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October 30, 2023 2 min read
In the world of horsemanship, there's a special appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating bits and spurs. Caleb Clifton, a skilled artisan based in Lampasas, Texas, has been making waves with his handmade pieces that embody tradition and quality. In this exclusive interview, we dive into Caleb's journey, inspirations, challenges, and the pride he takes in his work.
A Passion Years in the Making:
Caleb embarked on his journey into bit and spur making in early 2020, but the spark was ignited years earlier during a visit to Mike Richardson's workshop in 2006. The sight of patterns and tools fueled a dream that took 14 years to materialize. As Caleb reminisces, "I've always been a fan of handmade bits and spurs."
With a passion for one-piece spurs, Caleb adopted a trial-and-error approach to hone his skills. "I just kind of got in there and figured it out," he says. While acknowledging the guidance from seasoned craftsmen like Barry, Ryan, and Troy Flaharty, Caleb remains humble, considering himself the perpetual "new guy" in the field.
Caleb draws inspiration from the masters of the trade, especially Adolph Bayers and Billy Klapper. A self-proclaimed Byers fan, he stays true to the old-school aesthetics, studying patterns and pictures to infuse his unique touch while keeping the craftsmanship traditional.
Balancing Passion and Reality:
For Caleb, the most challenging aspect is not the metalwork itself but balancing orders and personal commitments. As a part-time artisan, he faces the delicate task of managing a growing list of orders. Despite his reluctance to become a full-time craftsman, Caleb finds joy in expressing himself through steel.
The Joy of Recognition:
The true pride in Caleb's work comes from customer satisfaction, especially when experienced horsemen appreciate the functionality of his creations. "When somebody comes up and tells me they love the way a bit hangs in a horse's mouth, that probably means more than anything," he says.
Caleb's pricing reflects the traditional methods he employs, particularly forging one-piece spurs from round stock. While recognizing multiple approaches to the craft, he values the time and quality invested in the traditional way, hoping that others will carry on the legacy.
Crafting in Lampasas, Texas:
Caleb operates out of Lampasas, Texas, infusing his work with the spirit of the Lone Star State. His dedication to preserving traditional methods aligns with the values deeply rooted in Texan horsemanship.
Connecting Through Social Media:
To catch a glimpse of Caleb's creations, you can find him on Instagram at @Caleb.Clifton.Handmade and on Facebook by searching for his name, Caleb Clifton.
Caleb Clifton's journey into the world of handmade bits and spurs is a testament to the enduring allure of tradition and craftsmanship. As he continues to balance his passion with the demands of daily life, Caleb's creations stand as a tribute to the rich history of bit and spur making, ensuring that the legacy lives on through each meticulously crafted piece.