Brain tanned buckskin has been a passion for me since 1995, when I attended my first primitive skills gathering, Rabbitstick Rendezvous in Rexburg, Idaho. My week there changed the course of my life. Always fascinated by the natural world and a student of biology and botany, the skills taught at the gathering resonated with me deeply. Here was an opportunity not just to study the natural world, but to interact with it in a meaningful way. To have it literally form the substance of my life. Tanning and working with buckskin were perhaps the most compelling of all of the skills I saw presented. I vowed to one day make myself a full set of buckskin clothing.
That was over twenty years ago. I have long since met that goal, and then some, but the allure of buckskin hasn't worn off. I still find it to be one of the most beautiful and rewarding materials to work with and continue to push myself in new directions with buckskin creations for myself and others. Buckskin work, like so many traditional skills, bridges the gap between craft and high art.
For many years now I have been teaching people throughout the U.S. to tan hides and to make clothing from buckskin, and am current;ly almost finished with my first book on the subject. I am passionate about it not just because of the material itself, but also because I believe it carries a special sort of magic.
I have seen interacting with buckskin call to people from all walks of life and bring out a primal longing for something different. It seems to have the ability to bring forth the memory of what it felt like to be hunter/gatherers and to spend nights staring into the glowing coals of the campfire instead of into a computer screen.
If people can be so moved by this beautiful handmade leather, then maybe they will get curious what it would be like to make some other things- to rely a little more on themselves and the living world around them and a little less on chain stores and fossil fuels. This to me, is what buckskin represents.