All my life I have admired the intricate work of other rawhide and leather braiders and that is what led me to become one myself. I could never afford what I liked so decided to try my hand at doing it myself. Little did I know this would lead me on a 40+ year journey of learning and teaching. Braiding and particularly rawhide braiding has become my passion and teaching it to others has become very important to me. My mission is to produce the highest quality braid work and to teach those that are willing to devote themselves to carrying on this discipline. Taking the time and skill required to process a raw cow hide into a functional piece of finely braided horse gear is tremendous, but very satisfying when that piece is proudly used or viewed as artwork. I feel it is very important that we not let this part of our history of the American West be lost to a microwave society that wants everything right now. Only by educating the public about the traditional arts and what is involved, are we going to turn the tide. Whether it’s fleshing and dehairing a hide, cutting and beveling strings, braiding multiple strands, or tying intricate knots, I try and put a part of me in every piece I make. This is what I try to instill in those I teach. It becomes a part of your being. Braiding with natural materials has been around for thousands of years but there are few people that want to take the time and effort to learn this traditional skill. I have been extremely blessed with my abilities to learn and teach and hope that I can pass them on to others so that this dying art is not lost.
Listen to an interview with Jeff on Boise State Public Radio and see more images of his work.