Boot/Shoe Saddles/Tack

A One-Man Leather Shop

Long-time leatherwork instructor, Mike DeWitt, keeps his heritage craft alive and well in Oklahoma By Lynn Ascrizzi Michael DeWitt, at the workbench in his leather workshop, with saddle trees and stirrups in the background. You never know where a passion for the age-old art of leathercraft will take you. For Michael DeWitt, owner and operator of DeWitt Custom Leatherworks, the long and winding trail that leading to his current workshop

Laughs and Lasts at Bell Custom Made Boots

By Johnny D. Boggs Alan Bell with his 2017 Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Bootmaker of the Year Award. Some folks might think that Alan Bell picked the wrong profession. Instead of making custom cowboy boots, which Bell has done for 40-plus years out of a one-time barbershop in Abilene, Texas, he could’ve been a stand-up comedian or a TV talk-show host. Imagine Johnny Carson (if you remember Johnny

Texas Folklife

Texas Folklife staffers, left to right: Charlie Lockwood, Ian Hallagan, Eugenio del Bosque Gomez. The Real Life of Texas Folk By Gene Fowler  “It’s practically died off,” said rawhide braider Travis “Rowdy” Pate, at the Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio circa 1985, when asked if his art form still flourished in the South Texas brush country around his native Pearsall. “Nobody learned it.”  In the same interview, —practically in the same breath, however—Rowdy allowed, “I guess

Larson Leather Company

More than Exotics By Nick Pernokas When John G. Mahler started as a salesman for a heel company in Chicago in 1948, he couldn’t have guessed at the events that were happening on the other side of the world that would affect his family.  In South Africa an effort was being made by local ostrich producers in the Klein Karoo region to revitalize the floundering ostrich business.  Once the market
Boot/Shoe Saddles/Tack

Jackson’s Western Store

Evolving with the Times By Liisa Andreassen Third-generation owner Charles Jackson says they sell a lot of used saddles, especially Buckaroo-type saddles. When I visited Jackson’s Western Store in Asheville, North Carolina, a few days before this past Christmas, it was a bit like visiting Santa’s workshop. Upstairs was a colorful retail shop and downstairs was the leather shop and its artisans. Whether filling a custom order for a gun

Coyote Couture

By Johnny D. Boggs Designer Gail Orrick, wearing a custom deerskin buffalo nickel Coyote Couture vest, paired with long coyote fur collar, custom hat from Burns Custom Hats, and turquoise earrings from KB Hansel Jewelry. Gail Orrick didn’t know what to expect. Here she was, debuting a new line of furs at the Cody High Style fashion show in Cody, Wyoming, in 2010. She was such a newcomer she had

En Pointe

The Success Story of Cardinal Shoe American manufacturer finds its niche in high-tech ballet shoes Photograph Courtesy of Eduardo Patina By Lynn Ascrizzi In an on-stage solo, principal ballerina,Michaela DePrince, flies like a bright-feathered, gravity-defying bird, her arms stretched wing-like above her head and her expressive face turned upward, as if  searching for a distant star. What is easily missed in that ecstatic moment, which took DePrince years of professional

Montello Heel: An Industry Icon

By Liisa Andreassen Montello Heel Mfg., Inc. in Brockton, Mass. has been handcrafting custom shoe components at the same Brockton location for 110 years. In 1956 John Alden Pearson, the superintendent of the factory at the time, was able to purchase the company and it has been in his family ever since. Handcrafting custom heels and maintaining a solid foothold for more than a century, Montello Heel MFG., Inc. is

C.S. Osborne & Co. 193 Years Strong

World-class maker of hand tools maintains success by sticking to what it does best By Lynn Ascrizzi A drop forge hammer at C.S. Osborne & Co., a manufacturer of leather, upholstery and industrial hand tools, founded in 1826. As any skilled handcrafter knows — you’re as good as your tools. After all, there’s nothing better than working with, say, a precisely sharp skiving knife whose well-formed handle doesn’t argue with