The Texas Photos


The photographs displayed here were taken by Russell Lee (1903-), in Alpine, Texas, in 1939. They are part of a series of photographs made by the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress) and are in the public domain. I have taken the liberty of re-captioning some of these from the perspective of a working bootmaker. The photos are more or less in procedural sequence and afford a rare insight into both historical as well as current western (cowboy) bootmaking techniques. The photos themselves are a bit grainy...as might be expected of pictures taken over half a century ago. They appear in this layout at roughly the same resolution as they are to be found at the Library of Congress Website. [When this page is fully loaded, clicking on the thumbnail or the caption below it will bring up a larger version of the photo.] (It is worth noting BTW, that if the captioning of these photos appears too small for comfort, all major internet browsers provide some way to increase the text size of viewed pages)

First Steps

Some preliminary steps were not included in the original photo essay...among these are measuring the customer's foot and fitting up the last. But once the last is ready, fitting an insole to the last is one of the first procedures to be undertaken...simply because some drying time is required. Although the subsequent procedures applied to the insole can be done almost anytime prior to lasting, they are presented here...in the context of preparing the insole.


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selecting "tempered" leather from the "cool box"
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molding the tempered insole leather to the bottom of the last
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trimming the insole
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trimming the insole; note "plug" for square toed boots
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marking the insole for channel ends and "breast" of heel


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cutting the "feather"
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channeling the insole
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using a "lip knife" to trim the inside channel
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"holing" (pre-punching) the "holdfast"


Cutting Out

The cutting out of some components, such as the vamps and vamp lining, were not captured in this photo essay.


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"clicking" (cutting out) the back stay
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clicking the tops
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rough clicking the top linings using top panels as patterns
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clicking out the counter cover
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all of the clicked pieces needed for a pair of boots


Preparing for Assembly

Although there are considerably more pieces that need skiving, and many other procedure that are required to prepare the components for assembly, photos of these procedures were apparently not taken.


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skiving the back lining
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"skiving" (thinning the edges) of the backstay


Assembling the Pieces

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pre-forming the topbead
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mounting the topbead on the scallop of the top panel
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cementing the stay onto the top lining...note the "flounder" at the upper edge of the photo
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sewing the backstay to the back panel lining


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assembly--joining the top panel and the top panel lining
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assembling the tops..notice the use of the flounder
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"pouncing" (powdering) the stitch pattern onto the tops
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sewing the decorative stitch pattern onto the tops..."one line at a time"


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mounting the back panel on the counter
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mounting the counter cover on the back panel
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sewing counter cover to tops with 31 class Singer


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"crimping" (or "blocking") the vamps
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cutting the "quarter curves" into the crimped vamps
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mounting the vamps on the front panel


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preparing to hand stitch the sideseam--making up a "waxed end"
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hand stitching the side seam


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