This month, in our April issue of our LumberJock eMag, I had the privilege of interviewing Thos. Angle.
1. How did you find LumberJocks and why did you join?
First, let me say what an honor it is to be asked to do this interview. I can’t remember how I found Lumber Jocks. Maybe from Fine Woodworking Magazine. I know I instantly joined and felt at home.
2. you are known as our LumberJock cowboy but we also know you as the woodworker who is a master craftsman when it comes to leather work. Tell us a bit about your woodworking journey and how the leather work fits in.
I really got interested in wood working in 1978. I hired on at a state mental institution in a sheltered workshop. I supervised a crew building pallets. There was an unused wood shop there. It was all old Delta equipment. There was a Unisaw, jointer, bandsaw, RAS and drill press. In years past this shop had been part of the old Occupational Therapy Department. I bought a ShopSmith and began to set up my own shop. I think I built a table and a cradle and a few other things before I headed back to ranching. It seems as though wood just became part of a strange group of things in my life that included leather work, art, music,cows and horses. The next time was in 1990 when Carleen and I bought a ranch. I needed to build things and again bought a ShopSmith. I built lots of projects for the house and remodeled the upstairs into a bed and breakfast. Woodworking became an on and off thing as the ranching and cattle grew and took over most all my time. When we sold the ranches off in 2005, I moved my ShopSmith into my new shop in Jordan Valley. Carleen and I decided that there was no time like the present to try our dream of combining my Woodworking with my leather work.
For a long time I had felt that hand carved leather was a natural to add decoration to woodwork. I felt that it would be of definite appeal to those who adhere to the western lifestyle. Because most leather carving follows classic design as does wood carving, stone carving and engraving, It is easy to incorporate designs in leather into almost any style of furniture by changing the style of the carving. Almost any type of art can be interpreted on to leather. This includes,pictures, Celtic designs and anything else the leather artist can think of. The only limit is your imagination.
3. I notice you have been commenting on discussions about marketing through social networking. What are you currently working on and what does your future hold for you?
Frankly, the interest in Social Network Marketing is more to do with my employment by Snake River Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I will be doing some marketing there and need to keep up with what is working in other than traditional venues. I can see that when I retire we might be able to use this form of marketing to advantage with the shop. That doesn’t sound much like I’m going to retire, does it?? Maybe just not ride for a living anymore.
4. In regards to your woodworking and leather working, who/what has been your greatest influence?
While I have studied Maloof and Krenov, I never adopted their styles as much as their attitude and approach to creativity. I’ve looked at the Shakers, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, et al. Garrett Hack and Lonnie Bird come to mind. I guess everyone in some way influences my work. I keep track of a whole bunch of talented Lumber Jocks and am not afraid to steal a page from their book at every opportunity. Todd, Les, Dennis, Charlie, Mark, Tommy, Lee and the list goes on and on.
In leather working, there is no doubt that my main influence is Don King. However, Dick Swanson, Tommy Hacking, Brad McClellan, and a whole lot more have contributed unknowingly to my work.
5. If someone wanted to combine their woodworking with leatherwork, what would your best piece of advice be?
The skill levels in both disciplines must be equal. Excellent woodworking will not cover up poor leathercraft or the other way around. Also the style of woodworking needs to compliment the style of leatherwork.
6. What is your favourite project that you’ve created?
I would have to say the Walnut Wall Cabinet with leather panel in the door(see my projects). However the Kitchen at 404 Blackaby Street is pretty close.
7. When you last moved, you sold all of your equipment and are now focusing on hand tools. Is there one piece of equipment that you really miss and perhaps will replace?
I really miss my table saw. Eventually, I hope to replace all the machinery.
8. Do you have a website?
At the present I just send folks to Lumber Jocks to view my work. I had a web page for a while but nothing came in from it. Maybe in the future we will build one.
9. Best tips for woodworker?
Never stop learning. You can learn from almost any one. Never be afraid to try something new. Push your own horizons to the limit. I will use my false teeth to shape wood if they are the best thing to to do the job. The wood doesn’t care how it is shaped as long as it is shaped correctly. Table saw, handsaw, Planer or handplane it makes no difference to the wood. Learn good design and design before you build. Allow design to follow function. Allow the wood to speak for itself and lastly; put some of yourself into each piece.
10. Anything else you would like to say?
I was blessed(or cursed). While in high school, I was fortunate to receive 4 years of college level art courses from a wonderful teacher named Letitia Alder. It was foundation based and progressed as I progressed. I suppose the habit of studying and learning never went away. There were two of us whom this wonderful teacher really pushed to be all we could be. Mark Maddox became a highly respected architect in the Midwest and I became a cowboy. I’ve spent the last 40 years trying to get off a horse and make it in the art world in some way.
I’ve learned over the years that all of us have a fantasy world and our real world. Most of my life my real world has been the fantasy world of many people. I feel I have been very fortunate and blessed to get to do the things I have. My life has never been easy but I’ve never been bored.
Thank you Debbie for this opportunity.
—Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon
Thanks to Thos. for taking the time to do this great interview.
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (http://www.execulink.com/~yohan)