Artisan Boot/Shoe Leather

Pablo’s Way: The Story of Pablo Jass

By Edward Loya  Shortly before his retirement, Ray Jones told reporters that custom western bootmaking was a vanishing art. Ray said none of his apprentices were ready to take his place because they had not yet mastered every step of bootmaking. As Pablo Jass—Ray’s best known and most accomplished apprentice—approaches his 50th year in the business, we know that Ray’s prediction missed the mark. But what does this tell us about Pablo Jass?   Like his mentor,
Boot/Shoe

Ray Jones: Texas’s Greatest Bootmaker?

By Edward Loya  In the late 1970s, there was a growing consensus in Texas that Ray Jones just might be the best bootmaker in the state, if not the country. So, when Ray abruptly announced his retirement in 1977 at age 65, he shocked his clients and the entire bootmaking community. Every major newspaper in Texas covered the story because it was unthinkable that an artisan of such extraordinary talent and
Artisan Boot/Shoe Leather

RESTARTING A SHOE COMPANY

MaineSole is redefining its products and marketing goals after COVID setback  By LYNN ASCRIZZI  For almost four years, a small shoe factory called MaineSole has been making handsewn, all-leather shoes in an old woolen mill, a massive brick structure built in 1835, situated along the East Branch of the Sebasticook River that winds its way through Dexter, Maine.     MaineSole was launched in the spring of 2017 by its owner-operator, Kevin Cain. “When the shoe factory opportunity came along in Dexter, I was planning to be one of the investors and its marketing-sales person,” he said. “I knew nothing about manufacturing shoes. I never made a pair of shoes!”    He
Artisan Boot/Shoe

Veteran Bootmaker Says Air Force Affected Bootmaking Career

Liisa Andreassen  It happened when he was 11. Brian Thomas walked into his local shoe repair and leather store and was quickly seduced by the sultry smell that lingered in the air. He just knew he had to find a way to be around it and he did. In fact, he’s made a lifelong passion of it with no signs of slowing down.  From the ground up  As a kid growing up in southern California in the early 1970s, Thomas took his first
Artisan Boot/Shoe

Randy Moe: A Season for Boot Making

 By Nick Pernokas  Moe’s Custom Boots in Beggs, Oklahoma, is one of those ephemeral dreams that’s always been there, yet seems to be a more recent fixture. That’s the way dreams work sometimes.  Randy Moe’s family had a few horses and cattle on their Oregon acreage. Although it wasn’t large enough to be considered a cow outfit, it was enough to stoke a young cowboy’s dreams.   “I can’t remember not having horses,” says Randy.  Randy had a normal childhood, but a fight when he was 12 cost
Boot/Shoe

Beaverhead County’s Double-Barreled Bootmakers

Schwarz & Schwarz in Dillon, Montana  There’s gold in them thar boots  by Gene Fowler  When you get a pair made at Schwarz Custom Boots in Dillon, Montana, you not only get a great pair of boots, you also get a handy twofer. Bootmaker Dan Schwarz tackles the lower part of the boot build, where the hide meets the road, while his wife, Julia, handles the artistic stuff up top. Working
Boot/Shoe

Zoé Rios: Bespoke Shoemaker

by Gene Fowler  “And so that’s when I became the annoying English lady,” says Austin, Texas shoemaker Zoé Rios with a chuckle. A native of Windsor, the town on the Thames where the British royal family’s castle was built in the 11th century, the distinctly unannoying Rios was explaining how she came to be a “self-appointed” apprentice to cowboy bootmaker Greg Carmack at the Uptmor Saddle Shop, located in the Brazos River town of Waco, Texas.  “I studied
Boot/Shoe

The Cowboy Boot Destiny of Texan Mark Candela

by Gene Fowler Mark Candela makes custom cowboy boots in a turn-of-the-century farmhouse near Columbus, Texas.  Ever since I was a little bitty kid,” says Texas bootmaker Mark Candela, “I’ve loved anything western.” Having recently notched his 59th year wherever he notches ‘em, the Houston native grew up in an era when Hollywood westerns ruled the TV waves and the silver screen. “I had a Hopalong Cassidy watch,” he adds,
Artisan Boot/Shoe

Motörhead and Mule Ears: The Cowboy Boot Mojo of Pascal Davayat’s Hollywood Riff Raff

by Gene Fowler Southern California bootmaker Pascal Davayat grew up in the rural Auvergne region of France, fascinated with cowboy boots and all things Wild West. “I lived on a solid diet of western movies and TV shows,” he says. Young Pascal dreamed of being a pirate or a cowboy, but yo-ho-ho-and-a-bottle-of-rum seemed unreachable, so he concentrated on the cowboy way. “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was one
Boot/Shoe

TOUGH BOOTS FOR TOUGH CUSTOMERS

JK Boots builds on-the-job footwear for wildland firefighters, linemen, loggers, welders, mechanics, foresters, ironworkers — and more!  By Lynn Ascrizzi  Picture yourself lugging a 60-pound pack in the heat of summer, while hiking for miles across forested, mountainous terrain to reach your job site — literally, hundreds of acres of raging inferno.   There, in remote fire-prone regions like northeastern Nevada, central Utah and eastern Washington, you put in high-risk, 12-to-16-hour days. As your buddies race to hose down towering flames, you cut and dig wide swaths through the forest with chainsaw and shovel, hoping to contain backcountry blazes.   Special gear, like fire-resistant clothing, was provided by your contractor. But typically, one crucial piece of equipment is not covered: your firefighter boots!   Here’s where owning the right kind of footwear is a lifesaver. And, not just for