Gordon Andrus grew up for the most part in three western states, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico. He has been working leather since the mid-1970's when his grandmother, Vera Rees Tippetts, sent him home with a handful of tools that had belonged to Vaughn Tippetts, his grandfather.
"My first tools were some leather stamps from my grandfather, Vaughn Tippetts; he had made some of them from nails and bolts. In high school I first began working with leather as a young teenager, about age 14. By then, my family lived in the small town of Glenwood, in central Utah. I also learned to braid rawhide from an elderly Glenwood neighbor, Lorenzo Larsen, a sheepherder, and braider. Lorenzo herded sheep on Fish Lake Mountain and was known for his folk monuments of stacked stone. I developed a small basement workshop business and kept gas in my truck by repairing saddles, and making belts, and wallets for friends and neighbors and I carved everything I could. I would fall asleep at night designing work in my head and go straight to work after school. My bedroom was a saddle shop with a bed in it. It was great!
While earning an art degree at Utah State University I worked for saddle maker Mark Broughton. Marks business was called Buffalo Strong Saddlery and it was housed in the Cache Valley Horseman in Logan, UT. Mark learned from Jesse Smith and I used Jesse's notes for the first saddle that I built from start to finish. I had done considerable repair work up until then, but had never stretched a seat in or carved a ground seat (two of the more important steps) and Mark told me what to do and gave me Jesses notes. Mark is a very generous man. He shared his patterns with me and let me work on the saddle after hours. It was a pleasure to work there. I can't say enough how much it has come to mean to me, and how much I appreciate those folks that helped me as a young man just starting out. I've learned something from every saddle maker I've known, talking to them, and occasionally watching how others work. By studying as many saddles first hand as I can I've found that saddles themselves reveal the ways of their makers. I like to study original pieces of gear from the early saddle makers. I'm grateful to those who have gone before. They created a legacy for us to be a part of. I love making things that are useful and feel blessed to be working at something every day that I want to do."