assymmetrical shoulders and staightup neck.

#415.  This is the Millennium Set, built to honor the turn of the century and to represent common ground between computers and art.  It was sold at the NAN auction 2000 for what was then a record price, $1100.00.  The "eighty-third" set uses resistors for drops, a watch battery for a bit, and has printed circuit boards and other computer parts on it.  Many thanks to Angela Diekman and the NAN auction board.

Here is "Seahorse," TSII Parade set #409, on 'Pilgrim.'  Seahorse was finished at the end of July, 1999, and inspired by #401, "Koi & Water Lilies."  It has the same watery theme and fish-scale motif.  Don't the silver beads on the drops look like rising bubbles!?

The breastcollar to "Seahorse", TSII saddle #409.  For this set I wanted to portray as many kinds of seahorse as I could.  The chest medallion was based on a Daniel Muller Carousel horse.  This "eighty-second" Parade set is owned by J. Chismudy.

TSII #408, "Featherscale" the "eighty-first".  This was the first Parade set made after the Guide was written, and one of two made in 1999.  Its design was based on "Ogival Angel" #319, and on a pub door I saw in Crystal City.  Featherscale was the first to have extensive stamping on the silver tape.  It was the first Parade set to have strung silver beads on the bridle.  This saddle is shown on our Home page thumbnail on the horse 'Shadowcaster' (Art Deco).  Finished 9906.11.

TSII #406 (left) and #400(right).  A married couple: Minyalucca the Minuet wearing "Angel Mask", #406 (the "eightieth"), built October 1997 and sold to K. Anderson; and Xanadu the Amarna Arab wearing #400 "Rainbow Brilliance", my own set, finished 9710.01 (the "seventy-ninth").
      Click here for a second page of TSII Parade saddles, going all the way back to the first one.  Unless specified, these second page pictures do Not have click-for-larger versions.