Wyoming leatherworker honors cowboy art tradition through craft
“Some of the finest leatherwork comes from Wyoming,” shared New Mexico native and Wyoming resident Eric Hannig. “I’m just trying to be a part of that.”
Hannig and his younger brother moved from the Albuquerque, N.M. area at a young age to live with their aunt and uncle in Cheyenne – the home of Wyoming’s Tandy Leather Company store. Both Hannig’s aunt and uncle worked, and they told the brothers to find a hobby to keep themselves out of trouble.
Hannig found his calling at a young age – a boy in search of a hobby – at Tandy Leather.
“I walked into the store and was amazed at all of the different tools and the many kits all over the walls,” Hannig recalled. “I wanted to give it a try, and ended up taking home a kit.”
This kit was just the start of the story for Hannig’s passion for leather art.
After completing the kit at home in the brothers’ bedroom, Hannig began taking classes at Tandy Leather. Soon after, Hannig had set the goal to turn his passion for leather making into a business.
A leather shop was set up in Hannig’s aunt’s house, and he started to make a living for himself, creating timeless western art along the way. Over the years, Hannig started creating larger and more intricate pieces, including saddles, purses and boots.
“I wanted to make beautiful leather, but I also wanted it to be usable, and the kind of work that cowboys admire and appreciate,” Hannig shared.
As the amount of projects Hannig created increased, including his own builds and many repairs, so did his tools, equipment and need for work space.
When Hannig moved out of his aunt’s home, he moved his shop to downtown Wheatland. Currently, Hannig is in the process of moving his shop back to Cheyenne.
Today, Hannig works diligently to continue to sharpen his skills, taking on many different kinds of pieces and repairs.
For more information, or for custom orders or repairs, visit Hannig’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ericj.hannig.
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.