Tassel Mania

30 horse lovers + beads + cones = lots of horse hair tassels.

Tuesday night I introduced the Timbertalk Trotters to the art of horse hair tassels. This Montgomery County 4-H horse club has members from 8 to 19 years old and all of them had a blast making tassles. Even the moms joined in.

Some people brought their own horse hair and a few donated mane hair, which makes soft, fluffy tassels. I set them loose on a box of beads and the kids turned ordinary tassels into one-of-a-kind pieces of personal art.

Three of the members of this 4-H group are proud owners of Red-Tail Designs Horse Hair Jewelry. One just received her horse hair bracelet with name plate in June as a high school graduation gift from her mom.

My budding horse lover came along to help me teach and to get a glimpse of 4-H. She begged me the whole way home to join. I see 4-H meetings in my future.

If your 4-H club, Girl Scout troop, Boy Scout troop or other group would like to learn horse hair tassel making, contact me.

Even the moms were in on the action of making tassels.

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 www.whosgotyourgoat.blogspot.com

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!

Horse Tail Rope Halter

Braided horse hair tied into a rope halter with fiador knot and lead rope.

Braided horse hair tied into a rope halter with fiador knot and lead rope.

Setting the knots was the tough part.

Setting the knots was the tough part.

So it really wasn’t a mummy.

The white horse was a model for my latest venture into custom pieces I never dreamed of: a replica rope halter made from horse hair.

Really, folks, I’m as impressed with rope halter as I am with the horse head.

But this tale has a sad beginning. The rope halter is made from the tail of a horse named Matador. He died recently of colic. He was a beauty. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I shed a few tears when I got his tail in the mail. A small reminder of my loss of Saint in April (horse…dog, it’s a loss no matter how small or tall the friend).

A fiador is a round knot under the chin, which makes a loop where the trainer can clip on the lead rope.

A fiador is a round knot under the chin, which makes a loop where the trainer can clip on the lead rope.

Learning how to tie a rope halter with fiador was the first task. Not as hard as I suspected. Next, I had to shrink all the measurements to make it a smaller size. Again, not as hard as I suspected.

Then it was making the rope from Matador’s tail: all 7 feet of rope. Matador had an impressively long tail, but I still had to make 16 pulls to weave them all into a 4 strand braid.

Seven feet of braided horse hair.

Seven feet of braided horse hair.

Now came the hard part: tying the rope halter with the horse hair. Horse hair is flexible, but stiff. It will take the shape of anything, but sometimes it has to be forced into that position and held there for quite a while.

All of the knots wanted to come undone when I tied them, so I had to set them by weighting the halter. With the fiador tied, I hung it from a lamp with a horse bit (how appropriate) and a candle in a cup that looks like a cappuccino (thank you Secret Santa ’07) . No rhyme or reason here, just heavy stuff that was available.

A few days of hanging set the fiador knot and I tied the rest of the halter. While that was hanging to set the knots, I moved onto the horse head.

If you look closely, you can see the horse's eye.

If you look closely, you can see the horse's eye.

The rope halter looked like a jumble of knots without something to give it shape, so I conceived making the horse head out of what was, again, handy…newsprint, freezer tape and glue. The muse of the horse head guided my hand through a box of glue to Elmer’s wood glue. It gave the paper a hard exterior almost like paper mache. Elmer’s regular glue made it a bit soggy.

So now the horse head and halter are headed across the country to California. In a few days a man will be opening a box and remembering his faithful companion.

Jewelry Class at My Father’s Beads

Horse Hair Earring Class

I am so excited to announce that I will be running the Horse Hair Earrings  Jewelry-Making Class at My Father’s Beads inn Coopersburg, PA!

Join me on November 1, 2009, from 1:30 to 4:30 as we create a stunning pair of earrings using horse hair, plus beads and baubles from My Father’s Beads. The class costs just $38 plus supplies and you can choose from a variety of earwires, beads, cones and charms to include in the earrings. To signup, go to My Father’s Beads Website or call the store at 610-282-6939.

I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. With a whole store full of beads to choose from, every pair of earrings will be completely different. This time, I have to take pictures. (I forgot last time).

Emmaus250LogoAlso coming up this weekend…I’ll be demosntrating quillwork at Wildlands Conservancy as part of Emmaus, Pennsylvania’s 250th anniversary celebration. Stop on by and say hi!

