Artisans of the West – Heather Baumgartner

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue.

Heather Baumgartner may have grown up in the heart of Saskatchewan’s prairie metropolis of Regina, but she always dreamt of becoming a cowgirl.

Heather Baumgartner

Spruce Grove, Alberta
Leather Crafter

Heather Baumgartner may have grown up in the heart of Saskatchewan’s prairie metropolis of Regina, but she always dreamt of becoming a cowgirl.

“From as early as I can remember, I was drawing horses and began riding with friends in high school.  It wasn’t until years later – in the early 90’s – that I got my first horse and began showing. It was the start of both my show career and my interest in the artistry of the leather craft,” says the striking craftswoman from Spruce Grove, Alberta.

The seed of Baumgartner’s burgeoning chap and leather crafting business really got started many years ago with a young girl who loved to sew.

In her home studio Baumgartner surrounds herself with western artistry and gains inspiration from both western artisans and the style of today’s fashion.

“As a kid I would sew my own clothes, and later in life I even made a few dress shirts for my husband. Then, about 15 years ago, a fellow down the road needed someone to sew chaps – so I built a few sets of basic chaps for his leather shop – it wasn’t until about four years ago that I decided to take up the artistry of leather making and focused on honing my skills in leather carving.”

From a small Tandy Leather Christmas gift, a number of classes with Ed Collard at the local leather shop and a few trips to classes to Wyoming and Arizona artisan workshops, Baumgartner taught herself the fundamentals. Then, with the help of folks like Don Butler, Andy Stevens, Doug Krause, Bob Park, Steve Mecum and local artisan Peter Swales, she started to refine her skills as a leather maker and established HB Leather on the farm she and her husband Darren own near Spruce Grove, Alberta.

“The biggest challenge is establishing a unique pattern – I like to design pieces that are both stylish and comfortable for the rider.”

In her humble way, she credits her fellow horsepeople for the flourishing demand for her chaps and leatherwork.

“Of course, the business grew from our connection to the performance horse industry. After a dozen years of showing cow horses, reiners and some ranch cutting horses you get to know some great people. It is through those connections and friendships that I’ve been able to continue to grow the business.”

In her humble way, she credits her fellow horsepeople for the flourishing demand for her chaps and leatherwork.

In her home studio Baumgartner surrounds herself with western artistry and gains inspiration from both western artisans and the style of today’s fashion.

“The biggest challenge is establishing a unique pattern – I like to design pieces that are both stylish and comfortable for the rider.”

One of her favourite styles is the use of “finger carving” that she’s worked into both the front and back of many chaps.

Studying the work of Sheridan-style leather makers from years past, testing her designs with countless drawings, and a lot of “test” leather pieces later she’s worked in a few favourites, such as incorporating a daisy into a few designs – “that received a lot of positive buzz!” One of her favourite styles is the use of “finger carving” that she’s worked into both the front and back of many chaps.

~ Ingrid Schulz

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to have the opportunity to showcase a piece of Heather’s work at the Western Horse Review booth this week at the Canadian Supreme in Red Deer. Be sure to come by and view our selection of western artisans work at the booth.

Artisans of the West – Jan Daley

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue.
 

Back home, with a studio window that faces the western hills, Daley draws inspiration from her surroundings on the ranch.

Jan Daley

Granum, Alberta
Silversmith

Jan Daley is a relative newcomer to the business of being an artisan, with her Juniper Creek sign hanging just a scant two years. Yet the craft didn’t emerge as an epiphany of middle age, but more like a coming of age for a long-harboured passion.

A freehand native etch wrist cuff.

“From a wee girl I’ve always had an interest in metal, wood, and stone and all the artistic avenues I’ve explored through my life have absolutely led to this right here, right now. About 25 years ago I picked up some goldsmithing textbooks and not understanding a word they held, they were set aside. Perhaps the timing wasn’t right. A few years ago I ran across those books and away I went. Fortunately, everything has fallen into place and each of the other artistic avenues has played a contributing factor.”

An oxidized flower concho.

Jan and her husband Mark Daley are deeply immersed in the ranching community. If you were to drive into the foothills of Southwestern Alberta west of Granum and into their ranch, you would most likely find her helping out on the family ranch or in the practice pen working her cutting horse. Her father, Kerm Stav, was the first cutting horse champion of Canada and she’s carried on the torch, with a fierce competitive edge in the same sport.

