This week I am proud to present boot maker Lisa Sorrell from the great Sooner State, Oklahoma. Lisa is by far one of the best boot makers out there and she continues to stretch the limits of what’s possible in the art and design of cowboy boot making. Thank you very much Lisa for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions for all of the boot lovers out there. Visit Lisa’s website at http://www.customboots.net
When did you start making boots and how did you get into the craft?
I got my first job in a boot shop at age 20. I answered an ad in the local newspaper looking for someone to “stitch boot tops.” I had no idea what that meant and I’d never worn cowboy boots.
What do you enjoy best about boot making?
Inseaming. Although I’m best known for my intricate inlay and overlay designs I particularly love the process of actually putting the boot together.
Do you consider boot making an art form or a craft?
Oh, don’t get me started! This is one of my favorite topics. Boot making is, in my opinion, the perfect example of the marriage of art and craft. The tops on a cowboy boot are pure art; there’s no function to the wild colors and design. But from the ankle down it’s all about craft. The boot has to be properly balanced and fit well. It’s possible to make a beautiful boot that’s crooked or doesn’t fit well–good art but poor craftsmanship, or an ugly boot that sits up straight and fits perfectly–poor art but excellent craftsmanship. The challenge is doing both well.
How long does it typically take to make a pair of boots?
I allow a month to build a pair of boots, and since there’s a lot of wet/dry time I can build two to three pairs in one month. Working on one pair at a time is inefficient because you’d just be sitting around waiting for things to dry.
What is the difference between custom made boots and boots made at a factory?
Quality of materials, quality of craftsmanship and fit.
Have you made boots for any celebrities?
Nope, they’ve all wanted me to donate and I don’t donate what is essentially a month of my own hard labor, not to mention one half-one third of my entire monthly income.
How long have you been in business?
I opened Sorrell Custom Boots in 1996. Before that I had a small business, Custom Boot Work, stitching and inlaying tops for boot makers across the country. I did that for three years.
Who are your mentors?
Jay Griffith and one of his former students Ray Dorwart
Are you taking orders? Do you have a waiting list?
Yes. It’s usually around a year.