Saturday, July 31, 2010

Black Bear lesson with Jan Schoonover is now available

The second lesson in the Sculptured Leather Art Lesson series with Jan Schoonover is now available on the Badlands Leather Art website.  This lesson includes 40 pages of detailed instructions and  140 color photographs on  carving, hairing, embossing and coloring  the  black bear.  

We are now accepting checks or money orders as optional payment methods for those of you that don't care to use Pay Pal. We are also offering the lesson on  DVD for people who would rather not have to download it. This should be helpful for people still using a dial up internet connection. The will be an additional $5 charge to get the lesson on DVD to cover additional costs including packaging and shipping.

I'd really like to get feedback on these lessons so that I can make future lessons as useful as possible. Let me know what you think! The next lesson in the series will be a brown trout. I'll head back to Billings in the next couple weeks to get started on it. I am planning on having it ready by the end of September.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cleaning some things off my bench

I've usually got several different things started on my carving bench at one time, and sometimes a couple  in the refrigerator too. This weekend  I decided to see if I could finish up a few things. The first was a cell phone case that my son wanted. We started on this  last weekend. He wanted a phone case that would protect his phone at his new job. He's always got ideas of what he wants and what he doesn't want so it took us some brain storming to get his ideas into something we could actually build. This case gives the phone two layers of leather covering both the front and back of the phone. He didn't want a snap closure so we went through several ideas before coming up with kind of a slot and tab closure. This thing was not a lot of fun to sew up! The case should last a lot longer than most of his phones do.

The next project was to paint the bear from the last lesson with Jan. Jan said this one was quick and easy to paint. I had my doubts, but he was right. I like it a lot better than the first black bear I did with him. I may have to repaint that one too.
(I've tried and tried but I can't get a decent picture of this bear!)

And finally, I decided to finish up the antelope picture. I added some tall grass in the foreground, and did the backgrounding on the picture. I think they are both ready for frames now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New tools for an old pattern

In an older post, I showed some patterns off of an old saddle I am hoping to replicate. I mentioned that I didn't have some of the tools needed to stamp these patterns. A couple of my friends stepped up and offered to try and make some tools for me. I have some pretty neat friends!! Last Friday I received a package in the mail from Clay Miller, aka Bert. In it were three meander stamps that he had made. Clay acquired the tools that Billy Wooters used when he was making tools. When I asked Bert what I owed him, he told me "they are the first stamps I have ever made so if I become famous they could be priceless LOL..on the other hand if I make lots of them and no one buys them they will be worthless...LOL".  

Judging by Bert's carving, and how he ran the Tandy store in Rapid City, I would bet on him making darn nice tools and I'm proud to have the first ones.  Thanks Bert!!

Here's a practice piece I stamped up to see how they compared to the pattern on the old saddle. I like the look and I'm getting pretty excited to get started on this saddle. If there were only more days in the week!

Black bear lesson will be available soon

I finished  up writing the lesson on the black bear this weekend and mailed a copy of it to Jan today. If he doesn't find anything  major that needs to be changed, the lesson should be available by the end of this week or early next week. I received some pretty good feedback from the people that purchased the first lesson and I really appreciate it. I also got some suggestions on what people would like to see changed or added to future lessons. The second  lesson will include large pictures of what the project should look like at the end of each section. We really want these lessons to be as complete and easy to follow as possible so that anyone who purchases them will be able to follow them and end up with a project they are happy with. As soon as Jan gives me the okay, I'll get this one up on the website.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Figuring out tooling patterns

Every once in a while, I drag out parts of the old saddle I intend to try and replicate and try and figure out how the tooling on it was done. This saddle is probably around 80 years old or more, so the tooling on it is quite different than most modern day saddles. This weekend I was working on the skirts. The leather was old and dried up and the patterns were fairly hard to make out. I cleaned the parts up with lots of water and an old toothbrush (Jake was kind of worried it was his).  Once most of the dirt and grime was off of them, I set them on a towel on the cement floor. I placed a heavy board over them and set severl 5 gallon containers of water on top of the board. Once they dried, they are fairly flat again. Then I applied a heavy coat of Skidmore's Leather Dressing on the parts to keep them pliable. Once they were flat and dry, the tooling patterns are a little easier to see. The top picture shows the border design around a lot of the saddle. I'm going to have to try and find a meander stamp similar to the one used here. I don't have anything like it. The second picture shows a flower design that was tooled into the center of the basket weave on the skirts. I think I've figured out how he did that.