Horse Hair Jewelry Class Aug 2

Learn how to make a 4 strand braid, then finish off the bracelet with a variety of beads at the upcoming horse hair jewelry class.

Learn how to make a 4 strand braid, then finish off the bracelet with a variety of beads at the upcoming horse hair jewelry class.

Don’t miss the upcoming horse hair bracelet class!

I will be teaching a horse hair bracelet class on Sunday, August 2, 2009, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Come join me as you learn how to create “pulls” of horse tail by spinning the individual hairs together. Then we’ll use 4 pulls to create a 4-strand braid.

Each braid will be transformed into a unique ornament as you pick from a variety of beads to create your own adjustable horse hair bracelet.

Pre-registration is required so sign up now. More information and a registration form are available as a PDF here.

Enjoying Summer

Horse hair bracelet with glass seed beads braided into the strands. I can add beads to most horse hair designs.

Horse hair bracelet with glass seed beads picked by the customer.

Has it really been almost a month since I last posted? Wow!

A lot has happened since then! School ended and we’ve been attacking summer vacation with gusto. The week we spent on an island on Lake Champlain felt like a month. It was wonderful! How lucky we are to have friends willing to share their experiences with us as we help them build a home away from home in such a beautiful location!

Between the playdates and swimming and generally reveling in the summer-ness, I haven’t gotten much work done. But finally the kids were off with the grandparents and I cranked out some new jewelry yesterday.

First, a lovely custom horse hair bracelet with multicolor beads. She picked out her daughter’s favorite colors of the moment to be braided into the bracelet. most of the horse hair bracelets I offer can be embellished with beads.

Learn how to make a 4 strand braid, then finish off the bracelet with a variety of beads at the upcoming horse hair jewelry class.

Learn how to make a 4-strand braid, then finish off the bracelet with a variety of beads at the upcoming horse hair jewelry class.

Next on the list were two adjustable bracelets. These are samples for an upcoming Horse Hair Jewelry Class on August 2, 2009 at the Museum of Indian Culture. Sign up soon if you want to join the class!

The quietness yesterday allowed new thoughts (oh my!) to float about in my head. At least 10 new ideas are making their way into my idea book. I’d love to sit by myself and create for a week, but the reality is, I have more summer to enjoy with my husband and two kids.

So instead, kick back with an adult smoothie, the recipe I promised you last blog post. Put the fruit you strained from the fruit cordials into a blender with some sparkling water or white wine or both. Puree. Peach makes a very sweet adult smoothie; blueberry makes a very alcohol-laden smoothie. I know I’ll be enjoying one later!

Horse Hair Bracelet Class Coming Soon

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Next class: 4-strand round horse hair bracelet

Sunday’s Porcupine Quillwork Classes went off without a hitch. We had a small class, which let everyone ask lots of questions and really get a feel for quillwork.

We even had visitors. A box turtle moseyed by before class started. During class a pair of red-tailed hawks screamed overhead. We have the class outside in the pavilion where we can enjoy some fresh air, see the equestrians and runners out for some exercise on the path and log some nature time.

boxturtle

Surprise guest: A female box turtle, ready to lay her eggs, wandered through class.

The participants had such a great time that they asked for a horse hair bracelet class next!

Details are still sketchy, but right now, I’m looking at July 26, August 2 or August 30 for the class. I know some of you out there are interested in this class, so please e-mail me with the date(s) that works best for you.

All supplies for classes are provided, but if you have a horse, you are welcome to bring your own horse hair. I’ll give you instructions for cleaning it in advance of the class.

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…

Saint

saint11996-2009

A few weeks ago I got a call from a woman who wanted a horse hair bracelet made for her daughter. She spelled out the specifics and wanted it done in time for her daughter’s birthday. Her daughter’s horse had just died, a horse she’d had nearly 15 years. I could hear the woman’s voice crackle and her breath suck in hard as she tried to hold back her tears all the way across the country.

This is nothing new to me. As a person who makes horse hair jewelry, I hear all kinds of stories of horses, of their heroic efforts, their special friendships, their sad departures. I listen, knowing it’s hard, yet necessary, for these people to talk about friends who sometimes have been with them for half of their lives. I make jewelry to honor these horses. Sometimes I joke that I should charge for the therapy rather than the jewelry.

Now it’s time for therapy for me. It’s unfortunately time for me to share my story.

