Horse Hair Jewelry for the Holidays!

I’ve been getting calls about Christmas gifts since the beginning of October. And as soon as Halloween is gone, it seems like Thanksgiving and the Christmas are here in a flash!

Check out some fun styles I created this year:

I just sent this custom piece off last week (can you tell by the pumpkin in the photo?) This mix of purple beads really pops on the black horse hair. I can add any color beads to a Garden Gala style bracelet.



I'm one of the few horse hair artists who will work with mane hair. I created this bracelet to accommodate the short pieces that often come with the mane (unless you have a Friesen!) You can add a central bead or have 3 "links" of mane hair.

I can even add silver beads to a bracelet.

This Garden Gala Style bracelet is thinner than the usual style, and the pink chain gives it a sweet pop of color.

Who says wearing a medic alter bracelet has to be boring? Black and red-dyed horse hair make a fun medical ID tag. The back can be engraved with medical information. Herringbone-style braid with sterling silver lobster clasp.



Today I saw:
A fire breather.

A Renaissance band.

A cooper.

Irish dancers.

Belly dancers. Fencers. Sword swallowers. Lakota dancers. Ukrainian beaders. A flute maker…. the list goes on.

I ate samosa chaat and a kuhs lassi while me mom had a Native American Indian Taco.

And I got to give my favorite flintknapper and fly-rod-maker his new horse hair bracelet.

A medic ID bracelet with horse hair band.

It was all at Artifest, a cultural festival sponsored by the Museum of Indian Culture. You can experience it all again tomorrow (6/12)  at the festival, located at 2825 Fish Hatchery Road in Allentown.

Strawberry Patch

The first ripe strawberry of the season. The taste tester said, "Success, mom. It's sweet and juicy."

In Pennsylvania, we know we’re on our way to summer and hot days when the strawberries arrive. Sweet and juicy with that satisfying snap when you pluck them from the plant.

Our first post-Memorial Day activity is a trek to Trauger’s Farm to pick strawberries. Under the beating sun (because it’s always 95°F the day we decide to go), we fill our buckets upon buckets with strawberry sweetness as we fill our bellies (don’t tell the folks at Traugers, although I think strawberry smeared all over the kids faces give us away).

My budding chef wrote down our smoothie recipe so I wouldn't forget.

Our favorite strawberry item is smoothies. We freeze the strawberries so we can have smoothies until next April, when we exhaust our stores of frozen fruit. Strawberry cordial gets me through the dark days of winter. Plus there’s strawberry-rhubarb sauce and strawberries with whipped cream, sometimes jam, and any other concoction we can think of until the blueberries come in and become our new favorite.

Over the last few years we’ve worked on a strawberry “patch” in our front flowerbed. It began with a novelty hanging strawberry plant. Last year I added a few more plants in tiered barrels so they send runners for new plants into the barrel below.

For my daughter’s birthday last year we gave strawberry plants as the party favorite. I asked Trauger’s what I needed to do with these tiny plants that looked like no more than scraggly roots. They had very specific directions for caring for these plants. For a Darwinian Gardener like me it seemed very complicated:

“When the strawberries have flowers, pinch the flowers off so they don’t produce fruit this year. In winter cover with straw and then next year they will produce strawberries.”


I started off with good intentions, plucking little white flowers. Then, as the plants grew as big as the others, I forgot which were the old plants and which were the new plants. Straw over the plants? I think not. Instead they froze under 3 feet of snow. And unbelievably, we have more strawberries than ever. Further proof that Darwinian gardening works.

Handmade Birthday

Double wrap watch, password journal and handmade card.

Double wrap leather band watch, password journal and handmade card.

The package containing these gifts arrived in New Hampshire today. I sent them off to my sis-in-law Kris for her birthday, admittedly a little late, but I hope she thinks they’re worth the wait.

Kris commented on a similar watched she liked in a catalog a few months ago. Bingo! Perfect birthday gift! Bingo! Challenge for me to re-create it from scratch. I just love a challenge.

Sometimes my challenges are like a comedy of errors. I go out and buy the supplies I think I need only to get home and realize they’re too big, too small, not the right color. Such was this challenge.

I thought I was on it. I sprinted off to the leather store and found leather strap (already cut!), got a new leather punch (smaller holes!) and a buckle (perfect size for the leather!). Off to another store for the watch face. Not what I was planning exactly, but it looked good. Home to the studio, ready to work.

