Earlier this month I attended a rawhider’s gathering in Decatur, Texas, organized by Clint Haverty. Clint has been organizing this particular gathering for several years now. This years event was at the NRS Training and Event Center in their saddle shop and there were braiders from Texas, Wyoming, California, Oregon, and Argentina in attendance. Some of them offered workshops on braiding, and knot tying, and fid work. They all provided excellent hands-on help with the projects that we were working on. There was even a few guys that had written books on rawhiding and knot tying, and a couple more that had made tools for cutting rawhide there to demonstrate their products.
I have never worked with rawhide before, but had become interested in learning about it for the last year or so and I had read quite a few book about processing the hides to get them ready for plaiting. While this particular gathering did not address the initial processing, it did give me a chance to handle hide that was ready to be cut into strings and braided so that I had some idea of what it was supposed to feel like.
This was the first time since I started trying to teach myself to tie knots and braid and plait that I had had any direct contact with other like-minded craftsmen and the experience was amazing. I learned as much from the folks at the gathering in 4 days as I have in 2 years of working on my own from books and videos.
It had been many years since I had spent any time around cowboys and stockmen and I had forgotten how genuinely friendly they are. I had a really great time meeting and learning from these gentlemen and I hope to get a chance to do it again.
This is Billy Albin, a horse trainer and braider from Texas. In this photo he is using a knife to put bevels on all 4 edges of a 1mm rawhide string. The edges he is cutting off aren’t much larger than a hair. Photo by me.
This is Billy and Brandon Anthony, a braider from Texas, and a gentleman whose name, unfortunately, I cannot recall, working on their projects.Brandon is working on a headstall. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Here is Steve Derricot, braider from Idaho, and one of the braiders from Argentina, Maximo Prada. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Pablo Blanco in the back, Enrique Capone on the right, and Maximo Prada. Pablo is also up from Argentina. Enrique lives in Texas and has a series of books about rawhide braiding that are excellent. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Bosal by Matthew Neilson as is the photo.
Clint Haverty talking with Billy. Clint is a braider that lives in Texas and organized the gathering. Len Yule, on the left, is, I think, a braider from somewhere on the west coast. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Clint watching Steve Derricot getting ready to cut string. I’m in the background in the orange shirt and I cannot remember the other two people’s names, although I do remember the the woman was working on a nice headstall. Photo by Enrique Capone.
Clint and Steve Derricott, and another gentleman who I cannot name.
A group of us watching a contraption being used to cut soga from rounds. The device was invented and built by Clint Haverty and Brandon Anthony. Photo by Enrique Capone.
A headstall made and photographed by Enrique Capone
A group photo by Trudy Hickey
Detail of a set of hobbles by Billy Albin. Photo by me.
Knife handles and sheaths and hobbles by Billy Albin. Photo by me.
Another set of hobbles by Billy Albin. Photos by me.
A set of hobbles by Robby Cabezuela, another new braider from west Texas. Photo by Robbie Cabezuela.
Hobbles and photo by me. My first rawhide project.
Hondo (also spelled honda) by Mike Hickey. Besides being a braider, Mike is a cowboy in Wyoming and has written several books on making cowboy gear and on tying different types of Turk’s head knots. He is considered to be an expert on THK. Photo by Mike Hickey.
More hondos and a set of hobbles by Mike Hickey. Photo by Mike Hickey.
The gentleman in the blue shirt is Jack (sorry, I can’t remember his last name) a braider from Idaho. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Jack splitting soga. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Jack demonstrating how to braid. Photo by Trudy Hickey
The fellow with the mustache is Jan Boogaerts. He’s about to start on a covering for a knife handle. Maximo and Billy assist.Photo by Enrique Capone.
Jan working on his knife handle. Photo by Enrique.
Photo by Trudy Hickey
Jan’s knife handle. What they call fid work.Photo by me
More of Billy Albin’s work. Photo by me.
Bosals and photo by Matthew Neilsen
Len working on a headstall. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Len and Pablo looking at a machine that softens rawhide. Traditionally rawhide for sheaths is made by pounding it with a maul for hours and hours. With this machine the rawhide is rolled back upon itself to break down the fibers. It still takes a bit of work but is much quicker than the pounding. Maximo is explaining it to Geraldo Gonzales and Mrs. Dillon.
A double edged flat braid for a set of reins made by Len. Photo by me.
Mike and Matthew and me waiting for strings to re-moisten. They get dry after a while. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Robby and me making the buttons on our hobbles. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Me, Billy, Robbie, and Mike Hickey, a cowboy and braider from Wyoming, watching Pablo tie a button Photo by Trudy Hickey
Mike and Pablo. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Mike Hickey explaining how ti design a Turk’s head knot. Using his method you can make just about any size and any pattern you want on a THK.
Jan’s fid work progress. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Pablo and Billy exchanging ideas. Photo by Trudy Hickey
A charm for a bracelet or necklace. Photo by me. I don’t know the fellow’s name but he was a tall skinny farrier from up north. Photo by me.
And still more of Billy Albin’s work. Photo by me.
Enrique demonstrating a button for Matthew and Ralph. Photo by Trudy Hickey
Ralph tying the nose button on a bosal. Photo by Trudy Hickey