One of the photo shoots for Weekend Sewing was at a place called Warrups Farm in Redding, Connecticut. As I walked around the grounds during my pre-shoot scouting visit, I was introduced to Abby, a spotty little miniature horse whose reputation preceded her in the form of a handwritten sign stapled to her fence. "PLEASE STAY BACK" it warned, "FEMALE HORSE MAY BITE". The crooked lettering seemed to send a foreboding message of its own, as though its author had just lost a few fingers and was frantically trying to warn others by penning the sign with his teeth or toes before losing consciousness.
Not believing for an instant that Abby meant any harm at all, I made this sketch. It shows the shot that I hoped to get for the Town Bag project, and implied that the best of purses could double as a feed bag on a weekend.
When the day of the shoot arrived, this was one of the shots I really looked forward to getting. Sadly, like many many seemingly solid ideas for photo shoots, it did not work. Abby, apparently, prefers leather goods to fingers. My first mistake was putting actual grain in the bag, which as any good photo stylist will tell you, was not at all necessary. I think that Abbys sign should be re-thought, perhaps to read something like "IF GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY, THIS HORSE WILL EAT ANYTHING THAT SHE CAN PULL THROUGH THE CHICKEN WIRE THAT WE HAVE FRANTICALLY TACKED UP OVER HER FENCE, WHICH IS A LOT MORE THAN YOU MIGHT THINK POSSIBLE." Or something like that.
It became clear to us that we needed to rethink this shot. We broke for lunch and I sketched this (below), thinking that we could get a nice shot of the scrawly sign and Abby's maniacal little gaze through the fencing. What I had not anticipated was Abby's level of commitment. I would hang the bag and take two steps back, she would make a dash for it and I would have to wrestle it from her little bared buck teeth. I gave up after two or three tries.
I imagined having to explain the situation to Melanie the following week when she got the pictures from this shoot. "Where are the Town Bag shots?" she would ask. "The Town Bag has been eaten by an adorable but alarmingly ferocious miniature horse." I would say. And the long silence that followed would be the sound of my photo styling career ending.
Which is how we ended up with this:
Tomatoes rarely bite, and are always ready subjects.
Here are a few more sketches from our shoot at Warrups Farm and the shots they led to: