Out West

Crafted By Hand & Heart

Nevada Watt, founder of the Fusion Show and Sale

Nevada Watt’s Fusion Show and Sale celebrates the evolving world of cowboy crafts and craftspeople at the 2017 Brannaman Pro-Am Vaquero Roping.

By Bill Reynolds

September 1, 2017

Nevada Watt, founder of the Fusion Show and Sale

Nevada Watt, founder of the Fusion Show and Sale (photo courtesy Nevada Watt)The culture of the West is constantly being accused in “civilian” media of being inhabited by people sitting around organizing their Medicare cards. Possibly this is because the Western genre media honors the seasoned a bit more than other parts of our general, throwaway culture. These older ones help pass on the wisdom as well as the traditions of our root-based, western way of life.

Such is the way Nevada Watt grew up under the tutelage of her father, legendary saddler and silversmith Jeremiah Watt. But like any good student, at some point the young ones go their own way and create in their own vision. As a silversmith, Nevada employs some serious out-of-the-box thinking in her approach to many traditional types of gear. In doing so she has attracted a customer and fan base that look to her for evermore intriguing designs. 

Learn more about the Watt family in Watt Family Ties.

This approach lead her to creating the first Fusion Show and Sale three years ago, held concurrently with the Buck Brannaman Pro-Am Vaquero Roping in October in Santa Ynez, California. This year’s event is October 20-22, 2017.

The first show focused on silversmithing and featured mostly bridles, bits, buckles and conchos with an emphasis “creativity within constraints.” Those three words have been the ongoing mission of the Fusion Show.  As Watt described in the 2017 call for entries, “This year the constraint will be hats and accessories pertaining to hats. From here makers get creative and collaborative. Fusion 2017 will feature both fashion and function hats along with other hat accessories. Collaboration is supported as makers work in diverse materials.”


2017 Fusion Show and Sale artwork by Brittany Caldwell2017 Fusion Show and Sale artwork by Brittany Caldwell

Following her lead, makers have approached the 2017 Fusion Show with energy and creative bliss as one can see in the online postings from the entered makers in this year’s show. The makers themselves populate the blog on the site and Nevada has supported their contributions to help drive more and more potential customers to the event or to online sales of the items produced.

Jennifer Denison covered the first Fusion Show in 2015.

Many of the maker names you will know and some may be new as another aspect to the show is inclusiveness – just as with the hosting event, the Brannaman Pro-Am Roping. Traditions are not continued unless new faces are welcomed into the circle and that welcoming aspect is an essential part of Nevada’s vision for the Fusion Show


Backpack by Ashley RadzisauskasBackpack by Ashley Radzisauskas (Photo courtesy Nevada Watt)

You can see this attitude in Nevada’s own blog, “The Questioning State,” on her website, www.nevadawatt.com. Her logo, a silhouette of the state of Nevada with a question mark in the corner, marks her postings—windows into this young woman’s moments of reflection on herself, her work, and the life she is participating in all around her. Here is someone loving life, even the routine, as she writes in a recent entry about sleep: 

“My nighttime routine doesn’t always look exactly like this but I can tell the difference in my mind and body when it does. I begin signaling to my brain that is time to wind down with some candles and lowering the lights. If you want to learn more about why these things are so important check out The Little Book of Hygge, Danish Secrets to Happy Living. A healthy snack like Greek yogurt (plain) with some fruit and nut butter tides me over so my body has something to munch on while I sleep. A warm cup of tea and reading are also a must! I try my best to not look at my phone for at least an hour before bed. The light it gives off impairs your bodies ability to produce serotonin and if your looking at social media you will usually start thinking about things that don’t concern you. Then bedtime with a smile and a prayer.” 


Bridle silver by Nevada WattBridle silver by Nevada Watt

Craftspeople, by their nature, are works in progress and are problem solvers. Their stories involve personal journeys, many kick-started by a current soc
iety that appears to be offering little career satisfaction beyond being a cog in someone else’s wheel. They are no different than those who have answered entrepreneurial sirens’ calls to tech except they see the personal value in doing something by hand, by themselves. For most craftsmen and -women, the work—and the process of the work—is the journey and ultimately the reward. 

Spurs by Jon PetersDetail of spurs by Jon Peters (photo courtesy Nevada Watt)

Skill takes time, time and focused commitment. And all of that takes patience. I hear constantly that “kids today have no patience.” I heard that when I was 25 as well. It may be true that media today can create content that lasts nano-seconds; but the desire to create, to dream and to solve personally posed problems have been with us forever. 

The new breed of craftsmen/artisans/makers like Nevada Watt and the makers in this year’s Fusion Show should give us all great solace to know there are young people among us who will help continue our Western culture in its best forms and thereby enhance the human spirit. We have much to look forward to. 

Sterling and turquoise bracelet by Nevada WattSterling and turquoise bracelet by Nevada Watt (Photo courtesy Nevada Watt) 


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