A little about me… Some people have to be making something, I’m one of those people.
Julia Cameron said that creativity wasn’t a product of ego but rather a function of the soul… That pretty much says it all for me.
A Little About Me
How I Started Designing Chaps
I have competed in many equestrian events during my lifetime. The most recent was cutting competition where I found it hard to find or afford a pair of cutting chaps that would truly show my originality.
Instead, I bought a small industrial sewing machine. I guess you could say, the rest is history. By the time that pair of chaps were completed for myself, three friends had ordered custom chaps for me to make.
Learning the Trade
I had no prior experience tooling leather or designing chaps, which was a new challenge. My nature is if something is a challenge it motivates me. I made a quick trip to the nearest Tandy Leather store that resulted in a handful of basic tools, a hide to tool, and a few books to show me how to use the tools. Eventually, the need for more personalized silver pieces to enhance the leather brought on the next step on learning how to silversmith and engrave.
From the Kitchen to a Dedicated Shop
These projects began in the kitchen and eventually expanded to a guest bedroom that became my work zone. Cutting leather on the floor and tooling on a rejected headstone gave me a real appreciation for the shop I have now. It’s not fancy and isn’t a retail type of business, but it’s Wonderful! A full-sized cutting table, room for all of my sewing machines, soldering equipment, engraving tools, and a custom-made tooling table with a full-on piece of real marble, make it my favorite place to be. My pups go to work with me and my horse is right outside the door. My commute is a walk across my driveway.
After being in this shop a while, the steps to do stoneware tile unfolded with a new friend, Teri Thomas, that does stoneware pottery and beautiful stoneware leaves. We worked together on some pieces and that resulted in meeting a wonderful tile and mosaic artist named Eric Rattan that is world renowned. He taught me the entire process for making custom tile which allowed me to make fabulous stoneware tile. After much trial and error, I could make tiles that look just like my leather work. It’s an exciting and creative project and also VERY gratifying.
Who knows what will be next?
I have no idea, but I do know that the things I’m doing now will continue to progress and more will be added with time. It’s a constant journey and one that has given me great friendships and experiences. There isn’t a thing I’d change. What a Great life!
My Design Theory
As for my theory on design, my personal taste is not as boldly western as most leather workers. My goal is to bridge the gap between ‘Designer’ and ‘Western.’ A slightly less expected approach to leather and silver work that hopefully doesn’t scream western, but subtly hints at it. Something that will be as appropriate at a business meeting as in an arena. Such as, bags, briefcases, belts, etc… That’s what I like and it seems to work in many different places from home decor to personal décor.
In the arena my pieces look like very nice pieces from a distance. The “Wow Factor” happens when you come closer to them and start to see the detail. A friend once told me that I’d finally found a way to “Embrace my Analness.” That has stuck with me since beginning this endeavor.
Great ideas come from collaboration . . .
Great ideas that have developed into a real piece of artwork are truly a collaboration between my customers and myself. When I am contacted by a customer they provide me with an idea they have in mind. Then together we shape and create a ‘one of a kind’ piece, that nobody else will ever match. That’s the process and it’s what makes my days so fulfilling. It’s very rewarding every time someone receives their item and they’re overwhelmed by seeing their ideas come to life.
Thank you for reading!