The first step was to draw a circle with a pair of dividers. I then reset the divider and made another circle about 1/8 inch larger around the first circle. Next  I used a small veiner and make a border inside the circle. The points where the veiner impressions come together are used as spacers for the next step. 

A smooth veiner was used to create the flower petals. One tip of the veiner is set in the center of the other veiner impressions, the other tip of the veiner was aimed towards the center point of the flower. I went around the flower making each of the right side impressions first.

Then go back and make the left side impressions.

A stop tool was used where the impressions come together at the bottom.

A pear shader was used to give some depth to the petals and a flower center was stamped in the  middle.

To finish it off, a border stamp was used around the outside of the border.

While I was working on the first pattern,  I had an idea for a second flower. It might be fun to play with this and see how many other variations could be done.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Congratulations to Rex Cook

On June 26, 2010, Rex Cook was inducted into the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame.  Rex taught me how to build saddles a few years ago. He's spent all of his life working with cattle, horses and leather. Congratulations Rex!

To read more about what's new at the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame, check out the Cowboy Chronicle

Born on his parents homestead north of Sentinel Butte in 1928, Rex Cook has come to personify the quintessential “renaissance man”. He broke his first horse at the age of 12 and bought a little bit of ranch land when he was just 14, while working for his neighbor. After graduating high school, he started teaching with an emergency teaching certificate at the Goldsberry country school, situated 45 miles north of Medora.

He entered in the calf-roping and wild horse race contests in his first rodeo that same year—and also announced the rodeo! The course was set: he’d divide his time between rodeo arenas and corrals and schoolhouses. To pay his way through college, he mastered the art of saddle-making. To date, he’s created over 100 saddles and was honored to demonstrate his craft on the state capitol grounds during the 1989 centennial celebration.

After a stint in the Marine Corps Reserve and a hitch with the U.S. Army in Japan, Cook returned to Dickinson and began a career within the Dickinson Public Schools. He also spent a stint as manager of the Dik-ota Clay Products Company.

All the while, he maintained a steady interest in horsemanship and rodeos. He rode, trained and sold cutting horses and promoted team roping as a rodeo event. Along with Tex Appledoorn, he produced the1958-59 ND Team Roping Championship in Belfield. Merle Aus and Jim Jefferies were two of his team-roping partners. 

His knowledge and expertise were conveyed to scores of Dickinson State College students during the 20 years he taught horsemanship classes. Cook also traveled to the Iowa State Fair to co-teach horse training clinics. He judged countless horse shows throughout the tri-state area and as far away as North Carolina.

Cook is a member of the North Dakota and National Cutting Horse associations, and is a past member of the NDRA, AQHA, U.S. Team Roping Association and Wrangler Roping Association. During the 2007 Dickinson’s Roughrider Days Rodeo, Cook was presented with the Rodeo-Rancher of the Year Award.

At present, he serves on the boards of the North Dakota Council on the Arts and the Theodore Roosevelt Nature & History Association. He and his wife, Ann, also an educator, raised two children and continue to reside in Dickinson.

In the Arts and Entertainment Division, two were nominated, one was selected.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Carving pattern for next saddle

This picture shows the seat from  the old saddle I am going to try and replicate. The saddle had sat in an old garage here  on the ranch for as long as I can remember. It was in really bad shape, leather all dried out and chewed on by rodents, part missing, etc. I took it all apart and started cleaning up the pieces, hoping to be able to get some carving patterns off of them. I started with the seat. I soaked it down really well, then worked in saddle soap and scrubbed it with an old toothbrush. It actually cleaned up well enough to see the tooling fairly well.

I didn't  know how easy it would be to copy the carving pattern off of the old leather, but someone suggested trying to do a rubbing. I had my doubts, but it worked fairly well. The pattern showed up in the rubbing very faintly, but by putting it on my light box, I could trace over the lines.

The pattern  has quite  large flowers and leaves seen on  many older style saddles. One of the things  I found interesting on this old pattern is the double line border on the flowers. There is also some interesting use of tools on the carving that I will try and replicate when I carve the new parts. I'll post more patterns as I get them copied off the old leather.