, ,

Bit and Spur Makers and Craftsman

wcphotoMike Silver of Okotoks, Alberta Joined me in the shop May 7-9.  For the first half of the day we did drawing exercises to help him with design and creativity.  The second half I answered an array of questions Mike had ranging from soldering, inlay, chain making, files, etc.  It was a great three days in the shop.  On Saturday we traveled to Abilene to the Western Heritage event and enjoyed the day visiting with many other bit and spur makers and craftsman.

– Wilson Capron

, , ,

Engraving And Finishing Techniques Of Bridle Bits And Spurs

Chip Merchant, a bit and spur maker from Mollala, Or spent some time in my shop last week. We designed and got a pretty good start on a pair of buckaroo spurs. We discussed functional aspects , design, engraving and finishing techniques of bridle bits and spurs though the course of the week. He’s a talented individual and very determined to get it right. I think we can all look foreword to seeing some nice work from him in the future.

Sincerely ! Ernie Marsh

Chip at the bench Ernie Marsh: Chip Merchant work in progress

 

, ,

Hermann Oak Tannery Tour

herman-oak-tour-01I was fortunate to be invited to join all the TCAA saddle makers & Don Reeves to tour the Hermann Oak Leather Tannery. On March 29/14 I flew from Calgary, Alberta to St Louis, MO.  Shep Hermann picked up Chuck Stormes, Perdro Perdini and myself and took us to our hotel in St. Louis, the historic Missouri Athletic Club.

March 30 was the first of our two day tour of Hermann Oak.  We were all picked up from the hotel by Hermann Oak staff and taken to the tannery. After introductions we sat down in the main office with Shep Hermann and some key Hermann Oak employee’s.  Over the next couple hours Shep explained the plans he had for us in regards to the tannery tour, the company history, and their business philosophy.

herman-oak-tour-02After our discussions in the office the group of saddle makers along with Shep and some of the department heads from Hermann Oak we started out tour of the tannery. The tour was in chronological order from when the cowhide arrives to the finished leather.  According to the staff this tour was by far the most in-depth Hermann Oak has ever done, they explained each and every process of tanning leather from the hides arriving salted, to the cleaning and un-hairing process,  then the hides are taken to the rocker room where they start the process of tanning the leather using some machinery and tanning vats that are over 130 years old, this process can take 2-6 weeks. Then the leather goes into large wood drums to put back into the leather fat liquors and oils. This process takes a couple days, the leather is then put thru a slicker machine and then taken upstairs to the drying room where it is hung and dried.

After we finished the tour of the tanning process we had a very detailed question and answer period with Shep Hermann, the department heads and the chemists going over all the different processes of tanning leather. These discussions were very informational for us saddle makers and for the Herman Oak staff. This concluded day 1 of our tannery tour.

The next morning we started with another quick question and answer period, we then went upstairs to complete the tour of the tannery.

herman-oak-tour-03We spent a large amount of time going the grading process, learning all the different defects in leather and what the effects of these are.  Along with the grading department heads we went over each and every defect, how the leather is selected and graded etc. Shep had all of us saddle makers to make a list of our top 5 most important leather defects. This discussion was again very educational for us makers and the Hermann Oak staff.

herman-oak-tour-04Next we met Earl and Ron whom are the two gentlemen who grade the leather.

We all had many questions for Earl & Ron in regards to how leather is graded, then the staff brought to us many different sides of leather so we could see the different defects and grades of leather, as a group we had very details discussions on each side of leather we looked at.

herman-oak-tour-05After our discussion on grading leather we finished the tour of the tannery, seeing all the other processes involved,  splitting the leathers, dying and hot stuffing with wax and much, much more.

herman-oak-tour-06We then spent another few hours in the office, with another very in-depth discussion with Shep Hermann & staff with any and all questions we had about the tanning process or leather in general.

Something Cary Schwarz said after the tour which I had to agree with 100% “this was a life changing event, I’ll never look at Hermann Oak leather in the same way after visiting their tannery.”

I was simply amazed at the amount of knowledge that I gained about leather and the tanning process. This was yet another awesome experience, many thanks to the TCAA and the fellowship program.