My beloved German Shepherd, Saint, died yesterday. He would have been 12 or 13 this year. We’re not sure exactly how old he was because we got him “used” when he was approximately 3 years old.  At that time we already had a pure bred Labrador Retriever. I wanted a dog who needed a home, not a pure bred anything.  I imagined a mutt of small stature, black body and brown markings like a doberman and maybe tipped or floppy ears.

What I got was 92 pounds of tall, lean dog. Someone somewhere knew my dream as a kid to have a German Shepherd.

The only papers we had on him were scribblings on a fax from his previous vet, but he was certainly purebred. Not just in his looks, but in his heart. He had all the characteristics of German Shepherd: loyal, graceful, not easily confined and, oh, that exceedingly annoying Shepherd whine.

He loved his pack of people. If they were our peeps, they were his peeps, and he didn’t like us to split up or stray too far. When we came home late, he checked the kids’ rooms to see if they were in their beds. And nights the kidlets stayed at Grandma’s he was a bit worried about them, camping out in their rooms.

A younger Saint, celebrating 4th of July

A younger Saint, celebrating 4th of July

His grace came through when he hopped over our back fence to take himself for a walk because we hadn’t given him enough exercise. He visited a few neighbors and then returned, or was escorted, back home.

His deep bark kept unwanted salespeople off our porch and let us know the mail had arrived.

What truly made us know he was a German Shepherd, though, was his quirkiness.

He was absolutely sure cats were hatching a plot to take over the world. He did his part in subduing these plots, chasing off all outside offenders and pinning the cats in our house with his massive jaws.

He also believed strongly in birth control. He wanted no more kids to look after and developed a tendency to bark whenever my husband and I kissed.

Saint thought fetch was a dumb game. Only a retriever was stupid enough to bring a ball back to someone who would just throw it again!

He wasn’t too sure of those little dogs that barked incessantly. They may have been cats in disguise (see cat plot, above).

Saint loved celery ends as much as he loved lambs ears and sheepskin toys.

He learned to tolerate water since our yellow lab loves the river.

Saint came with his name, but I couldn’t imagine a better name for such a wonderful dog. He patiently waited as strangers, from babies on up, pet him. People stopped their cars in the street to tell us how beautiful he was, and boy was he ever gorgeous.

Although the family dog, he was truly my dog. I think in his mind, he was the alpha male and I was the alpha female. On his last day of life, he conceded his alpha-dogness to my husband. He wouldn’t listen to me and followed my husband around. I think he was giving over trust of the family to my husband (although I’m hoping my husband will refrain from putting cats with his mouth).

Saint had been hiking, backpacking and canoeing with us. He went on an East Coast road trip in the back of a Jeep Wrangler with us. He went to Grandma’s for Christmas and Grandpa’s for 4th of July. He’d been to Easton Heritage Days and the Easton Farmer’s Market.

Saint was an important part of our family and we’re going to miss him dearly.

Box o’ Birds

boxbirds2

There is a woman up north, in New Hampshire to be exact, who is about to pop.

She’s tall and slender, so at this point, as she patiently awaits the arrival of child #3, she probably looks like a lollipop– long, thin legs and a very round belly on top.

Her due date is not far off, which means the phone calls will start. If you’ve ever been pregnant and made it to your due date, you know what I’m talking about. When folks call up and say, “Did you have the baby yet?” or “How are you feeling?” Both my kids were late, so I got a lot of these phone calls. I had the urge to be sarcastic: “Yeah, I had the baby three weeks ago and just didn’t tell you” or “Hey, strap on a 30 pounds cat food and tell me how you feel.” But I was never that rude, even though I secretly wanted to be.

So rather than call with inane questions, I decided to send her a box of birds. She loves these birds (as do I!). I sewed up all colors and patterns, stuck ’em in a box and mailed them north. Hopefully a box of birds will bring a little sanctuary to the days of waiting for baby while chasing around two other little ones.

boxbirds1

Who would you send a box of birds to?

But wait…there’s more for me to give away! That’s right, it’s April 1, and I have some prizes to give away from the March Happy Birthday Giveaway!

Thanks to all who left comments over the last month. I wish I could send all of you prizes! But the random number generator picked #2 and #12. The lucky winners are…

Gina will be getting the adjustable horse hair bracelet and…

Kristi will get the art journal.

Congrats, ladies. Your prizes will be in the mail shortly!