For those of you who read Writing Horseback regularly, you know that Montana has a special place in my heart. I love the warmth and can-do attitude of the people, especially the cowboys and cowgirls. Being a third-generation California girl, I have no interest in riding out a Montana winter, but I do love the spring, summer and fall seasons of Montana. In Northern California we glide seamlessly from one season to another as smooth as a sliding stop on a cutting horse. My recent visit to Montana offered up more fabulous riding and a chance meeting with Master leather carver, Howard H. Knight.
Howard Knight creates handcrafted leather accessories from belts to boots and wallets, one at a time, that are one of a kind. I admired his fancy hand tooled leather work on several silver tipped Western belts, but it was the simple elegance of his Ranger style belt, made of rich brown English Bridle leather, that captured my attention. His promise of a special message inscribed on the lining of my custom belt* sealed the deal and made me a fan of Mr. Knight forever.
Q: I understand you started learning “leather craft” in 4-H Club? Who are some of your master leather carver mentors and what unique talents/skills did they pass along to you?
A: I am proud to say I did start out learning leather craft in my local 4-H club, it was that early feel and smell of leather that lead to my passion for creating things out of leather. I have studied under several master leather carvers/artists including Chuck Smith, Jim Jackson, Lisa Skyhorse, Don Butler, Jack Holland and most influential in the development and mastery of my skill was Ray Pohja. All of these men and women were open and willing to share their knowledge and skill with me. One of the other things that impressed me was that each of these people were involved in teaching 4-H kids. I do teach 4-H leathercraft here in the Bitterroot valley but it is harder than ever to keep young kids interested in hand crafts.