A Conversation with Jeremiah Watt
Makers • 48m
Master saddlemaker Jeremiah Watt discusses his process and the intricate details of his craft with cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell. An internationally-recognized master saddlemaker, silverworker, bitmaker, and spurmaker, Watt designed and created every detail of this custom saddle in his Coalinga, California, shop, right down to building the Taylor-style saddle tree and even the tools he used to make the saddle. Commissioned in 1993, the saddle made its way from Watt’s workshop to the Western Folklife Center’s contemporary gear collection in 2021. Using skills and expertise (and inspiration) that came to fruition over the years, Watt has made a truly one-of-a-kind museum piece that exemplifies the artistry of Western gearmaking. Western Folklife Center Artistic Director, Meg Glaser, said, “Jeremiah used the form of a historic California saddle as his palette and through stamped leather artistry, gold leaf highlights, and engraved metal work has made a contemporary masterpiece.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
A Canadian native, Jeremiah got his start in saddlemaking in 1976 at a saddle making school in Amarillo, Texas. After that he traveled around the country visiting saddle shops before he landed a job with Chuck Stormes of Calgary, Canada. After seven years he moved to the U.S, working as a ranch hand and building saddles and bits in the evening. After several years of roaming Jeremiah and his family settled in California. Visiting the website Ranch2Arena.com provides a glimpse of the many interests and talents of Jeremiah Watt. They include a custom saddle business, a contract saddle business with his brother Bill, and a wholesale bit and spur and saddlery tool manufacturing company. Beyond production, Jeremiah is a patient teacher and lifelong student; among his accomplishments are a series of educational videos on the subject of gearmaking, including The Art of Leather Carving and Layout, The Art of Saddlemaking, Cowboy Engraving, Cowboy Bit and Spur Making, and Cowboy Silversmithing. For several years, he and his wife Colleen served as curators of the gathering of gear exhibitions at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
Filmed at the Western Folklife Center’s G Three Bar Theater on Sept. 13, 2021.
Made possible by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation and by the multitude of staff, artists, volunteers, and community members working behind the scenes.
Brought to you by the Western Folklife Center, using story and cultural expression to connect the American West to the world.
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