FLASHER, ND (KFYR) — For more than 20 years, Cliff Naylor has brought us weekly stories from Off the Beaten Path.
You’ll find many of his favorites in his new book, “Dakota Day Trips: The Road to Rural Wonders.”
He shared those stories and gave us updates on some of those classics on First at Four over the past few weeks.
One of the more recent stories he revisited is that of Ray Riehl, a Flasher leatherworker.
Riehl’s update is good news.
So good, in fact, that Jody Kerzman and Cliff returned to Flasher to revisit R&R Supplies.
Ray Riehl doesn’t work as much as he used to.
“I take Sunday off,” he says.
But from Monday to Saturday, you will find him in his studio.
“I’m here from 6:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. until 5 a.m.,” he said.
Riehl stays busy creating lots of things, like saddles and leather dog harnesses. He started R&R Supplies in 1987.
“I didn’t think it would take this long,” admitted Riehl. “I should be retired because I’ve been in business for 35 years!
Instead, he crafts new items, like these leather fly swatters. He got the idea when a friend brought one home from the National Finals Rodeo.
“I thought to myself, well, I have nothing else to do and I have all this leather scrap, might as well use it for something. So I started making fly swatters,” Riehl explained.
His work is meticulous and precise. What makes it even more impressive: Riehl is blind. He lost his sight more than three decades ago.
“February 24, 1986,” he recalls. “I had a head-on collision with a pickup truck and the hood of the pickup went through the windshield of my car. I used to go to rodeos, I was a pickup truck and all that , and I was trucking, and now I had to learn something new.
It was then that he discovered leather goods.
“It’s something to do,” he explained. “I didn’t know how to operate a sewing machine until I was blind.”
Riehl quickly mastered the sewing machine and has been creating leather masterpieces ever since.
He never saw his work.
“I just go by feel, that’s all,” Riehl said.
It looks like Riehl has exactly what it takes for this kind of work.
If you would like to purchase any of Ray’s work, call him at 701-597-3568.
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