Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Find the soul of the American West

Silver Creek hosts annual ?Boots & Buckles?


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Rifle Range shirt

Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum is known for its fine fly-fishing apparel, gear and guided trips. But for the past four years, owner Terry Ring put another side of the business—Western wear—on display in grand and reverent style.

The fourth annual Boots & Buckles show will run for three days: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug 10; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12. This high-end exhibition and sale will showcase handmade works still done with time-honored craftsmanship. Many of the items can be custom ordered over the weekend.

The annual show more than fills the niche left when Silverado, a Western apparel store in Ketchum, closed years ago.

"We're not a cowboys and Indians place," said Julie Gallagher, who organizes the event with Ring. "It's a great way to focus on Western gear. Terry loves silver work and he loves things made in the old traditions. It's really about how it's made.

"For instance, Rand's Custom Hats are made one at a time by one hatter. This year we've added Lalande Designs' custom hitched horsehair belts, Rifle Range adorned Western shirts and tool-carved leather belts by Jack Sept."

An opening reception will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, featuring Tex-Mex cuisine catered by Ric Lum, libations and live music by Slow Children Playing.

Returning items come from Clint Orms Engravers and Silversmiths, Montana Watch Co., Lone Pine Leathers and the Lucchese Boot Co.

Orms' work is inspired by the great silversmiths and apparel designers of historical Texas. True heirlooms, the belt buckles incorporate styles that are named after the counties of Texas. Each piece is handcrafted from silver, gold and precious stones in the Ingram, Texas, workshop.

The much-ballyhooed Montana Watch Co., in Livingston, makes custom-designed, assembled and decorated timepieces using English scroll engraving and other fine techniques. Only 500 of these collectors' pieces are created each year.

Leather tooler Sept and his wife, photographer Anne Jeffrey, recently moved to Bellevue from Boise, where they lived for 20 years.

"I started tooling in Sheridan, Wyo., when I was 12 years old under one of the absolute masters of the trade, Don King of King Saddlery," Sept said. "I started as a 4-H student, and I did it on and off for years, went off to other kinds of artwork and came back. I realized finally this is my medium.

"Almost all my work is custom-ordered and I also sell through Silver Creek, which carries my gift items like belts, frames, organizers and photo albums. Saddles are the largest project, and I do a full line of cowboy gear and tack."

The flashy Rifle Range cowboy-styled shirts are pure eye candy. Created by Vera Vasily of Rifle Range in Fort Worth Texas, each original piece is truly a work of art. They come in a variety of colors and designs, one for every sensibility, it seems. The form-fitting shirts are adorned with hand-stitched silk embroidery, Austrian crystals, studs, embedded turquoise and Western snaps.

Once you put on your custom hat, adorned shirt, throw a Lone Pine leather jacket over that, and hop into your hand-tooled saddle, you'll really need a belt to hold up your jeans and a bridle for your pony. That's where the belts from Lalande Designs come into play. Hitching, the art of weaving horsehair, should be done so fine it feels like silk and looks like a painting.

"We've had the hitching done at different prisons," owner and designer Angela Lalande said. "I've been doing it for a long time. The craft is handed down from one prisoner to another. It's been this way for at least 100 years. The folklore is that Billy the Kid or one of those Western outlaws (it was actually the Dalton Brothers) paid their lawyers with the horsehair bridles they made in prison. It's always kind of been talked about. I deal in other horsehair things too—bridles, hatbands and ropes. I'm going to have a really nice collection with me."

The Boots & Buckles event brings all these elements to Ketchum not to only offer for sale but to relish in the history and the craft that has been handed down, like the horse hair hitching.

"To us, it's not just a Western style—it proudly represents the heritage of our Western way of life," said authentic Western gal Gallagher.




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