Well, my boots, made by Lee Miller of Austin, Texas, arrived yesterday, and they fit very well. They’re a wee bit snug, but that’s normal since the leather has to stretch a bit on my feet. And they’re gorgeous: by far my favorite pair of boots.
For those who want the whole sequence of photos from beginning to end, here are the posts in order (I screwed up the numbering at 4-5, and so added #4a; there are 12 posts in total, including this one).
The ink and dye have dried, and now it’s time to apply additional was and burnish the soles, heels and welt.
Here you see one boot on which the burnishing has been done.
Here Lee is brushing the heels.
It’s time to iron the welt. Lee takes a piece of wax and applies it to the iron.
Then he positions the boot welt on the iron to spread the wax.
Another view of Lee ironing the welt.
He then brushes the welt to spread the wax.
In the meantime, the hand tools are being heated.
The heated hand tools are used to hand burnish areas on the soles and heels.
Here is one boot that has been burnished and ironed. Now it’s time to bottom stain the forepart of the sole.
First, he naumkegs (sands) the area to be bottom stained.
The sanded part of the sole is now ready to be bottom stained.
We apply three coats of bottom stain. And, the boots are then brushed and rubbed down.
Next, the lasts are pulled, and the wooden pegs hand sanded down.
The boot tops are then lightly wet, and wooden blocks called trees are put into the tops. This gives the boot tops shape and helps to allow the foot to get into the boots. The boots sit overnight, and the trees are pulled the next day.
Heel pads are put in, and the boots are conditioned and shined.
Here is Lee with the boots.
Your lasts are put away.
The boots are boxed up and are on their way.
Thanks again to Lee for his craftsmanship and artistry, and to Carrlyn for helping me figure out what I wanted and keeping in touch during the whole process. I hope those of you interested in cowboy boots have learned something about them, and about the labor and craft that go into making a pair of custom boots.
I have long declared cowboy boots to be the Official Footwear of Atheists™ (though I can’t give you a rationale), and, with both me and Steve Pinker wearing them, it won’t be long till they’re de rigeur!