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Bridle Bit Form, Function and Fabrication

We had a great week at the  2015 TCAA Bridle Bit Form, Function and Fabrication seminar held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in OKC. A group of very enthusiastic students was subjected to all the information we could cram into 3-1/2 days.

Greg Darnall started, and rightly so at the beginning with the anatomy of the horse and demonstrated different bridles explaining the purpose of their designs.

Ernie Marsh followed that with a slide presentation and discussion of building a spade bit from scratch start to finish as well as some examples of silver inlay.

Wilson Capron did a bit making presentation  demonstrating silver floral overlay, and a live demonstration on his techniques of hand forging  mouthpieces, hand engraving and finished up with a very informative business discussion.

Ernie said: “We all made some new friends and reconnected with others. I am pretty sure this week will give the attendees some direction in the business of making bridle bits and we are pretty excited to see the results in their future work.”

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From the workbench of bit maker Wilson Capron

In this these photos below bit and spur maker Wilson Capron shares with us the project he is crafting for the 2013 Cowboy Crossings showing a complete progression of his craft.

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This is the initial drawing of my TCAA 2013 Globe bit.  I first draw things out to secure my design before I start the metal work.


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The top shank has all the inlay cavities chiseled out with just the bottom section left on the bottom shank. After that I will complete the inlays in the rings and then start the mouthpiece.  When the mouthpiece is in place, I will then finish the rest of the inlaying.


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The inlays on the rings are in. With the exception of the one ring that is black in the photo, I have filed the inlays and now I’m in the process of file finishing the rings to a #6 Swiss cut. Next I will start the mouthpiece.


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Today I finished cleaning up the shanks, well to this stage of the game, and the mouthpiece just needs to be sized and then welded into the shanks. It should look like a bit tomorrow.


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It now is coming together. You see the bit and a couple of conchos to mount over the mouthpiece. I had to make a die for them. I have the die as well in the photo. I plan on finishing the fabrication of the conchos. Then the inlays will be completed.


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Today was a long day of making things right. Sometimes things go together without extra effort and them some don’t. I tend to learn more when they don’t. It was real tricky centering the conchos on the shank and then getting the TCAA logo to be pointed up after I screwed the conchos in place. This a new method of putting the conchos on so the kinks had to worked out. The inlays are now in as well and the clean up has started. Filing is finished so hand stoning will commence tomorrow.


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The bit now has reached its final polish. Everything is to an 800 grit polish. I tried a new method by using oil with wet/dry paper on the final step and I really like how it came out. The conchos are now finished as well. One is in place in the photo but only for the photo. The next step is to somehow attach 24 kt gold to the half moon areas that you see above and below the concho. The first method I tried on a practice plate was unsuccessful, so tomorrow will be educational.


I figured out how to get the gold in place this morning. It is called a raised wire inlay. Grooves are cut into the metal wide enough for the gold wire but not as deep as the thickness of the wire so that the gold will stick up above the surface. The difficulty was in the small area I gave myself to work with. Engraving has started as you can see. I lack the top ring and just the inside of the big bottom ring and then on to the other side.

I finished engraving the rings and was able to get the gold inlayed on the opposite side.



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Here is the progress on the engraving. Not to complain but I think if you straighten out the bottom ring it would be a foot long! It takes forever engraving the rope design on the inlay portion. I’m excited about the look so it’s worth it. Next I will finish up the engraving and then start the blueing. I plan to Nitre blue it and antique the silver.


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The blueing is complete. I antiqued the silver before I blued the bit, but I’m not sure how well it turned out. I will determine whether I need to highlight the silver with paint or not. If I do the paint will have to dry overnight and then I can take final photos. It’s getting real close to being finished now!

 

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I have come to the end!  I didn’t like the antiquing so I painted the engraving with an etching ink. The bit took take me a little longer than I expected, but that happens sometimes. I think it is most important to hold true to the integrity of the project and let the time take care of itself. I hope everyone enjoyed the progression. This bit will be displayed at the TCAA show at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in October. Please make plans to attend now and if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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In the Shop: Wilson Capron Workshop

wilson-1I had a workshop April 23-26, 2013 that covered the fundamentals for fabricating a pair of spurs.  The five participants each were able to complete a pair of spurs.  Introductions were made for the use and care of files, the use of a belt sander and different methods to using it, operation of a tig welder, and a buffing machine. A little machine work was also covered with a band saw and a milling machine.  Steel fabrication was focused on so each participant could gain the skills to creating a quality spur.

