Part #1- Elko Gallery Saddle

Let me begin by stating that this Elko Saddle Blog will not be daily, nor weekly, it will follow no schedule, it will be exactly as I have time to get to the computer/camera,video and put it up. So if you don't see any posts for a few days, call your neighbor, not me, I don't want to hear about it. This blog will run thru the process of building the Elko Saddle from the beginning to the end. Yes, I do invite questions if you have them, and I will do my best to get them answered.......once again, as I have time.

So, lets get started with  wee bit of an admission of guilt here right off the bat. JW, ( that would be Jeremiah Watt for the uninitiated reader) often as an educator/instructor I tell my students to take good care of the customer and the order book that they live on. JW done a terrible job on this one, and I want to point that out, so you don't make the same mistake.....ha ha.

The origination of the this saddle order was in 1993, from the good folks who run the Elko Cowboy Poetry gathering. There was a time period where Colleen and I worked every year for these folks and got to know them all very well. The Poetry Gathering had decided they would install a permanent collection of those items used by everyday cowboys, bits, spurs, saddles etc. I was honored to be asked to be among those who would make something for the collection.

Elko Saddle Sketch- dated 1993

A sketch was drawn up, details of the saddle spelled out and wrote down, agreed upon by myself and the staff and advisory committee. I had been given free rein so too speak. As you can see in the sketch and the minor details that it includes, there are going to be changes made in order to adhere to the galleries concerns as it regards " museum conservation practices".

-Shown above is an original Taylor Saddle tree.

The saddle tree, was made here on the ranch where I live in Coalinga, California. I have had my own saddle tree shop since about 1984 or 85. The wood used in the saddle tree is quarter sawn Douglas Fir from Oregon. The tree specs were those of my own making, it was not for some 18 more years until I met a tree maker from Australia who actually owned a true Taylor saddle tree. As it ends up, I thought I nailed it real close. A little side note of interest. The Taylor Brothers lived right above me in the canyon where I currently live. As the crow flies maybe 5 miles to the south and at the top of the mountain. Given the age of this tree, it would have been built up at this homestead location.

Here are a few things that will be changed from the sketch provided to the Elko Museum Committee. At the time of drawing this proposal, I had intended on doing some Piteado ( or better described as Mexican embroidery using precious metal threads ). Here in the USA we attribute this work or style of work to the Mexicans, but in truth it evolved from eastern Europe long before any of it was done in Mexico. And to describe Mexican embroidery fully, Piteado is done using fiber from the Mageuy plant, and not often done using precious metal thread. Well, X out the lock stitch Brother sewing machine is on the blink and I dont have time to work on it. There is a list of issues a mile long as it pertains to this delicate thread that is wrapped in super fine silver and or gold wire.......did I mention delicate. Jeremiah and delicate should not share the same room.

Next, there is the silver and steel rope twist that would encircle the front and back housings, run over the front of the fork, and the same across the back of the cantle. My intentions were to twist the combination of metals together, then hot blue them for really stunning contrast ( I made up a sample length and it looks really sharp ). Keep in mind that steel and cowboys are a lot alike. Steel once exposed to time and moisture will inevitably rust, there is nothing to stop it. Much the same as a cowboy at a dinner party, he will inevitably swear about the lack of mashed potatoes, and there is nothing you can do about it.

So the rope embellishments will remain, except now they will be solid sterling instead of the combination of metals. The piteado will be replaced by finer carving and gold leaf work instead. We have hundreds of examples of ancient gold leaf work still being preserved quite readily and I feel that is a safer mode of decoration.

And the saddle horn you ask.....phsssh, I didn't say a word about it, besides, that's for another day.

Jeremiah Watt- good night and God Bless


  • Do you hold silversmithing classes?

    Stacy Robinson
  • Hope you are well. Just started watching your videos, AGAIN, in this shelter in place environment. If you talk to Pedro, please tell him I was asking for him.

    David Morgan

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