SHERIDAN — Leather can take on many different forms and come from a variety of animals.
The Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show provides vendors and leatherworkers an opportunity to showcase their work and products this weekend. Takeshi Yonezawa makes bags, wallets and artwork out of leather.
Yonezawa spent 2,010 hours over the last three years making a hawk, which he entered into this year’s competition World Leather Debut competition. His hawk won first place in the Stand Alone — Tooled category.
Yonezawa, who grew up in Japan, said he watched Black Kite in his hometown, which turned into a love for birds. He said he came up with the idea to make a bird out of leather 11 years ago, but after moving to the United States about nine years ago, he didn’t see any Black Kite so he changed his subject.
“I like Native American culture… and the hawk is a really special animal for them,” he said.
Yonezawa said he has been doing leather work for 21 years, but it took 10 to make a satisfactory wallet. He has also taught classes during the trade show in previous years but didn’t this year so he could focus on finishing the hawk.
The process for Yonezawa’s art, specifically feathers, begins at museums, where he asks questions to learn about a bird’s feather. He then takes a wire through a piece of leather; glues a top and bottom layer of leather to the wire and gets to work. After gluing, he uses a wood burning pen to make each line.
“And then the painting process, which I’m just starting to learn, but I already love it,” he said.
Becky Jacobs works with kangaroo leather.
Barb Sorenson, who works with Jacobs, said the primary difference between kangaroo leather and cow leather is its tensile strength.
“The tensile strength is much stronger and our customers just love it because it doesn’t break over time with their use,” Sorenson said.
Tensile strength refers to the maximum amount of stress something can tolerate while being pulled before breaking. Jacobs said the tensile strength is part of the reason she enjoys working with kangaroo leather.
“It is the tensile strength and the variety of colors and the overall look of the kangaroo lace and the integrity and the lasting years,” she said.
Jacobs primarily makes laces out of the kangaroo leather, which can be used for “all kinds of things.”
Jill Hagler sells snapping turtle leather. Hagler said a goal for attending the event is to make people aware of snapping turtle leather.
“These kinds of events connect us with all the makers and we want to get the word out about this leather to people who might not have seen it, and there are still many who haven’t and don’t even know it exists,” Hagler said.
She said snapping turtle leather is considered an exotic leather and similar to other reptilian leathers like crocodile and alligator.
The Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Sheridan College.