For us at Bearings it’s always an easy choice between something uniquely made and something mass produced. Leather belt maker Billy Moore handcrafts each one of his tough Cause and Effect straps in the mountains of Tennessee by a slow, laborious process that results in a one-of-a-kind product. We sat down with Billy to learn more about the craft, his inspiration and why there are no shortcuts to making a quality belt.
“I started out just wanting to make belts that I would wear. My inspiration came from my father and my grandfather who were men that when something was broken, they didn’t call someone, they got a tool and fixed it. I love that old approach when men would use their hands to make something themselves. My granddad even kept dynamite in his garage, never knowing when he may need it.”
His process is straightforward yet rugged: Each belt is made with U.S. horse hide from Horween, the oldest tannery in the country. He soaks the leather for hours in a Tennessee mountain stream until it’s soft. He then beats the hide against a rock or bark to give it a unique imprint. The leather then lays in his yard for 5 to 14 days for the sun to give it a rich color. Finally, he cuts the leather and adds the final touches by oiling, carving grooves or using sandpaper to give it a raw look before attaching one of his cooper buckles.
“There are imperfections in nature and I want that reflected in the leather. Nothing is perfect which gives each belt its own character.”
Right now you can only get one of his belts by emailing Billy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at the Oakleaf and Acorn shop in Braselton, Ga. He hopes to have his Cause and Effect website up soon. Belts run between $125 and $300.