Combining silver with such natural elements as stone, wood, bone and horsehair she creates pieces that compliment both contemporary and western lifestyles.

Back home, with a studio window that faces the western hills, Daley draws inspiration from her surroundings on the ranch. Combining silver with such natural elements as stone, wood, bone and horsehair she creates pieces that compliment both contemporary and western lifestyles.

Camelite lattice garden wrist cuff.

A ranch gal for all of her life she carries a strong opinion on what western culture means.

“We could spend days talking about this one. It’s keeping your promise on a handshake, which, unfortunately seems to be fading.  It’s respecting and getting to know your neighbour as you would have them respect and get to know you. When people offer to help its because they really want to help, don’t deny them. It’s long days in the field whether on horseback or on tractor. It’s sleep-deprived stormy days and nights calving cows. But when the heat from the sun starts to inject its power into the spring days, it’s hearing the cows rip the new blades of grass as their calves lay soaking up the rays. It’s a newborn colt finding its first legs. It’s the joy and pride of watching the next generations carry on the western tradition.”

Ribbon rock scarf slide.

See more of Jan Daley’s work at Juniper Creek.

~ Ingrid Schulz

Artisans of the West – Beth Broomfield

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue.

Beth Broomfield happened upon her craft when she decided to try her hand at making herself a turquoise necklace.

Beth Broomfield

Nanton, Alberta
Jewelry Maker

Beth Broomfield happened upon her craft when she decided to try her hand at making herself a turquoise necklace, outfitted with a concho off of an old belt of her Grandmother’s as a pendant. Broomfield sported her new necklace around town and ended up taking orders for three more just like it.

In 2009, Broomfield placed her first order from a supplier in Texas. A few weeks later she ran into Bernie and Marg Brown, owners of Boot Hill in Okotoks, Alberta. Marg fell in love with Broomfield’s hand-made cross necklace and decided to buy a few pieces to sell in the store. The following Saturday she called to order more.

Broomfield’s signature piece is her cross necklace. “I couldn’t tell you how many I have made, but they continue to sell. I keep thinking I want to do something different, but crosses are symbolic in western jewelry and since I don’t expect that to change anytime soon, I’ll continue to build crosses.”

Broomfield is never without her notepad. “I would love to see more of my design sketchbook come to life. It’s loaded with designs I’ve done for home decor, clothing and even tack. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel with my designs, but I’m passionate about western style and it would be a dream come true for me to see Sunny Go West as a brand people recognized.”

~ Deanna Beckley

 

Sunny Go West

(find on Facebook)

Artisans of the West – Shawna Whiteside

Shawna Whiteside, silversmith and owner of the Sweet Iron Silver Co.

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue 

Whiteside’s Bronc Pendent, represents the symbolism of the West.

For silversmith Shawna Whiteside, working from her studio near Didsbury, Alberta, creating the feel of the West involves color, creativity and her passion for life. In her work, she combines intricate designs and a splash of color to create a unique western flavor. Whiteside feels she has a passion to create innovative and expressive jewelry, which offers whimsical detail with a modern twist. Her work specializes in the bright cut style western engraving and she also is fond of making custom work, incorporating logos, brands or initials.

“I have a passion for anything that will make a piece a one-of-a-kind or an heirloom. I love adding color, which is why I’m always putting pendants on colorful turquoise, amethyst, or other stones. I also try to mix copper, gold, silver and other metals together to make things pop.”

Whiteside relates she has always had a passion for jewelry, but it wasn’t until she turned 30 that she decided to pursue her passion.

A beautifully crafted silver ring, inspired by western design.

“My mother started doing bronzes around that time. She is an amazing artist and she has always taught me to follow my dreams.”

Inspiration for her jewelry comes from different ideas that might have not been done in the western style. Whiteside says she keeps a notebook in her purse and does quick sketches whenever a new idea comes to life. “I’m always looking in magazines and trying to figure out new ways to wear and engrave, keeping the traditional methods, but putting a colorful or modern twist on them.”

Recently she has gone to Washington to meet and train with Mark Drain, founder of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. “He is a hero of mine and a brilliant silversmith. He continues to inspire me to try different things and make every piece the best one I can possibly make it.”

For seven years, Whiteside has been juried into the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase. “I was one of the first artisans they let into the Western Showcase.”