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TCAA Emerging Artists’ Competition

Well it’s that time of year again for anyone wanting to apply for the 2018 Traditional Cowboy Arts Associations Emerging Artist Competition.  Again, it will be held at Brian Lebel’s High Noon Show & Auction, Mesa Convention Center 263N center Street, Mesa Arizona on January 20-21st 2018.

Entries closing date to August 31st
All applicants will be notified by September 15th

 

STARTING NOW

To further heighten participation and interest in the Emerging Artist Competition the TCAA’s proud to announce effective immediately significant changes to the competition:

CATEGORIES

TCAA will move from hosting 2 disciplines per year to spotlighting on 1.
January 2018 – Western Silversmiths

PRICE MONEY AND VALUE

The TCAA Emerging Artists’ Competition will now pay 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place!

First Place – $5000.00 value, cash and prizes ($2500 check, $2500 value for travel and hotel, Museum package to the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association Annual Exhibition & Sale at Cowboy Crossings held at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum Oklahoma City, Oklahoma).

The winner will not only enjoy the weekend festivities but also be introduced on stage during the opening night banquet.

Second Place- $1000.00 check.
Third Place- $500.00 check

Also Brian and Melissa Lebel award $500.00 for the Brian Lebel’s High Noon Peoples Choice

Award voted by the Public.

APPLICATIONS

Saddlemakers that have already applied for the competition your applications have been forwarded and you need not apply again. New applications are being accepted as of today, please follow application process on the TCAA Website. As before the Top 10 applicants will be excepted

Any Questions?

Contact Wilson Capron- wkcapron@gmail.com OR Scott Hardy- scott@scotthardy.com

The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association is excited to offer this revamped competition to the Cowboy trades! We believe by focusing on 1 discipline per year we can give participates more exposure to collectors, public and other Western Crafts people creating opportunity and growth in the industry.

TCAA Emerging Artists’ Competition Schedule

January 2017- Saddle Makers
January 2018- Western Silversmiths
January 2019- Rawhide Braiders
January 2020- Bit & Spur Makers

Here are bullet points of the application and Rules:

  • There is no official application form, simply email a complete bio with personal photo along with as many photos of recent work(make sure photos are of appropriate size so they are easy to see and under 1MB) as possible to both Wilson Capron – wkcapron@gmail.com or Scott Hardy- scott@scotthardy.com
  •  If you have applied before you can apply again.
  •  The top 10 in each category will be excepted

If you are accepted:

  • You are allowed 1(one) piece.
  •  You must personally deliver your work and be responsible for it during the event.
  •  The piece has to be at the TCAA booth by 10:00am on the date stated above
  •  This is a competition Not a Sales Event, the TCAA will not sell your work. We will not post prices but if there is interest in a piece, that is between the interested party and Craftsperson and should be done away from the display.
  •  The winners (1 in each discipline) will be announced at the beginning of Brian Lebel’s High Noon Auction.
  •  If you win you receive a check along with travel and hotel expenses to Cowboy Crossings Traditional Cowboy Arts Association exhibition and sale at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in October. There you will be introduced on stage during the banquet.

Things to Remember:

  •  Although this is a competition the TCAA is trying to build community between Craftspeople, we believe the Emerging Artist weekend is a great opportunity for everyone to exchange ideas and form friendships both furthering their disciplines.
  •  TCAA members and Judges in attendance are all there on a volunteer basis to try to further Western Craftsmanship and camaraderie in the disciplines.
  •  Everyone in attendance is expected to be polite and professional – those who are not will be asked to leave.
  •  If you would like a critique of your work from the Judges that will be available but if you don’t ask it won’t be given.

Please come and enjoy!

Hotel accommodations – there are many in the area, here is the Host Hotel for the show (ask for High Noon Rate)

Phoenix Marriott Mesa
200N Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ
Phone 1-800-835-9873 or 480-898-8300