Category: Cowboy Crafts

Add One Hot Cowboy and Stir

We’re delighted to have Dee Burks with us today. She’s filling in for Phyliss Miranda who’s out of town. Dee is immensely talented and infuses her stories with humor that will make you laugh out loud. This Christmas-themed book is sure to please. She’s also giving away three copies (winner’s choice of format!) So, help us welcome Dee!

It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I write contemporary westerns and I think I have the best job in the world.

I’ll be happy to spur you outta the chute, Cowboy!

How many times have you wanted to shout that at a smoking hot guy in Wrangler’s? Actually I think I did once, or maybe twice! Cowboys you run across these days are just as exciting and interesting as they were back in the old west and I love writing about them. There is truly nothing more enticing than a smart, sexy, wickedly funny cowboy romance set in the mountains. When I decided on the setting for this series, I chose the beautiful Moreno Valley in far Northern New Mexico. It is one of my favorite places – full of ranchers, cowboys and beautiful scenery.

Beyond an awesome setting, I knew I wanted more than your average ranch cowboy to be the hero of this first book. I wanted something different. Something that would interest readers and give the book an added dimension.  One day, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, a guy I knew in high school (ahem…like over 30 years ago) posted some photos of a set of custom spurs he was making. I thought, “What an awesome occupation for a former rodeo star!” And the idea for Custom Made Cowboy was born.

I sent Quint Finney, spur maker extraordinaire, a message and asked him for an interview which he graciously granted. He also sent me a pair of custom-made spurs that I could examine and take pictures of. I feel that sort of authenticity is something you can’t replace as a writer. To hear the excitement in the voice of someone who actually does this work, allows me to add nuances I couldn’t get any other way. I feel it is that real, down to earth voice that makes my hero, Trampas Woodburn, leap off the page and into the hearts of readers.

A former bull rider (yes I interviewed one of these too!) Trampas is trying to start a new life away from the spotlight but still stay connected to his rodeo roots. A leather and spur making business is what he dreams of, he just needs a quiet place to relax and get things off the ground. While he is starting a new life, my heroine, Angie Martin is desperately trying to keep her life together.

Angie is a painter and owns a little art studio in Eagle Nest, NM. I now live in Northern New Mexico, and can tell you firsthand that art is everywhere and so are great artists. I’ve had the opportunity to sit and listen to artists talk about what it feels like to create great works and the struggles that go along with making a living from that art. Giving my heroine a teetering art business to try and salvage while dealing with an unexpected, hot cowboy adds layers of humor and tension to this book in every area.

I chose two very strong willed, determined people who aren’t looking for romance at all to show how unexpected and powerful love can be. Their connection to one another is palpable, to the point readers may feel as if the pages will burst into flames on occasion!

Being a writer is a great excuse to talk to gorgeous, knowledgeable cowboys and I do a lot of it – which I, of course, will use in a book at some point (wink, wink).

I hope you all enjoy this book and to get you started I’m giving away 3 copies of Custom Made Cowboy (winner’s choice of format.) To enter the drawing, leave a profession in the comments that you think would suit a cowboy – beside chasing cows!

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About Dee:

She’s a bestselling author who brings to life today’s true west with feisty heroines and heart melting cowboys. A multi-generational Texan, she now lives in the gorgeous mountains of Northern New Mexico infusing all her settings with authenticity of the southwest while crafting love stories spicier than the hottest green chili!

Her favorite pastime is writing as the snow falls over the Sangre De Cristos, hot cup of coffee on the desk and sweet pup Charley at her feet.  When not writing, she travels the west collecting ideas and indulging her passion for fly fishing.

Cotton Bolls from Cotton Balls~a country craft! ~Tanya Hanson

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(If you were here with me last month to cyber-visit my expected granddaughter’s adorable Snow White nursery – her royal highness Reagan Christine is now here and stealing our hearts more and more every day!)

I’m also celebrating another “birthday”—my publisher’s third! I’m giving away two short stories (Kindle version) today. They were part of last Christmas’s anthologies, and each is short and sweet. I’ll draw two names from today’s commenters, so please check back tomorrow to see if yours is one of them.)

Okay, it’s September, which to me automatically signals the arrival of Fall. And I thought I’d share with you a neat fall craft. It all started when my youngest grandson fell in love with Olaf from Frozen. On every visit to the park and on every neighborhood walk, he came back with handfuls of sticks for “snowman arms.”

