I met Kris Polizzi a few years ago at Dixon’s Gunmakers Fair and I was struck by her tightly woven straps. Subsequently she joined the Honourable Company of Horners and I have gotten to know her as an active and engaged member as well as a weaver of wonderful straps.
Scott Morrison is a well known horner in our Pacific Northwest and was asked to ruminate about Kris. He submitted this…
As a horn maker, I am always looking for the right strap to complement and complete a project. I have found that Kris Polizzi from Pennsylvania, makes excellent straps that will complete any project.
I first became aware of Kris and her work a year ago at the West Coast Horn Fair in Vancouver, Washington. Kris had donated one of her straps as a raffle prize which I was fortunate enough to win at the banquet on Saturday night. That day I had discussed a custom horn for a friend and when I picked up Kris’ strap I immediately knew that it had to be incorporated into the project. I was impressed with the quality of the strap; it was very well made with a historic looking pattern and would fit well with the project.
My friend participated in the David Thompson Columbia River Brigade this past summer. The brigade was a joint Canada/USA canoe trek commemorating the 200th anniversary of Northwest Company’s explorer David Thompson and his trip down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean in 1811. My friend carried the horn with Kris’ strap with him on the brigade and received many favorable comments on it.
When I was working on a French & Indian period engraved and lobed horn, I thought of Kris’ straps. I looked through the patterns on her Facebook page and chose pattern number 61. Kris worked with me on this and wove the strap to the length that I needed. (See Kris’ Facebook page here.)
Kris has over 100 patterns available to choose from with more seemingly everyday and a variety of colors. She is willing to work with the customer and customize the strap to their specifications. Though I have yet to meet Kris in person, I consider her a friend and a great craftsman. You cannot go wrong with her straps.
I agree with Scott totally. I have two of her straps and plan to buy more.
This squirrel hunting rig was made by David Robinson for his .32 caliber rifle. It is a double bag of Mr. Robinson’s design and made from heavy cotton canvas with three coatings of beeswax, trimmed with deer skin and sewn with waxed linen thread. The pouch is lined with a vintage cotton cloth. The strap is buff leather and has a forged buckle and a buff leather patch knife sheath attached. The pouch measures 10 inches in width by 11 inches tall. The horn was made by Mark E. Elliott, who is a well known Virginia gunstocker and horner. The horn is 2 1/2 inches in diameter at the butt and 10 3/4 inches around the outside curve.
I really like pouches in canvas. I am sure this one will last a lifetime.
Thanks for reading,
Reprinted by permission of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association/ Muzzle Blasts magazine.
For information on the NMLRA please visit the website at www.nmlra.org.
Much has been written in the past about Shawn Webster, but in recent years there have been some changes although much remains the same in the life of this talented artist and enthusiast of early American lifestyle. Shawn still lives in the mountains of Utah, near Cedar City, still hunts with a muzzleloader, fishes and traps in the 18th and19th century manner following in the shadows of Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith and Joe Meek. He still tans all of his own hides for use in his work using both the bark and brain tanning methods. But there have been some exciting new developments for Shawn. Among other things, he has authored a chapter on 19th century beaver trapping in the Book of Buckskinning VIII, but even more ambitiously, he has published a book titled In The Image of A. J. Miller, a full color volume uniquely showcasing the art of Alfred Jacob Miller and Shawn’s recreations of the clothing shown in those paintings.
In 1837 Baltimore artist Alfred Jacob Miller went west with an expedition headed up by the famed Scotsman, Sir William Drummond Stewart. Miller was to chronicle the trip in sketches for Stewart in order to later work his sketches into finished paintings. Miller attended the ’37 rendezvous in the Rocky Mountains and was the only artist to ever depict one of these events. During this journey Miller did a large number of drawings and paintings of the mountain men, Indians, and geographic locales he encountered. Shawn has taken a selection of Miller’s art, had well known artist frontier artist Lee Teter duplicate these works, and then faithfully recreated the clothing and accessories shown in the paintings. He has placed Miller’s subject on one page and a photo of his reproductions duplicating the painting on the facing page for comparison. It is a very interesting concept, and most useful to anyone depicting this period of frontier history.
