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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I 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.
The 2020 TCAA’s Emerging Artist Competition!
Again, we are exited it will be held at Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction, Mesa Convention Center, 263 N Center Street, Mesa Arizona on January 24-26, 2020.
We believe by focusing on one discipline per year we can give participates more exposure to collectors, the public and other Western Crafts people creating more opportunity and growth in the industry.
January 2020 – Bit & Spur Makers
First Place – $5,000 value, cash and prizes
($2500 check. $2500 value for travel and hotel package to the 21st Annual Traditional Cowboy Arts Exhibition & Sale held at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
The first place winner will be enjoy the weekend festivities and be introduced on-stage during the opening night banquet.
Second Place – $1,000 check
Third Place – $500 check
Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction People’s Choice Award $500 voted on by the public will be awarded by Brian and Melissa Lebel
The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association is excited to offer this competition to the Cowboy trades!
TCAA Emerging Artists Competition Schedule
Here are Details for the Application and Rules:
- There is no official application form, simply email a complete bio with personal photo along with as many photos of your recent work as possible to both Wilson Capron email@example.com and Scott Hardy firstname.lastname@example.org (Make sure photos are of appropriate size so they are easy to see and under 1MB)
- If you have applied before you can apply again.
- The top 10 entries in each category will be accepted.
- All work/designs must be original — made only by the contestant.
If you are accepted:
- You are allowed one (1) 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 10:00 am on the date stated above.
- This is a competition Not a Sales Event, we 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 (one in each discipline) will be announced at the beginning of Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction.
- If you are selected as the winner, you will receive a check along with travel and hotel expenses to the annual Traditional Cowboy Arts 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 Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction Rate)
Phoenix Marriott Mesa
200N Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ
Phone 1-800-835-9873 or 480-898-8300