Steve Mason

, ,

Details of Saddle Making with John Willemsma

JW-2014-SaddleWorkshop-07Thirteen years ago I had the great opportunity to attend a Traditional Cowboy Arts Asociation workshop at the NATIONAL COWBOY MUSEUM in Oklahoma City .. Fast forward to this past February and to the “Details of Saddle making ” workshop that I had the honor present as a member of The TCAA.

Eleven students from California to Wisconsin spent four days observing how to work on areas that give many saddlemakers issues , such as the proper way to cover a metal horn, fitting a swell cover on a saddle requiring a seam or welt and a Wade (slick fork),the proper steps to achieve a nice cantle shape (fitting your cantle back and cantle filler) and according to all in attendance.

Making clean cuts and fitting the “seat ears” at the base of the cantle binding for both a Cheyenne roll and a straight Bead style cantle.In the four day class two different styles of saddles were worked on .. A Wade and a Will James .. Giving everyone a wide range of ideas to improve upon their work.

The focus on the TRADITIONAL COWBOY ARTS ASSOC. fall workshop will be ..Saddle tree fit with TCAA member Chuck Stormes. Many thanks to all who attended and worked so hard to make the February work shop a success .

– John Willemsma TCAA

JW-2014-SaddleWorkshop-01 JW-2014-SaddleWorkshop-02 JW-2014-SaddleWorkshop-03 JW-2014-SaddleWorkshop-04 JW-2014-SaddleWorkshop-05 JW-2014-SaddleWorkshop-06Those attending the workshop

Cindy Abrams…Midway, TX
Craig Brown ..Stillwell, OK
Jim Kiss Modesto, CA
Jan Mark, Elbert, CO
Mike Monroe, Fletcher, OK
Ed Rodgers, Arena, WI
Jock Pollard, Cement, OK
Ken Raye, Zachary ,LA
Evan Rolland, Coalgate, OK
Jamie Sayre, Ventura, CA
T.A. Williams, Benton, KS

, ,

Rawhide Braiding Mentor

Rawhide Braiding Mentor Nate Wald and Student Caleb French in a video produced by the Wyoming Arts Council

, ,

In the Shop: Cary Schwarz Saddle Building Clinic

clinic 2013

Cary Schwarz conducted a clinic at his shop near Salmon, Idaho June 10-14. Three attendees watched and listened as Cary built most of a halfbreed saddle. The important principles of saddlemaking were discussed at length: trees, riggings, ground seats, fork cover, seat, skirts, cantle binding, as well as business issues and practice.

, , ,

In the Shop: Wilson Capron Workshop

wilson-1I had a workshop April 23-26, 2013 that covered the fundamentals for fabricating a pair of spurs.  The five participants each were able to complete a pair of spurs.  Introductions were made for the use and care of files, the use of a belt sander and different methods to using it, operation of a tig welder, and a buffing machine. A little machine work was also covered with a band saw and a milling machine.  Steel fabrication was focused on so each participant could gain the skills to creating a quality spur.

,

In the Shop: Chip Merchant

Chip_01Bit and spur maker Chip Merchant from Beaver Creek OR. spent a week with me learning the art of bit making and put together a very nice peice. I think he’s looking foreward to a very successful career.

, ,

In the Shop: Hensley Rawhide Braiding Workshop

leland-1This is one of my braiding classes that was from March 4 – 9th. We started with the basics and discussed the importance of quality rawhide and cutting quality strings. Things we went over were, choosing the right weight string for the right project, moisture content and hide preparation. The students cut strings, helped with some hide preparation, braided cores, twisted cores, braided bodies and we did a little knot work to end the class. Special attention was paid to the selection of the proper weight of string for their bodies and  to the way they pulled and tightened while they braided bodies and cores.

, ,

In the Shop: Mckatee Mason

McKateeMcKatee_2Mckatee Mason of Weiser Idaho working in Ernie Marsh’s shop learning the process of bit making. In the second shot Mckatee is sawing out a set of cheek pieces for the bit using the bandsaw, the other shows her hand filing the beveled edges of the cheek piece. As Ernie jokingly says.. it’s a challenge to make that sound very exciting.. But we think it’s awesome!