Christmas Is A-comin’

Christmas is a-comin’ and you have just 5 more days to get horse hair to me for custom pieces. December 10 is the last day I will accept horse hair to be transformed into jewelry and delivered in time for Christmas. At this point a $20 rush fee is added to all orders.

In other financial news, I’ll be raising my prices in January. Sad but true. I haven’t raised my prices in quite a long time, but the price of gold and silver have skyrocketed in the last year. To keep up with the times, I need to raise my prices. So get those orders in before the end of the year to take advantage of this year’s prices.

We cut down our Christmas tree today in the wet, blinding snow. It was definitely the snowiest tree-gettin’ we’ve ever had. Makes it all the more festive. As per tradition, we headed over to Pearly Baker’s for some Boulder Style French Onion Soup afterward. Warms you up fast! The Kahlua in my hot chocolate warmed me up even faster!

I hope you all have a joyous holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

Busy as bees

Gray Horse Hair Bracelet

It’s been a busy week here at Red-Tail Designs HQ.

I finished the bracelet for my customer in Kentucky. As you can see above, it turned out looking more black than gray. I sent it out last week and by now she should be enjoying a remembrance of her horse. The 14 karat gold clasp and beads give it a bit of a glow.

Birthstone Babies

Also finished up a project for a neighbor who wanted me to create birthstone babies that matched the ones she already had. The store where she’d purchased the first 4 charms had gone out of business. With a growing brood of grandchildren, she wanted to add two more to her collection and turn her pin into a necklace.

Coffee cuffs were also on the menu this week. I experimented with some new “boy fabrics” (as I like to call them) and then restocked the local coffee shop, Cosmic Cup Coffee Co. It’s tough to find interesting fabrics for men. There’s some cute stuff for boys and sports fabrics are often a hit with men, although so far this year I can’t find any of the baseball team fabrics in cotton. I wanted to make a Mets cuff for my husband, but all I can find is fleece. Beyond sports themes, it’s often hard to find fabrics that are expressive of men that aren’t so uptight.

Skull and crossbones is a good solution. The owner of the Cosmic Cup liked his personal cuff I made for him.

Skull Coffee cuff

He’s a supported of the subversive culture who gets a kick out of pirates.

This little dog in the tea cup also cracks me up.

Tea Cup Dog Coffee Cuff

Inside Shot of Coffee Cuffs

I was a little more successful in finding fabrics for a new baby boy. He doesn’t seem like the pirate type, so I stuck with the sports theme.

Baby Bibs with matching coffee cuff

I even made a bib that matches the coffee cuff I made for his mom. She can turn the roses inside out to reveal the same fabric as the bib. I’ve been working on putting a completely different type of fabric on the inside of the cuffs so you can two looks for the price of one.

Princess BarbiesAll of these projects came in the midst of planning a princess birthday party for my now 5-year-old. I had the partygoers make regular Barbie dresses into princess-wear for their Barbies. With jewels, fabric and glitter glue at their disposal, the little princesses proceeded to load the dresses mostly with glitter. When I later found glitter glue on the toilet seat, I declared the party a success.

Just when I thought I’d catch a break from the all the parties, I realized I need presents for two parties coming up this weekend.

My latest gift for kids is an artist book with space for tablet, colored pencils and stickers.

Artist SketchbooksOpened artist sketchbooks
I have the fabrics cut, but still have to sew. Pretty easy until I get to sewing the pocket for the colored pencils. That takes a little time.

New fabrics for sketchbooks


Horse Head Bracelet Opener

Check out this nifty horse bracelet I ordered recently. I can wait to experiment with it! I plan to braid or hitch horse hair around the wire between the two heads (FYI: braiding and hitching are two different types of weaving). It should look very cool when it’s done. I’ll keep you posted.Gray Braid

But before I can start on a new project, though, I need to finish a custom piece for a woman in Kentucky who is very patiently waiting. She sent me the hair at right from her horse who died a while ago.

What I find interesting about working with horse hair is the range of colors or, in this case, lack of colors. Take gray, for instance, which is what you’d probably say this hair is. Gray doesn’t seem to exist in horses (and probably people, too). There are black strands and white strands and when you put them together they look gray. Check out gray-haired people and see if it’s true.

Okay, maybe that’s only interesting to me, but it makes a huge difference when I braid the hair. Before I weave the bracelet, I have to make pulls, which are groupings of 12 to 20 individual hairs that are twisted together to make a single strand. It’s similar to spinning wool into yarn so you can knit it. If I put all the white hairs in some pulls and all the black hairs in other pulls, when I braided the whole thing, it would look striped. To get the gray effect, I have to put both colors in each pull.

Gray PullsThese are my pulls before I braid them together.

Even though I’ve done this many times, I still don’t really know what it’ll look like until the end. I heard a podcast the other day on Craft Sanity from a printer who said the same thing. After she carves her block, she thinks about what it will look like, but once she runs it through the press visuals she hadn’t expected pop out and others fade into the background. As soon as I’m done I’ll post a picture of the completed bracelet.Swirl of Red and Blonde Hair

A few weeks back I created a custom bracelet with horse hair that was very dark at one end, red in middle and blonde at the other. It’s a bit difficult to see the variation in the photo at right, but you get the idea. I had no clue what that was going to look like in the end. In creating pulls I count out the same number of hairs each time. Maybe that’s a waste of time, but it makes the pullsPull of Red-Blonde Hair consistent, which makes a better braid. The photo below shows the hairs tied together before I twist them into a pull. To keep the diameter consistent from one end to the other, I flip half the hairs around before making the pulls. Just like people hair, horse hair is thick at the scalp and becomes every so slightly thinner by the time it reaches the tip of the hair. So in flipping the hairs around with the red-blonde horse, I got both colors mixed in the bracelet. In the end, it looked red because most of the blonde color was overwhelmed by the red, as you can see in the photo below. Still, it looked pretty cool in the end and the horse owner was happy. Which is what really counts.

Red Blonde Bracelet