About the same time, Hubs and I toured the South, where I came across batches of real cotton bolls for sale at the historic city markets. However, since I was already dragging a giant Mardi Gras mask on a plane, Hub said No to carrying home loads of cotton. So….I was thrilled to come across the following DIY and now have cotton bolls all my own.

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Here’s what you need:

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Cardboard egg carton cut apart into 12. Each of these will be a boll.

Sticks and leaves from your own park or neighborhood walk:

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Glue gun, drugstore cotton balls, dark brown acrylic paint and brushes.

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Cut each cup further into a “blossom” with petals. Vary each slightly, and add scraps here and there for variety, too.

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Paint each of your blossoms and let them dry for a day.

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When dry, bend/extend the petals etc. and hot glue cotton balls in the center.

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Then hot glue each “boll” to your sticks and glue on some leaves.

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Voila. Fun little Autumn Centerpiece!

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Do any of you enjoy crafts? Tell us about one of your favorites to make or display!

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Read what happens when Lady Alisoun, who must wed an icky old lord the day after Christmas, meets a gorgeous stranger. Who might be one of King John’s spies!

 

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Read what happens when interfering siblings matchmake prim, proper single mother Phoebe with the dastardly outlaw Black Ankles…

 

Updated: August 30, 2016 — 6:29 pm

The Art of Hitching Horse Hair

Jeannie Watt 2Hey everyone and happy Wednesday. Today I’m going to toot my own horn and discuss a western craft I love.

I’m a hitcher. Not the kind that marries people, but rather the kind that makes custom cowboy gear out of twisted and woven horsehair.

Hitching is an ancient art and I don’t think anyone has truly nailed down where  or how long ago it started. It has been kept alive, however, in the Montana Penal system, where inmates have been creating hitched horsehair belts and headstalls (bridles) for well over a hundred years. If you visit Deer Lodge, you cabelt detailn see some beautiful hitching in the prison gift store, along with other crafts created by the inmates.

I learned to hitch in 1993, at a time when so few people were hitching, that most knew each other by name or reputation. The art re-surged during the 90s and I was lucky to have been riding that wave. I’ve shown my pieces in western art and museum shows and have been invited twice to show at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko.

So how do yhairou hitch? First you get some decent tail hair. Tail hair is different from mane hair—it’s courser and longer. Mane hair is used for the tassels and also can be twisted into ropes called mecates.

I cheat and buy violin bow hair. It’s alretied hairady cleaned and of equal length. I get it in black, brown and white. The white I dye on the stove, using plain old Rit dye, to create the not-so-natural colors.

To make a string, you count out 9 hairs if you’re using black or brown, because the hair shafts in these colors are thicker, 10 if you’re using white. You flip half of the hair around, because one end of a strand is naturally thicker than the other and this gives you a uniform thickness, and knot it. Then you split the hairs over your hand and twist. Unlike human hair, horsehair doesn’t unravel. As long as twistingit has a knot in both ends, it stays put.

After you have enough strings, you can start hitching. To do this, you fasten two long rolls of twine (I use mattress tufting twine) to a dowel, attach to the twine however many horsehair strings you need to cover the dowel, and then start weaving the horsehair over the twine in half-hitch knots—thus the term hitching. It’s essentially weaving in the round, since you turn the dowel and continue to weave around and around it, until you reach the desired length. Once you are done

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All designs are woven in using different colored horsehair strings.

—a zillion weeks after you start sometimes, you pull the work off the do

wel. It comes off as a tube of horsehair and string, which is then dampened and pressed flat in a big steel press. After that you attach leather and…viola…work of usable art. And hitched horsehair is durable. People are still using horsehair gear made in the 1940s or earlier.

It takes a while to complete a project. When hitching a 1 ½ inch belt, I can finish ¾ to 1 inch in an hour, depending on the complexity of the design I’m weaving—and I’m fast.

Here are some of my finished pieces–

These are belts that I designed and made for my family. My belt is the grey and blue one on the end.

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This is a checkbook cover with a hitched insert of a brand.

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This is my master work—an old-style headstall. I’m still working on the reins. This took 240 hours to complete and I displayed it at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The strings for this work were very delicate–only 5 black hairs, and I worked it over a single twine.

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And this is the Michael Martin Murphy headstall—yes, he bought it, while it was on display at Cowboy Poetry and he was performing there! I was so stoked when I found out.

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And that’s my craft. I’ve so enjoyed sharing with you today, and if you’re ever at a western event, keep your eyes peeled for people or horses wearing hitched horsehair. They’re out there.

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015