John MacLeod is a self-taught leatherwork artist focused on creating beautiful works based on his own interpretation of traditional Native American and Old West leather. His start came from participating in Old West reenactments and, while admiring other participants' leather gear, thinking that it would be challenging and fun to try his hand at making his own. This began with belts and holsters, and expanded to eventually include spur straps, wrist cuffs, knife sheaths, chaps and chinks, vests, and scabbards. At first this was for personal use, but soon friends were asking him for custom goods.
The next step came from attempting to recreate some smaller Native American-type artifacts, such as a knife sheath, shield cover, belt bag, and working up to starting work on a war shirt. This first shirt grew slowly, with various decorative elements added over time, but with the intention of having this shirt hang in his own home, just to see what the result would be. He had always admired Native Americans' use of many colors and types of materials in their clothing and wanted to expand his range of creativity in leatherwork.
Eventually, friends who were members of an Artists' Co-Operative asked him to join as a leather artist, and after his selection as a member, he hung his original war shirt in the display, "Just to make the wall look less bare." When that shirt sold, he was stuck with a bare wall and no shirt, and so began work on a second to replace the original. After the second war shirt sold, he began to get the idea and devoted more time and energy to creating a cohesive body of work.
Now, using many traditional methods and materials, John creates these one-of-a-kind shirts by adding his own unique approach to a traditional form. His work is shown in Western Art galleries and his war shirts can be found in many fine homes across the country.