Rio Rondo Enterprises
PO Box 111
Copeland, KS 67837
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Beads & Conchos PDF
Rio Rondo offers a selection of small beads that can be threaded onto lace (or embroidery thread) to produce a decorative silver ferruled look.
An x-acto knife will prove handy to "skive" a thin layer off the back side of the leather on the starting end so that your beads will thread onto the lacing more easily. An alternative to skiving with a knife, is to use sandpaper to remove a thin layer from the rough or flesh side of the leather.
An awl will prove useful on occasion where you may need to open the hole of a bead a little larger so that it will slide onto the leather easier.
A pair of "crimping pliers", which have a little "cutout" hole in the jaws that serves to compress the bead without truly flattening it may be desirable in some cases. Check your local crafts store or mail-order crafts outlet on this item
You need to know the lengths of each piece, determine how you will attach various pieces together (by gluing tabs, using crimp beads as fasteners,) as well as adjustment areas using either buckles, or a button-and-loop arrangement.
Many times you will find that it is best to build these types of items on the actual model you wish to use it on (or another model body that is of similar proportions so that you don't damage a quality model) and measure as you go, as opposed to going by a "formula" or strict measurement chart.
This is one trick that any serious tackmaker must find a way to master, or find someone who will do it for them. Splitting lace (such as 3/32" or 1/8" widths) lengthwise (to make it "half-width") allows you not only to thread beads onto the lace, but also offers you far more variety in the type and refinement of items you create. Alternatively, you can also purchase our 1/16" width lace.
I generally use a scissors, and with practice, one can learn to be fairly accurate with that method. At first it is very easy to skew off to one side and end up with lots of short pieces or irregularly cut ones. Keep any shorter pieces handy, as most pieces 1-3" long can eventually be used for some project. Practice makes perfect.
Some people have had better luck using an X-acto knife to split the lace. You may wish to try this method as well to see if it will work for you. Be careful though, it is very easy to split yourself instead of the leather with an X-acto knife!
Before you get started on your first beading project, you might take a little time to string a few beads onto a strip of lace about 2" long. Of course you don't need practice stringing beads, but what you might wish to do is try out different combinations of beads to achieve different looks.
You can set up a "pattern" or "theme" of bead sequences to achieve very interesting new looks out of fairly simple beads. Alternatively you can use the same type of bead exclusively, either spacing the beads evenly, or arranging them in patterns or groups. The only problem with doing this is that you may end up with way too many ideas you want to use, and not know which one to pick!
In the old tradition of braided rawhide items, it was typical that a piece of tack would be made with no hardware for fastening, only ingenious methods using rawhide and leather to attach and adjust the pieces. Borrowing from this tradition, you can make a loop and button arrangement using beads. Sure the beads are hardware, but the idea still works.
On a headstall for example, you might choose to put the point of attachment in the poll area, instead of off to the left or right (you can choose to do this any way you wish however, this is only one example)
Attach one end of the round lace to your bit and thread your beads in place, leaving 3-4 inches extra to work with. Use a large round crimp bead (#BD26) to make a slider by GENTLY flattening the bead a little so it becomes an oval shape, rather than round. Thread this bead onto your lace, then loop the lace around and thread the end back through. The size of the loop can be adjusted by sliding the bead up or down. Arrange the loop and the bead so that the loop will end up about at the center of the poll between the horse's ears when the bit is at the corners of the mouth. To keep the sliding bead from sliding off, thread a smaller bead (#BD25) onto the tail end of the lace that is hanging off behind the larger bead. Crimp this smaller bead tightly into place about 1/2" behind the tip of the loop itself. Trim off the excess length of leather.
The slider should be snug enough so that it will only move if you move it, it should not be loose and sliding along the lace on its own. Crimp it just a little tighter if it is too loose. For the opposite side, you can make a button attachment, OR another sliding loop. To make another sliding loop, you do the same thing as you did on the first side, EXCEPT you thread the leather through the first loop before threading it back through the slider bead. By sliding the lace through each side, you should be able to adjust the headstall for different models.
To make a button attachment instead, you simply space out several small beads (3 to 5) along the end of the round lace and crimp each one into place. Each bead will serve as an adjustment marker.
Move the slider back a bit to open up the loop, then thread the beaded end through the loop. Snug the slider back in place.
Concho beads have a hole in the middle that allows you to thread them onto a stick pin or head pin. The edge of the bead sticks out around the pin's head, and the result looks like a slightly rounded concho with a decorated edge around it. These are best used for the 6 traditional conchos found on a saddle, but also can be useful for fastening together stirrups or other items.
Our sterling silver concho beads (#CB6) are shipped to us oxidized. This means that the crevices in the decoration around the edge are notably dark. If you would prefer a brighter, shinier look, I recommend cleaning the beads in a regular silver cleaning solution to remove as much of the dark areas as possible before using the beads on your tack project.
Dip the beads in rubbing alcohol afterwards to remove any residue and wipe dry with a plain kleenex (no perfume, no aloe). You can then coat the bead with clear gloss nail polish to seal out future tarnish. Allow the nail polish to dry THOROUGHLY before using the beads. If you don't, you risk marring the polish, and any place where the polish has been removed will tarnish in the future.
To use pin-mounted conchos for this purpose, the best way is to use a round-nose pliers to gently bend the pin at a 90 degree angle about 1/16" or so below the head of the pin. Then the pin can be held with a pair of needle-nose pliers and pushed through the layers of leather. Pulling the pin snugly into place around the "corner" will seat the concho properly. Leave about 1/8" of pin past the "bend" and snip off the excess length
For a firm attachment, gently use a pair of pliers (flat jawed rather than serrated is best) to crimp the concho into place and seat the snipped-off end on the back side.
NOTE: do NOT attempt to solder pewter items such as cast conchos or bits over a candle--the items will MELT-- pewter is a very low-temperature metal.
Soldering Castings requires a soldering iron and extreme skill and caution, and is not advisable. Please note that Rio Rondo is not responsible for replacing any items you may modify (or ruin).
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