Sunday, December 21, 2014

Instructional Books & Blogs on Customizing & Tack Making

I have always been interested in painting model horses, but I was never any good at it. I tried for a year or so with some luck and then decided I needed some outside help. I had been using a cheap airbrush with watered down store-bought acrylic paints. I didn't frequent Model Horse Blab often enough to buy a membership to gain access to the "The Studio" section as I was really shy and didn't want to post anything marking me stupid when it came to hobby things. That changed after a little while when I started to lightly post here and there, and eventually I realized that the people on Blab had some of the same questions I did. They never called anyone stupid and instead helped them, even if it was a really simple question that could have been answered by Google. I have come to appreciate everyone on Blab and look forward to the help that they offer. I highly recommend buying a membership to Model Horse Blab, even if it is only for a month ($1.80 I think?). It is an invaluable resource! The one problem I had with Blab when it came to customizing was it was only on the computer and didn't cover every single nitty gritty detail, unless you specifically asked. When you are making tack or painting a model, it's always nice to be able to reference the information right in front of me immediately. 

One year at BreyerFest I came across a room at the Clarion/Holiday Inn North (CHIN) that was selling a used copy of Chris Nandell-Flint's "Trade Secrets and Methods of a Model Horse Artist"I can very honestly say it is one of the best $70 I have ever spent at BreyerFest. This 132 page spiral bound book covers absolutely everything from prepping to the finishing touches. It even covers repairs! There are tons of full color, large, clear images to guide you through the process of whatever you are doing and detailed descriptions to go along with them. It has given me valuable sculpting tips to get those pesky manes and tails looking fabulous, and even has color recipes for oil painting, which I have adapted to use with an airbrush. There are wonderful tips on customizing plastic models as well. This book is a must for anyone looking to customize model horses, even those who already do. You are sure to learn a lot.

Link to purchase directly from Chris Nandell-Flint:
There is a full table of contents list on that page as well.

The next book that has really helped me and was recommended by a couple  of professional tack makers at TRXC this year is Susan Bensema Young's "Guide To Making Model Horse Tack". This book is a bit older, but still carries a lot of weight and inspiration. The diagrams are much better than any you will find on Google because they are hand drawn and specific to what is being made. There are some seriously helpful measurements and step by step guides to making saddles. I have also learned a whole bunch about different types of tack after going through the book. It's great to see how the styles have changed in some fashions, and others have stayed exactly the same. It goes over every kind of tack you can think of as well as how to add bling, knots, braids, patterns, and so on. All the pattern diagrams for saddles are included in this wonderful 210 page guide. If you ever thought about seriously making your own tack, this book will be invaluable to you. You will never be able to find the plates and diagrams anywhere else.
 Link to purchase directly from Susan Bensema Young:

Finally, my newest instructional book is "Stablemate Scale English Saddle Tutorial" by Anna KirbyThis little 17 page booklet has clear, full color, close up pictures of each step, making it easier to recreate the process. It is very in-depth and helpful, definitely understandable from a beginners point of view. Anna Kirby shows you how to take a few simple(ish) supplies and turn it into a beautiful stablemate scale english saddle. It is a spectacular buy at $10, and I had my copy printed and bound at OfficeMax for $20. If you want to dabble in tack making, I would definitely recommend this awesome little booklet! You will not be disappointed. This is by far the easiest saddle making tutorial I have read. The pattern diagram is provided, and steps to make a girth and saddle pad are included too. Perfect booklet for a beginner tack maker that wants to try their hand. 

Link to purchase directly from Anna Kirby of DreamFlite Design:


If you are worried to try making the stablemate english saddles because you do not know how to dye leather, Jennifer Buxton of Breymere Custom Saddlery has the most AMAZING blog you might ever read.. Her tack tips are endless and absolutely incredible. She has so many really super-duper helpful tack making tips that you might go crazy!

Here is Jennifer's leather dyeing blog post:

Jennifer also has a couple getting started posts: 
Part One:
Part Two:
I would definitely read these three posts by Jennifer Buxton BEFORE reading the english saddle guide. It might give you the information needed to get started. 

ALL of Jennifer's blog is wonderful, there are TONS of other tutorials on there, check it out!

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