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Throughout 2013, the TCAA had ongoing talks with Mr. Shep Hermann of Hermann Oak Leather regarding maintenance of saddles and leather products. As a result of these exchanges, Mr. Hermann became interested in the TCAA and its goals. While attending Cowboy Crossings last October at the National Cowboy Museum, he invited the TCAA saddle makers to St.Louis for a tour and talks with key tannery workers.

Those invited included Rick Bean, Pedro Pedrini, Cary Schwarz, Chuck Stormes, John Willemsma, Steve Mason (Tcaa Fellowship 2014) and Don Reeves, National Cowboy Museum Curator.

On March 31st and April 1st, 2014 we met at the Hermann Oak Tannery for a complete tour, including a series of lively, informative discussions centered on the details of tanning and using traditional vegetable tanned leathers.

 I believe leather to be the first chemically-produced product in the history of mankind, because it can be produced by accident and is one of the most useful articles throughout history. – Shep Hermann

This may well represent the first time discussions at that level have taken place between experienced saddle makers and a leading tanner of saddle skirting.

The TCAA extends its sincere thanks to Shep Hermann and the entire staff of Hermann Oak Leather for organizing this historic meeting.

Please enjoy the accompanying video which provides a window into the operation of one of America’s most celebrated tanneries.

For further information please visit their website

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

2014 TCAA Workshops

The 2014 workshops, co-hosted by the TCAA and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and presented by TCAA instructors, will focus on saddle making with particular attention to the areas that are often the most problematic to saddlers.

dev cult tcaa12 cs_0117 February 11-14, 2014, “Details of Saddlemaking” will be held in the Museum’s Nona Jean Hulsey Rumsey Art Education Center. John Willemsma will concentrate on several common problem areas including fitting a saddle seat, different styles of cantles and cantle bindings, riggings, horns and covering both Wade-style forks and also one requiring a welt or seam.

This will involve intermediate to advanced instruction with many practical solutions. The program is styled for a class of 15 participants.

IMG_4382PH BWThe fall 2014 workshop, October 7-10, is “Saddle Tree, Selection and Fit” led by Chuck Stormes will be of interest to both saddle makers and serious horsemen. It is intended to demystify the terminology, geometry and anatomy involved in selecting a tree that is suitable for the horses, rider and specific use intended. It is NOT a course in how to make a saddle tree but will give insight into the variables and adjustments that are possible on the part of the tree maker.

The presentation can accommodate an enrollment of at least 24 participants. Due to limited enrollment, these classes fill quickly so call early to hold a spot in the workshop. Advance reservations are required for both workshops. For further information and enrollment call (405)478-2250, Ext. 277.

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.

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.

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.