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Day 5- My Goal this week was to give Tanner and Jodi Knowledge, Experience and Process that would start to form a Base allowing them to take their Ideas and Creativity from their Heads to their Hands.

Through the week they each Built a Buckle(shape, size, edge of their own choosing) that put them through the Paces of Designing Complicated Fabrication Techniques:

-These steps were Designed to Understand that if you Learnt your Basics, Respect the Trade and Materials, Dedicate Yourself to Learning that overtime You can Accomplish what you Desire.

This was a Long 5 Days filled with Discussions, Theory, Challenges and Revelations(AWE-HAW Moments). Sounds Hard Perhaps but because of their Dedication it was also Fun!

Thank You to the TCAA Providing These Opportunities, Thank You to the Sponsors for Making it Possible and Thank You to Jodi and Tanner for having the Courage and Desire to want to Continue True Cowboy Craftsmanship.

Scott Hardy

Day 4- Worked Hands-on at Complicated Scroll and Flower Overlay Soldering Technics and Theory.

Along with Extensive Discussion about Pricing, Career Motives and Moving from Craft to Art with Dedication to a Chosen Discipline.

 

Day 3- We Journeyed to Chuck Storme’s Shop where Tanner and Jodi were inspired by Chuck over 50 years of Dedication to Craftsmanship, his Shop Organization and Purpose Plus Silver pieces he had On Hand from John Ennis and The Murry Brothers.

We returned to my Shop and they Proceeded on Their Projects all the Time Discussing the Purpose and Life Of a Craftsperson and Craftsmanship.

As They Said At The End Of The Day – “Life Changing”

Day 2- We worked on the Technical and Practical aspect(hands on) of Complicated Soldering Procedures.

– Designing and Executing Scroll and Flower Overlays.

– In Depth Discussion on the Ethics of Western Craftsmanship.

 

“Respect the Craft- Make Something Beautiful! ” —  Steve Jobs

Day 1- Tanner Crow and Jodi Brown arrived – we went over intended projects piece by piece and began. 

We talked about steps “process” along with a long talk on what their goals were in their chosen trades and how perhaps they can fulfill those goals.

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

2013 TCAA Fellowship recipient Steve Mason (High River, Alberta) spent four days with Cary Schwarz recently.

Here are Steve’s thoughts after the time at Cary’s shop in Idaho:

Time for another update on my TCAA Fellowship experience.

I have just returned home from 4 days spent with Cary Schwarz, 2 days of private instruction working on specific details and problem areas of saddle construction, and 2 days taking a floral design & carving course with 3 other students.

Cary’s is a first class teacher & human being. The hospitality he showed us was amazing, and with every question I asked, Cary gave a thoughtful and very informative answer.

One of the most inspiring things from the weekend was Cary’s true passion to improve his own craft. To see a craftsman of Cary’s caliber still working as hard as he can to make every saddle better than the last, was very inspirational and will help me to continue my never ending quest to improve my craft. And this should benefit the industry of makers as a whole to never stop trying to improve their work.

I would like the thank the TCAA for the amazing journey I am on with the fellowship.
And I would highly recommend any gearmaker out there to get your application in to the TCAA for next years fellowship, the applications need to get to Scott Hardy before the deadline of April 1. Whether you are a silversmith, bit & spur maker, braider or saddle maker, this is an opportunity of a lifetime to improve your craft.

Steve Mason
2014 TCAA Fellowship recipient.

Braidie Butters

And Our First Award Goes To…

Braidie-smallBraidie Butters began working in her Dad’s spur shop learning how to complete basic tasks in 2008. In June of 2009 she learned her first bright cut engraving in Folsom New Mexico from good friend Bill Lusk. From that point on Braidie was hooked on engraving. A few months later she took the basic bright cut engraving class offered by the TCAA in Oklahoma City where she was inspired to learn more about engraving and silversmithing.

Braidie now lives in Dalhart Texas where she runs B. Butters Silver creating custom designs and silverwork.

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!