western-craftsmanshipNational Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The TCAA in partnership with the NCWHM will host the first ever Western Craftsmanship Symposium
just prior to the opening of the 2016 Cowboy Crossings Annual Show and Sale at the NCWHM.

The dates are October 13-14 and all sessions will be held at the NCWHM. Registration starts at 8:00 am on Thursday, October 13th with the symposium opening at 9:00 am.

The purpose of the symposium is to provide a forum for a free exchange of information and ideas among peers in a structured environment. The agenda contains topics of concern and interest to craftsmen of all levels engaged in the business of western crafts. The TCAA encourages the active engagement of all attendees in sharing ideas, best practices, individual successes and challenges through active dialogue over the course of the symposium. The success of the two day meeting will be determined by the level of engagement and participation by the symposium attendees. The sessions will be a mixture of formal presentations, open forums and panel discussions. Speakers will be a select group of industry experts, recognized leaders and TCAA members. The symposium will conclude with a keynote address by renowned speaker Dr. Morgan McArthur DVM.

Join us for this ground-breaking event.

For detailed information and online registration visit nationalcowboymuseum.org/westersymposium

Brian Lebel’s High Noon Auction, Mesa AZ.(January 23-24, 2016) was once again the setting for the 4th annual TCAA Emerging Artists’ Competition.This year featured Bit & Spur Makers along with Rawhide Braiders.


The weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with a meet and greet with TCAA members and fellow participants. Saturday morning the TCAA judges did their jobs and at 1:00pm each discipline had a 3 hour open forum discussion with TCAA members covering everything from Technical, Artistic and Business aspects of their trades. As all this was happening the public were viewing and voting on the 1st annual Peoples Choice Award. At 5:00pm on the High Noon Auction main stage the TCAA Judges announced and invited up the winners of the two disciplines along with the Peoples Choice, introducing them to the crowd.

High_Hoon_2016_02The TCAA winners each received a $2000.00 cash award along with an expense paid trip(valued also at $2000.00) to the annual Traditional Cowboy Arts Exhibition and Sale in conjunction with Cowboy Crossings at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OKlahoma. Where they will not only enjoy the opening weekend festivities but will be introduced on stage banquet night! The peoples choice award was $500.00 in each category.

High_Hoon_2016_03Sunday morning the participants had  the choice of a private critique of their piece with the TCAA judges or visiting amongst themselves. At 3:00pm everyone said Good Bye to old and new found friends before heading for home.

A Big Thank You goes out to TCAA friends and sponsors-

  • Brian and Melissa Lebel- Old West Events
  • Alan and Nadine Levin
  • Greg Braddock
  • Bill Welch of Cowboy Legacy Gallery

Also the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association members who gave up bench and family time to attend, judge and mentor-

  • Nate Wald TCAA President
  • Wilson Capron TCAA Vice President
  • Leland Hensley
  • Ernie Marsh
  • Scott Hardy

High_Hoon_2016_04Last but certainly not least Congratulation to all the Emerging Artists for your efforts in attending and creating such nice pieces, you should all be very proud! It was a pleasure to meet and visit with all of you.

High_Hoon_2016_05And Yes I know WHO WON!!!!! Congratulations to Bit & Spurmaker, Kain Garcia, Lipan Texas and Rawhide Braider, Graeme Quisenberry, Higley Arizona who both not only won the TCAA award but also the Peoples Choice award.

See you all next year for the Emerging Artist Competition featuring Western Silversmithing along with Saddlemakers.

TCAA Founding Member

Scott Hardy


A few snippets about this year’s Mom’s Scholarship we promised you! Anna Severe was the recipient and here’s a few quotes and pic we wanted to share.

TCAA Saddelmaker John Willemsma created the Mom’s scholarship to honor his mother Mrs. Tena Willemsma. A women who is and will be remembered for her ability to inspire others while living an exemplary life with strength and grace.


From Saddlemaker Cary Schwarz: Anna Severe was a delight to have in my class recently. She is an outstanding student a great person as well. I’ve taught many folks over the last 13 years, and she ranks near the top as far as her willingness and effort to absorb information. I am looking forward to watching her development as an artist and a craftsman. I’ll be staying in touch with her as time goes by to see what else I can do to help her along the way.

Anna had expressed her desire to learn more:

FB_IMG_1446817951484I feel I have been stuck in a rut when it comes to my saddle making. This scholarship I am hoping will help me with the small things which will effect the quality and function my saddles. I am also looking forward to having some help with my tooling to make my flowers and pattern flows smoothly. Thanks so much for this opportunity.

And the results? 

Thanks so much for this opportunity to work with Cary. I have learned more than I could of ever thought. My notes are over 50 pages and over 500 pictures. Cary has given me an awesome vision on how to make my saddles clean, and functional. I am looking forward to building a saddle using what he has taught me. I will send you more pictures after I get the saddle done. Feel free to do whatever you would like with these pictures and if you want more I have lots. Thank you so much.


Hello from the TCAA

The Emerging Artists’ Competition was founded by the TCAA in order to create an opportunity for aspiring craftsmen to show their work and gather as a community of like-minded people. We are all in this journey together and together we can improve our industry and preserve our culture.

The Rules:

  • Contestants must attend to be in the competition.
  •  Contestants are responsible for your own piece, if you want insurance you must supply it. The Traditional Cowboy Arts Association, its members, or Brian Lebel’s High Noon Action & Show are not responsible for you or your work.
  •  Each participant is allowed one(1) item;
  •  The contestants piece has to be at the TCAA Emerging Artists’ booth – High Noon Action & Show, Mesa Convention Center, Mesa, AZ.
  •  Dismissal 3pm that Sunday.

