Holiday Horse Tail Jewelry Orders

The Rapitorial Bracelet includes an engraved nameplate. Add you horse’s name, barn name or date of birth to this nameplate. Both the front and the back can be engraved.


I know you’re dreaming about turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, but it’s time to think about holiday shopping, too! What better gift to give the horse lover in your life than a horse hair bracelet made from the tail of your loved one’s favorite horse or horses (I can combine more than one together!)

Since each item is handmade by me, I need time clean it, braid it, finish it and get a fine piece of jewelry back in your hands for gift giving. Here are this year’s deadlines:

Horse hair jewelry orders that need to be completed and delivered by Christmas, must be to me by December 10, 2013.

The horse hair needs to be in my hands with an order form on or (preferably) before December 10 so I can start on your jewelry.

Orders received December 11 – December 17 that are needed for December 25 gift giving will include a $30 per item rush fee.

All horse hair must be in my mailbox by December 17 for Christmas delivery. Any orders and horse hair received after December 17 will be delivered after Christmas.

Your horse hair and order forms can be sent to:
Red-Tail Designs, LLC
813 Porter St.
Easton, PA 18042

You can send a check along with your order form and horse hair, or I can invoice you when I receive the order so you can pay with PayPal or a credit card over the internet.

Keep in mind that if you don’t know which jewelry piece to pick, you can always give a gift certificate. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or call me at 610-905-8399.

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.

Studio Complete?

The fabric area of my studio complete with brand new bulletin boards. This Ikea shelving and orange boxes are perfect for this area.

My custom bulletin boards are finally hung!

I feel like my studio might almost be done. My husband and I started redecorating our third floor over a year ago with new paint, carpet, shelving…the works. It’s been a very slow process because we did most of it ourselves.

The bulletin boards are at the top of the stairs, so it's like an art gallery as you enter the room.

The chunk of it was done last spring but organization eluded me for a long time and it took a while to find the right shelving. Bulletin boards were my last big push and, of course, I couldn’t just buy cork from Staples. They had to be fancy-pants bulletin boards I made myself from stuff I found here and matching fabrics. I chose three Ikea fabrics and then made a mosaic using those fabrics and some Laura Gunn scraps that Kristen was so gracious to give to me.

And finally they are on the wall.

It’s sad that both my husband and I have grandfathers who were carpenters, yet neither of us can hang a coat rack without worrying it’ll fly off the way and whack us in the forehead.

Luck for us there are people like Chris Fairchild from In Order to Organize.

All my jewerly supplies in one area neatly labeled. I need one more piece of furniture to marry the beading area to the sewing area. Coming soon!

Chris owns a personal organization and personal training business right here in Easton. Not only can he put holes in my 100-year-old walls without worry, he can organize, build, plan and create. Chris organizes any aspect of your home, business or work flow.

In spring, Chris talked me through how I use each section of my studio and what would make the most sense in terms of storage and organization. He helped me decide on shelving, and I plan to have him make shelves for a closet and a wall shelf above my sewing machine.

That’s his other great talent. Chris can design and build custom pieces for your house.

He hung my bulletin boards for me and I am eternally grateful. I assisted him as he figured out the spacing (does holding a level count as assisting?). If I’d hung them they’d be crooked, and I’d have to lie that uneven spacing is art at its best.  Instead he measured and drilled and they look beautiful.

So is my studio finally done? I suppose as done as it’ll ever be. I have a few boxes to unpack and I still can’t find my rotary cutter, but that may just be a casualty of reorganizing.

The kids supplies and crafting area is on the left side of the table. It's not as tidy-looking as I'd like, but it's functional. Once everyone can read, I might transition to more orange storage boxes.

Horse Hair Jewely Class

A pair of horse hair earrings made by a participant in last week's Horse Hair Jewelry Class at My Father's Beads.

A pair of horse hair earrings made by a participant in last week's Horse Hair Jewelry Class at My Father's Beads. See what she's been up to since the class at

If you missed the Horse Hair Jewelry Class last Sunday, you have another chance!

Swine flu claimed some of class, so I rescheduled another class for Thursday, November 19 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The class  will be at My Father’s Beads in Coopersburg, PA. You can register online or call the store at 610-282-6939. Time to make start making  gifts for Christmas!

Porcupine Quillwork Classes in June

Porcupine Quillwork Part 1: Colors of the Past
June 7, 2009 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Porcupine Quillwork Part 2: Stories in the Quills
June 7, 2009 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Pre-register for the classes by June 3, 2009

Download this pdf for more information and the registration form.

Plaiting porcupine quills. All the prickly ends get sniped off when the braiding is done.

Plaiting porcupine quills. All the prickly ends get sniped off when the braiding is done.

