All About Buckles

At Tom Taylor no two buckle artists are alike. A walk through our store will reveal such classic artists as Sunset Trails—who have been handcrafting buckles since the 1920’s—alongside up-and-coming designer like Pat Pruitt, who strives to define the modern buckle.

What our artists do have in common is a dedication to exemplary craftsmanship. We interviewed buckle artists Pat Pruitt and Richard Stump to find out precisely what goes into crafting the perfect buckle.

Pat Pruitt

TT: How did you get your start making belt buckles?

PRUITT: It was a natural progression in making jewelry…it just sort of happened.

TT: Why belt buckles?

PRUITT: Belts need them.

TT: Who do you have in mind when you visualize your customers?

PRUITT: Nothing particular comes to mind, but tons of time goes into the design process, I mean, they need to be cool enough for me to wear.

TT: What is the process you go through in creating a belt buckle?

PRUITT:  It all starts off with pencil and paper, sketching multiple ideas until one stands out from the rest.  From there the sketch gets scanned into the computer and a 3-dimensional model is generated. After that, the fabrication process takes place, using a variety of tools, from a 3 axis CNC machining center, to hand files and welding.

TT: About how long does it take you?

PRUITT:  Time greatly varies upon the design, some pieces can take up to several weeks.

TT: What makes your particular craftsmanship unique?

PRUITT: The process alone is unique to making buckles, especially with the materials I use for buckles, I strive for a very clean industrial look, sometimes this can be an aggressive feel, other times it is very streamlined.

TT: How do you select your materials?

PRUITT: I only use three metals, Stainless Steel, Titanium, and Zirconium.  When I use stones it is normally when I collaborate with my brother Chris.  Other materials that include carbon fiber, titanium Damascus, or other industrial materials are chosen for their aesthetic properties and uniqueness.

TT: How do you know when a piece is truly finished?

PRUITT: You just know

TT: Where do you find inspiration?

PRUITT: Inspiration comes from everyday life and where my life path has taken me.  I don’t limit myself to any one thing, if there is something that strikes me I tend to explore that design aesthetic for a while until I am satisfied, this allows me to create new pieces on a consistent basis.

TT: What motivates you?

PRUITT: The joy of creating and the challenges each design has.

Richard Stump

TT: Why belt buckles? 

STUMP: Belt buckles are part of an array of designs I produce. I prefer the belt buckle because it is like a small canvas and I can create a story within that format.

TT: Who do you have in mind when you visualize your customers? 

STUMP: I really don’t have a general customer in mind when I create a design. I think of a concept and I go through certain creative steps to get a final result.

TT: What is the process you go through in creating a belt buckle? 

STUMP: When I create a custom order for someone I visit with them and figure what their sensibilities and desires are. That may help me compose a final design for them. As far as process, it varies. Usually I sit with a concept for a time before I start putting it to paper. Frequently I spend many hours on paper before I actually start building the piece. Interesting designs take quite a lot of time to obtain completion.

TT: About how long does it take you? 

STUMP: People often ask me how long it takes to finish a piece. I sometimes pause before I answer because every piece is different. Most take considerable time to finish. The real answer is each design has taken me over thirty five years to perfect.

TT: How do you select your materials?

STUMP: The materials I choose reflect the design specifically. I always prefer to use silver with gold. I frequently use fine gems in the center of flowers. Contrast is the key to the different choices I make.

TT: Where do you find inspiration and what motivates you? 

Motivation and inspiration can be common denominators. When I’m inspired by new ideas and designs I’m motivated to create them and bring them to life. My passions in life can bring out both whether it be nature,
philosophy or spirituality.