Archive for August 2014 | Monthly archive page
Those who keep up with what I’ve got going know that I am a founding member of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. A group of us got together in 1998 and came up with this idea that seems to have taken on a life of its own. Like any journey in life, its had its ups and downs…victories and defeats…struggles and celebrations. All the challenges notwithstanding, I’ve said more than once that I’m not so sure I’d be doing leather work and building saddles full time were it not for the Association. I’ve had many opportunities that simply would not have happened if the TCAA were not formed. A list of these opportunities would be long, but the one that stands out more than any is the chance to learn from like-minded, high-level craftsmen with similar challenges. We serve as a far-flung support group for one another. In a recent conference call someone quipped that we should build a fund that would be ear-marked for psychotherapy for the members of the group. That brought a few laughs. What I am proud of is that we’ve taken what we’ve learned and shared it with whomever would listen. There are times when I get the feeling that we’ve only begun to tell the story of Western Craftsmanship. If you are passionate about all things Western, especially the trappings of the North American Cowboy, I’d like to invite you to the National Cowboy Museum in early October and help us celebrate the West. www.nationalcowboymuseum.org
I just shipped out my 2014 TCAA saddle to the National Cowboy Museum yesterday. It’s always a good feeling to get a demanding project finished and off the stand. The last sixteen summers have been consumed with doing work for our show that opens in October. I say ‘summers’ but actually most of the work began months ago. It is a juggling act to get everything ready by deadline and keep up with all the other work that I need to do. Thank God for patient customers who have been on the books way too long. Projects almost always take longer than you think they should including the work I do for customers. Even though my efficiency has never been better through all the years of experience and repetition, I can’t resist the urge to add features to each piece that also add time. An example would be the hobble straps that hold the stirrup leather together right above the stirrup. I have been hand-sewing the buckles onto these straps for a number of years now. Bottom line for me is to send work out the door knowing that I’ve done everything in my power to make this saddle work for my customer both in function and the way that it looks. The added time it takes to do the many small things that make it just a little better is worth the effort for me. It’s an addiction, a journey, an obsession…whatever you want to call it. The objective is that my customers will benefit from the care taken in all things great and small.