Most people don't have a problem buying a pair of boots off the shelf, but several Okmulgee County students cut out the middle man, by making their own boots, by hand.
News on 6 reporter Omar Villafranca caught up with these students in Okmulgee and found them keeping a dying skill alive.
For more than 20 years, Mike Dewitt has taught students how to make just about everything out of leather. Troy is pounding away on a saddle and has already made several pairs of boots. But this isn't just another class for Troy. He's planning on going into the leather business and says making boots makes more sense than buying it from a factory. â€œThey couldn't afford to buy it, so we just make our own, that way a guy knows what he's got."
Mike DeWitt teaches students here at OSU-Okmulgee everything about boots, where to stitch, how to color the leather, even the different hides. â€œIf it can be made into leather, we can make boots out of it. Since I've been here, we've made boots out of turkey, salmon, sea bass, lizards, stingrays." You heard right, fish boots!
Putting together boots, shoes or saddles is just half the process, the other half is coming up with a design. When it comes to that, the limit is your imagination. Cathy spends several hours pounding out a design on her saddle, while Lucy takes aim and pounds away for the art she hangs in her workspace. Not bad, considering she's only been doing it for a few years.
Mike is there to help when students need it. He says his greatest creation isn't some fancy saddle. It's the students he produces. â€œI can't see myself doing anything else, whether it's here or Green Country or anywhere or even if it was in business for myself." You probably won't see any of the boots made on Rodeo Drive, but you just might see them at a rodeo.
The Boot, Shoe and Saddle class is moving from OSU-Okmulgee to the Green Country Tech Center. And once they're settled in over there, they plan on taking orders to fix and repair leather goods.