Category Archives for // leather
April 13, 2017

Meet the Maker: Madi Hester

Meet Madi Hester, the maker behind Ranchlands leather goods, as she talks about learning the craft of leather, building community on the Chico through leather work, and how she finds a sense of purpose selling ranch-made goods.

December 19, 2016


What do ranchers have in common with frontier trappers, Native Americans, Texas Rangers and Christian missionaries?

December 10, 2016

Busy Bees

On this sunny December day, three women are bustling about the Chico Basin leathershop feeding a fire, developing skills, and making unique and important leather goods.

November 29, 2016

Ranchmade Holiday Gifts

Ranchlands Mercantile originated with Duke III making leather goods for his friends and family in the tack repair room. Now, the Chico Basin Ranch leather shop is a popular place for our staff to make or fix items for themselves, and gifts for their family and friends. We asked a few members of our team what product they’d most like to give as a gift this holiday season. Here are their top picks:


The chico tote


When I lived in Denver, I came

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August 2, 2016


Last week in my rustic office, (know as the Chico’s leather shop and saddle house) smells shifted throughout the day from leather to horse sweat to beeswax as I built products to be sent out to several of our ranches and customers. The projects included card pouches (pictured) for the shop at Zapata, headstalls for our horses at the Wilder Ranch in South Dakota, bracelets and dog collars for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, and jewelry cases for

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May 6, 2014

Spur Straps

Our good friend, family member, former intern, on the spot comedian and character Jack “Jack-E-Baby” Howick visited Zapata over the weekend. Jack E Baby graduated from college and had a celebration at Zapata before heading to his new job with NOLS, providing re-rations to groups in the field in Wyoming via pack-horse. The pack-trips were one of his favorite things while he was here and now he’ll have a summer full of loading and heading for the mountains.

While Jack was

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April 17, 2014


We’ve been on the hunt for a tannery for the Mercantile leather goods and had a chance last week to visit Horween.

Horween has been around since 1905 and is a family-run business, and still is to this day. They’ve survived all kinds of ups and downs and remain the only tannery in Chicago, that used to be booming with as many as 40 tanneries at one point.

Horween has a cool history and timeline on their website www.horween.com with one of

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April 8, 2013

Saddle Making

This is the stage we are at with the first saddle.  It’s amazing how long it takes.  What I’ve learned, in its most basic form, is that it boils down to two things: fitting and shaping each piece of leather as exactly and completely as possible, including tacking it into place, then, permanently putting it on.  It’s especially about the pre-fitting and shaping and molding, making sure its exact, that you have the right amount shaved off, pulling just tight

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April 6, 2013

Saddle Making

I’ve been making a saddle for Julie, and following that one, I’ll make another one for Grace.  A friend, Duncan, who runs a leather shop in Buena Vista, and is long time saddle maker, has spent the last two days with Jonathan and me in the workshop.  My hands are tired after over 12 hours working today.  Photos to come.  Its a life-time desire, making a saddle is the pinnacle in leather craft for me.  Duncan has been a life

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