This issue’s artist is Elaine Snyder. Elaine is a master tailor from Kalispell, Montana, who started learning to sew in 4H in school. She continued her education at Ohio State University, earning a degree in clothing design and textiles. In 1972, she began her career as an assistant buyer for Lord & Taylor in New York City, where she learned invaluable lessons working one on one with customers.
After two years in the big city, Elaine decided to head west and stopped in the Flathead Valley in the fall of 1974. Not long after, she had a request from a friend for a buckskin shirt.
To get a feel for leather, she made some small things, then sewed a cowboy shirt out of cotton for a fit pattern for her friend. She then cut into the buckskin and sewed up the shirt. Little did she know that she had just launched her life’s passion.
Elaine has sewn and tailored clothing from a large assortment of buckskin, such as deer, elk, moose, bison and antelope, teaching herself new techniques along the way. She puts authentic details into every piece and makes each item totally unique.
In 2009 she was one of the first 11 artists inducted into Montana’s Circle of American Masters. The Montana Arts Council program recognizes folk and traditional artists for their body of work preserving Montana’s cultural heritage.
Her work has been seen at the Jay Contway and Friends Art Show held in Great Falls during the C.M. Russell art auction week, at Montana House in Glacier Park, Kindred Spirits Gift Gallery at the airport, and you can find several of her purses and bags at Latigo and Lace in Augusta.