Contestants are welcome to sell their work at the show but please just step out of the booth to do so. The public will be viewing the work all day Saturday and Sunday so they can take the opportunity to make new connections.

Below you will find an itinerary for what we have planned in Mesa. We have tried to improve the experience in Mesa by giving the contestants a schedule of events to refer back to.


  • You and your work need to be at the TCAA booth area by 10am
  •  Booth set up will happen the majority of the day
  •  Meet and Greet late afternoon / early evening hours. A definite time has yet to be set because of scheduling with the Convention Center. We will keep you informed, but make plans to attend


  •  9am – 12pm TCAA judging
  •  1pm – 4pm will be an open forum. The disciplines will separate into individual rooms to talk shop. You will have the judges at center stage to ask anything you want. This is your opportunity to get your questions answered. We will cover everything from the nuts and bolts of how we create to the business side of making a living doing what we love. It will be up to you to bring the questions. The more interaction we have, the better this time will be.
  •  5pm Winners announced. Everyone will be asked to attend the opening of the High Noon Auction where we are given time to announce the winners. The two winners will be called to the front for a quick photo.


  •  9am – 12pm Optional Critiques. If you are interested in getting a critique of your work it is up to you ask. We will be glad to explain what we find in your piece, but we don’t want to force our opinions on anyone. The disciplines will gather in a room to discuss the work with an open mind of simply improving what we do. There is something for us all to learn from each other’s work.
  •  Dismissal is 3pm. You can not leave until 3pm Sunday to ensure a quality show is present for the public to view. Please make plans accordingly. If you have problems then let us know please.

We had a great week at the  2015 TCAA Bridle Bit Form, Function and Fabrication seminar held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in OKC. A group of very enthusiastic students was subjected to all the information we could cram into 3-1/2 days.

Greg Darnall started, and rightly so at the beginning with the anatomy of the horse and demonstrated different bridles explaining the purpose of their designs.

Ernie Marsh followed that with a slide presentation and discussion of building a spade bit from scratch start to finish as well as some examples of silver inlay.

Wilson Capron did a bit making presentation  demonstrating silver floral overlay, and a live demonstration on his techniques of hand forging  mouthpieces, hand engraving and finished up with a very informative business discussion.

Ernie said: “We all made some new friends and reconnected with others. I am pretty sure this week will give the attendees some direction in the business of making bridle bits and we are pretty excited to see the results in their future work.”

IMG_1052 IMG_1042 IMG_1034 IMG_1031 IMG_1029 IMG_1023

2015 Emerging Artist Competition

January 24-25, 2015 saw the 3rd annual Traditional Cowboy Arts Association Emerging Artist Competition held at Brian Lebel’s High Noon Sale & Auction in Mesa Arizona.

Each year the competition high-lights two of the Traditional trades, this year 9 Western Silversmiths along with 8 Saddlemakers participated. What a fantastic weekend of discussion on pieces and camaraderie!

The calibre of work produced by the makers certainly made the judges jobs difficult but in the end they had picked winners.

Photos courtesy of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

The silver portion was won by Braidie Butters of Delheart, Texas with a solid Sterling Silver functioning padlock, yes a lock! This would look fantastic on any ranch gate or coach trunk.

Darcy Kabatoff of Mission British Columbia won the saddle portion with a fully carved square skirt 3B Visalia style saddle. Standing looking at Darcy’s saddle it was tough not to want to cinch up and ride!

Thank You to the judges- Pedro Pedrini and John Willemsma for saddles, Scott Hardy and Mark Drain for Silversmiths, along with Wilson Capron for taking care of the TCAA information display.

But a very special Thank You for the TCAA Emerging Artist sponsors- 

Brian and Melissa Lebel
Alan and Nadine Levin
Greg Braddock

2016 will feature Bit & Spur Makers along with Rawhide Braiders. See you there!

You’ve wondered what this whole TCAA deal is all about. Hear the story told by it’s members, filmed in Alberta this spring. Video by A.J. Mangum.


October 7-10, 2014


Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn the terminology of saddle trees and demystify
the selection of a suitable tree for horse and rider.

Chuck Stormes brings 52 years of saddle making and 34 years of saddle tree making experience
to a three and one half day clinic that will answer your questions, explode myths and give you the
confidence that comes from understanding the requirements of fitting both horse and rider.

This is not “How to make saddle trees”. This workshop will address the how and why of selecting a tree
that is suitable for the types of horses and horseback activities that riders pursue. Saddlemakers who
purchase their trees will gain valuable knowledge, tree makers will increase their understanding of
fitting issues and riders will learn how to work with their saddle maker as an informed customer.

To enroll contact Don Reeves, National Cowboy Museum, 405 478-2250 ext 227

tcaa_3The TCAA was represented by Scott Hardy and Wilson Capron in Oklahoma City at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum during the Prix de West art show June 12-14.  Many opportunities were had to visit with board members and patrons of the Museum’s.  Mike Nicola, affiliate of the TCAA and board member of the Museum, was gracious enough to chauffeur them around and make sure they were included in all activities. A meeting with a portion of the Cowboy Crossings  committee and some museum staff was attended Saturday morning.  We are very excited about some changes for the up coming show.  Be checking your mailboxes and/or social media for save the date cards and information.  If you aren’t on the mailing list please contact Ernie Marsh at marshbros@silverstar.com.

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