Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mad About Turquoise with The Mad Cow Company

If you follow my blog, you have seen me share some of my “Favorite Things”.  Today, I want to share some of my Favorite People who happen to be un- believably  talented and make some of my Favorite Things! 
A couple years ago, I had the chance to "live" with Pat & Amy Smith, the owners of The Mad Cow Company, in Las Vegas, Nevada during the Cowboy Christmas Trade show.  I didn't know them from Adam but after a couple weeks of all day bonding...we became fast friends and the rest is history! 

Since we all like to do business with people we “Know, Like and Trust”…. I wanted to share with you a little about the amazing Smith Family and The Mad Cow Company!  Thank You in advance to Amy for taking the time to do an interview and share her life with us.

Meet the Maker, Amy Smith ~

"I am a forth generation rodeo girl. My great aunts are Alice and Marge Greenough. We used to get to have every Thanksgiving with them when I was a kid. Alice was a big tough talker about all the broncs and bulls she has busted over the years and Marge was petite, sweet and quiet little lady. When I was little I used to tell people I was going to ride bulls when I grew up like my aunts, but that only lasted until I got bucked off a calf really hard at the first rodeo I ever entered. I really like to rope. I am left handed and all my life I have fought to be allowed to rope that way. My Dad made me rope right at breakaway most of the time, and I got to heel left. When I was in high school I switched to all left and feel most comfortable with that. When I started hanging out with Pat while we were dating I got him hooked on roping. We both still like to rope, but our kids are not interested in horses so we have not been doing much rodeo these days."

 How Did You Get Started?
"I have been playing around as a silversmith for 10 years. It all started when I was a teacher and the birth of my second child made my day care costs about the same as my teacher's pay. So I started looking for a way to bring in some income and stay home with the kids. My best friend, Natasha Robert's, in Texas was starting a little bead stringing jewelry business and I decided I could do that too. I started out selling at the farmer's market and some home parties, but it was not real lucrative.

I had been doing a little leather work since college making a few purses and belts. One day the idea of the horseshoe belt came to me, I was looking at a bar shoe in my brothers junk shoe pile and said I was going to make it into a buckle. He said that was a dumb idea and no one would wear that. So I started making piles of belts with turquoise chunks sewed on and stones glued on the buckles. I took them to some trade shows around Arizona and they started to take off.

It Takes Off
A friend of ours, Beau Compton was getting his silversmith business going at the same time so we decided that we were going to go big and share a booth in Vegas. We borrowed booth from my Mom, shared a hotel room and we shared a tiny 10x10 booth for 10 days. I insisted we had to have my life size fiberglass cow to draw attention to our booth. Beau insisted it did not fit. I guess we know who has a stronger personality because we crammed everything in and sold lots by our standards.
The belts were a hit. I told Beau I needed to learn to solder so I could make the buckles cooler and harder to copy. So when we got home from Vegas he taught me the basics of soldering and I spent my Vegas money setting up my jewelry shop. I have no formal training so I just started soldering things to everything metal. Bits and spurs were one of the first things that I decided needed to have turquoise. I was not selling a lot locally so I made the big jump to wholesale and went to my first Denver market with my life size cow and my little pile of stuff.
A Family Affair
I was having a hard time keeping up with demand just on my own. At the time my husband Pat was working out of town mostly, we had two small kids and the business was growing like crazy. We decided to throw all the eggs in one basket and take a leap and we both work for The Mad Cow Company. At first I thought he would be too big and clumsy to do small delicate jewelry work so I had him shipping, taking care of the house, and things like that.

An Engraver is Born!
Then he wanted to go to an engraving school to learn about that and I thought he would come back scratching on metal with mediocre skills. I was wrong, he was good and he loves doing it. He has come a long way with all the skills he has been acquiring. He has been to several schools and has been a huge help in growing the custom side of the business. We are a pretty decent team.

Sampling of Pat's Engraving:

Amy's Favorite Piece to Date:

My favorite thing about what we do is seeing something new be created everyday. When I make a huge pile of something I feel very productive. I love making new pieces. Everything we make spins off into something else. Each new design element, or new skill we acquire leads us down a new path. I don't think I will ever run out of ideas, because sometimes it is all I can think about. It robs my sleep and fills my days and I am thankful everyday that we can make a living doing something we both love. 

