Artisan Boot/Shoe

Oklahoma Boot Maker Finds Solace in Leather

by Liisa Andreassen  When Dan Hickman couldn’t find the right boots to fit his feet, he decided to take matters into his own hands – quite literally – and has been making boots since 1975. Bootmaking was not really a job for him; it was more of a calling. He’d meet with other bootmakers while he traveled the country during his 37-year career with the railroad. Today, he reflects on his past, present and future.   Nurturing a passion  

Listening to Leather

Bee Natural Leathercare®  by Gene Fowler  Listen up now.  “Wisdom,” one Mark Twain once reportedly proclaimed, “is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have been talking.” “When you talk,” counsels the Dalai Lama, “you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Will Rogers was proverbially a little blunter, though no less insightful, with his take on
Accessories Artisan Saddles/Tack

Al Gould – Innovative Master Saddlemaker and Leather Craftsman

By Susan Ditz  Al Gould is an inveterate doodler.   His multifaceted, complex drawings are sketched repeatedly as he works through a design to refine the patterns and elements that make each one so distinctive. Whether for a saddle, briefcase, purse, chinks, photo album or guitar strap, design innovations and meticulous attention to detail are why he is considered one of the country’s master custom saddlemakers and premier leather artists.  Born and raised in Clovis,
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
Accessories Leather

American Bench Craft: Built for Any Frontier

by Gene Fowler  Necessity, some wise personage once ventured, is the mother of invention. No one knows for certain who first spoke (or wrote) these words, though some attribute the phrase to Plato. It doesn’t matter, really, whether the stone-chiseled maxim was voiced by the Athenian philosopher or by George Washington or…Groucho Marx. It hangs in there. It endures. And after talking to dozens of makers all over the country who found their
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

Wayne Jueschke: Tools to Last

By Nick Pernokas When you roll across Interstate 80 in Nevada, you pass through a vast swath of the American West. You might appreciate the emptiness of the country. You might wonder how it felt to cross this land on horseback a century and a half ago. Elko, Nevada, has been here since before the highway was thought of. A railroad town, a mining town and home to the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, this town has always been an

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

Lost Dutchman Leather – A Young Entrepreneur Strikes Gold

by Liisa Andreassen  Inspired by the legend of the Lost Dutchman mines in Mesa, Arizona, Nate Walker, founder of Lost Dutchman Leather, named his burgeoning business after this mysterious locale located in the Superstition Mountains. About 15 minutes from his workshop, rumor has it that a man named Joseph Waltz hid a large amount of gold somewhere in the area. People search for it every year and while they may not find hidden treasure, they will find a leather craftsman worth his
Artisan Saddles/Tack


Jeremiah Watt’s state-of-the-art custom saddles and other handmade equine products set a high standard for the industry.  By Lynn Ascrizzi  No matter how brilliant one’s horse, the journey to attain artistic mastery inevitably takes the rider on a rocky, demanding and twisting trail.   For first-class artisan Jeremiah Watt, that arduous yet rewarding road to perfect his saddlemaking art began about 50 years ago in Dryden, Ontario, Canada, where he was raised.   Colleen and Jeremiah Watt of Coalinga, California, and their daughter Nevada Miller, of Frenchglen, Oregon, when Jeremiah was giving a