Handcrafted America: Season 2
Season 2 Premieres Oct. 21st at 9:30p ET

Work Gloves

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Dean Catherman  ♦  Oregon Glove Company

Salem, OR  |  Work Gloves  |  Website

work gloves

Dean Catherman has been in the glove business since he was 19 years old. That’s 56 years of experience! When most glove production started going overseas, Dean partnered up with a competitor and bought the Oregon Glove Company. With over 110 years of experience between them, they were able to successfully run their company and be one of the few American companies that are still making high-quality leather gloves. Dean is a man of American tradition and ethics. He’s worked with local doctors to make special gloves for cancer patients that need extra protection of their arms. It is this caring touch that makes Dean a quality man producing quality products.


What drew you to your chosen craft?
My father worked next to a glove factory, I became interested how the gloves were made and toured the factory as a visitor to see the different steps involved in making gloves. Not long after I worked in that factory. Learned it from the ground up until I was managing it. I enjoyed the whole process of making gloves start to finish and knowing it was a good product that I could be proud of. I still enjoy it today. That’s why at 75 years of age I’m still making gloves and hope to be for a few years yet.

What do you enjoy most about your craft?
Making quality custom-fit, hard-working gloves that will last a while for the customer. I enjoy making customized gloves for customers that have special needs such as amputations. It gives me great satisfaction making our cancer sleeve gloves. These gloves are made-to-order for customers who have had lymph nodes removed due to cancer. They can continue to enjoy working in their yards without fear of debilitating infections from cuts and scratches. I love the look on our customers’ faces when they first put on these customized gloves that actually fit their hands and their needs. I’ve made their job better, safer. For the cancer survivors that thought they would not be able to work safely in their gardens anymore, my glove made it safer.

Why is it important for people to make things with their own hands?
Handcrafted items such as gloves continue a tradition and connect us to our history. It is a skill we should not let fade into the history books. Handcrafting speaks to an age when our parents/grandparents had the skills to make and repair with their own hands what they needed. They labored to make something with quality, dependability, that lasted, and was passed on to other family members or traded to neighbors.

In what ways are handmade goods better than those that are mass-produced?
Mass produced product is randomly checked for quality and consistency. In the glove business the materials are chosen for a predetermined price set. The price set determines the quality of the materials used. At Oregon Glove Company we buy the materials based on what will work best for the type of glove we sew and we determine price based on the finished gloves. Yes, we are more expensive than a mass produced glove, in many cases. Our gloves are checked for quality and fit from beginning to finish… just a side note: all the leather gloves that don’t make it through to the final check are collected in a box for a special customer. We donate the rejects to a customer that trains search and rescue dogs in our area. They use them to train the dogs to search.

What does the future hold for your type of work?
There will always be a market for the handcrafted products. I’m not sure there will be interest for people to want to learn how to make the gloves. It is the lack of craftsmen that endangers the handcrafted gloves.

Cuckoo Clocks, Baseball Bats, Work Gloves




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