Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cattle Brand Art Projects

Sometimes ranch signs like these include cattle brands.

Cattle brands were, and still are, a means of tracking ranch ownership of cattle or horses. Herds from different ranches often graze together on open grassland and when it comes time to drive them back to the ranch the simple marks, usually placed on the hip or shoulder, are easy to read. The ranch brand is often used as both an identifying logo and as decoration around the homestead. Cattle brand patterns are sold to be used in wood carving, leatherwork and wrought iron work.

Ranch Entryway

You've seen them in old western movies and maybe in person if you happen to be in cattle country. Huge arching entryways emblazoned with the ranch name and the cattle brand the ranch uses can be spotted long before you leave the main road. Sometimes all you see is the brand along with a mounted pair of cattle horns. The wooden entryways are sometimes elaborately carved, using both knife and wood burning techniques. Wrought iron entryways also tend to be quite elaborate and are sometimes paired with equally impressive entry gates with scenes of wildlife or symbols of the ranching life.

Boundary Art

Cattle brands are often used in other types of Western boundary art. Sometimes these gates, fences and mailboxes turn into freeform sculptures that incorporate antique cooking pots, cattle bells, old boots and wagon wheels. Cattle brands could be carved or burned into wood as decoration or the cattle branding irons themselves could be part of the sculpture.

Fireplace Mantel

Cattle ranch brands are often used in decorating the interior of a ranch house. The fireplace may be large and a focal point for the living area. Putting an elaborately carved mantel filled with western scenes, animals and in some cases cattle brands adds a Western feel to the room. Wood artists sometimes carve or wood-burn these from scratch, but there are patterned templates sold that can be traced right on the wood to be used as a guide. The patterned ones leave spaces open to insert your own cattle brands in the work. As a example, one pattern features two horseshoes facing each other attached to a weatherworn piece of wood. The wood has the head of a longhorn steer. You have the option of putting the brand inside the horseshoes or carving it on the wood section. Another is a circle with a star and a longhorn steer head in the center. A small oval is placed at the bottom of the circle for the cattle brand.

(ref 1, 2, 3 and 4 see picture about half way down... information page on commercial site, no selling on this page)

Tags: often used, brands often, brands often used, Cattle brands, cattle brands