Written By Desiree Gustafson
The handcrafting process is one with multiple steps, detailed layers, specifically honed skill sets and dynamic precision in execution. The result is deliverance of an end product that is truly distinct and exceptional. Since our establishment in 1999 Corral has been using age old craftsmanship techniques to create handmade boots of incomparable quality and iconic style. In every step of our boot making process, we rely on human hands, machines, and the highest caliber artisan techniques to construct a product that sets the new standard for grace and elegance.
Before we develop a technique or give birth to an idea, it all begins with inspiration. A flower, a color, a sunset, a texture, a place, a notion or a statement. Embodied in every pair of Corral boots is a muse or a catalyst, if you will, that stirred a vision and concept to come to life. Symbols and storytelling are what we do and it’s all established in our originality and creativity. Every pair of our boots has a story to tell, a unique statement to make, just as each individual is noteworthy and exceptional, so are each pair of Corral Boots.
The design and production process are no exception. The detail, imagination, inventiveness, and hard work that go into creating the step by step process for each and every pair of boots is a labor of love for us. Our design and production team ensure every component of the boot making process is given the expertise and attentiveness that it requires to make it a success. No two pairs are alike. It all begins with a sketch, a drawing of concept, straight from the artisan’s hands. From there the idea blossoms and evolves into a map with a specific path to reach its destination.
In this article we break down a few production techniques that we consider valuable to our handcrafting process and success.
Hand Cutting & Dies
A die is a metal object used to cut the leather of a boot. Each die is distinct in size and novelty based on boot size, construction, and design.
A steel-rule die is critical for refining the elegance of our boots. Before the die is ever placed near the leather the cutting department searches for a matching set of skins. This process can be quite extensive, sometimes taking days for just one pair of boots. This is extremely important because it directly effects how well the pair will couple together. Once they get the leather grain perfectly aligned and matched, the bootmakers then use a machine that applies on average at least 20 pounds of pressure directly on the die and leather in order to create an exact cut with no fraying.
Hand stitching is done by skilled artisans who masterfully guide the needle through the leather by hand. They create one of a kind stitch patterns often using antique machinery in which they lead the boot through specific stitching patterns and designs.
Embroidery is a key element to the design of cowboy boot, it can make or break a boot in terms of style and depth. Our embroidery is done by hand and machines depending on the boot and its blueprint. One of our simplest boots has over 100 steps and 100,000 stitches in it, proving that every single last detail matters.
The lasting process is one in which the upper of the boot is secured to the sole by hand. The upper is wet with water to make it more pliable and giving. It is then pulled over the last made for that specific boot and tacked securely. Once it dries the Lemonwood pegs or Brass pegs are inserted. This entire process is done by hand by extremely skilled artisans. It is a very physical and precise part of the handcrafting process.
The Pegs are hand hammered by hand into the sole of the boot to secure the steel shank. They the run along the underside of your foot’s arch and under the boot’s heel where you can’t see them. A wooden peg has more longevity because it is more pliable. The wood absorbs water and can expand and contract along with the sole of the boot when it gets wet, much like leather. The pegs complete the structure of the boot by holding the insole and outsole together creating the solidity of the instep’s fit.
Welts are the pieces of leather where the sole of the shoe attaches to the upper leather. Boots with welted construction have the soles stitched to the upper so a cobbler can easily replace the sole once worn out. The Goodyear welt has a clean aesthetic, waterproof durability, and little-needed maintenance, making it a prolific construction method.
Each handcrafted process has its own breakdown and skillset making each and every single one a unique and crucial piece to the process as a whole. We love what we do and sharing our storytelling with you, be on the lookout for more in depth breakdowns of the boot making processes and learn what makes a corral boot so exceptional and remarkable.