Al Shelton - 2004 Al Stohlman Award Winner

The 2004 Recipient of the Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft: Al Shelton

For our staff, Dottie and I, this year’s Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft was perhaps the most exciting in recent years.  Al total, there were nine candidates for 2004 and for the most part of the judging was extremely close – at least for four of them.  I can sympathize with the judged in that there were a number of real powerfully strong candidates.  One of the judges said he had to go over the finalist’s portfolios three times.  But, the majority of the judges agreed that this year’s winner should be and is Mr. Al Shelton of Studio City, California.  Al was a contemporary of Al Stohlman and, according to Mr. Shelton, they had met each other on two occasions in the L.A. area.  Their meetings were most cordial and shared many ideas.  Such was the nature of Al Shelton, for he carried throughout his life this urgency to teach and share.  And that was the basis of Al Stohlman’s life as well – to share.  Thereby adding growth to the leather industry.  Sharing knowledge and dedication are the keys to the Al Stohlman Award.

It was with great honor and an esteemed privilege to once again represent Ann and Al Stohlman in awarding the Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft.

This award recognizes an individual for their lifelong contributions to the leatherworking industry that is so magnificently represented here tonight.  Among the varieties and disciplines of this person’s stunning accomplishments in leatherwork are the original floral designs and pattern packs and figure carvings on leather.  Over 100 how-to articles on leatherwork are to his credit.  Dozens of leather stamping tools were his invention as well.

Our recipient’s crowded studio displays years of leather art and its evolution of the 1900’s.  He has always been willing to find the means to express those visions in leather.  Always has he been interested in advancing leather art and other expression’s through the medium of leather.

A willing teacher, always glad to describe any technique or tool know-how to an interested student.

Tonight’s recipient is far from being new to leatherwork.  Starting in 1943, as an apprentice at the Powder River Saddlery in Denver, CO.  He then moved to Rowell’s Saddlery in Hayward, CA.  The next move was to Dudley’s of CA.  Later, he designed more tools, pattern packs and leather art books for Dick McGahen of the Craftool Co. of CA.

One book of note is, “Operation Leather Carving,” valuable to all leatherworkers because of its great pattern layouts and his easy-to-follow instructions.  He has over a score of Doodle Pages to his credit.  His creativity, flowing lines and intricate leaves and flowers are so much of the life of our honoree of this evening.  As these published patterns instructed thousands of aspiring leatherworkers and his unique style of leather carving can be seen in the work of many well-know carvers today.

He opened a leather studio on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, CA where he continues his artistries today.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinguished honor to invite Ann Stohlman to place the coveted medallion upon, and to confer the highest recognition for achievement in leatherwork in the world to Mr. Al Shelton.

"The 2004 Recipient of the Al Stohlman Award For Achievement In Leathercraft: Al Shelton”. Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal. July/August 2004: p 77. Print.