SHERIDAN — The kick off to summer is here. It is time to hone your skills under the tutelage of some of the top leather workers in the world and stock up on tools to make your designs pop at the 23rd annual Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show and Leather Crafters Workshops. Workshops will take place May 16-22, and the trade show is set for May 21-22.
According to the Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal website, leather crafter workshops will take place at the Sheridan Holiday Inn and in classrooms in the Whitney Building on the Sheridan College campus. Workshop topics include creating Western floral designs, antiquing and finishes, saddle design and patterning, braiding and tooling techniques.
Twenty-six instructors will participate in the workshops this year including Robert Beard, Chan Geer, Jim Jackson, Al Gould, Jim Linnell, Peter Main and Jesse Smith. Registration and schedule information is available online at www.leathercraftersjournal.com/sheridan-2016-workshops.html.
The Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show will feature 21 exhibitors, including Barry King Tools, Klenda Custom Saddles and Montana Leather. They will sell everything from patterns, DVDs, books and catalogs to leather and machinery.
Jim Jackson, who designs and constructs custom leather work for King’s Saddlery said Sheridan is where the Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show started.
“It is good for the community, because it brings a lot of people into Sheridan,” he said. “There is a long tradition of very fine saddle making and leather working in this town. It’s historically very significant.
“If you say Sheridan Style carving to just about any leather worker, they know what you are talking about,” he added. “I go to Japan and give seminars over there, that is what they are interested in. International connections are made in shows like this leather show, and that’s why it is important.”
The King Reception is set for May 19 at 6 p.m. at King’s Saddlery and King Ropes on North Main Street. They will offer a buffet, tours of the museum and a chance to visit with friends.
“There are a bunch of leather workers out West, and everywhere,” Jackson said. “We’ve had leather workers come from Japan, Australia, Europe. Everybody knows everybody. It’s a community basically. Over the years, people have gotten to know each other well, they meet each other and make all of these connections. A conference like this, it’s good for the industry. Not only that, we get to visit with our friends and get to see the stuff they’ve been working on.”
According to the Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal website, the 2016 World Leather Debut, runs May 20-22, also at the Sheridan Holiday Inn. It is a competition open to makers of any skill level, covering 17 categories, including two designed for youth and a new footwear category. The entries will be displayed in a gallery setting at the Holiday Inn during the Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show. The entries will be scored by a duo of judges in each category. They will select top-three placements and provide constructive feedback on each entry. Forty-one sponsors have contributed $11,485 in prize money.
The Sheridan Honors Night will be May 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sheridan Inn. The World Leather Debut winners will be recognized, and the recipients of the Al Stohlman Award for achievement in leather craft and the Ann Stohlman Youth Award will be recognized. A raffle will also be held, with proceeds going to the Al and Ann Stohlman Award Foundation.
According to Jackson, Al Stohlman’s original shop is upstairs at King’s. When Stohlman died, his wife, Ann, got in touch with Don King. She thought it would be a good idea to put his shop and his things here rather than exhibit them at Tandy’s Leather. The leather workers come here to pay homage to Al Stohlman.