Steve Derricott and
Traditional Arts Apprenticeships 2014
Steve Derricott was born in southeastern Idaho into a ranching and farming family. His father, Lloyd, was a horse trainer and master rawhide braider. Steve grew up watching his father but didn’t start braiding until his early 40s. In 1994, Lloyd took Steve as an apprentice through the Idaho Commission on the Arts’ Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, after Steve had already established himself as a quality leatherworker. With the encouragement of his father, the apprenticeship allowed him to learn the basic skills as well as develop a personalized style in the art form. He fashions his own tools to make the process faster and easier. Now he creates intricate braid work and knots to form horse reins, headstalls, quirts, bosals, and more. Steve enjoys and feels strongly about teaching others to create high quality artistic yet functional horse gear.
In 2013, Jon Mendiola, a first-generation U.S. citizen of Basque descent and former cowboy working for day wages, apprenticed under Steve. Jon brought previous experience with rawhide braiding, leatherwork, and tack repair with him to the apprenticeship but knew that books, online resources, and DVDs would only enable him to improve his own abilities, not master the art form. For this he sought Steve. The two worked together for 11 months at every aspect of the art form, from hide preparation, string cutting and beveling to specific knots and finally to finished products like a headstall, reins, and knife handles. Jon took to the apprenticeship immediately and by the end Steve claims that the roles of student and master were indistinguishable.