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!