She said the opportunity to show at the Stampede is like winning an Academy Award. “I try every year to incorporate something new or different in my work. It really makes me try to evolve and improve.”

Custom brand bracelet with 10 karat gold scroll.

Visit the Sweet Iron Silver Co. to see more of Shawna’s work.

~ story by Deanna Buschert

Artisans of the West – Shelagh Blatz

Shelagh Blatz, silversmith and owner of Designs By Shelagh.

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we'll profile some of the talented artisans we met and whose work we fell in love. To see the full feature, order the back issue

Stamped Sterling Silver surrounds this 1930's Buffalo nickel, the iconic symbol of the West, surrounded by turquoise stones. Complimented by matching beads.

Shelagh Blatz “fell” into silversmithing. After convincing some friends to take an Introduction to Silversmithing class with her in Okotoks, Alberta, Blatz fell in love with the craft. She continued to take classes from her mentor, Shirley Paradis, and also at the Alberta College of Art & Design.

In 2002, Blatz started making pieces that she couldn’t find anywhere in Canada and began taking orders from people who were interested in her unique pieces. Working out of her home studio on her family’s ranch southwest of Calgary, Blatz draws motivation for her jewelry from her western lifestyle – she strives to create unique pieces that reflect her life.

A beautiful grouping in striking Spiny Oyster, a shell that has been used for adornment since ancient times and worn by Aztecs, Anasazi, Mogolion and Hohokam.

“I draw a lot of inspiration directly from the stone; the color and shape usually indicate where I start with the design,” says Blatz. “I start with a sketch book and a shape and fit a stone into the design or sometimes I begin with a stone and draw the design around it.”

Blatz finishes all of her designs off with her trademark Buffalo nickel clasp. “It’s great to be able to pick out one of my creations from afar.”

A striking turquoise stone surrounded by small beads of silver and on a silver beaded chain.

Suspended on a silver chain, and adorned with a light turquoise stone, this feather is light and easy to wear.

Silver feathers adorned with precious stone, and complimentary earrings.

Visit Designs By Shelagh to see more of Blatz's work.

~ by Deanna Beckley

 

Forever In Blue Jeans

by guest blogger Deanna Beckley

Aww blue jeans. Dark wash, acid wash, worn out, boot-cut, straight leg, fancy pockets, relax fit…so many styles to choose from! You can never have enough blue jeans!

Photo courtesy of Krista Kay Photography

I will admit, I have enough jeans to get me through several weeks without wearing a single pair twice. I firmly believe they are a must have staple that should be in everyone’s closet.

We couldn’t have a fashion steal without giving away a pair of jeans. This week’s giveaway item is sponsored by Cavalier. Thank you Cavalier for giving away a great pair of Iron Horse Jeans.

Cavalier is a privately owned Canadian company based in Stratford, Ontario. The business was founded in 1975. Cavalier has three operating divisions each focusing on a distinct segment of the equestrian market. The Cavalier division focuses on English riding equipment and apparel. Select Distributing focuses on the needs of the western rider and the Equine Advantage division represents the most comprehensive selection of Equine animal health care products. Be sure to check out their facebook page.

I actually interviewed Christi Simoneaux of Iron Horse Jeans last year. Here is what she said about Iron Horse Jeans and western fashion.

WHR: What influences Iron Horse design?

IHJ: “We really don’t look within the jean industry per say for design but we center ourselves on vintage heritage and then we explore fashion products in other categories’ such as women’s accessories to find design inspiration.”

WHR: What is the biggest jump we’ll see western fashion take in the next two years? Or what has been the biggest jump it has taken?

IHJ: “For years now western retailers and some manufactures feel as though western fashion is two years behind main street and slower to react to current trends. I think thats changed and western is following much closer to main stream, especially the younger crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more straight leg fashion and possibly a softening of the bling on jeans in the next few years to come.”

WHR: What trends are we seeing for 2012?

IHJ: “In denim, lighter washes are starting to gain a little presence while deep dark washes with bright contrasting stitching is coming on fast. Low rise for gals has settled in at 7” and is the norm in the market with 8” rise following close behind. For guys its dark washes simple pockets minimum distressing and in a low rise offering.”

WHR: Is there one item that is timeless that will never go out of style?

