Pursuits: Cowboy Couture

  • Shaun Tolson

Clint Orms approaches all of his custom-engraved belt buckle commissions with the same enthusiasm and passion, whether the project is a simple design that costs $600 or an elaborate infusion of multicolored gold, silver, and platinum that costs more than $50,000. “I love the whole process of starting with a raw material and creating something that someone will appreciate,” he says. “I love working with people as much as working with the product itself. I love to hear the story that people want to tell with the piece.”

That dedication to the craft is the reason Orms’ business, Clint Orms Engravers and Silversmiths (www.clintorms.com), has flourished for two decades. Although Orms acknowledges that the cost of a finished product can fluctuate greatly, he explains that it’s only a reflection of the amount of time spent to perfect the design. “The same team that made the $55,000 buckle might turn around and make the $600 buckle next,” he says. “You’re getting the same craftsmen and the same level of quality; it’s just not going to take as long.”

To date, the most complex buckle that Orms has finished required 250 hours of hammering, soldering, and engraving, whereas a modest design likely can be finished in one business day. Regardless of the time required to complete them, Orms says that every one of his buckles and buckle sets conjures up the spirit of the Wild West, which is what draws customers to them. However, that doesn’t mean that his clientele is limited to the regions of the country where the cowboy culture originated. “We have a lot of clients who are in New York and they’re definitely wearing these as accessories for their outfits,” Orms explains. “They want to set themselves apart the way a great set of cuff links or a tie would accessorize an outfit.”

No two Orms projects are the same. Some customers have a specific vision from the beginning, while others may request a buckle that reflects a particular sentiment or theme and entrust Orms to do the rest. They’re two distinct circumstances, but as Orms explains, each one is equally appealing. “I like it when people just cut me loose and give me a budget to spend so I can go after it,” he says. “But I get just as much enjoyment trying to create the customer’s vision. Both are very rewarding.”

David Light, a 46-year-old Englishman, is one of those customers who leave the specifics up to Orms. It’s a strategy that he’s employed since he commissioned Orms with his first buckle more than a decade ago. “I just give him the basics and he nails it every time,” Light says. “His buckles have a very unique, artistic flair that’s almost his signature. It’s not just an inanimate object; he has the ability to create something that has a lot more life to it.”

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