Accessories Artisan Leather

Joe Schussler of the Chap Shop: Living an Abundant Life

by Liisa Andreassen  When Joe Schussler was a kid, his father would take him to a little café for breakfast in their small Idaho hometown. It was there that he first got inspired to create art. While the inspiration was a simple can that had been converted into an airplane, Joe thought it was just about the coolest thing he’d ever seen and set out to create one of his own. He went

Contour Saddlery: A New Way of Looking at an Old Art

By Nick Pernokas  The third grader sat on her Grannie’s daybed, reading. Her grandmother’s cottage was in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, and the open window allowed in the ocean air and the sounds from an osprey nest in the tree outside. It was a Saturday and the girl and her sisters had just returned from Grannie’s weekly summer pilgrimage to the library. Now Letitia was engrossed in a world created by Walter Farley, in a book titled The Black Stallion.   “I remember thinking
Artisan Boot/Shoe

Music City Leather

Wes Shugart: Makin' Boots in Nashville  by Gene Fowler  Wes Shugart heard the call of leather back around 2011.  At the time, the Nashville-based cowboy bootmaker was a builder of multi-million-dollar homes. “But I was stressed out, big time, and not very happy,” he says.  “I knew he was searching for something different,” adds his wife, Sandra. “He came to me one day and said he wanted to make footwear or

Attack Line Leather: When Virtual Media Meets a Traditional Art

By Nick Pernokas  Digital media is here to stay. And like it or not, it is affecting the ancient art of leatherwork tremendously. A young leather worker has access to a virtual library of lessons that 30 years ago he would not have without a long apprenticeship. The learning curve has been flattened for the ambitious artists out there and the results can be seen in the halls of leather shows around the world.

Rescue. Transform. Donate.

Elvis & Kresse's Loving War on Leather Waste  by Gene Fowler  Shortly before the pandemic kicked in last year, a gas leak in my home led to the presence of a houseful of firefighters. And despite my concern about the leak, I found myself—to a degree I hadn't anticipated—swept up in a wave of admiration. Ever since the nation, and the world, witnessed the heroic actions of the FDNY on 9.11.01, any


Triple Crown Leather Goods is retired Army aviator’s winning ticket   By Lynn Ascrizzi  How many people can point to a specific month and day on the calendar and declare that it marks the beginning of a new chance at life? But for David (“Dave”) Botelho, who lives with his wife, Maria, in Paducah, Kentucky, the transforming event associated with his brand-new start, arrived unannounced on May 2, 2020.  Before this turning point, Botelho, 59, already had under his belt a dedicated and highly active, 26-year military career, first as an enlisted man in both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army, and then, as an Army aviator. Among his many other duties, he piloted both Black Hawk Assault and Apache Attack helicopters. And, in 2003, he was deployed as Battalion Aviation Safety Officer during the conflict, Operation Iraqi Freedom.   Dave Botello,


Long-time Australian saddler finds renewed purpose in full-time book authorship   By Lynn Ascrizzi  Rick Allen, who lives in the Levendale area of Tasmania, retired last year after a three-decades-long career in saddlery. “I built my first saddle in 1989; I built my last saddle in 2019,” he said. Reflecting on his many years as a skilled leatherworker, he added, “I’m probably an all-around saddler.”   Tasmania is an island state of Australia. Roughly the size of West Virginia, it is located about 150 miles south of the Australian mainland.  About 45 percent of the rugged mountainous island, with its spectacular coastlines, forests, beaches, bays and lakes, is preserved as World Heritage Sites, national parks and reserves.   “I was born and

Houston’s Parker Boot Company

LIVIN' A TEXAS LEGACY by Gene Fowler  Most fine, custom cowboy bootmakers have at least a passing awareness of the artists and artisans who preceded them. But few live that legacy as fully as Zephan Parker, who hangs his bootmaking shingle in wide-open H-town, the frontier space-age megalopolis named for Sam Houston, one of the most maverick Texans who ever lived.  Zephan grew up in Sam's town. “Cowboy culture, of course, was a
Accessories Artisan Saddles/Tack

DND Leather – Where Beauty and Function Come Together

by Liisa Andreassen  When the colts she was riding started breaking her stuff, Dee Dee McGraw took matters into her own hands. She knew that making her own repairs would save her money, but what she didn’t know was that it would eventually lead to a full-time gig. She started out doing patch and repair work, and her mom quickly recognized how much she enjoyed it and offered to buy her a whole hide. That was just the beginning. Not too long after, Dee Dee stopped into Tandy Leather in Montgomery, Alabama, to buy some fancier

Lowy Enterprises: Los Angeles’s Well-Known Secret

By Nick Pernokas  Many well-known companies roll off of leather craftsmen’s tongues because they’ve worked at developing and promoting their brand within the leather industry. Sometimes though, a real gem can be overlooked just because it’s not right in your path. I want to tell you about a company that may not be on your radar yet, but it should be.  Lowy Enterprises primarily focuses on webbing-related industries. They are distributors for webbing, fasteners, soft goods and hot cutters. Many products for