Saturday, February 19, 2011

Success at Last!

...and not the model horse tack kind... unfortunately. I finally finished my total synthesis of a natural product at school (it has been a rough last few weeks!). I have been on this project since I started grad school and it looked like I was going to be finished LAST year at this time. But alas, research does not always go as planned. I will be going into hiding again the next week or two while we write up a publication and I finish all the last experimental stuff. Then I hope to finally have a life back and not be rushing to get things done all the time. I plan on working somewhat more normal hours once we get this paper out the door, which means I will hopefully get more tack done, more gym time in (we'll see about that one...) and things like that.

I'll leave you with some photos from WEG. Can you guess what obstacle these riders all have a different style of approaching?

Rodriguez Pessoa always has the softest and nicest equation...

Here is the giveaway:

I have to pull my mom's photos out to get the shot of the actual obstacle being "tackled".

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chemistry and Horses

Have I ever told you how much I love chemistry and horses together? I knew Alltech was a sponsor of the World Equestrian Games, but I didn't know molecules would be all over!




Even this glass horse that was suspended from the ceiling of the Alltech building is made up of little benzene rings..

A little bit of math and biology in there too...

The horses even had to jump over them!

And of course, the huge entry into the Alltech building:

I think the next jump I make for performance showing will have to be a molecule like the first picture. I even have a molecule kit, it would be pretty easy to put together, and really, it would only be fitting :)
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Workin' Hard

Here are a few progress photos of the Cleveland Bay in-hand tack. All I have done so far is the bridle! I ran out of the gold buckles, so I need to place an order for more - but I had to wait until I got paid yesterday, LOL. I'm still not sure how I'm going to attack the surcingle - I want it to be as realistic as possible with the correct shape over the withers and the padding on the sides. But, I'm happy with how the bridle has turned out.

Don't pay attention to all that sticky wax on the bit! :) I would like to be able to use this set for a showmanship class at a live show, but it's not looking good for attending one of those this year. The only show I was able to attend last year was BreyerFest. Talk about competition, yipes! So this piece may come up for sale once I'm all finished with it.
It has been some really late nights in the lab. I can't even believe I managed to get these pieces cut and dyed and some even stichmarked! I have two orders for pony saddles, so it will be nice to bring both of them through at the same time. I feel it is much more efficient to be able to toggle back and forth between the two - no waiting around for stuff to dry before moving on.

I'm not sure how I feel about them yet. The leather might be a little too thin for these saddles, but we'll see. I'm feeling good about the color so far. They will darken up when I condition them, but you never know how they will turn out until then.
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Look into 2010

Even though we are 2 weeks into 2011, I thought it wasn't too late to evaluate 2010.

Twenty-ten was hands down a stellar year all around. It was successful both hobby and school wise. I'll start in chronological order with the highlights of both.

January - I pass my oral exams for school, officially making me a PhD candidate in chemistry, and snagging the masters as well

February - My mom and I make plans to go to the World Equesrian Games in Lexington, KY

March -
  • My fiance and I got to travel to Steamboat Springs, CO for my friend's "baccalaureate" party where I saw friends I hadn't seen in years.
  • Robin Briscoe, of Breyer Animal Creations, contacts me to see if I would be interested in making a tack set for a diorama that would be on display at the World Equestrian Games
May - Completion of one of my biggest model horse tack projects, the tandem collar harness for a pair of Palouses

June - I receive an email from the National Science Foundation offering me a Graduate Research Fellowship due to a few people declining their offers (I don't know why ANYONE would decline one! I had previously received an email in April saying that I did not get the grant). What this fellowship means is a raise in my yearly salary and I will not have to teach any more labs, making more time for doing actual research.

July - BreyerFest! I also got to be a volunteer for the first time where I was able to demonstrate making tack for a few hours. I received this lovely volunteer model:

I was also lucky enough to win the Kathy McKenzie NAN Donation off only $20 in tickets. She is so beautiful and I felt so honored to have one of Kathy's last pieces in my possession.

