Ken Griffin & Roberta 8" X 10" c.1960's .
Original Glossy Promo Photo For This Great Act ! Some Light Wrinkling From Age, Signed In Pen By Ken Griffin.
Ken had been a leather craftsman making saddles and other items in Montana and elsewhere. He had gain reputable stature in the field of leather work when he decided he wanted to run away from it all and follow a childhood dream of becoming a magician.
His wife, Roberta, had briefly been involved in the Hollywood movie scene in her younger days and as a woman with a great deal of spunk and driving ambition, she backed Ken in his dream. They became well known in the magic field and Roberta wrote books under Ken's name about both magic and leather craft.
Ken Griffin (artist and magician)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ken Griffin (1914-1988) was a Western cowboy, leather worker, magician, and author. As a leatherworker, Griffin helped transition leathercraft from strictly a vocation to an accessible hobby through his work and teaching. As a magician, Griffin and his wife performed world wide with The Ken Griffin Show.
1 Ken Griffin, Leather Artist
2 The Ken Griffin Show
Ken Griffin, Leather Artist
Born in Jester, Oklahoma, Ken grew up roping cattle, becoming familiar with horses and saddles from a young age. He began working at his first saddle shop under J.B. Williams at a saddlery in Deming, New Mexico, where he learned to make saddles, as well as tool and carve leather.
Fascinated by the different regional techniques, Griffin would study catalogues from saddleries all over the country to gather ideas and blend styles. He pursued this variety, working at different saddle shops all over the Western United States, when he found himself at a saddlery in Flagstaff, Arizona. While there, he picked up some work helping with the horses on Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw, and ended up joining the crew back in Hollywood, California to finish the film.
While in Hollywood, Griffin worked for Ed Bohlin making saddles and leather piece work for films, later opening a shop specializing in quality hand carved goods. These custom pieces were featured in many of the Western motion pictures of the time, and Griffin was commissioned to make custom pieces for celebrities such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Bill Elliot, and Robert Taylor. 
Griffin began teaching and found that he was dissatisfied with the quality of learning resources available for students. He went on to produce a step-by-step instruction book on leather carving featuring photographs of the finished product, which was the first of its kind. During that time, Ken began working with Dick McGahen of the Craftool Company, later acquired by Tandy Leather, where he designed tools and conceptualized the original “Doodle Pages”.
The Ken Griffin Show
In 1946, Griffin and his wife Roberta decided to pursue another passion: magic. The Griffin family went on to tour the United States with a two-hour illusion and magic show, performing in theaters, auditoriums, and outdoor stages. All five of their children joined them on the road and worked the act. Their first show was called “NAVO & CLAYCHA", American Indian Magician”, with scenery, props, and costumes all in Native American design. In the early days of their traveling magic act, the show was not very lucrative, so Griffin would pick up a few days work at saddle shops along the road. His wife Roberta documented their travels by publishing a bi-monthly article in the magazine The Craftsman titled Leather Skivings. As their show gained momentum, it was later changed to the “Ken Griffin Show” and toured internationally for over 20 years, including in 8 USO tours.
In 1979, Ken and Roberta Griffin were both honored with the Academy of Magical Arts’ Award of Merit, as well as being the second recipients of the Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft in 1984.
Ken Griffin (1949). The Art of Carving Leather. Craftool Co.
Ken Griffin (1952). Ken Griffin's Scrap Book. Craftool Co.
Ken & Roberta Griffin (1972). Illusion Show Know-How. The Abbott Magic Company.
Ken & Roberta Griffin (1983). I want to be a magician. Creative Multigraphics.
Ken & Roberta Griffin (1990). The Professional Entertainer's Booking & Selling Manual. The Abbott Magic Company.
Griffin, Ken; Griffin, Roberta (1983). I Want To Be A Magician. Jonesboro, Arkansas: Creative Multigraphics.
Reis, Bill (March 1998). "1984 Al Stohlman Award Winner Dies". The Leather Craftsman. 4 (2): 6.
"Ken Griffin". High Noon Western Americana. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
Warren, Earl (November 1981). "Leather Skivings". Make It with Leather. 25 (1): 96.
Griffin, Roberta; Griffin, Ken (1990). The Professional Entertainer's Booking & Selling Manual. Colon, Michigan: The Abbott Magic Company.
Griffin, Ken; Griffin, Roberta (1972). Illusion Show Know-How. Colon, Michigan: The Abbott Magic Company.
Griffin, Bert. "Ken Griffin - Leather Artist". The Leather Craftsman. 2 (4): 6–8.
Reis, Bill (January 2001). "The Al Stohlman Award for Achievement in Leathercraft An Intimate Reflection". The Leather Crafters & Saddlers Journal. 10 (1): 202.
