Chuck Stormes was fortunate to train in the last of Calgary's pioneer saddleries. Working with a crew of ten to twelve saddlemakers, strapworkers and stampers provided valuable experience in the use of hand tools, shop procedures and the mechanics of saddlemaking.

Further training in a succession of southern Alberta saddleries culminated in the opening of his own shop in 1968.

Building on a strong sense of tradition and a deep commitment to fine craftsmanship, Stormes has developed an enviable word-of-mouth reputation. His forty six years in the trade have resulted in an unmistakable personal style that clearly reflects many influences.

Early California saddleries, particularly Loomis and Visalia, along with contemporary craftsmen such as the late Don King and Ray Holes have been continuing sources of inspiration.

Today, from a new shop next to the home he shares with his wife, Heather, at the edge of Southern Alberta's foothills, Stormes' saddles, built on trees of his own manufacture, continue to speak eloquently for the superior bloodlines of the old California vaquero saddles.

This deep respect for the traditions of the trade has led him to a broad understanding not only of historical saddles and their makers, but also of the tack and trappings that evolved with them.

Stormes has been a consultant to several private and public collections in Canada and the United States and continues to lecture on the history of the tools of the cowboy trade.

His saddles have been on view at every major North American exhibition of western crafts, and, in 1998, he was the first recipient of the City of Calgary's Silver Spur Award for his dedication to the preservation of western culture. Also in 1998, he received the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists in Ft Worth, Texas. In 2005, Stormes was granted the honourary title of Associate Curator by Calgary's Glenbow Museum.

Stormes is a founding member and past President of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to preserve and promote fine western craftsmanship.

Stormes' saddles have been displayed at the following galleries and museums:

Trails West Gallery - Laguna Beach, CA
Big Horn Gallery - Cody, WY
Lisbeth Kyle Gallery - Los Olivos, CA
California Cowboy Show - Carmel Valley, CA
The Vaquero Show - Los Alamos, CA
Coconino Center for the Arts - Flagstaff, AZ
World Championship Snaffle Bit Futurity - Reno, NV
Western Folklife Center - Elko, NV
Triangle Gallery - Calgary, AB
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum - Oklahoma City, OK
Cowboy Artists of America Museum - Kerrville, TX
Museum of the Big Bend - Alpine, TX
Eiteljorg Museum - Indianapolis, IN

 

Saddles made by this Canadian horseman are renowned across this continent and beyond. Unsurpassed in design and craftsmanship, his creations serve working cowpunchers and, in some circumstances, are collected and displayed strictly as fine sculpture. Friend Chuck locked the shop door, setting aside the whole afternoon for the making of a portrait–a rare opportunity for this appreciative photographer. In time, the photograph pretty much designed itself. The required five-second exposure meant that Chuck had to be both locked in and comfortable. Where better than seated at his stamping bench amidst a halo of gorgeous patterns hand drawn on curling, translucent sheets of mylar? A blank section of floor was bothersome, so I tossed down the leather snake–the first item I grabbed from the scrap barrel.


 


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Chuck Stormes © Stormes Saddle Company, Millarville, Canada