The Museum of Indian Culture will be hosting me on June 7, 2009, to teach two Porcupine Quillwork classes. You can join me for one class, although you get a 15% discount if you attend both classes, plus an additional discount if you’re a Museum member. You can become a member of the Museum of Indian Culture when you sign up for the classes. The pdf contains more information about pricing and how to sign up. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through e-mail or at 610-905-8399.

A feather quilled on a leather pouch using the stitches taught in the Porcupine Quillwork Part 2 Class.

A feather quilled on a leather pouch using the zigzag stitch. This stitch is taught in the Porcupine Quillwork Part 2 Class.

It’s been a while since I taught a quillwork class, but I just demonstrated at the Museum’s latest powwow. I meet a surprising number of people at the powwow who have an appreciation for porcupine quillwork, since this art is often overlooked in favor of beadwork.

Porcupine quillwork pre-dates the beadwork we often associate with Native American Indians. Using available resources, Native Peoples developed a technique for embroidering porcupine quills onto leather or wrapping quills around rawhide and sinew to make intricate patterns.

This was the pre-1500s, when steel needles, cotton thread and glass beads weren’t yet developed in the Americas. Native women harvested the quills from porcupines, clean them and dyed them using local plants such as blueberries, sassafras and sunflowers. The women placed the quills (very carefully!) in their mouths to soften them to a pliable state, then pulled the quills through their teeth to flatten them. Flattened quills were embroidered onto brain-tanned leather using sinew (that’s tendon from deer, elk or buffalo). The quills were also wrapped around rawhide.  Natives adept at this art could embellish nearly anything: war shirts and moccasins, pipes and tobacco bags, feathers and hair pieces.

(Don’t worry: in our classes we use dishes of water and spoons to flatten quills and artificial sinew to sew the quills).

The porcupine quill plait, taught in Porcupine Quillwork Part 1, is wrapped around this feather.

The porcupine quill plait, taught in Porcupine Quillwork Part 1, is wrapped around this feather.

Not every tribe practiced this art. The Plains Indians are best know for their exquisite quillwork, but quillwork is also common among the Athabaskan and Metis peoples. Debate still goes on over whether eastern woodland peoples, like the Lenape, practiced quillwork since our humid eastern conditions would not allowed samples of this work to survive at archaeological sites.

The Micmac people practice quillwork on birchbark, which is a different type of quillwork that is equally intricate, but a different set of skills than embroidery. (I don’t teach quillwork on birch bark).

Come out and join us for a day of delving deep into history as you learn the dying art of Porcupine Quillwork. When you sign up for the class, you’ll also gain entry into the museum during our breaks. The Museum of Indian Culture just unveiled its beautiful new Plains Indian exhibit. Bring your lunch and make a day of the two classes.

Hope to see you there!

The Weekend in the Lehigh Valley

Susan of Heart to Hearth sorting beans at the fall 2008 Powwow.

Susan of Heart to Hearth sorting beans at the fall 2008 Powwow.

It one of those weekends in the Lehigh Valley when everything is happening at once and unfortunately, I can’t be at everywhere at the same time. Damn!

Guess what they were roasting over the fire at the Powwow?

Guess what they were roasting over the fire at the Powwow?

I’m preparing the the Museum of Indian Culture’s May Powwow, the Planting Corn Festival. Look for me demonstrating quillwork in the Lifeways area of the Powwow.  Kids can make drums and rainsticks in the childrens area. Learn more about Native living in the past and present through demonstrations and watching Native American Indians in regalia dancing to the beat of the drum. The Powwow has representatives from Native tribes across North America, dancing, singing and having a good time.

The swearing is because it’s also the opening weekend for the Easton Farmer’s Market. I’ve been craving a good, fresh salad. And this year’s vendors include a winery, cheese monger, soap and salsa, along with the fresh produce. A little vino and cheese with that salad?

Okay, so maybe I should save the swearing because the Farmer’s Market runs until October, so there’s always next Saturday. Check out this interesting article about the new crop of farmers (pun intended) at the Farm Market this year.

May 2 is also the Easton House Tour. That’s where you to go inside the interesting old houses and the historical buildings in the Easton. This tour has been going on for years and I’ve been missing it for years.

One of these days…

New Designs

Gold and silver beads are braided into the horse hair.

Aren’t fall leaves just the best background for photos?

The neighbors probably thought I was nutty the other morning. After dropping my husband off at work, I stopped the car numerous times to pick up leaves. Who drives to pick up leaves? I was in a time crunch, folks.

The horse hair bracelet at top left is a new adjustable version.

The horse hair bracelet at top left is a new adjustable version.

The leaves made for great props in my photos. Above are some new designs I’ve been working on. The adjustable bracelet was inspired by a recent request. I loved making these delicate bracelets with the tiny beads woven with the horse hair.

Two bracelets with engraved nameplates and adjustable bracelet.

Two bracelets with engraved nameplates and an adjustable bracelet.

