Chuckwagon

The heart and soul of a trail camp.

Late nineteenth century chuckwagon on the Great Plains of America.

Hunter’s Pouch

Kentucky Hunter’s Pouch –

Few words are needed to show this project.  It is a Kentucky Hunter style pouch of a style popular throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in America.  Its antecedents come from Britain and mainland Europe but changed with the times as North America was colonized.

Most of the components cut out and ready for sewing.

In the days before the common man had trouser pockets he still had a fair few things to carry, especially while out foraging in the forest. Men and women have carried some sort of bag to hold their essentials for as long as we have supplemented our inadequate selves with tools. Things such as food, fire making supplies, sewing kit, or ammunition.

After lining with a medium-weight cotton fabric, the interior pocket is sewn in.

The poor man’s hunting pouch is essentially a single pocket bag with one or more internal pockets to separate out the smaller items.

Closing a bullet hole in the hide.

I chose some bark tanned elk from Joe Brandl as it is sturdy but with a very soft feel.

When using real linen, I often soak it overnight in a hot cup of tea before drying and waxing. This gives a nice reddish-brown color.

Pocket complete.

The body is sewn with a welt to create a tight seam and edging is added to stiffen the pocket and flap.

Edge-binding and the reveal of the interior pocket.

The inside pocket makes small items accessible that might otherwise be lost in the bottom of the bag. When shooting black powder, this pocket is a must.

Hand-pinked and pierced binding at the top of the bag.

People have been adding fringe, ruffles, and other decorations to seams and edges for as long as there have been makers.

This type of bag is designed to stay closed without any fastener but it is good to have a way to really secure the flap when traveling. This simple closure is a type that I like for a rustic bag. The toggle is carved from antler and is secured by a simple loop.

Completed bag with strap and buckle.

Finally, a shoulder strap is added. This one is 7 oz. veg tanned cowhide and adjusts by more than 12 inches. This will accommodate most people but more importantly will adjust with the seasons as heavier or lighter clothes are worn. The buckle is solid brass and will never rust.

Typical attire of the early frontiersman. Nearly always armed for hunting and protection, our gentleman here sports three essential items; gun, powder horn, and hunter’s pouch. “Western Hunter.” Illustration credit: Lewis Collins, History of Kentucky, 1850.

This bag and others are available in my Etsy shop linked here:

Cowboys, Photography, and Poetry

Photographer and working cowboy Erwin E. Smith gets some coffee from the chuck wagon on the LS Ranch, Texas, 1907.  Click the link for more of Smith’s photos.

Erwin E. Smith and His Mount Overlooking the Country from a High Point on the JA Ranch, Texas, 1908.

“My ceiling the sky, my carpet the grass, my music the lowing of herds as they pass;
my books are the brooks, my sermons the stones, my parson’s a wolf on a pulpit of bones.”

— Allen McCanless (cowboy poet), 1885

Erwin E. Smith (1886-1947)
Photographer Erwin E. Smith riding a “sunfisher” and he is not pulling leather, Bonham, Texas
1908
Gelatin silver print
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Bequest of Mary Alice Pettis
P1986.42.135

U.S. Army Riding Gloves Pattern – free

In my internet sleuthing I have gathered literally thousands of images, plans, and patterns of things I would like to make or have for reference.  Government documents, like the scans below, are invaluable resources for the maker when they are made public.  Who would know how to better and more efficiently make a pair of riding gloves than the U.S. Cavalry.  This design is the culmination of more than 110 years in the business.

Click the pattern for the full-sized image. Scale to fit the dimensions shown for the standard sizing or scale them to fit your hand, be it a tiny little paw or oversized ham (note the three sizes on the pattern).

Part of the fun is learning the names of the parts; I had no idea there was even such a thing as a quirk in a glove.

I hope to get around to making a pair soon myself but please let me know if you have any success when you try these.  Thanks for reading and please click “Like” or leave a comment if you have one.

Cavalry Saddlebags

It isn’t cheap to find good saddle bags these days but excellent ones can still be made with a little time and dedication.  The U.S. Army M-1924 model is the culmination of a century of design improvements and feedback from real field use.  This model, in one form or another, saw  service across the West, through multiple wars, the staking of trails and the migration of a people across a continent.  Being a government contract item the design specifications are readily available through the General Services Administration.

Complex leatherwork projects depend on good plans and these are above and beyond perfect.

The plans are printable and can be scaled or drafted into patterns to transfer to appropriate leather; latigo or veg tanned.  Click the image for a full-screen version. Clicking again should provide oversized, printable versions for easy use and reading.

Even if you don’t own a horse, this design works well equally on a motorcycle or scooter and add a touch of class in any case.  Mine ride on a Vespa Super Sport.  I’ll share the Quartermaster version when I get them loaded.

Monday Morning Music

banjo cowgirl

I can’t find any info on this photo.  I think is says Prairie May at the bottom?

A little cowboy movie music isn’t a bad thing.  Hollywood has produced some good music with the vast resources it has at its disposal.  Here is a link to My Rifle, My Pony, and Me / June Apple from the film Rio Bravo (the hot links will take you to lyrics).

If you know the Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin movie The Three Amigos (a family favorite around here) the first song reminds me of their homage tune Blue Shadows on the Trail.  Take your mind away from work stress, cowboy up, pick up the guitar, and dream of a life on the trails in the Old West.

Giddy-up!

Classical Time – for the Banjo-ista

https://i.pinimg.com/474x/c0/8a/9a/c08a9af812a3331b7aee04f3331db06e.jpg

If this doesn’t draw in the banjo enthusiasts, I don’t know what will…

I should say it’s Classic Banjo Time.

The modern banjo has ancient roots and shares much with it’s African antecedents.  Its connection to the lute family along with the whole array of drum-headed cousins crossed many lost cultural boundaries in ancient times.  This makes it the perfect candidate for bridging musical genres and styles, from the Sub-Saharan and Arabic music the banjo, with it’s almost ever-present drone string, morphed into creature we know today.  Most non-players only know it from the post-war music known as Bluegrass or maybe even Old-Time Country but there is, and always has been, a broad range of music brought to life on this bright and varied instrument.

cowboyandbanjo

Cowboy Singing – Thomas Eakins

I read somewhere long ago the real instrument of the American Cowboy was the banjo due, in part, to the timing and population of the very people who became cowboys.  Forget the 1950s movie stereotype, most cowboys were freed slaves, their offspring, or poor younger sons of Euro-Americans looking for a job and adventure.  Those who were not were likely caballeros from old Mexico or the west in general; they brought most of the guitarras to the scene.

Home-Ranch-large

Thomas Eakins, Home Ranch 1888

Where I was going with this ramble was that the humble little banjo can do more than Mumford and Sons or Yonder Mountain String Band patterned rolls.  Nifty and tight as they may be, some of us want to reach beyond and find the real soul in our hands.  Don’t get me wrong, these are fine musicians, but really just one narrow style in a giant spectrum of sound.

Here’s a great example.  What could be better than Bach and banjo?

I suggest checking out more of Mr. Raphaelson’s videos if you want to add a little novelty to your listening lineup.  Whatever your instrument, love it, learn it, and expand upon it.

RPPC

Since we opened the post with a banjo beauty shot, it seems appropriate to end with one as well.  I love this inlay, by the way.