I often stop to wonder “what if I would’ve taken leather work seriously when I was a boy?” –– “where would I be right now”. Growing up in a saddle shop, I had everything at my finger tips, yet I never showed much interest. I cared more about hammering nails into the work bench instead of learning to sew. However, now that I think about it…if I would’ve taken it seriously – I probably would be a custom saddle maker. Theres nothing wrong with that, my grandpa was so it only seems fitting that I would’ve followed. Yet if I didn’t take this different path of learning to love photography, film, and design…I highly doubt that I would be interested in pursuing master level work.
You see my grandfather was a good saddle maker. He made saddles that were heavy in weight and built to last. He was a pretty good artist when it came to hand tooling as well. Back then there weren’t intricate tools that allowed for intricate work that you see now. But I don’t think art was on the forefront of his mind when making a saddle, because after all he had a retail store to run. And if I would’ve taken leather work seriously growing up I highly doubt art would’ve been on my mind too.
So I’m thankful for the long break from leather that I took from my adolescence until now. I learned to think outside the box which made me appreciate art forms of all kinds. Then when I came back to leather several years ago I was able to imagine the possibilities. I started to research masters of the craft –– whether that be saddle making or handbags. I was able to appreciate the time it took to plan out a project and methodically put all the pieces together.
On October 13-14 I will be headed to Oklahoma City for the TCAA show, where the most talented western craftsmen showcase year long projects at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. It’s a beautiful display of the finest leather work, silver engraving, spur making, and rawhide braiding in the world. I highly recommend visiting the museum between October - December of this year to look at all of the the magnificent work each artist has done.
I have no desire to become a saddle maker, but looking at masters artwork always inspires me to do my absolute best. I encourage you to open your mind to other art forms because you never know what may inspire you on your next big project.