2003 Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft: Jim Lind
An Annual Award which Recognizes the Recipient for Ongoing Contributions in Leathercraft Through Dedication and Exemplary Service (Official Authorization by the Al & Ann Stohlman Award Foundation)
Biography of Jim Lind
Jim was born in Green River, Wyoming. His Uncle John, a shoemaker in Green River, gave Jim a set of leather tools that had belonged to an old saddle maker who had passed away. Jim was only 12.
Jim took to leathercraft immediately. To have patterns, Jim studied old carved saddles and purses. His shoemaker, Uncle John was able to furnish Jim with leather.
At the age of 18, he went to Denver, Colorado to further his education at College. While there, he took a job for a year at Mueller Saddle Company where he worked piecework on carving saddle skirts and then worked for Colorado Saddle Co.
Jim started his leathercraft teaching by volunteering to teach the handicapped veterans at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver. After leaving Colorado Saddle Co. in 1952, he started his first business on S. Broadway, carving specialty items for several of the tourist shops in the area.
It was also during this period that he met F.O. Baird in Colorado Springs, who Jim attributes with helping him further his love for leathercraft.
In 1954, Jim’s mother became ill and asked him to come to Franklin Park, IL, where she owned a couple of businesses. Jim managed those until his mother recovered and decided to sell the businesses and move to California.
Jim stayed on in Illinois. It was there that he met and married his wife Betty. After his mother’s move, Jim took a job as Chief Engineer at Wesley Memorial Hospital. He worked at the hospital during the day, but in the evenings and on the weekends he continued his leatherwork.
In 1960, he went to his first Prairie States Leather Guild meeting where he met many wonderful people who shared his interest in furthering the art of leathercraft.
It was in 1970 that Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO invited Jim to participate in their annual Fall Craft Festival where he would demonstrate leathercraft for 8 hours a day to visiting guests. One of the perks of participating at the Festival was that Jim could spend time with his old friend Dick Giehl, who was also a participating craftsman. They would spend hours talking about leathercraft and hours in the evening fishing.
The Festival was only a week long at that time. Jim took his vacation time from his hospital job so that he could attend the Festival every year. Jim considers himself fortunate that he is invited back every year to participate in something he thoroughly enjoys. The next fall will be his 2nd year at Silver Dollar City.
In 1964, as a member of the Prairie States Leather Guild, he and Al Beck started the National Federation of Leather Guilds. Jim helped Al write the by-laws for the federation.
Jim demonstrated and worked with members of Davenport, Illinois Valley, Beehive, and Salt Lake Leather Guilds to help establish the respective Guilds.
He developed a set of 25 stamping tools and 22 modelers. The tools were made of solid steel with knurled aluminum handles. Jim gave many of these sets away to other craftsmen. Many of the top leather artists in the country have sets of Jim’s tools, which they cherish because of their high quality.
Jim continued his teaching of leathercraft to veterans when he volunteered at Hines Army Hospital in Chicago during the years he lived there.
For many years, Jim was Show Chairman for the Prairie States Leather Guild. He secured well known artists such as Al and Ann Stohlman, Dick Giehl, Ken Griffin, Cliff Ketchum, Christine Stanley and Lou Roth as featured demonstrators for the P.S.L.G. shows were also the highlight of the leathercraft year.
Wyoming Studios, Jim’s second business, was opened also in 1970 in Oak Park, IL. Jim manufactured belts, wallets, etc. When he had trouble purchasing a quality buckle for his belts, he decided to make his own. He rented the buildings adjacent to his leather shop and proceeded to manufacture pewter buckles.
It was during this period that the Prairie States Leather Guild lost their meeting room, so the Guild met at Jim’s shop for nearly two years until they found a location. At one point, the P.S.L.G. almost folded. Jim took over and brought it back to life by creating demonstrations thereby creating more interest in leathercraft.
In 1975, Jim moved his whole operation to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he opened a leathercraft shop, a leather manufacturing shop and a buckle manufacturing shop.
Although not directly involved with the leather guilds now, Jim continued to remain a member of the Prairie States Leather Guild.
He continued to further the art of leathercraft while in Jackson Hole by teaching leathercraft to many Boy Scout Troops, the 4-H clubs and leathercraft classes at the high school. The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and United Jay-Cees honored Jim many times with awards for his unselfish contribution of both time and leathercraft supplies to the community of Jackson.
Through the years, and continuing to the present, Jim has dedicated his life to working with people. Unfortunately Jim has recently been in bad health. He had lung cancer and underwent a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He is currently in remission. Last year while at Silver Dollar City, he suffered a massive heart attack and had a double by-pass surgery.
During all the medical problems of the last couple of years, Jim continues to carve leather. He participates at the Silver Dollar City Festival and continues to mentor hundreds of his past students. He is always ready to help. Jim has never been one who relishes the spotlight. He has always been low keyed and enjoys helping without fanfare or accolades. Even so, he has received many awards and tributes, none wanted nor sough, but truly deserved.
"2003 Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft: Jim Lind”. Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal. July/August 2003: p 51. Print.