and I started working in leather crafts in the town of Tullahoma, TN, in 1973. First, it was a hobby, and then grew into a
business with the establishment of our first store, Highland
Handicrafts. That was followed by
Leather 'n' Things, which was recognized by the Tennessee Arts Commission.
the mid-1970’s we became members of the Tennessee Artist's and Craftsmen's
Association, and the Northeast Alabama Craftsmen's Association. We showed and sold our work at several art
and craft shows, Thresherman's Bees, Mule Days, Renaissance festivals, art
shows, and craft fairs in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia,
and one in Kansas.
& Craft show participation during the ‘70s
TN: Tullahoma, Manchester,
Adams, Shelbyville, McMinnville, Monteagle, Crossville, Sewanee, Franklin, Gatlinburg, Louden, Nashville,
Chattanooga, Memphis, and others.
between the Lakes.
GA: Dalton and others.
FL: Tampa, Fort Pierce, and Naples.
AL: Horse Pens 40 at Steele, Huntsville, and others.
shows in the Southeast awarded prizes for our designs of handbags and hats, a
few shows more than once.
sabbatical… of sorts
following 29 years, I worked at various jobs in the Information Technology
arena, from computer operations to technology architecture. As with my craft, I threw myself into the effort,
and my creative efforts were almost entirely consumed in getting the best
from computers and technology teams.
Retirement returned the time for me to devote to my more artistic
efforts, and thus my third Craft company is now formed.
the belts are made of, and how they are made)
of my hand-tooled, hand-carved, or embossed belts are made of
vegetable-tanned American made Full Grain cowhide tooling leather. I strive to find the best leathers
available that meet these criteria. Very few American manufacturers of
this type of leather still exist. I seek to honor the tanner's craft by
enhancing the character of their leathers through my work.
All tooled or embossed products that I make are meticulously crafted.
- I start the belt and strap
goods with sides, backs, dossetts, or bends of cowhide, prepared to our
specifications for belt leathers.
- After evaluating the
original piece, I manually cut each to different belt widths,
eliminating any significant flaws from the cowhide. The product at
this point is called a blank.
- All blanks are then
inspected for flaws and thickness, then beveled on all four edges.
- Those blanks where I find
flaws are re-cut to eliminate the bad part, and they become the raw
stock for shorter-length strap goods like cuffs and hair
- I then split the blanks
that are too thick to make a comfortable belt to an appropriate,
uniform thickness for the width of the blank. These are suitable for either
hand-tooling or embossing in the next step.
- The next stage of making
the belt is the tooling or decoration of the blank, whether it is
embossed or hand-tooled. This is
the part that requires the greatest caution and precision. Mistakes at this point reduce the
quality, at best, and destroy the blank, at worst.
- After drying, each tooled
belt is hand oiled with essential leather oil compounds to preserve and
condition the leather, then set aside to fully absorb the oils into the
- Hand-dyeing and/or
hand-antiquing is the next process using the best leather dyes and
antique finishes available. Lots
of caution here, since the same risk exists here as in tooling.
- Occasionally, this process
reveals surface flaws that were not visible in previous
inspections. When this happens, I
decide whether the flaw warrants changing the decorated strap from a
belt into shorter goods like cuffs, headbands, or hair ornaments. If it is not a serious flaw, then I
continue, but mark the strap “SD” to go into my “Scratch and Dent”
- All edges are burnished at
this point to provide smooth, well-formed, smooth-sliding, and
comfortable edges. (This
quality-critical step is often ignored by, or even unknown to some folks
who make belts.)
- After dyeing and edging,
each product is hand-rubbed to clean residual dye solids, individually
sealed with flexible acrylic finish or flexible leather lacquer to
preserve the appearance and resist dirt, then hand-waxed and buffed to a
- The final step is to form
the buckle end of the belt by hand punching a buckle hole and installing
snaps or other hardware to complete the belt.
processes are required to finish the articles made from culled straps in the
step of the process is important to the finished product, its beauty,
ruggedness, and longevity. Shortcuts
reduce those aspects of a quality product.
I will not sacrifice quality by taking shortcuts or using inferior
ardently believe these things …
Shortcuts are for footpaths, not for processes.
The quality of a product reflects directly on the values
of the producer.
The quality of each human interaction reflects directly
on the character of the actor.
Items are valuable only if they perform as expected and
No business transaction is successful unless both the
seller and the buyer are satisfied with the product exchanged, and the value