Sunday, January 2, 2011


One of the classes Jan Schoonover teaches focuses on carving realistic looking eyes. I've always wanted to take the class but it never seems to work out for me. I should have been the first class I ever took from him, and it almost led to me never having taken any. Why? Well, one summer many years ago we decided to go to Billings to spend a weekend  and do some shopping. One place I wanted to go since I had never been there before was Montana Leather Company. It's a cool store and they carry a lot of great leather and leather supplies. When I was up at the counter getting ready to check out, there was a flier for Jan's class they were going to hold the next weekend. I asked about signing up. The girl behind the counter told me I didn't have to sign up, just show up next Saturday morning. Well, the next weekend I got up at 3 in the morning to make the trip back to Billings and be there by 8 for the class. It was a long trip, early in the morning, but I was excited. When I got to Montana Leather I was confused when there was nobody in the parking lot. I went to the door and it said they didn't open on Saturday until 9. Okay, I must have misunderstood. So I sat and waited until 9. Still nobody in the parking lot except for the person who unlocked the door. When I asked about the class I was told it was cancelled because nobody had signed up. What!!! I drove 320 miles and they aren't having a class! Needless to say I was upset and swore to myself I'd never do business with that place again. Well, a year or so later Jan agreed to teach a class in Mandan, ND at Interstate Western Works, a store owned by Chip Liebel who is a very talented leather carver herself. I decided to take a chance and sign up for the class. In that class we carved a bighorn ram, my first embossed leather project and I was thrilled with how it turned out. My leather carving took a turn in a new direction and that ended up being the first of many classes with Jan. I even forgave Montana Leather Company and do a lot of business with them these days (although I'm still a little miffed that I drove 650 miles that day many years ago to find out the class was cancelled).  Okay, where's this all going? Well, a few weeks ago I received an email from Cherryl McIntyre. Cherryl puts on the Dimensions in Leather conference in Brisbane, Australia every other year.  Jan Schoonover was scheduled to teach at the conference to be held in July this year. Well, Jan has been having some minor health problems and he was concerned that he may not be able to teach 6 days of classes, so he decided to back out of going to Australia. He had been looking forward to the trip for a whole year and was pretty disappointed about not being able to go, but didn't want to disappoint his students either if his health prevented him from being able to teach. Jan told Cherryl that she should contact me and see if I would go in his place to teach his classes. After talking with Jan, talking with Cherryl, talking with my wife, we decided we'd go to Australia. It's someplace I've always wanted to see and this is a great opportunity for me. So you've followed my ramblings this far and you are still wondering, "where the heck is this going?".  Well, one of the classes scheduled for the conference in Australia is Jan's eye class. I've still never taking the class and now I'm supposed to be teaching it! On my last trip to Billings, Jan gave me  a couple different sheets of eye patterns and told me to pick the one I'd like to teach. In the last couple days I decided to go ahead and try to carve a few of the patterns on his sheets. So here are a few of the eyes I did. The patterns he gave me  basically just show the eyes and a little detail around them. I free handed in more of the heads on most of them so parts of them aren't really in proportion or anatomically correct, but I got a pretty good idea of what I am going to be doing. I also found out that if you don't pay attention when you are tracing a pattern and it move on you, you get a really mis-shaped eagle eye. I went ahead and carved and colored it anyway since it was  a practice piece anyway. So finally, here's some eyes.

1 comment:

StayC said...

I, for one, LOVE reading your ramblings. (I am certain there are many more that do) It was fun to be taken back to where all these great opportunities began.
I'm really proud of you and all that you have accomplished in the last 10 years. I'm excited to see what the next 10 bring for're on a roll!!