Day Six: the making of the Oklahoma Boots, which are now part of the Oklahoma State Capitol permanent art collection
It felt really good to last the Oklahoma boots and see them finally begin to look like an actual pair of boots, but it only took a brief moment for this day turned sad and stressful.
Before I continue that story, I’d like to point out another special little design detail. See the state of Oklahoma? The stitched line across it represents the line separating Indian Territory on the east side and Oklahoma Territory on the west side. Guthrie, the town where I live, was the capital of Oklahoma Territory and was designated the official capital when Oklahoma became a state in 1907. Guthrie remained the capital of Oklahoma until 1911 when the state seal was taken from the Logan County courthouse and delivered to Oklahoma City. This is why there are two stars on the map of Oklahoma; the smaller star represents Guthrie, the original capital, and the larger star represents Oklahoma City, the capital since 1911.
After lasting the boots I wiped in the toe — the process that neatly smooths out all the excess leather in the toe area. I wiped the toe of the second boot, sat it down on my bench, turned away, and heard a THUNK as it fell off the bench and hit the floor. It fell directly onto the sharp corner of the toe and split the wingtip open. The leather I’d used for the wing and countertips was a piece I’d been saving for several years. I loved the color and the texture, and it was no longer available, but I decided this was a special enough project to warrant using it. My first thought was sheer panic because as I remembered it, I’d used up all of it. I went and dug into my scrap box and found (to my relief!!!) that I had one small scrap left exactly big enough to make one more wingtip. The boot fell off and split the toe open at 10am; I spent the rest of the day taking the boot off the last, carefully picking out the stitches and removing the damaged wingtip, making a whole new wingtip, carefully sewing it onto the boot in precisely the same place so no stitch holes would show, and lasting the boot again. I remember sitting down at 5:38pm with a huge sigh of relief to be back where I’d started at 10am.
Two boots! With two undamaged toes! For as long as these boots were in my shop after this, I remained terrified of dropping them. When I delivered the boots to the Capitol, I told them this story and specifically noted with great relief that they were no longer my responsibility.
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I'm a custom cowboy boot maker. I own a business, Sorrell Custom Boots, and I create bespoke cowboy boots using vintage machinery and hand tools. I also own www.sorrellnotionsandfindings.com, a company that specializes in tools, supplies, and leather for the boot and shoe making trade.