“I need some hinges,”
Walt looked at me and then into the shadowed darkness of the old horse barn. A barn that stored nails, nuts, bolts and farm machinery parts, the ‘heavy horses’ were long-gone. “We don’t have any hinges, but you can use some of that old harness.” Walt always had a ‘fix’ for anything that was sick, lame, broken, or ‘missing a piece.' A ‘hired hand’ who kept our farm ‘working’ for many years. From my twelve-year-old perspective, he was a genius and an inspiration.
“You just need to be smarter than the project at hand.”
Walt walked towards the barn, waved for me to follow. “Here, these old tugs will work. Just cut off a couple of pieces, about this long.” He held a harness piece across his large hand and cut a foot long chunk off. ”Here!” Returning to my rabbit hutch, I cut the harness piece in two. Made holes in the four ends screwed them down; my hutch now had a door with hinges! Hinges made out of leather. This was my introduction to “leatherwork.” The old harness was a renewable and reusable resource. What else could I make? It had an endless warmth, charm, flexibility, comfort; and the smell of horses. That is a comfort!
Both, personal creation and shared insights with others, in and out of the trade, have shaped who I am and my work. Starting with a vague idea, a distant concept, will soon be finessed and developed into a celebration of shape, layers, and the sensation of balance and comfort. Leather becomes a new ‘thing’ perhaps boots, shoes, purse, cell phone case, a saddle. A new life assisting and benefiting owners and equestrians.
My new saddles, the repairs, and leatherwork combine the traditional craft of saddle building and emerging technology of new materials, processes, and products. The increase of knowledge, the change in use, new demands by equestrians’ opens the work bench to a process I call contemporary craftsmanship. With influences as diverse as, Andrew Wyeth, Ray Hunt, Eddy Brooks, Bob Fox, James Krenov, Dale Harwood, Thomas Hart Benton, Walt Hefner and others, fresh thoughts and ideas bloom. Generating novel methods and new forms of work. The vision becomes a product, contemporary craftsmanship, the blending of old and new. Today, Stainless Steel hardware can be used throughout it is ‘as fine as it gets’ and is cost effective.
A Wood tree covered with rawhide, this is both traditional and “green”.These materials, the wood, carved to any shape preferred; the rawhide, encases the wood and gives vigor and strength to the tree. I believe these elements produce the premium saddle tree.
The use of my skills and our imagination, the client and I, we will create an deserving saddle, expressing our needs, shared experiences and artistic comforts. The love of creative success and mechanical achievement are an impressive mix.
When a finished project fills a client’s need, I feel, for both the client and myself, I have created value.