Notably, Shawn’ quillwork was included in a successful major museum exhibit, The Art of the American Frontier at the Owensboro Museum of Art (Owensboro, Kentucky), curated by Russell Young. This unique and cutting edge exhibit featured both antique art and outstanding works by 41 of today’s leading contemporary makers.
The quality of his work steadily improves as he faithfully reproduces the techniques passed down by generations of quillworkers. But also as a creative artist, he develops new styles which express his own ideas, all the while being cognizant to preserve the traditions of the past. Shawn is well known for his exquisite quillwork and beautifully brain tanned hides, though he is interested in all forms of early American art. He is constantly seeking out new formats through which to express his art.
One of the most demanding of these new works of art was inspired by renowned frontier artist H. David Wright. David commissioned Shawn to make a quilled coat in the style of 19th century Metis coats. Says Wright, “We wanted this to be an exceptional work of art, so Shawn and I researched Metis coats in collections throughout North America and Europe. I photographed many coats for construction techniques and quill designs and we then selected what we felt was the best of the best. Shawn beautifully incorporated all our research into a fine, beautiful work of art.”
This coat was featured in the Owensboro Museum exhibit catalog with a full page color photo. It is also shown in this article. Beautifully quilled and made from six brain tanned hides smoked in two colors, the coat is truly a work of art. David has been seen wearing this fabulous coat at his gallery shows and events throughout the country. As a result, Shawn’s reputation continues to grow in many areas of the art world. According to Shawn, he is in the process of finishing another of these coats, the first one to be offered on the open market.
Several years ago, Wright also commissioned him to make a copy of an 18th century Huron pouch that is in the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Canada. Wright had photographed the pouch in 1987 in preparation for article he wrote on American Indian quilled art. He made detailed photographs and obtained information about the construction techniques used in the bag by examining the original during a trip to the museum (then known as the Museum of Man). Much to Wright’s chagrin, after he commissioned Shawn to duplicate the pouch, he later learned that the pouch contained moosehair embroidery, which he had misinterpreted as quillwork. However, because Shawn’s quilling techniques are so finite, the quilled bag looks to be an exact duplicate of the original.
Wright reflected that… “Shawn took the information I furnished him and faithfully reproduced it in quillwork. Because moosehair embroidery is sometimes difficult to identify from fine quillwork, I’m the one who misinterpreted the original art. Shawn did a fine job with his work and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.” The pouch is featured in this article.
Since pouches are one of the most practical canvases on which Native Americans placed their designs, it follows that when writing an article on an artist working in this medium, those would be one of the most common forms to illustrate. As such, we have chosen three to be illustrated here: the Huron pouch previously mentioned; a copy of an 18th century Ottawa pouch; and one with a Shawnee design. The Ottawa pouch features the “underwater panther” design. This motif holds great spiritual meaning for Native Americans and thus many contemporary quillworkers are reluctant to recreate it. This pouch is a prime example of the work Shawn does in that it is true to its heritage, and is beautifully aged to give it that eye appeal so liked by re-enactors as well as collectors. Additionally, it is constructed and quilled in such a way as to be completely compatible with hard use. The strap is backed and the bag is lined with hand-woven linen. It is, in all ways, serviceable while maintaining that authentic, period look – a must for those living history buffs who use these works in the field.
The third pouch we have chosen is what is generally accepted as a Shawnee design. Again, while faithfully and painstakingly maintaining authentic design our artist has recreated a product that will provide service for those who wish to use it as part of their persona in re-enacting or present a focal point for any collection of Native American art. The original which influenced this design is in a museum in Germany.
Of equal importance in items of decoration to early Native Americans was the knife sheath. Whether it be made for the larger belt knife or what is termed a “neck knife”, these sheaths provided an ideal platform on which to display their art. The neck knife sheath pictured next to the Shawnee bag is of the classic Central Great Lakes design.
