TSII #443 was the only saddle built in 2005 that was not a Parade set. It is presented here in new format, i.e., please forgive my laziness in not making it a link to a larger picture, but instead providing everything at once. [I think this is a sign that web capabilities are expanding (I presume you can download larger pictures) and that I am no longer limited to a certain number of pictures per page. (Of course, this may change again.)]
TSII #443 was finished November 17 with a customer-requested second breastcollar. It is noteworthy for its pink seat, which was created by the extraordinary method of stitching up 28-pt linen, and then feeding the outer strands down into the saddle piece, and gluing them beneath, giving an inset. (Why didn't I just glue it? Ah, effect, effect,... I was after making that edge bulkless yet perfectly turned, which is the secret to inlaid seats...) I think this idea has potential, though only time will tell.
The stirrups were crafted from real rawhide. Note the saddle blankets, made from craft foam in 2mm... Just right for those real-life foam pads! The reins have an adjustment buckle so they can be used for Pebbles (1:16) as well as Little Bits (1:18). Although this doesn't show it well, those pink buttons are indeed woven on and tied correctly. Embroidery floss is not the most distinct material! and Little Bits is the smallest scale I care to work in, at least for the present. But no other material was exactly the right color... Even the edges of the conchos are braided 'round with floss; and the cantle and pommel are wrapped with it, then laced with minutely-cut silver mylar tinsel. The bit is handmade Aluminum. The beads are sterling silver.
|This is TSII #438, the famous Buffalo Bill saddle. As explained earlier, my model is not a perfect copy of historical fact, but a conglomeration of 5 different sources, none of which totally agreed with one another. One source was a painting; two were photo postcards, one was a souvenir book, and one a photograph taken in a musuem. The tree was carved by R. Nikolaidis. The conchos are real silver. This was the first time I truly used a tree, but I enjoyed it immensely. Commissioned and owned by S. Rudnicki Hurst.|
|Here is a more complete look at the Buffalo Bill set. The tiny cowrie shells, in real life a contrasting decoration used before silver became popular (and affordable), are depicted here in miniature. I was inspired by those artists within the hobby who created Arab costume halters. These cowries were hand-sculpted by Lisa Pisano of New York. Susan Hurst sculpted the horse, "Wall Street Trader". Finished in October of 2004.|
|This third-ever McClellan by me was done on the Harris (RDLC) tree. It incorporates such improvements as hand-cut brass escutcheon plates, wooden-look stirrups, a cloth girth, and much better research: it's more historically accurate than either of my first two McClellans. Many thanks to Randy Steffens. Completed 0310.11, owned by V. Kirkpatrick.|
|TSII #417. 0006.26, owned by C. Neuhaus. Intertwine tooling pattern in a nice mahogany red, with sinew & silver lacing on the cantle. This set shows a combination of beads and braided buttons that go well together. Note the two browbands (the second is draped behind the back cinch) for fitting several horse sizes.|
|TSII #414, "Silhouette Pine Cone." A one of a kind experiment. Future true Pine Cone patterns will be normally carved, not silhouette (inverted and darkened), and look more like real Pine Cones! Future "Yucca Blossom" silhouette patterns will look similar to #414, but more like Yuccas. Owned by T. Admidin; 9912.08.|
|TSII #412. Rose-n-Thorns pattern, with full Buckstitching. Owned by W. Nielsen, 9910.29.|
|TSII #411. Oak Leaf carved, with 4 white tassels. The bridle & breastcollar to this saddle are shown on the Braidwork page. Originally sold to Kris Ercoli, shipped 9910.29; now, mysteriously, in the hands of Breyer---it is displayed during BreyerFest at the Hobby Information Booth.|
|TSII McClellan. This set is my second McClellan; the first was built in 1995. That one used a tree of Friendly Plastic; his one uses a RDLC (Jennifer Harris) tree. This McClellan represents a mix of several years' issue, mostly 1896. The white halter rope is inauthentic, but included because the customer wanted it and it looks good! Finished 9910.29, owned by P. Beard.|
|TSII #398. "Silhouette Rose" auctioned to D. Meiner, 9707.24. This was at the NAN auction for 1997. The piece fetched $660.00---a record at the time. For its time, this was a very significant piece of tack: first use of double interweave rings (on the brow tassel), first black FB RB, first inverted carving---certainly the most ambitious breastcollar to date.|
|TSII #397. Owned by C. Von Dohln. This saddle shows a nice Rose-n-Thorns pattern and a rawhide braided horn. The suede seat was done with chamois. This is one of three or so very earliest braided saddles: the braided buttons on the concho tabs were the beginnings of carrying to the saddle what already was going on in the headgear and breastcollar.|
