Wayne Christensen - 2013 Al Stohlman Award Winner

Al Stohlman Award

For the fourth time in the 30-year history of the Al Stohlman Award, the Stohlman Award Foundation decided to present two awards in the same year instead of one.

This year's first award went to Akiko Okada at the Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show in Sheridan, Wyoming on May 18th. The second presentation of the Stohlman Award was presented at the 47th International Federation of Leather Guilds Annual Conference and Trade Show in Denver, Colorado on September 28th.

Robert Beard of Pro Series Tools was asked to come up and present the Stohlman Award for Excellence to Wayne (WC) Christensen along with a check for $1,000. Robert, who had just been presented with the International Federation of Leather Guilds' Lifetime Achievement Award, proudly hung the Al Stohlman medallion around the neck of his very deserving friend. Wayne has been doing leatherwork for over 25 years, beginning when a neighbor, who was moving, gave him a 55-gallon drum of leather. While purchasing some tools for the leather at the local Tandy Leather Store, he had the good fortune to meet the manager, Don McCown. He credits Don's passion for the craft, along with his help and encouragement, for keeping him from giving up early on.

Over the years, Wayne has taken classes with masters like Bob Beard, Peter Main, Chuck Smith and others. His passion for leather pushed him in 1990 to start a full time business. In 1995, another Tandy manager asked him to teach an advanced class, and he's been teaching ever since.

The Al Stohlman Award is about excellence in leatherwork - excellence in all aspects of this form of artistic expression. In Al's own words, "The most important of these aspects is the willingness to continue to learn, and then pass on what's been learned to others."

At home, in stores he's managed, and now in his own store, Wayne teaches and continues to teach "beginners" to "advanced" classes - even offering free classes to school teachers and camp counselors so they can go back to their students and pass on the knowledge. He continues to have other instructors (including Bob Beard, Jeff Mosby and Al Gould) come to his store for teaching, and he encourages students to take classes from as many instructors as possible. Congratulations to this leather artist, entrepreneur and teacher extraordinaire!

Reis, Dot. "Al Stohlman Award". Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal. November/Decemenber 2013. p 55. Print.