I was saving the bonus material on my Bodacious Boots DVD for a rainy day, like today. Cowboy boot galleries, extended interviews and a tour of the Lucchese factory in El Paso … this DVD’s “B-side” is a boot geek’s dream come true.
The footage of the Lucchese factory is amazing for a couple of reasons. Compared to a small custom boot shop there are soooo many, many machines… like the specialized machine that smooths the side seams and then the one that power turns the tops. But really, what I found equally amazing was that each machine still came with a set of hands. For me… there was something charming in how each boot is passed from hand to hand to hand to hand to hand again…each with a task to do.
And yet, there are still tasks that they can’t find a machine to do like pegging a sole. So they hire a man to do it, over and over again…all day long. And his speed and rhythm and precision resemble, well… a machine.
This video includes a great clip of a welt machine in action (photo.) I saw a welt machine for the first time, when I visited Champion Attitude Boots in El Paso. Joey Sanchez explained that the machine was one of the reasons boot companies have historically stayed in such close proximity. Few shops could afford a welt machine, those that could had a hard time keeping one running. When I was visiting with Joey, there was a steady stream of boots coming in the back door…dropped off and picked up by other shops. Every photo I took was a mess because the worker’s hand were always just a blur.
Bootmaking bench belonging to Pascal in North Hollywood (a.k.a. RiffRaffLeather.com)