And I’m off…

Except the buckle is reversed so it curves in and would irritate the wearer’s wrist. I have not idea what this kind of buckle is used for, but I am now the proud owner of one. It will sit in my sewing draw until it finds its calling among my creations.

I didn’t want wait a few days and spend the $10 on shipping to get a $5 buckle. I also didn’t want to drive the 40 miles round trip back to the store to search through all the buckles again (that would cost me $10 in gas!). I refrained from cutting the buckles off my daughter’s perfectly good shoes, though I seriously, seriously considered it. Kris’s daughter would have suffered because she gets all her cousin’s hand-me-downs.

Instead I used my crafty prowess (which I should have consulted in the first place) and traveled the 1.3 miles to the crafter’s mecca of supplies: the thrift store. I bought an old pair of shoes and cut the buckles off to complete the watch.


The present also included a card I made during a girls weekend excursion and one of my newer brainchilds (brainchildren?), a password journal (more on that in another post). Happy birthday, Kris!

Studio Dog

Studio Dog
Studio Dog, a photo by Red Tail Designs on Flickr.

Indiana when he was a wee pup, taking a nap in the studio.

Let me set the scene

for you: It’s December, the wind is swirling snow around my numb fingers as I braid horse hair out in my cold backyard. Why would I endure the nasty weather outside when I have a perfectly good studio inside? Because I was housebreaking the newest member of our family, Indiana.

Treat bags to hold all of Indiana's training treats.

At the time, Indiana was not yet a studio dog. He ate my craft supplies, stole my horse hair and generally got into a lot of trouble in when we made our way to the third floor. In short, I got nothing done when he was up there because it was like having a 2-year-old roaming around my studio. He also couldn’t keep out of the food or the litter box of the cat who maintains the penthouse suite, not to mention chasing the cat across my craft table was great fun.

Fast forward 5 months and Indiana (as in Indiana Jones, not the state) has become a certified Studio Dog. He’s housebroken (and even rings a bell to go out) and understands the studio time is my time. He’ll comfortably sit at my feet and chew a bone while I craft. The cat food and litter box are still tempting, and chasing cats really is great fun when you’re a dog.

The snap on the drawstrings lets me snap it onto my belt when we're out.

I put my crafty skills to work to make some treat bags for Indiana to hold all his training treats. They’re simple little sacks with drawstring closures and snaps so I can snap them on my belt when we’re out for a walk. I made them of my most favorite fabric ever, the dog fabric by Heather Ross. I wish she’d bring it back, as this fabric is now out of print.

After the rough run with pets we had in 2010–our 13-year-old Labrador retriever and our 10-year-old cat went to pet heaven–Indiana is a nice reprieve. He’s a super dog that is easily trainable and loves the kids. He’s sure my 4-year-old is just another puppy and probably better trained for the studio than my kids.

Black and Silver on Mullein

I’m so glad the leaf-out has arrived and flowers are blooming. Photography is not my forte and I have an especially difficult time selecting the right background for the item I’m capturing. But incorporate a natural background–a leaf, a flower, a colorful rock– and suddenly the whole picture comes together. Nature seems to give everything a little boost.

Not that this bracelet needed any improvement. It’s bumping along on a mail truck right now on its way to Texas. My customer there is married to her computer 9 to 10 hours a day and she was concerned that beads on the bracelet would bang on the keyboard. Still she wanted a little silver color peeking out. So I incorporated silver chain and it turned out gorgeous.

Yellow Bubbles

Yellow bubbles by Red Tail Designs
Yellow bubbles, a photo by Red Tail Designs on Flickr.

Sent off this custom horse hair bracelet today to a customer in Ohio. The yellow beads look to me like bubbles floating around the wearer’s wrist. Maybe that’s because spring in the air, which means at my house a new box of sidewalk chalk and new bottles of bubbles for the kids.

Adding yellow beads to a black bracelet isn’t a color choice that would have occurred to me, but it turned out gorgeous.  That’s the beauty of creating custom orders: Customers have their own visions that I need to translate and that process, in turn inspires, me to think of new and different ways to create jewelry.

Contact me and we can create a custom piece of jewelry that inspires you!