(Sheridan, Wyo.) — In his home shop, among his leather and with tools lining the walls, Wayne Hape
, a saddle maker
and custom leather artist, is in his element.
Well, one of his elements.
He is also a finished carpenter, a traveler, a father and a
fifth-generation Wyomingite, great-great grandson to James Enochs, the
first Sheridan County Sheriff who settled in the area in the 1870s.
Oh, and he also plays mandolin.
"Sometimes when I am out playing, people will ask where I got my mandolin
case," Wayne says with a rueful smile.
Of course, he made it himself.
[image: Inline image 1]
*Wayne Hape's award-winning mandolin case, which he carved and hand-painted
a few years ago. / Pitchengine Communities photo*
Wayne is teaching a class in May called "Leather Working with Wayne Hape"
at the Sagebrush Community Art Center . The
class will run every Saturday from May 7-28 from 1-3 p.m. It is $85 for
members and $100 for non-members, and beginners are welcome. The class is
still open to registration.
Wayne learned leather working himself from his father, Chester Hape, who
worked with the greats like Don King and Tom Balding. They developed what
has come to be known as "Sheridan Style" leather carving
—yes, there is an entire style of the
art named for our region of the West.
Like any true artist, Wayne does some work in the style of his teachers,
and he also creates his own style, crafting intricate, detailed designs on
leathers ranging from cattle to kangaroo, and ranging in color, thickness
Wayne also crafts personal items such as cases, bags, scabbards, albums,
books, wallets and belts made to order and one of a kind.
He has work on display at the Sagebrush gallery and at Tom Balding Bits and
Spurs. He has earned numerous awards for his craft, including being named a
four-time blue ribbon winner at Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show.
But you wouldn't know it—he brushes off flattery like any true Westerner.
To design a piece, Wayne first makes pencil and paper drawings in intricate
detail. He knows which leather will work for each project—kangaroo, he
said, is very strong but thin, so it works well for lace work.
Then he begins carving.
His work is such that the longer you look at a piece, the more detail and
design you begin to notice. You may think a piece is made up of sweeping
floral tooling, and on a closer look, figures begin to emerge.
The leather begins to tell a story.
Living in Sheridan with his wife Kena, his young son and his father, who
has retired from leather working now, Wayne said he often works with his
son at his side.
One day, perhaps his son will take up his family trade.
To sign up for Wayne's class, contact the Sagebrush Community Art Center
. Visit Wayne Hape's website here
, or learn more about leather working at the 2016
Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show
[image: Inline image 2]
*A piece that reflects Wayne's personal style. He was also taught Sheridan
Style Leather Carving by his father. / Pitchengine Communities*
[image: Inline image 3]
*Kangaroo leather that will be made into women's wallets. / Pitchengine
[image: Inline image 4]
*Wayne shares photos of the saddles he has made. A handmade saddle can take
80 hours to make, and another 80 hours after that for stamping. /
*[image: Inline image 6]*
*Here, the piece on the left made by Wayne and his father Chester, shows
the Sheridan Style. The piece on the right is Wayne's personal style. /