handmade treasures

With love, from Marfa: Cobra Rock Boot Company's handcrafted creations aren't just for cowboys

With love, from Marfa: Cobra Rock Boot Company's handcrafted creations aren't just for cowboys

Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Cobra Rock Boots_jan 2012_molds
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Cobra Rock Boots_jan 2012_boot molds
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Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin Ryan_cobra rock brown boot_january
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin Ryan_cobra rock interior_january
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin Ryan_cobra rock brown boot outside_january

Some people spend their entire lives searching for professional fulfillment. They spend days, weeks and even years working behind a desk, wishing the hours pored over their careers actually reflected their ideas, values or skills. Two young artists, Colt Miller and Logan Caldbeck, needed little encouragement to follow the road less traveled and settled in the remote, art-heavy West Texas town of Marfa to begin a handcrafted boot business and nurture individual art projects.

Though Cobra Rock Boot Company officially launched in November of 2011, Miller began making boots eight years ago. A fourth generation Texan from Lubbock, he traded a local boot-maker guitar lessons for apprenticing hours. Several thousand miles away, Caldbeck was studying art in Montreal. A chance meeting in 2006 would eventually see them relocate to Marfa to further their artistic pursuits — he a musician, she a photographer — with the lingering thought that maybe, someday, they could start a business together.

“Like so many people who come to Marfa, the beautiful open landscape and the small town community combined with the art and culture of a big city really appealed to us,” says Caldbeck. “We are both from really small communities. There's about a 1,000 people in Colt's county and my home-island [in British Columbia] is population 350, so I don't think it was much of an adjustment for either of us to live in a small town.”

Without the distractions of a major metropolis, Miller and Caldbeck are focused on honing their craft in a space situated just off the main street of Marfa. The two hammer, cut and stitch every bit of the boot themselves in a workshop filled with antique-looking machinery and shelves upon shelves of 1940s and 50s-era wooden lasts that the boots are built on.

While Miller is an expert in traditional cowboy boots, the Cobra Rock styles appeal to a wider swatch of customers, from true ranch-hands to bona fide city-slickers, probably owing to the couple’s youth and artistic inclinations.

“Our customers come from all over and range from working cowboys to people that tell us they ‘can’t pull off’ the cowboy boot look,” says Miller. “Our customers aren’t looking for boots made in a factory and appreciate the handmade quality of our work.”

All of the boot materials are sourced in the U.S., primarily in El Paso and Amarillo. Cobra Rock boots feature full grain, oil-tanned cowhides, as well as soles and metal shanks held in place with lemon-wood pegs. The two want to first perfect their original Cobra Rock boot, the South Highland — a western lace-up of their own design that takes about one week to make. “Since there are just the two of us making them, it's a slow process,” says Caldbeck. “We plan on making these boots for awhile before we add more styles.”

With both their boots and their time in high-demand, customers can either stop in the shop to place an order or submit their email addresses to be notified when a pair of boots is finished in the right size. And Miller and Caldbeck won’t be leaving their far-away location anytime soon; though Marfa's population is small, the Cobra Rock customer pool is especially large, and the isolation and uniquely supportive community continue to serve Cobra Rock well.

“All of our friends and new friends we’ve met since we’ve opened have helped us so much with everything from renovations and furniture to advice and moral support,” says Miller. "The way we see it, Marfa is the perfect place for our business."
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