Reflections on 2022 and Looking Ahead

As the close of 2022 approaches and 2023 awaits, it is a good time to take a few minutes and reflect on the accomplishments of this last year and make some plans that will guide us to do even better in the new year. For Elktracks Studio and me in particular, 2022 was an amazingly busy and eventful year.

My best estimate is that I taught 80 online or in-person classes & workshops in 2022. The in-person workshops took me from Texas to Arizona, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Missouri, Alaska, Oregon, and even Norway. Lots of miles and lots of leather working. I cannot even begin to count how many students I got to spend some time with. Because of the online classes, the number is easily in the thousands. 

Reflecting on that for a second, one of the highlights among those in-person classes was breaking an all-time record for attendance in a single class at one of the shows sponsored by the Leather Crafters and Saddlers Journal. It was the Fearless Swivel Knife Use class at the Heart of Texas trade show in Waco, TX. We ended up with 47 people in that class.

I have had bigger classes at other venues, but it was incredibly exciting to see so many enthusiastic leatherworkers in one class at one of their shows. I am already scheduled to teach this class in Prescott, AZ and Sheridan, WY in 2023, and I think that class at Prescott is almost sold out already.

I got to do a few pieces of leatherwork in 2022 that were pieces that I had a passion for. A few of these became the subject of a class somewhere, but those classes gave me the opportunity to do a carving that my creative passion was driving me to do. There are still a few of these projects that I will have to do in 2023 when I get the chance.

I lost some friends this last year that were also losses to the leather working community. George Hurst, Bill Gomer, Bob Moline, and Wray Thompson are a few that some of you may have heard of before. The passing of icons such as these reminds me that most of those that were my inspiration as I fell in love with leathercraft are no longer able to share their passion for the craft, either because they have passed away or their accumulated years won’t allow it.

Wow! If I ever needed an encouragement to step up my game in 2023 that might be it. In 2023, I will once again resolve to make sure that I take no unshared leatherworking knowledge to my grave with me. I would love to challenge all of my passionate leather working friends to make a similar resolution.

I think 2023 is going to be a very busy and exciting year. If all of the companies, guilds and individuals that have said they want me to come do a class or workshop, follow through, my calendar will get very full. It already is.

With the way our economy has been lately, I expect to see more leather workers pursuing their craft as a way to put some extra money in their pocket. We’ve done a few videos on this topic in the past and have plans to do several more online classes early in 2023. I pray they will help a few of you make your hobby pay for itself and a little more.

So, if someone were to ask me what my favorite memories of 2022 are, I would be very hard pressed to narrow it down to less than 40 or 50. At the top of that list would be the time and experiences shared with family.

One thing that would a big part of many of the rest of them would the people that make up my leather working world. It is the time we get to share with those we care about that makes memories special. My world is overflowing with such people. 

I guess that is why I think 2023 is going to awesome! My prayer for 2023 is that God will richly bless each one of you with many great moments as you share the gifts you have been blessed with.

Happy New Year 

Jim Linnell