Saturday, October 11, 2014

New leather for jewelry making… or not…

You've probably noticed that one of my most favorite themes for my bead making and jewelry designing is horses. I'll just go ahead and admit it—I'm a horse nut. I love practically everything horse related!

Just recently I started riding again after taking a break most of last year and through this summer. I've been making some repairs and adjustments to my riding tack and dug out my super dirty, old western saddles. These poor saddles haven't seen the light of day in several years.

I have no clue exactly how old they are, but I would guess at least twenty-some and judging by all the wear on them, they've really been through a lot… and sitting in the garage all this time really hasn't done them any good. They came to me already very worn and uncared for and after a brief cleaning I put them away and haven't touched them since.

Now you're probably wondering how I've been riding when these saddles haven't been touched in years, right? With a simple bareback pad. That's it. I learned to ride totally bareback (just me sitting on a horse… and sometimes falling off) and can't stand at all using stirrups… not to mention the chore of lugging that heavy saddle around! I think my horses prefer bareback pads too.

My noble steeds—beautiful not-so-white Lady and handsome Strider. They were not at all keen on the idea of photos before breakfast, so you'll have to be satisfied with a photo of them eating. On a little side note: notice all those walnuts? This year has been the most plentiful year I've ever seen… it's really too bad I don't like black walnuts!! Want some?

Okay, and if you're still wondering why exactly I'm showing you old saddles on an art bead and jewelry making blog… just take a close look at the leather…

Very cracked and dry, yes! But wonderfully tooled too! I'm thinking textures for new polymer beads. And also copying the pattern into smaller designs for stamp making. 

And then, it occurred to me that as worn as the saddles are and as much as I dislike riding with a "real" saddle… maybe, just maybe, I should repurpose them!

Thoughts of using the leather for cuff bracelets and maybe some large focals or even collar pieces are floating around in my mind. But, do I really want to cut my saddles into pieces?! Almost seems like a crime. I can't decide!

This little piece is already destined for a bracelet since the back is totally torn up and can't be repaired. And then I'll have to finish cleaning the saddles before I decide which way to go for sure.

What about you? What would you do—repair or repurpose? Have you ever had a hard time deciding to repurpose something for your jewelry making or crafting? Do share!

Rebekah Payne


  1. I would repair the saddles. If you repurpose them you might regret it one day. Gather inspiration from these vintage beauties instead of cutting them up.

    1. They are very inspiring! It is a hard choice—I could spend a whole lot repairing and restoring—the rigging is so dry rotted that they wouldn't be safe to use without practically remaking them… plus I doubt if I'd ever use them… but they are beautiful even being so worn out.

  2. Oh I just can't wait to see what you do with those....I'd be torn about cutting them up too but if languishing in the garage is the alternative...maybe they deserve a beautiful retirement....

    1. Yes, that's the way I see it! I look at the craftsmanship involved in making them and I really feel they are something that should be enjoyed in some way! I've even thought of just cleaning them up and making minor repairs and keeping them as more of a decorative element in my home. We shall see…

  3. Seeing your previous work, I know you would make something beautiful with that saddle leather. It would be a tribute to them for them to be cared for and used once again. I say repurpose since you don't use a saddle anyway. I see wonderful things ahead!

  4. Oh, I'm really envying your riding prowess - and such beautiful horses! I'm sure you can make something marvellous with that leather, although I know I'd struggle to cut it too.

  5. I say repurpose. I know you will make beautiful items with them and that way you could treasure them frequently and for years to come. Make sure to keep the most beautiful cuff for yourself, every time you glance down you will see the beauty and think of your darling babies long after they are gone. It would be a tribute not only to the saddles and workmanship of them, but to your horses as well.

  6. Ooh, I can't wait to see what you come up with!


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