Monday, 18 January 2016

Leaders In Leathercraft: Jim Gick

Jim Gick (1917-1993) assisted in the development of modern leathercraft through Pacific Arts & Crafts, his involvement with the creation of the Craftaid, and his contributions to the general craft industry.

Leaders In Leathercraft: Jim Gick by Tandy Leather

Jim Gick initially discovered a love for crafting when visiting the USO while serving in WWII.  After the war, he was so enthralled with producing handmade projects that he and his brother-in-law, Al Pauly, opened the Pacific Model Supply in Southern California in 1947.  As interest in the business grew, the store expanded in to the Pacific Arts & Crafts in 1950.  Here they taught leathercraft, copper tooling, plaster painting, model airplanes and cars, crepe paper, and more.  The classes were very popular, often filling the store with eager onlookers wanting to learn.  Even with the addition of a ceramic studio and a complete wood shop, leathercraft still accounted for 50% of the business.

Leaders In Leathercraft: Jim Gick by Tandy Leather

Gick decided to put more focus on the leather end of the business and bought out Pauly to bring in leather carving expert Joey Smith as a partner and an instructor.  Their classes brought a lot of attention to leathercraft, catching the attention of leathercrafters such as Al Shelton, as well as artist and inventor Lou Roth.  After innovating a plastic engraving sheet to help apply patterns on to leather to expedite teaching, Roth, Gick, Smith, Al Stohlman and Dick McGahen started a company to manufacture these new “Craftaids” through the Craftool Company.

Pacific Arts & Crafts also became a popular gathering place for leather artists of Southern California.  These craftsmen would actively do demonstrations and often meet socially, in time developing a formal leathercraft guild.  The Leather Guild paved the way for future leathercraft guilds and included prominent names such as Al Stohlman, Ken Griffin, Christine Stanley, Ladd Harverty, Cliff Ketchum, and many other well-known leather artisans.

Leaders In Leathercraft: Jim Gick by Tandy Leather

Gick enjoyed teaching so much that he wanted to expand his business and begin transferring his knowledge of crafts to paper.  He began photographing step-by-step instructions for crafting which he then would add more detailed lesson in text, lead to publishing several crafting books as Gick Enterprise.

After publishing some of his first books, Gick joined the Tandy group in 1960 and moved to Fort Worth as the Assistant General Manager of the American Handicraft Division.  After two years, he was promoted to Merchandising Manager of Tandy Leather Co. where he was responsible for handling merchandising for Tandy Leather Co., American Handicraft stores, and the Craftool Co.

In 1965, Gick returned to California to help open additional American Handcraft stores, and spent the next few years developing various craft brands before deciding to return to publishing under Gick Publishing Inc., eventually retiring in 1979.

Leaders In Leathercraft: Jim Gick by Tandy Leather


Tandy Leather would like to extend a special “Thank You” to Jim Gick’s son, James Gick, for sharing photographs and biographical information about his father.