|TSII #339 From our earlier webpage, here is the only saddle (so far) we've done with the Rio Rondo basketweave tool. 1992, originally sold to S. Yarnell, now owned by C. Foote.|
|TSII #334. "The Red Jewel Set" a case of restoration that went beyond. This black saddle, carved in Intertwine, was originally made in 1992. In April 2000 it was returned because the prism tape plates were falling off. Completely new silver plates were made with new jewels. Amarna's page tells more about this rebirth.|
|TSII #333. Another case of restoration in which the original prism tape plates were replaced with silver corner plates. Intertwine pattern, built in 1992, owned by K. Cabot. There were only 6 Western saddles made with prism tape plates, not counting Parade sets. Of those 6, two have been rebuilt (#333 & #334)and two more (#250 & #300) are in my possession.|
For all you collectors out there, how I wish you could see the scrapbooks! All our pieces are extensively documented in writing and pictures; a Master Numbers List is kept as well as numerous booklets of notes on our tackmaking. Not to mention the 5 shoeboxes of photos!! Most do have photographs...this hobby has taught me how to shoot close up! One of my dreams is to have all this published one day in hardcover... If you see me at a live show ask to see the scrapbooks. They are expanding! If you have any suspected TSII tack pieces we would be glad to help you try to identify them. I am particularly interested in the whereabouts and condition of TSII pieces made before 1988.
SADDLE NUMBERING: Why, where, and when: In January 1983, fresh out of college and on advice from my father, I started signing and numbering the works of my growing hobby. Before then, from the mid-70s through 1982 (age mid-teens through 22), around 50 saddles were made, but they were not numbered or signed. They were more primitive--- indeed the earliest ones were downright 'Paleozoic'! This was all in Boulder, Colorado, where I was born and grew up. Starting with that first one, every saddle has been initialed and dated. Every one, from 1983 to the present, has been signed with the same tool, a dental pick; this tool has been aided and abetted over the years, but never replaced.
Look under the fender on the off side, on the base skirt, next to the girth ring, for the number. Saddle numbers 1 to 100 were encircled with a cut ring on the leather. The initials and 2-digit date are on the near side, in the same place. In 1988, at saddle no. 222, the initials changed from SEB to SBY. Over the years, as the saddles grew more detailed and more effort went into them, they started acquiring names as well as numbers, but the numbers are always there, a baseline and a record. Aside from the primordial 50, only one saddle has been discovered to be unnumbered (117.5), a case of forgetfulness. :) See below for a complete listing.
SILVER SADDLES: The silver Parade saddles, the TSII's most famous masterpieces, were numbered normally, as they were made, along with all the others. I did this because I considered them Western saddles first and foremost, like any other... even as a Decorator is still a horse. By 2002, after more than 80 have been made and it is clear they are in a class by themselves, I have had occasion to regret this. It sounds so much more impressive to be able to say, "my seventieth silver saddle!" than to say "TSII #378"!! This problem is dealt with by referring to current silver saddles in terms of two numbers. I beg forgiveness for any confusion...!
About forty silver saddles are the original, older technique of painted leather, which has proven to be remarkably durable and which I used up to 1988. In 1988, at saddle #230, came the first use of silver tape (Aluminum metal-mending or plumber's tape) and all subsequent Parade sets have used it to some degree. Of the existing silver-tape sets, (about 44 at this time) nearly half used prism tape, or colored holographic laser-flash film, --a trick first used in 1990, with Gerhardt's Green and Gold.
In the fall of 2000, it was discovered that Mylar tinsel lacing could be used to 'rescue' the unfortunate ageing of the silver tape adhesive. In 2001, new silver Parade set mediums and techniques were introduced: sandwich layering and hollow-formed Aluminum spots. By 2003, combinations were the rule: formed spots, Mylar and silver tape set the standard, with prism tape and other materials as desired. In 2004, yet more methods were discovered, such as bonded Aluminum tape and gold Mylar. As of this writing there are three painted sets reworked to silver tape and about four 'rescued' Mylar-tied taped sets ---these are the lucky ones. There are now 7 LB size Parade sets and about 5 Classic size ones out there by me.