A small town in the middle of nowhere West Texas, Marfa is a sort of legendary place, known for its artistic history and prevailing mystery. It became the place it is today after minimalist artist Donald Judd staked it out as the backdrop for what would become the Chinati Foundation, building his massive scale works on the grounds of a retired Army base. With a population of only around 2,000 people, it’s a quiet place. The unhurried streets are lined with crackling paint and dusty commercial spaces, many of which lie dormant. Others have been repurposed as galleries, workshops, and studios, evidence that despite its sleepy exterior, Marfa’s creative pulse is alive and well. It’s become a haven for artists and creatives, and a community of built on ideas as limitless as the west Texas skies it sits beneath.
In what is affectionately referred to as the “fashion district,” there sits a simple, single story workshop, its façade marked in blue with the words Cobra Rock. Owned by Logan Caldbeck and Colt Miller, the couple originally moved to Marfa when Logan accepted an internship with the Chinati Foundation. Having studied art in Montreal, she eventually went on to work for the foundation full-time. Colt, a touring musician at the time, made boots on the side, a hobby he’d discovered in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. The pace of life in Marfa suited the couple, and so when Logan’s stint at Chinati was up, they stayed. “One of our first trips we took together was to Marfa, so I guess this has sort of been in the cards for us since the beginning,” Logan remembers.
And in a way, so had making boots. “When we first met, Colt was working out of the back of his garage and making custom cowboy boots. It was pretty mindblowing the first time I saw the process in his garage in Lubbock. It was just something I had never thought about, that you can actually create this wearable object from just a leather hide.”
“Making boots was kind of a hobby/money wasting project,” Colt explains with a grin. “I was looking for something that I could do on my own and continue to be a traveling musician. I did that internship for about seven months and just fell in love with it, so I took out a loan to buy my own equipment.” The equipment – essentially the contents of two entire mom and pop boot making shops in Texas – included his first set of lasts, or boot forms that create a particular shape. These 1940’s wooden lasts formed a classic cowboy boot with a square toe. “Back then I could make maybe a pair of boots a month. When Logan was studying art in Montreal, I would go home and make a pair of boots for someone, like a local rancher, deliver them, and then go spend a month with her there. I did that for about three years until Logan finished school.”
Despite Colt’s love for the craft, it took moving to Marfa to bring the possibilities it afforded into focus for them both. “We had always had a pipe dream that someday we would work together and do boots together,” Logan says. “It wasn’t until we moved to Marfa and really fell in love with the town that we thought, maybe this is something we could actually do. When I left the Chinati Foundation it was to open this store, but we had no idea if it was going to work.”