August - I spend a nice, long weekend visiting my mom in Phoenix, AZ

September/October - World Equestrian Games!

November - My diorama volunteer model arrives!

December - My WEG Factory Custom Breyer arrives!

I'm not thrilled with the amount of tack I actually made this year. In fact, I can probably count the number of sets on just my two hands. Not only that, but about half were donations! I don't mind donating to shows, but I do need to re-coup some money. I'm really going to try to make more this year, but most often, by the time I get home from school, I have absolutely no energy!

Chemistry wise, well, I thought I would have been done with my project by now. But there have been so many setbacks, it is unbelievable. I really do hope to have it finished by the time summer hits.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Dressage Bridle

In my previous post I mentioned a new browband I had made that needed a bridle to go with it. Since it was black and had silver hardware, I went ahead with a dressage bridle. But I really went all out on this bridle - a total of 16 tongue buckles! I also am pleased with how the noseband turned out. This mold has a long face, which is perfect for a big, padded noseband.

A close up of the browband:

Now that I look at the photos, I think I need to add some small silver conchos to the browband for a more "finished" look. It looks a bit blunt on the ends.

Now I need to make a dressage saddle to go with this bridle. Perfect time to revamp some patterns. I have set a new standard with this bridle and now the saddle has to live up to that! I've been putting off revising patterns - it is such tedious work, sometimes I just want to MAKE something, not putz around with patterns and redoing pieces over and over again. But alas, I need to just do it and get it over with. In the end, it will be worth it (at least I hope!).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Good Intentions

A few days ago, I had decided I was going to make a stallion tack set for the Cleveland Bay mold. I wanted to try a new technique for a browband. But I only had so much brown leather, so I didn't want to practice with it. Then, I didn't have any gold hardware for the browband. SO, I decided my first attempt would be with black leather and silver hardware (Cleveland Bay tack needs to be brown with gold hardware). It ended up, though, I was pretty pleased with how it turned out and I couldn't just leave it there all alone. So I ended up making this instead:

It still needs some more keepers and some reins. Hopefully I'll get around to making that Cleveland Bay tack! Funny how making one little thing can lead to a completely different tack piece than originally intended!
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Diffusing Anger

Yesterday I experienced one of the very few times that I nearly lost my temper. The only other time I can think of was nearly three years ago. The details of the reason is not too important, other than I was at work and my tolerance level for a particular coworker not "pulling his weight" is nearly at its max.

But, I knew that I could not lose my temper at work and in front of other coworkers, so I walked away and started thinking of something that I could focus my attention on - otherwise I would have continued to "brew" over the situation, and that, my friends, is never good. The slightest mishap or annoyance could lead to an eruption of pent up anger.

I originally wanted to go over to the art museum that is across the street from the building I work in, but construction has closed down the main entrance, and I needed something to diffuse my anger FAST.

The next best thing that can focus my attention more than anything is... (drumroll, please) model horses! I grabbed a chai tea latte (my favorite indulgence) and my laptop and headed to a secluded place where I could peruse the pages of MH$P and model horse blab, mindlessly. A few minutes later, and I was back to normal.

It was amazing how model horses can really take my mind off stressful and even angering situations. I think that's why I love spending my evenings, after working in lab all day, involving myself in model horses in some way or another. Whether it be actually making tack (I have had no energy for such tedious and focused tasks until very recently), fixing and looking at photos of my collection, or browsing the web, I can just relax and unwind from the day.

I'm grateful to have this outlet in my life, right now. I haven't really been taking custom orders after the NAN and Breyer WEG project deadlines, so it is not nearly as stressful as it was. This is my hobby, so it shouldn't be stressful! Yet sometimes I find myself stressing about orders not being finished in time or looking the way they should, or even not being able to get that unannounced special run from Breyer. But I just need to treat it as my happy outlet, not something to get all worked up about!

On another note, I hope to have some actual photos of work put up soon! I've gotten back to the work table the last few nights and some interesting things have arisen, so stay tuned!