Day Trips: Old School Leathersmith, Lockhart
Making leather goods that last to customers' specifications
Old School Leathersmith in Lockhart lives up to its name. When you walk into the tiny shop, half a block off the courthouse square, the smell of tanned hide engulfs you in a warm embrace from the past.
In the back of the shop, Mark and Jan Bessette labor with hand tools and a sharp eye. This summer, the couple will add custom-made boots to their repertoire of handbags, saddlebags, belts, holsters, and hat bands made to customers' specifications.
"These days," Mark says, "shoes and boots are made to throw away, not be repaired," although the shop still offers the service when practical.
Jan agrees. She holds up a $300 pair of famous-maker boots as an example. The cowboy had worked in them for three months and the soles were completely worn through. The fancy shafts of the boots looked practically new.
Mark says he can make a pair of boots that will last six or seven repairs, or a lifetime – depending on how hard you work in them. The trick is to use good, dense leather at the stress points. A well-made custom boot uses horse butt leather at the welt, where the upper is sewn to the sole. Mark says the hide from the horse's hindquarters is tough, but doesn't take dye well. It's the old-school way of making boots that will last.
Old School Leathersmith is at 109 W. San Antonio St. in downtown Lockhart. Give Mark and Jan a call at 512/644-6266 or 512/644-6264.
1,246th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.