IHJ: “Absolutely it’s called denim and boot leg cut, its been here from the start and for the most part has stayed the same just maybe with a little bit more flare!”

So the question for this week’s giveaway is…
What equine event are you most looking forward to this summer?

 

A Cowboy Wedding

Recently married couple, Sheena & Tyler Thomson

Dave and I had the pleasure of attending a unique and beautiful western wedding last week… that of professional bull rider Tyler Thomson and his ‘barrel racing’ fiance, Sheena (Murphy) Thomson. Set on the Thomson ranch southwest of Black Diamond, Alberta; the venue for the wedding ceremony itself was a lush green meadow at the base of the stunning Alberta foothills and Rocky Mountains.

Cowboy Groomsmen

All six groomsmen (brother, bull riders, bull fighter and cousins/friends of the groom) and the groom himself, Tyler, awaited the start to the wedding ceremony about a ¼ mile off to the south of the wedding site. As 2:00 pm, June 8 drew near, the seven cowboys (clad in jeans, dress coats and cowboy hats) galloped abreast across the meadow to the front of the group of friends and relatives who had gathered to help celebrate the couple’s special day. The bride’s attendants (in elegant black gowns carrying bouquets of large blue daisies) were chauffeured up the hill in a white ‘truck-style’ limousine of massive and luxurious proportions. Last to arrive, and perhaps in the most stylish conveyance of all, (a Classic ’38 Chevy driven by her Dad, ) was the bride herself. Sheena was absolutely stunning in a tiered gown with fitted bodice, hand-crafted applique and a long train. (Rather than attempt a more detailed description, I’ll let the images speak for me!) Once all parties had arrived, the ceremony commenced with Cowboy Minister, Doug Richards, officiating. The ceremony itself took place in a log gazebo, designed and built especially for the Thomson wedding by former CFR bull rider (now log furniture builder) and close friend of the groom, Quentin Lowry. The ceremony featured both traditional elements and some ‘custom” additions courtesy of the bride and groom… all in all, a sincere, heart-warming exchange of vows, and one that clearly showed the regard Tyler and Sheena have for one another. Of note as well, was both the athletic ability and nature of the ring bearer – Sheena’s little dog did the honours (with the ring tied into his neckrag)… The enthusiastic canine was held at the end of a leash until time for his ‘performance’ (no doubt so he wouldn’t wander off and lose the ring!!) by another family member, and cousin to the groom, Cody Thomson. At the close of the ceremony, Tyler and Sheena, smiling widely, adjourned to the limousine with their attendants. Their next stop… the Thomson ranch cow camp, further west, where wedding pictures were taken by the couple’s official photographer, Nicole Wade. The day was rounded out by a reception (complete with a steak dinner and dance)  in Okotoks. The majority of the images included with this blog were provided courtesy of Nicole Wade Photography. A barrel racer herself, Nicole grew up near Eckville Alberta rodeoing, hunting and working in her parents’ guiding business. Nicole became friends with Sheena at Olds College where they rodeoed together. Now married, Nicole and her husband Orrin live near Eckville with their two children. Nicole has been shooting professionally now for about two years and loves every minute of it! Find Nicole on the web at nicolewadephotography.ca For more Western weddings ideas…Check out Western Weddings Part I, Western Weddings Part IIWestern Weddings Part III, & Wedding Bliss .

Vogue Western

BUCK BRANNAMAN/PETER CAMPBELL ROPING THE ROCKIES CLINIC, COCHRANE, ALBERTA


Welcome to Vogue Western, a category I’ve decided to devote to the unique genre of clothing and accessories we call western. Throughout it I’m going to post photos of what I consider hits to the core and vitality of western wear – in all it’s tradition, cosmopolitanism, luxury, polish, hipness and flair. Since my travels can take me anywhere from a 4-H club show in rural Alberta to the culture-shock of an Arabian Show in Scottsdale, I figure I’m in a great position to amass an interesting cross section of all that is western to entertain and inspire your own sense of fashionableness.

For our opener, I chose this shot of a vaquero-styled ranch hand at a clinic I attended a year or so ago, because he, quite likely unbeknownst to himself dominated the film of most of the media’s cameramen and women that day. Yes, it was the blue shirt, the sky blue shirt – ageless in style, modern in adaption. It was a bleak Canadian wintery day, a dark arena, a conservative crowd, and he chose this to wear.

Our cameras loved him.