For Briar Perkins, thoroughbred racing is work of art.
As an exercise rider for nearly 15 years, Perkins has played an integral part in helping young horses develop and veteran horses stay focused.
Off the racetrack, the 34-year-old is crafting another contribution to the equine world, namely, a line of horse-themed jewelry that’s helped make a welcome fashion statement for her customers.
“I was working at a farm and a friend found a horses tooth cap in a food tub one morning,” recalled Perkins. “When I looked at it closely, I realized what remarkable marbling it had and wondered if I could make something beautiful out of it.”
Curiosity soon turned into crafting.
“The first prototypes were simply sanded flat and I painted a horse-related theme on them,” said Perkins. “Because of their size, the idea of making them into jewelry struck me. As the years progressed and I got better tools to work with, my carvings became more detailed and intricate. Customers are often blown away by the details and personal touch that I can create on such a small ‘canvas.’
It can be a time consuming endeavor, but it’s also a labour of love.
“Each creation begins by sanding down all the outer layers of exposed tooth on all sides,” she continued. “I then use a Dremel tool (used for cutting, grinding, sanding, buffing and shaping materials including wood, laminate, ceramic and metal) with several different diamond-tipped attachments to create the shape and details. It takes a lot of time and patience with some of the 3D-carved horse-shaped pieces taking upwards of six hours to complete.”
It’s one of the reasons why Perkins sometimes has difficulty parting with the creations.
An homage to a former stakes champion and fan favourite was especially hard to let go.
“Because of the time I put into each piece they all become my mini masterpieces and are sometimes hard to let go of,” admitted Perkins. “No two pieces will ever be identical and I have an attachment to all the works I create. One in particular that I did was made from a tooth from the stakes winner Fifty Proof, who was one of my favourite morning gallops. I painted a portrait of Fifty Proof on the tooth and made it into a pendant. It’s really neat to always have a little piece of him with me.”
Still, Perkins acknowledges it’s equally satisfying to see the reactions of the people she creates pieces for when they view the finished product.
“It’s rewarding to give a person their jewelry after they have ordered it from a photo because a picture cannot capture the true beauty and tone of the tooth,” she said. “Most people are mesmerized by the intricate details I can create on something so small.” .