Birth place or City of origin: Jester
State of origin: OK
Last known City: Miles City
Last known State: MT
Start/Birth date: 1914
Death/End date: 1988
Ken Griffin was one of the master leather toolers of his generation. He worked with Ed Bohlin, FO Baird and Al Stohlman from the 1940s-1960s, often commissioned to do custom leather work for Gene Autry and other cowboy stars who coveted his creative technique and refined leather work. Ken Griffin (1914-1988) was a key contributor to the birth of the modern age of leathercraft, helping bridge the gap between an era of vocational leatherworkers to a craft that is available and accessible to the leather hobbyist around the world. A renowned master of his time, Griffin’s handmade stamps served as the models for many of the original Craft tools. His books and his introduction of the Doodle Page helped teach the masses the love of leathercraft. His success in the leatherworking industry provided Griffin the opportunity to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a magician, also earning he and his wife global notoriety in a second vocation. Born in Magnum, Oklahoma, Ken Griffin was the youngest of 10. When he was young, Ken loved to draw and read, his favorite being Western Americana. He took his first job on a ranch in Deming, New Mexico as a Cowboy for the summer when he was fourteen and spent his summers rodeoing and working on ranches. Ken regularly visited a local saddle shop for leather goods or to get his saddle repaired and always admired the hand carved leatherwork. The shop owner offered him a job and taught him to build saddles, repair harnesses, and stamp leather. Ken went on to work for a number of other saddle shops, eventually finding himself working for Hollywood’s Ed Bohlin, “Saddle Maker to the Stars”. Ken began commissioning small piece work in the evenings, which evolved into a small manufacturing business. The shop he was working with hired a young local actress named Roberta to wear their products out to shows and meetings to promote the business, and Ken began teaching the new shop assistant about working with leather. Not long after, Ken and Roberta had planned to marry. The manufacturing business began to grow and Ken oversaw the manufacturing team. Ken continued to fulfill specialty commissions for Ed Bohlin as well as creating pieces for some of Hollywood biggest stars including Clark Gable, Robert Taylor, Sammy Davis, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers. He became running buddies with legendary saddlemaker F.O. Baird, and began to organize the local stampers to make agreements to never undercut each other’s prices. Many attended, however some artisans such as Al Shelton had a tendency to keep to themselves. Young Al Stohlman was just starting out and was more dependent on special orders; no one considered him a threat at that time. He was a good artist, but the group jested “Do you think he’ll ever learn to stamp?” Ken found it more lucrative to stamp commissioned pieces rather than producing finished goods, so the majority of his work was on consignment from local leather shops. In addition to raising their 5 children, Roberta became the pick-up and delivery person for merchandise. She also began taking classes on lacing and braiding from Joey Smith, bringing another feature to their family leather business.
During that time, saddle makers and carvers thought “crafty” stampers where a flash in the pan; however, Dave Tandy did not. When Dave started his craft store devoted to leather hobbyists rather than professionals, the first Tandy catalog cover featured a carved border of Ken’s stamping that had been designed as a belt pattern. Ken admired the creativity that leather hobbyists brought to leatherworking, becoming good friends with early leather innovators from Southern California such as Christine Stanley, Lou Roth, and Cliff Ketchum.
Ken had always designed his own stamping tools and attracted the attention of Dick McGahen. When McGahen founded the Craftool Company, Ken’s tools became the models for the original Craftool stamps. One afternoon, McGahen was contemplating how to advertise the new stamping tools, to which Ken suggested that perhaps they put sketches in each flyer that will show how to use a particular tool. “Call it a Doodle Page, or something like that.”. Ken created many of the original Doodle Pages, as well as writing The Ken Griffin Scrapbook and Art of Leather Carving that were sold by the Craftool Co. He is also responsible for coming up with the idea for the Lucky Seven starter kit and the Lucky Eight Belt Book features an original Ken Griffin foto-carve belt pattern.
Ken always secretly loved magic and even carried cards in his pocket as a young cowboy to practice card manipulations. With his success in the leather industry, he was afforded the opportunity to pursue his lifelong dream of being a magician. The Griffin’s sold their house and hit the road as a family, all of whom worked for their show,“Navo, American Indian Magician”. During their tours, the Griffins would visit leatherworkers around the United States and Roberta would regularly share industry updates in her column Leather Skivings published in The Craftsman magazine. The family toured around the country, teaching the children through distance learning programs, until the oldest were approaching high school in the mid-1950’s. Having shared his talents at a vast number of different saddlery’s during their Summers, Ken had his pick of where to settle down. The first on his list was the Miles City Saddlery in Miles City, Montana. Owner Joe Conway excitedly invited him to make Miles City his home.
After the children had graduated, Ken and Roberta hit the road again with their magic act, “The Ken Griffin Show”. The show featured scenery, props, and costumes, becoming one of the largest of its kind in the US at that time. The pair spent the rest of their lives touring as a magic act, being featured on the Ed Sullivan show and performing in at least 8 USO tours.