A Legend Has Passed

Posted on October 15, 2014 by

On February 16th, Tom Lay – a legend in WA leathercrafting, passed away. His funeral was on March 1st.

I met him shortly after taking over Western Leathercraft in 2010. A tall, elderly gentleman with a twinkle in his eyes and a ready smile. He brought in a modest photo album of his work – and it was full of photos of creations that were anything but humble. He was kind enough to leave the album with me and I scanned more than a few pictures.

When I joined the Leathercrafters Association of WA, he was there to greet me, full of friendly advice. He’d pop into the shop every so often and it was always a pleasure to see him. He will be greatly missed.

Kevin Lowry, President of the Leathercrafters Association of WA, had this to say of Tom:
“Tom has been involved in Leathercraft most of his life. He introduced Leathercraft into schools as a Teacher and Headmaster and never stopped teaching the craft to anyone who wanted to learn His carving, sewing and dying with colours were legendary.
Tom could and did make anything in leather from coffee tables with Aztec designs, guitar cases, saddles, portraits, scenery, games boards , boxes, handbags, carved belts, gun holsters gun belts and a fantastic array of A5 diary covers of wildflowers, animals, birds and intricate designs of recurring patterns. All of his work had a superb finish.

Tom would visit Central America to look at the designs on the Aztec and Mayan temples then transfer these designs onto his coffee tables and A5 diary covers.

On his visits to the USA Leathercraft shows he attended the workshops of America’s Master Craftsmen including the Stohlmans. Tom became friends with many of the Master Craftsmen and eventually helped with the judging and finally becoming a judge himself Australian Leathercrafters always benefited from Tom’s American workshops as he would pass on what he had learned and tell us of his many adventures on his travels.

I remember Tom telling us at one of our workshops that he decided to win all the Royal Show classifications in that particular year. He entered two items in each classification and won 1st and 2nd in all but one classification and he thought that was why they changed the rules to restrict entrants to one entry each in each classification so other entrants could at least win 2nd prize.
I think Tom won 24 or 25 Blue Ribbons.

Tom passed away on 16/2/2014.

A great light has gone out in the world of Leathercraft”

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