All of these designs will be available for purchase next weekend at the Lehigh Valley Crafter’s Guild show at Swain School in Allentown, PA. Click here for more info and $1 off admission to the show. Stop on by to see us and bring your horse hair if you need a custom piece done.

I also snapped some quick pics of the custom horse hair jewelry I’d just finished. By now, these bracelets are on the arms of some very happy horsepeople.

Honoring Jack Frost

Honoring Jack Frost

Just a reminder: Horse hair for custom Christmas gifts needs to be in my hands before November 26 to avoid rush fees.

Powwow Next Weekend

Dancer from the Spring Powwow

Dancer from the Spring Powwow

The August Powwow at the Museum of Indian Culture snuck up on me! It’s next weekend.

Thoughts of quilling turtles and birds got me up the hills on my 4-mile run the other day. Hopefully I’ll have time this week to put those ideas down on leather.

Visit the tipi in the LifeWays area.

Visit the tipi in the LifeWays area.

If you haven’t any plans for these beautiful days of summer, come on by and see Native American Indians show off their regalia and dancing skills. The Powwow runs from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, August 16 and 17. Dancing doesn’t start until after opening ceremonies at noon. Then chow on a buffalo burger or Lakota taco. Yum!

I’ll be in the LifeWays area, demonstrating porcupine quillwork and selling my quill and horse hair jewerly. If you’re thinking of getting horse hair jewelry made, come on by with your tail. I can show you the styles in person.

Speaking of horse hair, I have a new Horse Hair Bracelet class coming up at Out of Our Hands on September 21, 2008. The class will last from noon to 2:30 p.m. and you’ll walk away with a horse hair bracelet you created with your own hands.

Porcupine quill plaiting technique.

Porcupine quill plaiting technique.

On September 20 I’ll be teaching Quillworking at the Museum of Indian Culture. Quillwork Part 1 will go from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Quillworking Part 2 will be 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

See the events page for more details.

Hope to see you next weekend!

New! Horse Hair Earrings Class

Horse Hair Earring Class

Out Of Our Hands is sponsoring a new class in July: Horse Hair Earrings!

As you saw in a previous post, we had a great time learning how to make porcupine quill earrings. You get to see what goes into creating something by hand, plus you go home with a new piece of jewelry.

Here are the details:

Horse Hair Earring Class

Sunday, July 13 from noon to 2 p.m.

Demonstrating Horse Hair Earringsat Out Of Our Hands, Emmaus, PA

Class Fee: $45

Please contact me or Out of Our Hands at 610-965-4806 to register.

While we’re on the subject of horse hair, click out the Horse Hair Jewelry tab along the top of the page. I finally added the horse hair earrings to the page so they are available for custom ordering.

Also notice the changes in the product descriptions. Each product is named after a horse I’ve known during my life. In the future I hope to include photos of each of these horses, but given some of them are steeds I met 20-some years ago, I have to do some digging to do.

Remember the days of film cameras? Push the button, advance the film BY HAND. Then wait ages, no eons for the film to get developed and sent back to you in the mail (the anticipation alone, made me stare down the mailbox for days). Then, the big question: are the photos good…no heads cut off or blurriness.

Yup, those were the days before digital cameras and many of my four-legged friends were captured this way. So after I wade through that huge box, I hope to add those critters to the site.

In the meantime, enjoy your summer. I know I am!

Porcupine Quill Earring Class

Amethyst Single Class

You have a chance to learn how to make these porcupine quill earrings.

Out of Our Hands will be sponsoring my Porcupine Quill Earring Class on Sunday, June 1 from noon to 2 p.m. The class costs $40 and all supplies are included. You’ll come away from the class with a pair of earrings made with porcupine quills, silver or gold-plated earwires and semi-precious stone chips. Amethyst chips are featured above, but you can also choose from peridot (green), citirine (yellow) or aquamarine (blue).

Classes like this give artists and customers a chance to meet and chat. I get a greater understanding of how the rest of world sees my pieces. The results are sometimes very surprising. Customers get a glimpse of the creative process and working with the materials, giving them a greater appreciation for handmade items.

So come join the fun. Space is limited, so sign up soon with Out of Our Hands, Emmaus, PA, by contacting or 610-965-4806.

In other news, my Vanilla blog post is featured on The Crafty Crow today. This fun site is tagged “a children’s craft collective.” Created by Cassi of Bella Dia as a way to wrangle interesting kids crafts from all over the Internet, it’s a great resource if you’re stumped on how to keep the wee ones busy today.

Making vanilla gets kids involved in cooking at the very beginning of the process and helps them see that all ingredients come from somewhere, not just the store.

The vanilla beans went into the bottleBottled Vanilla beans almost 6 weeks ago. Today the liquid is the color of strong tea, a beautiful golden brown, but it still has a mightty vodka bite, so it needs a little more time. Visuals on that to come, as my husband just walked out the door with the camera.

Check out Crafty Crow’s other posts for the day, too, and have a great Memorial Day weekend!