An old friend of mine said that to my wife a few years ago. He was a lawyer, and had been for many years. He passed away a while back, far too young, and I was just thinking about him, and what he’d said to her about this “job” of mine.
I love what I do. Most of the time. I suppose most folks that have chased a dream, do. I worked in the legal field for many years, but for me, it was like trying to nail Jello to a tree. Constant stress, and no sense of worthy accomplishment. Even good outcomes were intangible, and rarely, if ever, good for both sides. I don’t miss it.
With this gig, it’s different. It’s not all wonder and awe–it has its moments. But, even when it’s bad, it’s awful damn good.
I suppose I should confess my guilt. Not only do I spend the majority of my time making stuff, I also spend a huge number of hours watching other people make stuff. I’ve always been fascinated with useful products painstakingly created by hand, one at a time.
Watching widgets banged out by the thousands using machinery never held much appeal.
In my little world, my canvas is most often leather. But, many times it’s a camera, a Wacom tablet and stylus, software and other “techie” stuff. However, with the abundance of learning material available on YouTube, via Google, millions of assorted videos and images, websites, etc., there’s never a shortage of things to learn. More often, it’s a shortage of time.
A couple weeks ago I read the book “Steal Like An Artist,” by a guy named Austin Kleon. It’s a pretty funny book, but it also rings with truth. I was compelled to subscribe to his newsletter, and that weekly e-mail triggered whatever brain cells came up with the idea for this post. I didn’t actually steal anything. (The photo below is a screenshot).
Personally, I like to think I don’t copy anybody, or God forbid–steal. But, I learn from everybody. Just a few of my influences would be California saddlemaker Jeremiah Watt, Idaho artist and saddlemaker Cary Schwarz, Colorado saddlemaker and leather master Jesse W. Smith, Dusty Johnson, and easily a thousand others. If you can find them on the Leatherworker.net Forum, they’re an influence for me.
Just in the gunleather genre I’d have to mention Matt Del Fatti up in Northern Wisconsin, Milt Sparks Holsters in Boise, Idaho, and Tucker Gunleather over in Houston, Texas. That’s just three, but be assured I’ve forgotten to list a hundred others.
Here’s an article by Casey Lesser I read this morning on Artsy.net.
Here’s some links to the folks mentioned earlier if you’d like to go over and take a look. All artists in their own right, and influential on me and many, many others. If leather is something you’re interested in looking into, and trying your hand with, there is no better resource than LeatherWorker.net .
Good Sunday morning! It’s the last day of what’s been a happy, busy, January. I thought I’d get in here and make some changes to the website.
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I changed domains and internet service providers last year after many years with my previous provider. The learning curve’s been pretty steep.
When I started “making things” way back in 1986, it was bullropes for bullriders, and other assorted cowboy gear. My primary focus was rodeo, and the bullriding event. That transitioned into leather, and gunleather. Orders were taken by phone, and payments were made by check or money order via the US Postal Service.
My, how things have changed. Today, it’s PayPal via the website or electronic mail. Questions and answers are electronically volleyed back and forth with photos and measurements. Friendships develop without ever meeting.
What hasn’t changed is the handcrafting. The hours in the shop with the coffee pot constantly burping and recharging. Sides of leather, spools of thread, finicky machinery, and watching the sunrise through the shop windows.
If you were sitting on the fence, I apologize. If you ordered, I appreciate it. My backlog/wait-list has reached the limit that I’ve set for myself. Any longer and I lose sleep, throw up blood, and start trying to work 24-hours a day. Naw, it’s not really that bad.
I like to be booked far enough out to circumvent poverty, but not so slammed that I can’t work on other projects. Some would call me a lightweight. Hell, my friends call me worse.
I’m blessed to be busy. Thank you for all the orders.