This is what my face looks like when I spend hours at the Country Music Museum in Brady, Texas, and then I GET TO TRY ON JACKETS that belonged to Ray Price, Cowboy Copas, and Porter Wagoner!!!

Ray Price
Cowboy Copas
Porter Wagoner
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I’m an inspiration

A western lace-up boot is called a packer, and I believe this was the first pair of packers I made. As you can see, I always find opportunity for design in blank spaces. I made these boots for myself and they were never featured in a book — only on my own website — but a few years after making them I attended the Western English and Sales Association in Denver and found an exact copy of them in the booth of one of the boot factories. No one ever officially asks me to design for them but they sure find my work inspiring.

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Feather bracelet

Bracelet for a friend, with inlaid and stitched pheasant feathers

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When I first started making boots I somehow knew it was important to have professional pictures taken of each pair when I completed them; this is why I have thirty years of quality photos of boots I’ve made. There was a photographer in Guthrie named Bob Bozarth. He’d agreed to take boot photos for Jay Griffith in exchange for boots but never got them (and didn’t get paid for the photos either) so when I approached him about boot photos he wasn’t sure he even wanted my cash. Over the years though, we became friends and I enjoyed visiting with him when I completed a pair of boots.

After Bob retired his son Robert took over the business and Robert became my friend as well. He was kind and patient if I was running late, and he had a delightful laugh. I believe it was Robert who took this photo of me one day while I was waiting to have my boots photographed.

Robert eventually closed the business but he sold me a table and some lights and encouraged me to buy a good camera and learn to take my own photos, which I have done. He moved to another town and we didn’t see each other again. He died recently, as a result of a terrible car accident, and my world is a little less bright knowing that Robert is no longer in it.

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Ten rows of stitching, close-up

Some boot makers start with the outermost row, but I was trained to begin with the innermost row. It really depends on what style of design you’re doing — with this one, accurately defining the unstitched space in the middle is crucial, so it makes sense to begin on the inside.

This work is done one row at a time on my vintage Singer 110W that still has the old clutch motor. I learned to sew leather on the exact same style of machine and motor, and it’s like learning to drive on a stick shift. It makes learning harder but once you master it, you can drive pretty much anything.

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It’s new!

First time to use and stitch my new logo. I like it.

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This customer brought me a much-loved pair of tiny cowboy boots she’d worn as a child and asked me to make her an exact reproduction that she could wear as an adult. I hope she’s still making happy memories in them.

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“Lavender Lullaby”

A long, long time ago I worked for an old boot maker named Jay Griffith, and Jay made boots for Marty Stuart, who was an up and coming young country singer. Marty commissioned a pair of pale yellow cowboy boots with purple inlay and stitching, and I did all of the inlay and stitch work on them. You can see these boots in the liner notes to Marty’s “This One’s Gonna Hurt You” album, although the photo is black and white.

After I left Jay’s shop and went out on my own I decided to try my hand at designing a pair of yellow and purple boots because I remembered Marty’s boots and I thought it was a nice color combination. I added more lavender details and some deep purple morning glories for my version, and I named them “Lavender Lullaby” because I’d heard Rhonda Vincent play her original fiddle tune by that name at Silver Dollar City.

“Lavender Lullaby”
Boots made for Marty Stuart by Jay Griffith, inlaid and stitched by Lisa Sorrell

Image from the “This One’s Gonna Hurt You” liner notes, showing Marty Stuart wearing the Jay Griffith yellow boots
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Different stories

I’ll be working on the Oklahoma state boots for the next several weeks and I’m not allowed to share photos of them on social media until their grand unveiling at the State Capitol. This leaves me without much to share as far as boot making goes, so I’m going to try to remember to regularly post photos and memories of boots I’ve made.

These boots are based on an old Olsen Stelzer design. When I was measuring the lady she said, “I want a pair of boots with an oil derrick on them, because my family was in oil.” I thought, “That’s cool for you; my family was in poverty!” but I was smart enough to not voice that thought. 🤣

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“Today’s Wild West”

I’m featured on Mark Bedor’s show “Today’s Wild West.” I believe this will also air on PBS this fall. YouTube link

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