Everglades Leather Guild Members receive international awards

Bea Wayman (left) and Ernie Wayman (right) are presented awards at the International Federation of Leather Guilds annual show.

Bea Wayman (left) and Ernie Wayman (right) are presented awards at the International Federation of Leather Guilds annual show.

OKEECHOBEE–A number of members of the Everglades Leather Guild participated in the 2015 International Federation of Leather Guilds Annual Show in Fort Wayne, Indiana Oct. 16 to 18.

In attendance were Ernie and Bea Wayman, Bob and Betty Felton and Rich Chivari. Ernie and Bea have been recognized in past years as Master Leather Craftsmen. Ernie has also been indoctrinated into the Federation Hall of Fame and both have Lifetime Achievement Awards. This year Bea was inducted into the International Federation of Leather Guild’s Hall of Fame, a well-deserved recognition for her talent and passion for leather craft.

But special recognition must go out to Rich Chivari and his project entries. Rich has been a member of the Everglades Leather Guild for just short of a year at this time and has been tooling leather for just about the same length of time, yet his skills have rapidly approached that of a Master Craftsman.

He entered a beautiful leather purse and matching wallet he tooled. The purse placed first in its category with the wallet placing second in its respective category. Please keep in mind this is not a regional level entry, he was competing on an International Level which elevates his skill level and this achievement to an even higher level.

Rich first started his leather craft education at one of Big Lake Hobbies free classes where he was introduced to the members of the Everglades Leather Guild who assist with the classes. He immediately joining the guild and started working with Dave “Smokey” Barrow also a guild member and a master in his own right who took Rich under wing and taught him different tooling techniques and stitching patterns as fast as Rich could absorb them.

The award-winning leather purse crafted by Rich Chivari.

The award-winning leather purse crafted by Rich Chivari.

Before tackling the award-winning purse, Rich would tool a pattern and Dave would critique it. Then Rich would tool it again, adjusting it to Dave’s critique. The result was an amazing first-year entry and well-deserved first place. I suspect he intended to make the purse for his wife, but I am not sure she will ever get to use it since it placed first! But that is the beauty of leather craft, Rich is ready to make another.

Try Your Hand at Leather Crafting

The Everglades Leather Guild is the best kept secret in Okeechobee and around the lake. The Guild reaches into Highlands County, all around both coasts of the lake, Clewiston, More Haven, over to the east coast and south into Miami.

We are incredibly fortunate to have talented masters at the international level and quality in our Guild. Better yet, each and every one of them is willing to share their knowledge and techniques with anyone who wants to learn the craft.

Leather craft is the perfect Holiday gift in Okeechobee and the other Guilds membership areas, after all, it is ranch and cattle country out here!

Why not learn a craft taught by the masters for free? You can use what you make for gifts or personal items.

Call Joe Papasso at 561-252-0916 or Kathie Papasso at 863-357-1247 to find out when the next free leather class will be hosted at Big Lake Hobbies in Okeechobee and make your reservation today.

The next Everglades Leather Guild Meeting will be held Nov. 21 starting at 2 p.m. The Guild meets at the American Legion Post 64 in Okeechobee at 501 SE 2nd street. The meetings are typically very short business sessions and then the tools and projects come out for an afternoon of fun and sharing of ideas and techniques.


You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment