Chris "Slickbald" Andre - 2022 Al Stohlman Award Winner
Written by Tony Laier
The Al & Ann Stohlman Award Foundation is honored to be back to present this year’s recipients of the Ann Stohlman Youth Award and the Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft. It is hard to believe that it’s been two years since we’ve been able to get back together for a Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show. Many thanks to Charil, Ralph, Brian, and the crew of the Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal for continuing to produce an amazing leathercraft magazine along with events like the show we are attending here in historic Sheridan, Wyoming.
Al Stohlman was one of the most talented and widely known leather artists, saddle makers, and teachers of our time. I know that his inspiration and guidance were the main reasons that I and many others chose to pursue a lifetime career in the leather industry. His wife, Ann Stohlman, worked right along with Al and became an expert leather artist, saddle maker and teacher in her own right. The Al and Ann Stohlman Award Foundation was created in their honor and each year presents awards for outstanding achievement in leatherwork to youth and adult individuals who have devoted their time and lives to mastering, promoting, and passing on the art of working with leather.
Nominees for the Al Stohlman Award each submit a portfolio showing their life in creating with leather, accomplishments, published works, and most importantly, passing on what they have learned to others. Five judges (all past Al Stohlman Award winners) review each portfolio and declare a winner for the year. This is not an easy task. The Board and I thank the judges for volunteering and for all the hard work.
This year’s recipient of the Al Stohlman Award was introduced to working with leather by his mother, who had picked it up in college. He was curious and wanted to make something, so Mom bought him a comb kit to assemble, and he was hooked.
At age nine, he started 4-H with projects in horses and leathercraft. Being successful with his work in leather at county and state fairs motivated him to continue what had become a passion. It was about this time that he started to dream of being a full-time leather craftsman. But when duty called in 1985, he joined the Marines. He served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm as sergeant of Marines and was honorably discharged in 1991. Thank you for your service.
He then worked for twenty years in the manufacturing of factory automation equipment, squeezing in leatherwork where he could. In 2011, he took his wife’s advice and went into working in leather full-time (thank you, Terri!). That’s about the time I was introduced to his work as a World Leather Debut judge. It has been a real join to watch his amazing progress over the years.
Since then, I have especially enjoyed hearing from those who have taken his classes or who have bought his work of art heap on the praise for his skill, professionalism, and willingness to pass on his knowledge to any and all who ask. It gives me great honor to present this year’s Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft, along with a medal, certificate, and check for $1,500 to Chris (Slickbald) Andre.
Published: Laier, T. (2022). 2022 Al and Ann Stohlman Awards. Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal, 32(4), 26–27.