Many in Norwood know Randy Crawford, since he’s worked at the U.S. Post Office in town for the last seven years. What many don’t know, or are now learning, is that Crawford is also a self-taught leatherworker. In what he says is mostly just a really fun hobby, Norwood folks are amazed at the quality of his leather goods.
A decade ago, his grandmother was at a yard sale in Montrose and found books on how to sew leather cases. By coincidence, his wife soon after stumbled across leather tools. Everything he’s done since then is by “figuring it out” on his own.
His work began in an apartment in Telluride, an environment not conducive to pounding leather or hitting stamps. The first thing he made back then was a knife sheath.
These days, Crawford has a leather-working shed out back of his house in Norwood. Mostly, Crawford is still making knife sheaths, along with holsters, cuffs for ammo and the occasional rifle sling.
He has not quite started a business, but people are making more and more inquiries on his products.
He has been teaching the community, however. The 4-H kids hosted him this summer to demonstrate his craft, and the Lone Cone Library did in September, too. Library staff said they had such a positive response after Crawford’s class that they have been asked to host him again this fall. On Nov. 20, he will have tools and leather pieces available for practice.
“We’ll make some more leather stuff,” he said. “It’s so much fun to support that.”
He told The Norwood Post his favorite pattern to tool is basketweave.
“To me it’s a little more complex,” he said. “You have to make sure the vertical lines are straight and in order, then the horizontal. … If you get off on the slightest bit, by the time you get to the other side, it’s a wash. If you don’t correct mistakes early on or catch them, your product is not going to look good.”
Crawford said he’s been inspired and supported by local craftsman, including Norwood’s Lancy Falk, a celebrated leather worker.
“Lancy is huge. I love Lancy,” he said. “A few projects she has commended me on, and that means volumes.”
The late Lee “Hombre” Fears also visited with Crawford regarding leatherwork.
The folks at Gold Mountain in Telluride have also been interested in Crawford’s work. They’ve asked the last few years for leather ammo cuffs to be stocked in their East End shop. Crawford said he’s going to try to be more serious this winter with supplying them.
Since he’s been focused on the creative part, he’s not kept track of business details. He said he’s just now starting to keep track of time and factor in costs and other variables. It takes about a weekend for him to complete a holster though.
He’s said while he’s not quite ready to participate in the Norwood Farm & Craft Market or other shows, someday he will be. For now, he’s just been making things for friends. Though, he said it’s been the local community that has encouraged him to keep going.
“Without Norwood's support, I wouldn’t be as far along as I am,” he said.
Crawford is also a father to a 4- and 6-year-old. He’s grateful his wife supports his leather-working hobby.