The larger belt knife sheath is of Huron influence but is freely designed by Shawn. It is a belt size, 9” sheath with a stiff bark tanned liner covered with brain tan deerskin. All of the quills Shawn uses in his work are dyed with natural dyes. The knife is an English style trade knife hand-made by well known Crossville, Tennessee knife maker Tim Ridge. (More about Tim in a later article.)
Shawn is active in support of organizations that share his interests: The National Muzzleloading Rifle Association, The Contemporary Longrifle Association, the American Mountain Men and the National Rifle Association.
Shawn Webster’s art continues to improve as he researches his subjects and applies his knowledge to his art form. He is always excited about taking on new challenges and is willing to talk about any project if you will call him at (435) 586-2326 or contact him at:
172 Wind Song Way
Adolphus, KY 42120
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Jones began his interest in living history in 1960 with Ralph Marcum and Randy Cochran, he was a charter member of the Kentucky Corps of Longrifles and began attending Friendship in 1959. His interest in contemporary makers started in the 1970’s when Dr. Glen Marsh introduced him to the work of Gary Birch and Jud Brennan. In conjunction with David Wright he wrote the “From the Hands of Master Craftsman” articles for Muzzleloader magazine and has been writing for Muzzle Blasts.
author for BlackPowder411.com. Here is what John has to say about a personal pouch and horn of his creation:
“In 2001, I was getting read to go on a buffalo hunt and I decided I needed a good hunting bag that would compliment my English Sporting Rifle. So, one afternoon, I sat down and started thinking about what features I wanted it to have. I didn’t want it to be too big, but I didn’t want it to not be able to carry what I wanted, either. It had to have a tie down flap and a belt loop as well so it wouldn’t be flopping around on my side. I wanted it to carry a few speed loaders and some basic stuff, as well. And it had to have a pocket on the strap that would carry a powder measure and a capper and a loop to carry a short starter as well.So, I designed it with an accordion fold in the gusset so it could expand or contract according to the amount of stuff I was carrying. It is built with a generous belt loop on the back and the strap is easily removable so it can even be carried as a belt bag. The double pocket on the strap carries a Treso 40-200 grain adjustable measure and a Tedd Cash Musket Capper. Inside the pouch are three loops to carry speed loaders in the main area and a back pocket to keep cleaning patches and a little tin of grease in. A loop is sewn on the face of the bag to carry a musket size nipple wrench. It is covered by the flap, which is secured with a lace that ties around a pewter button. While hunting, I carry the speed loaders, an 800 grain round brass flask, a 2 OZ bottle of cleaning solvent, 3 extra round ball, 3 extra patches and 3 extra cushion wads so I can reload the speed loaders if needed. I also carry a Leatherman’s tool and a Hawken Shop Flinter’s tool as well as a ball puller in the caliber I am shooting and a brass “T” handle for the ramrod.In carrying on with the English motif, I discovered that Track of the Wolf sells an English style powder valve, similar to the old Dixon type. I got one of those and affixed it to a horn. I turned a maple base plug for it and installed a brass finial. I feel the horn style is ideal for use with an English Sporting Rifle or a shotgun.”
I have been a lover of nice flintlock guns since I was just a kid. However, a real appreciation of the same qualities in accouterments like pouches and horns followed later. At one time a nice gun and just any old bag and horn would do (not so, now). Be warned! Once you associate with folks who produce good stuff, your kit will look different to you and an upgrade will be in order!
Some of us figure out a way to buy quality items for our hobby and some actually make them. I fall into the first category. But I wanted to try to make a bag. And that is how this review of Tim Albert’s book, Recreating the 18th Century Hunting Pouch came about.
First of all the book is published by Track of the Wolf, Inc. The pictures and layout live up the quality one expects from them. Super pictures and patterns are found throughout. Tim’s writing is clear and concise. Nothing is left out. All you need is the book, supplies and a few hand tools.
The book is softbound with 123 (8.5 x 11 inch) pages. The paper has a quality shine to it. The color photos are by the same guys who photograph for the Track of the Wolf website, so you know what to expect!
