Girl in Braids, 1982. Girl in Braids, 2009

My Girl in Braids watching the horses at Duck Harbor Pond.

My girl in braids watching the horses at Duck Harbor Pond.

Last week I slept in my bed exactly 2 times. Every other night was spent sleeping on the ground somewhere in Pennsylvania with my kids, husband, family and friends.

We packed 3 camping trips into a week and a half, and my kids still didn’t want to come home. That makes me smile. I’m glad they enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.

A few of those nights involved a trip down memory lane as the kids and I camped with my parents at a lake in Wayne County.

Our connection to this lake reaches way, way back. My mom vacationed there as a kid. When she had kids, she brought my brothers and me to the lake, as well. We refer to it as “going to the mountains.” My son is the first to question why we call it “the mountains.” He also wanted to know if there would be snow there. Not in July.

We do the normal stuff you do on an outdoor vacation…boating, fishing, hiking, hitting trees with sticks, playing lots of games (Traffic Jam, badminton and chase being the favorites right now), catching lightning bugs and picking flowers.

Of course the bugs love us, too. As I write this, a mosquito bite on my big toe is particularly itchy. And this time we had an unfortunate encounter with ants.

One other game we play is guessing how many deer we’ll see as we drive around each night looking for all manner of wildlife that may be moving about at dusk. This tradition started out many years ago as a way to scope out deer for the hunters in my family.

As we drove about the bucolic areas of Wayne County looking for deer and rabbits (we even saw an egret!), watching one farm melt into another, I realized the origins of my fascination with farms. Maybe this is why I long to live in a stone farmhouse or converted barn. This is where my admiration of stone fences came from. This is why I love horses and cows and sheep and all things animal.

The lake where we play is home to a bustling horse farm and a cow farm. As a kid, daily I walked down the dirt road to the horse farm to check on the foals. This is where I stole a pat on the head from a horse curious enough to come to the fence.

As I got older, I worked hard at home to earn money to buy a $13 trail ride from a another farm a car ride away. I scooped dog poop and painted, mowed grass and picked up sticks (awful job!), just so I had enough money to take a trail ride or two in the week we spent at the lake.

I still remember the day my mom got on a horse and proceeded to get right back off. She was NOT going to ride a horse. That farm still has horses, although the house we called “Little House on the Prairie” is gone, and it doesn’t seem they give trail rides anymore.

Too bad for my little budding horse lover.

Still, she watched the horses eat hay and waited for a passing pat last past week. As I watched my daughter wait patiently by the fence I saw myself in her. Not just in the braids and love for horses, but in my dreams. As I kid, I wanted to be a jockey and ice skater (just like Dorothy Hamill). Tall dreams for a short, fat little kid. My daughter says she wants to be a “horse rider” and ballet dance. Maybe not too far off for a tall, skinny kid…

P.S. Don’t forget you need to pre-register if you want to attend Sunday’s horse hair jewelry class at the Museum of Indian Culture. Click here for more details.

Prizes!

Fun prizes you can win!

There is still time to enter the Birthday Giveaway! Just a leave a comment between now and March 31, 2009, and you’re automatically entered to win one of these Red-Tail Designs creations.

My newest product: adjustable horse hair bracelet

1. Adjustable Horse Hair Bracelet: Brown and white horse hair are braided together to create a swirled effect. Copper rings accent the bracelet and make it adjustable so it will fit any size wrist.

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This horse hair bracelet is my newest product and I’m hoping to make some more of these this spring.

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2. Galloping Horses Art Journal: Horses on the outside and pencils, paper and stickers on the inside. Take along art supplies where ever you go. My son and I were drawning while waiting at the DMV the other day.

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The watercolor pencils, plus a paint brush, let you scribble away or add some water to create watercolor effects. The journal closes with a leather strap and magnetic clasp.

prize1Good luck!

Turqouise and Morning Glories

After I took the photo, I realized the beads are the same color as the morning glory in the background.

The beads woven into this bracelet reflect the colors of the morning glories in my garden.

This week I sent off four custom horse hair pieces to their owners. Hoepfully they’re all happily wearing them right now!

Custom work always makes you stretch. Sometimes it stretches an idea you already have.  This customer asked for turquoise-colored leather rather than the standard brown. Brilliant idea! I’m going to try some other colors in the future.

The bracelet is reversible so you can wear the horse hair side out or the leather side out.

The bracelet is reversible so you can wear the horse hair side out or the leather side out.

Other days it’s a stretch to find all the supplies. Inevitably, my manufacturer decides to discontinue the one finding I use a lot. Then it’s off on the treasure hunt again, finding a new supplier or replacement part. That was my reality this week as I worked on a quote for a new piece.

With the two round horse hair bracelets below, the client requested magnetic clasps so the bracelets were easy to get on and off. Part of that treasure hunt was finding super strong magnetic clasps that can withstand a little tugging. This is a bracelet after all.

Fabulous Four: Recent custom pieces.

Fabulous Four: Recent custom pieces.

Sometimes custom work just stretches your brain to create a new style that matches the vision of your clients. I have that challenge coming up as I embark on 5 new custom pieces in the coming weeks.

The most important thing I’ve learned from doing custom pieces is to capture a clipping of horse tail from your horse now.  I often meet people who wish they had some piece of their horse now that it’s gone. After their horse has passed they understandable don’t feel they can cut off a piece of its tail.

So if you do one thing today, make a momento of something important in your life. Whether its your horse, your child, a favorite fishing hole, a secret vacation spot, your best recipe, record the here and now of it. Take a picture. Write down what it stirrs in you. I know you won’t regret it.