Sampling of some of their amazing pieces!  I LOVE the creativity, color, and fun designs.

These are MY Favorite Mad Cow Pieces from my own collection!
I wear one of their pieces almost daily! 

To see more and order your very own Mad Cow Pieces...
The Mad Cow Company Contact Info:

The Mad Cow Company
3741 S. Moson Rd
Sierra Vista, AZ 85650
The Mad Cow Company
3741 S. Moson Rd
Sierra Vista, AZ 85650
WEBSITE: www.shopmadcownow.cow
Phone: 520-559-6106
Address: 3
741 S. Moson Rd/Sierra Vista, AZ 85650

THANK YOU so much for stopping to visit.  So grateful to share some of my favorites with you!
uch Love, Mindy

Rodeo Tales &  Gypsy Trails
is proudly brought to you by
Visit us ONLINE!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

LOVE is in the Details - Western Rings by Silver Dust Engraving by Annie Wangsgard

LOVE is in the details .... Silver Engraving, Western Rings and More

Today I am so excited to share with you an AMAZING woman, Annie Wangsgard.  Not only is she a wife and a mother to three beautiful, She is also a VERY TALENTED Silversmith.  Relatively new to the trade, she is creating some amazing pieces and I have no doubt she will only get better and better.

When I saw Annie’s work, I knew I had to share this Idaho Gem with friends!  She was kind enough to answer some questions and give us a glimpse into her world. 
Q: I asked Anne to share a little about herself and her family.  Always love learning about where an artist comes from and what drives them. 

A: I grew up in a family of 8. Things were sometimes a little crazy. Us kids loved playing Cowboys and Indians with our ponies, or jumping off the top of the hay stack. I'm sometimes surprised that we all survived. We didn't have video games, and rarely had television. This made it possible for not only the best childhood ever, but it also gave me plenty of time to practice skills I would use in my silver work later in life. I feel this was a huge blessing. I now am a wife and mother of 3 kids that keep me very busy. I love them so much it’s worth the craziness for sure.

Annie grew up in a western lifestyle and she is raising her family the same. 
Pictured below is Annie's daughter learning in the silver shop. 

Silversmith in the Making

Q: How long have you been doing silver work and how did you get started?

A: I have been working as a silversmith for 5 years, and I have been engraving for a little over 6 years.  I started out doing leatherwork, but the silver always seemed to interest me.  I had no idea where to even start. I began searching the internet for any engravers or silversmiths around this area.  I was blessed to find some engravers in Idaho and a couple were kind enough to give me a few pointers. Later I attended ISU's metal smithing classes to learn the basics for silversmithing. This was a really fun class. I never knew school could be so fun. I also did not know how much I would love doing silver work.

(***Shout out to all you college students…or any student for that matter….. Read that last line again…. “This was a really fun class. I never knew school could be so fun. I also did not know how much I would love doing silver work”  Sound advice when starting a career path…..LOVE what you do!

Q: What is your favorite thing about silversmithing?  Biggest Challenge?
A: I think my favorite thing about silver work is being able to make an idea come to life! The biggest challenge would have to be learning by trial and error. I have come to learn that no matter how many classes you take it’s the hands on practicing that seems to be the best teacher. (Even when it really makes you mad because you ruined something)
Q: Favorite piece to date?
A: I don't think I have only one favorite piece, because almost every time I finish a piece it becomes my new favorite. I do, however, know that my favorite thing to make is rings. I love the tiny intricate details of rings.

As you can see from the pictures, Annie's work speaks for itself!  Love her work and can't wait to see more from this talented artist in the future. THANK You to Annie for taking the time to share a piece of her story with us.  Also, a shout out to my dear friend, Jana Davis, she tipped me off about Annie's silverwork and I'm so glad she did. 
If you could like to see more of Annie's work follow her on facebook and Instagram

Silver Dust Engraving by Annie
Silverdust1 on Instagram

Order and Contact Info

Silver Dust Engraving by Annie
THANK YOU so much for stopping to visit.  So thankful to have you here and be able to share this talented young artist with you.  Much Love, Mindy

Rodeo Tales &  Gypsy Trails
is proudly brought to you by
Visit us ONLINE!!