I mentioned that the book leaves nothing out. I am not kidding. The content includes: tools, types of leather, setting up your workspace, cutting, constructing, attaching everything and dyeing the pouch and strap. As a bonus, Tim shows you how to make and attach a knife sheath and an optional gusset as part of the pouch body. Antiquing techniques are also shown.
The book features pictures and notes about many originals and variations for the novice builder. I took various elements from a few different pouches in the book to make mine. In retrospect, I should have followed Tim’s directions on North Hampton county pouch and built that bag precisely to the instructions. This would have made the process easier I am sure. And I probably would have wound up with a better looking bag!
If you want to try to make a pouch from scratch, this is the book for you. Even if you have made a few bags, I am sure you will pick up some useful tips.
The process of learning to make a pouch was enjoyable and I gained a new respect for the leather worker who does this for a living.
Thanks for reading this review,
By the way, I used leather from www.leatherbythepiece.com to make my pouch. Their typical 5-6 ounce leather is a bit too heavy for most pouches, but often they will have some 3-4 ounce leather in stock even if it is not on their website. Email them through their site; they are nice people.
The buckles were obtained from http://www.buckleguy.com . They have a good selection and their website is easy to use.
This is Rick Sheets and I want to thank you for visiting or coming back to this blog. I am kicking off a new category called, “Show Us Your Rig!”
I will start it by showing off my Jeff Bibb Southern Pouch and Horn. Jeff made the pouch for me last year and the horn has followed a few weeks ago. They compliment each other perfectly and will never be separated.
The pouch started out as an English saddle that I skinned and sent the pieces to Jeff. He did a fantastic job of making a fringed Southern bag out of the parts. Jeff describes the horn as a single banded Carolina horn. The horn features a screw-off tip made of redbud wood and a pine stopper. Jeff can be reached through his website at: www.jeffbibbpouchesandhorns.com.
SHOW US YOUR RIG!
Please share pictures and a brief story about your kit. Just email the images and particulars of the origin of your pouch and horn. If they are contemporary pieces, we need to give proper credit with contact information if the artisan is taking orders. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!, Rick Sheets
Making an Antique Saddle Pouch
By Jeff Bibb, Guest Author
When Rick Sheets inquired about a new hunting pouch last summer, there was one small catch to the project. You see he had this old, English saddle and wondered if I might be able to use some of the leather in it to make his new pouch. I agreed to take a look at the saddle since it had been taken apart to see if it was useable. Gee, there must be a pouch in here somewhere…
Several pieces looked pretty suitable including the pigskin seat cover, and padded side pockets. They were even dyed and pre-aged! I treated all of the pieces with Lexol leather preservative to get them as soft and supple as possible before cutting and sewing.
With some research, I located a photo and some details for an original Southern Appalachian pouch that would work for this project. After drawing and laying out a pattern, the cutting started. There was no room for error since each piece of the pouch could only be cut from one piece of leather. The inside pocket and strap tabs were cut from new leather and the decision was made to line the pouch with thin deerskin to make it a little stronger. Rick chose a hand-woven strap I had around, and we were all set.
After the pieces were all cut, the deerskin lining was dyed and glued to the front, back and flap. This makes it much easier to sew the pouch together and keep everything lined up.
After everything was dry, the lining was trimmed around, leaving some extra for fringe. Then the fringe had to be hand-cut on each piece of the puzzle, or pouch as it promises to be. Because of the age of the leather, a decision was made earlier that this would be an outside-stitched pouch. I did not want to even contemplate soaking and turning leather this old. A reinforcing band was sewn to the back of the pouch along with the completed, hanging inside pocket. The strap tabs were then sewn to the back and it is finally starting to come together.
After several tedious hours of sewing, the front, back, flap and strap were all attached. After a little shaping and loosening up, it really is a hunting pouch! Mr. Sheets is ready for a walk in the woods. Oh, I might mention that this was when I found out the saddle was almost an antique in its own right. Glad I didn’t know.
Jeff sells ready made pouches and horns and takes on commissioned work. Please see his website. JeffBibbPouchesandHorns.com