John MacLeod's passion for the Wild West started as a boy growing up in the Midwest watching cowboy and Indian movies. Young MacLeod had the hat and the cap guns and when he was about six years old his dad brought him a western leather vest from one of his business trips. MacLeod still has that vest today in his Arizona home.
A longtime wood worker and wood carver, MacLeod became involved with the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting in the late 1990s. Admiring other participants' leather gear he tried his hand at making his own belt and holsters. Soon he began creating scabbards, knife sheaths, spur straps, wrist cuffs, chaps, chinks and more; it wasn't long before his shooting friends began asking MacLeod to make leather work for them too.
Encouragement from galleries led MacLeod to turn his considerable talents to the creation of Native American-style pieces with their emphasis on artistry and color. "It gave me a chance to work with different types of leather - such as soft leathers from deer, elk and buffalo, and beads, horsehair, trade cloth, and paints and pigments," MacLeod notes. With all hand-sewing, hand-beading and -painting, MacLeod now works five to six days a week, sometimes in quiet, sometimes with music, sometimes with movies he's seen before playing in the background - encouraging him to look up from the minutia of his endeavors from time to time. Using many traditional methods and materials MacLeod now creates one-of-a-kind Native American-inspired artifacts including ceremonial war shirts, shields, shield covers, horse masks, dresses, and many other items. Depending on its complexity, an item can take from two and a half to four weeks to complete.
Turquoise Tortoise Gallery carries MacLeod's exquisite ceremonial war shirts and can take special orders for other items. "Creating something that can be beautiful to look at, historically based, and many times functional, all in one piece of work..." that is John MacLeod's great pleasure as an artist.