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Mike Francis

 I started working with leather in 1971 after my father died. Being raised in Grants where everyone was a miner or a successful rancher, I saw my friends walking around with hand carved belts. Well, even back then I was of a mind that I could figure it out. I talked my grandmother into buying me a Tandy Leather starter kit. After ruining quite a few pieces I figured it out and was on my way. I never entered anything in competitions back then as it was kind of hard to get around, but I continued working on my leather. Even when I was in the military I managed to get into the craft shop and do some type of leather work.

     Fast forward to 1989, I was running a Tandy leather store and met an old saddle maker by the name of Bill Rogers. Bill was a crusty old man but could he ever tool! Anyway he took me under his wing while I was working there and taught me even more about the craft. While I was employed by Tandy a lot of my finesse came as I taught classes, the last year I was there I taught 389 courses all total. Another wonderful thing that happened while I was teaching is I was able to have some of the greatest carvers associated with leather come in and do classes, so again I sat and absorbed! I was nominated 2 times during this period for the Al Stohlman award which is the highest award a person associated with leather can obtain. BUT, I have no pictures of my work from then... Well, I have picked it back up again and have really started to explore my artistic side and have been able to create what you see today. 

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