Akiko Okada - 2013 Al Stohlman Award Winner

2013 Al & Ann Stohlman Awards Presented in Sheridan

Following tradition, the Al & Ann Stohlman Awards were presented at the 20th Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show’s Honors Night reception in Sheridan, Wyoming on May 18, 2013.

This year’s prestigious Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft was awarded to Akiko Okada of Kanagawa, Japan.  Akiko began to learn Leathercraft in 1982.  Being a perfectionist, she almost gave up because of having difficulty drawing her own patters.  Seeing the amazing art of Al Stohlman in the Al Stohman Museum in 1994, she was impressed and motivated to continue.  Around this time, she became familiar with Sheridan Style Tooling.  On her first visit to Sheridan in 1997, she met and later learned from the likes of Don King, Jim Jackson and Don Butler.  In 2007, she added to her leatherworking skills when Clint Fay, with help from Jim Jackson, agreed to teach her saddle construction.

Akiko has accomplished an outstanding list of her awards and accomplishments of the years: 7 Best of Category wins in the World Leather Debut, participant and prize winner at the Japan Leather Art Exhibition in Tokyo since 1998, and Director of the same since 2007, exhibitor at the International Art Exhibition and UNESCO Art Education League in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and participant in a very successful week-long, “One Woman Leather Art Exhibition” in Tokyo 2011.  Her willingness to pass along her knowledge to others is what makes her a deserving recipient of this year’s award as she has been teaching almost as a long as she has been doing leatherwork; from children to adults, beginners to masters in Japan, Australia and the U.S.

Akikio sent the following email to explain her feelings about this award:

“I am home now [In Japan].  It is an underserved honor for me to receive the Al Stohlman Award.  I was too moved to speak.  I felt surely Ann’s breath.  And remembered our trip: Ann, Lana and me.  Two deer appeared to us just after Ann’s ashes were scattered.  We thought surely they must be Al & Ann.  At that time, I swore then that I would do my best and help other people in the leather craft.  I’ll make an effort to develop in the world of leather craft.  I appreciate your generous help.  And I want to say thank you [to my family] for my family’s support."

Reis, Dot. "2013 Al & Ann Stohlman Awards Presented in Sheridan". Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal  July/August 2013: p 57. Print.