Meet the artisan: Tara

At the beginning of the month, we welcomed a new leather artisan to our shop. Meet Tara, who comes to us from Montana by way of Montreal, Quebec and Portland, Oregon. While she's never worked with leather before as a medium, she has a background in fine art, sewing, and grew up in a rural setting so is excited to be back in a space with horses, livestock, and wildlife.

What attracted you to working in the leathershop?

This environment reminds me of growing up in Montana. It's been a long time since I’ve lived somewhere more rural or remote. Living in academia for 10 years was a little soul sucking, and as a kid being out on the land working got me out of my head a little bit. I just haven't had that recently, so the idea of working all day outside around horses and horse people is great. I rode until middle school, then lost access to horses so I haven't ridden in a long time in any serious capacity, but I love them. 

What are your first impressions of the leather shop, and the Chico Basin Ranch?

The shop smells so good because of the fire. Everyone is so kind and open, ready to help and collaborate. It's a very easy place to get in the zone. I love that everyone is in and out of the shop. I love [the shop cat] Meatball and [Andrea's dog] Lola. It just feels really good. I remember stopping in front of the ranch sign on my way here and saying “damn!” There were a lot of nerves too, it was a big transition, but there’s something about going really far out and then grounding yourself. I'm really excited about that.

What were you up to before you came out here?

In Portland, I spent three years teaching high school English, and most recently, I had been working in clothing consignment. Back in Montreal, right before I left, I worked with a group of artists and curators building out a collective art space that ended up being an event space, and art book store. It was this old garage that was bought by a property developer that gave us a cheap, temporary lease. I loved it. We dug out the oil catches in the ground and built these ponds with aquatic plants and fish.

What’s your favorite beer?

I oscillate but would probably say corona, that's what I would drink with my dad when we would go out fencing. 

What are you looking forward to the most here?

I’m looking forward to getting better at leatherwork and doing more complex projects. I’m hoping that it informs my sewing too. I think part of my time in academia was that I had gotten away from things outside of that realm, so writing for fun instead of doing it for work would be really great, for example. Being outside as often as possible. I really want to learn about the native plants, too. That's a goal, to identify grasses and trees and things like that. Also looking forward to more time developing sewing and calligraphy practice. Both are very meticulous; you have to go slow. I feel like I have a very fast paced mind so anything that can slow me down is good.