My last pair of boots: 5. More decoration of the shafts

This is the fifth post about the making of my Last Pair of Boots, under construction by Lee Miller of Austin, Texas. I hope by now you’ve gotten an idea about how complex the whole process of making a custom boot really is. I was just told that the pictures are behind the boots, which will be done Friday, so there will be more to come—right until they’re put into the box. I’m also told that the leather tannery is no longer making rust kangaroo color, so these will be the last ones in rust Italian kangaroo—for everyone. The photos and captions are by Carrlyn Miller.

Here the wrappings have been taken off, and you see the insole that has been nailed on. As we get into making the boots, the nails will be removed.

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Lee is skiving the rust kangaroo for the name.

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Skived pieces are waiting to be put in.

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The pieces for the name have been cemented in.

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The reverse side.

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Preparing to put the rose in.

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The rose plug that you saw earlier is put back in. This helps the rose to puff out.

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The piece cemented in.

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The green was put in for the stems and leaves before putting the plug back in.

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The yellow has been put in, with the detail of the leaves drawn in.

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Lee is sewing around the stems and flower.

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A close up view.

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Around the rose has been sewn in. The flourishes for the name have been drawn in.

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When doing fancy stitching, the pattern that you saw earlier that had the pin holes marking the design is taken and laid on the tops, and a bag with powder is rubbed on the pattern. When you pull the paper pattern away…

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And, this is what you see. This gives the top person a place to start the fancy stitching. I’ll be sure to send you a better picture tomorrow.

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Here’s a Wall Street Journal video about Lee and his work. at 2:31 he shows some Italian-tanned kangaroo which I believe is my rust color. And note the pinched yellow roses at the end; I have four on mine.


  1. amyt
    Posted June 23, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Let’s hope they remember to take those nails out!!

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 23, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s a pretty good bet that no one would steal those boots…with your name on them. Since the boot is totally custom fit, do they give you any idea of size – like 9 1/2 D ?

    • Posted June 23, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Nope. I know my size in off the shelf boots, but in this case I just got measured in every conceivable way. I suppose they could figure out from that what size I was.

      • AdamK
        Posted June 23, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        They’ll definitely come in handy if you forget your name.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:59 am | Permalink

        To quote my (former) brother-in-law, who was an orthopaedic cobbler(*) for a decade or so, he “never made a pair of shoes in his life”. He made lots of left shoes and almost the same number of right shoes, but never “a pair of shoes”.
        Most people have appreciably different sizes of feet. Most sizing systems hide this by design, so that most people have feet within a “half” size of each other and just accept that their left shoe wears differently to their right shoe, to accommodate the difference in sizes.
        An “orthopaedic cobbler” – he worked for the health service. If, for example, a child had an infection that stopped or slowed growth in one leg compared to the other they might end up with one leg 5 or 8 cm shorter than the other. The cobbler would have to accommodate this difference, while also making sure that the two shoes had comparable weights and moments of inertia. Quite a skilful job. Changes in treatment have made the job less necessary, but you still need the job done for car crash injuries and particularly land mine victims. But the workers have been sacked, so the work is sent to Indonesia where there are still cobblers.

  3. Posted June 23, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    These boots are absolutely gorgeous, a work of art. Will you be able to permit yourself to actually wear them? And, if so, for what kinds of special occasions?!

    • Posted June 23, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      No, I plan to wear them a lot. They’re pretty but they’re sturdy, and should fit really well. Good cowboy boots like these almost never wear out–you’d have to use a bandsaw to wreck them. They can be resoled, re-heeled, and even have new vamps put on.

      • Wunold
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:35 am | Permalink

        These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do.🙂

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted June 24, 2016 at 1:03 am | Permalink

        I’m sure your cobbler will provide you with appropriate leather treatments – calf’s-foot jelly, probably. Or maybe something more exotic made from boiled-down wallabies, considering the number of bits of kangaroo involved.
        Leather doesn’t need a lot of care and maintenance, but it does need some.

        • Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

          Umm. . . with so many boots, I’m an expert in caring for them. I have at least five different types of creams and conditions, including “Reptile Conditioner.”

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

            I’m not surprised.
            OTOH, having seen many a pair of sadly-abused … wrecks of leather … pass over the “repairs” counter of my relative, an awful lot of people don’t know how to care for leather.
            With the Trump campaign, the makers of that “Reptile Conditioner” must be shipping it to the Trump-One plane by the bucket full.

  4. darrelle
    Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Good quality boots are very comfortable and sturdy, and good looking. I’d love to have a pair from this shop.

    For some reason this post brings to mind my favorite line from the Bruce Lee movie Enter The Dragon. The “Williams” character, played by Jim Kelly, is warned to be careful about snooping around Han’s island, that he might be killed if he were caught. His response to Han, the main bad guy, was, “Man, when it comes (his death), I won’t even notice; I’ll be too busy looking good.”

    These boots would certainly help with that! Though I don’t know if they’d be much help with karate.

  5. Posted June 24, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I’m really struck by how your name has been finessed to near completion, Jerry. I LOVE that yellow rose too!

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