- Medium : Leather Art
4-H was the reason Howard Knight started tooling leather. As a young boy in Sandpoint, Idaho whose family bred and trained Thoroughbred race horses, his upbringing was steeped in western culture. His 4-H project turned into an ever present hobby while life led him into being an electrician. After an accident forced him off the job for two years, he picked up his swivel knife and for 17 years has not laid it down.
With his hobby reinstated in his life as his career, he embraced the artistry of the craft and found a love of fashion and creating beautiful wearable art. He does so in the forms of belts, handbags, hat bands and boots. “In another life, I would have been a fashion designer,” says Howard, “I love to create things that accentuate a woman’s body, belts for her lovely waist and long handbag straps that show off elegant collars.” But he doesn’t stop there he has created panels for fine furniture and luggage.
His obvious love of the art has led him to many innovations and a unique style of leatherwork that is recognizable anywhere. His cuts are finer than most because he files his knives to a slimmer edge thus giving his work movement and life. His tools are shaped to fit his style of carving. He custom blends his own dyes to get richer tones. Then there are the vibrant colors and textures that peek unexpectedly through the elegant carving. These are exotic pieces of leather, Hermes crocodile, lizard, python, in brilliant tones with pieces of the carved overlay removed carefully with a scalpel in Howard’s own style of leather filigree.
Howard’s unique style and high quality work has landed him commission jobs with such prestigious companies as Mulholland Brothers and his work is in many private collections. He has created custom boots that took 800 hours of hand tooling and airbrushing for Axel’s of Vail, Colorado. He works with furniture makers, adding his award winning work to their creations as beautiful accents and inclusions. One of his favorite collaborators is nationally recognized boot maker, Lisa Sorrel. Together their boots become wearable art to the nth degree. He also carves custom watch bands that anchor fantastic Montana Watch company timepieces to famous wrists around the globe.
Besides spending eight of the 10 hours a day tooling in his studio, Howard finds time to teach 4-H members in Montana leather craft as well as exhibit in prestigious shows such as the Western Design Conference. He also works to advance in his craft by taking workshops from world renowned leatherworkers and makes carrying on the tradition of western floral carving made famous by Hollywood a priority.
Rocking K Custom Leather
3443 Baldwin Road
Stevensville, MT 59870