C & C Lone Star
Every artist starts with talent, a blank canvas and an idea. Chris Wiggins starts with a piece of leather, a highly creative talent and a vision. Chris and his wife, Cristen, are a delightful couple with all of those talents, ideas and visions needed to create beautiful leather work. C & C Lone Star Leather Company was Chris’s vision when he discovered his ability to turn a piece of raw leather into a beautiful artistic craft. Chris only works with high end leather and his creations are quality and last for years. Chris told this author that he fully expects his quality leather work to last more than 100 years.
Leather is as old as time. Primitive man discovered that if he “preserved” a hide or rather used a process that tanned the skins then he could use it for clothing, shelter, shoes and more. The food byproduct was beneficial and the tanning process evolved to a chemical type processing now used today which replaced over 80% of the initial vegetable processing first discovered.
Leather was also instrumental in quality bookbinding and today first editions bound in leather bring extravagant prices at auctions and are still quite popular in bookstores both used and new for their quality and longevity.
Chris is a business analyst by career and has established his name in the corporate world. While he enjoyed reaping the rewards of being a business analyst he knew he was destined for more. He began working with leather approximately 7 years ago. He created belts, earrings and wallets for the farmer’s market and he and Cristen would set up each Saturday. His art products were more popular than he could imagine and their business on Saturdays grew. Chris began creating phone cases, purses and more. He advanced his craft to restoring old leather pieces for his clients who would ask him if he could “fix” their worn leather pieces. Cristen had a designer purse that she was fond of but it needed some repair. Chris took the hardware off of the purse, took the dimensions, made a pattern for leather and soon Cristen’s designer purse was an original that no one can reproduce…unless you are Chris Wiggins and then magically it is made to order!
Chris and Cristen moved to the Boerne area in 2013 when they desired a smaller, quality school for their 2 children. They did the necessary research and found Boerne schools had a top quality reputation and the town fit their criteria so here they came. Chris said “Texas is where we always belonged, it just took us a little while to get here.” They relocated to the Boerne proper a couple of years later. Cristen is a teacher in the Northside Independent school district and is the main feedback and creative muse for Chris. He appreciates his children and Cristen’s critiques to his artwork and its functional abilities. His son’s feedback on Chris’ phone cases have saved Chris many hours in design and function. Cristen is the reason Chris makes earrings and her feedback is crucial to his designs and style. He chuckles when he mentioned that Cristen was surprised when the first sewing machine arrived in a very large crate and she cautiously inquired “ Uh, what is that?” The sewing machine quickly became quite valuable for his leather work and allowed him to expand his artistic creations. Chris also states that “his family is good advertisement” for his products. His artwork craft is always a conversation starter and of course anyone who sports one of his works is proud to share the Chris Wiggins leather work with them everyonel!! During the interview it was obvious that Cristen is Chris’ biggest fan and he is her biggest admirer.
Chris is very knowledgeable about his craft and states that he uses lots of math in his calculations with the leather art projects. It requires attention to detail and Chris is a perfectionist. Stitches are exact since the leather is unforgiving and one cannot just rip out a stitch and start over, Chris must be precise in his measurements and pattern. Stitching leaves permanent marks in the leather and Chris is an artist so the result must be meticulous.
Chris offers many choices when one desires a quality piece of leather art. He can do wallets, belts, purses, messenger bags, briefcases, jewelry, totes, handbags, knife sheaths, straps, bridles, pet collars, leashes and so much more. One must just ask Chris and he can certainly make it happen!!! Chris does lots of restorative work with leather pieces. Chris has had many requests for his concealed carry gun holsters. He also creates regular holsters for gun enthusiasts!!! Chris uses something called English Bridle leather and it is famous for its quality and durability. When looking for a quality dyed leather for any art piece one should expect English Bridle leather. It is specially tanned and then dyed for quality exhibit never wavering from its intended colors or tones. Just another fact of the quality of Chris’ work and his finished products.
Most of Chris’ leather artwork is not only an investment of quality materials but also an investment of his time dedicated to his art exhibiting his talent. Many projects take more than 12 hours to complete and his average time is about 4 hours. Chris creates most of his patterns. He orders the desired leather and ensures his tools are ready to go!!!! He makes certain that he and his client are on the same page and he begins. He then he cuts the leather to the exact measurements and pattern. He does every part of the art precisely and to exact dimensions for a quality leather art piece that will last almost forever!!!
Chris’ most popular request and best sellers are his belts. Each one is specifically designed and artistically created for its owner. Chris has a multitude of tools in his art. He has sewing machines, splitters, skyding shavers , buffers, hand tools, and more. Chris does some dying but said, “Dyeing is an art in itself and I prefer to work with already dyed leather when requested as it is more uniform and constant in color and design.” Chris is also very selective about his hardware on his pieces of art. He only uses stainless or polished brass for their quality and longevity. Chris is dedicated to quality and as such he only uses the raw or dyed product from Herman Oakes or Wickett- Craig tanners. They are both quality manufacturers of tanned leather and provide exclusive leathers for all leather art work. Chris shared that full grain leather is the best for his artistic products and since genuine leather tends to crack his products quality is long lasting. It is important that one keep their leather product properly conditioned so they may expect it to last impeccably.
Chris is self-taught. Once he realized his passion for leather art he immediately sought out every book, video, tutorial, and started working with leather to improve his experience and education. He was rewarded with success from the start. His love for leather only grew and he became a master in no time!!! Chris seeks out new and improved and popular designs but says the tried and true are the best. He can create a pattern for most anything and one must trust his knowledge on it all!!!! Chris is quick to give his mom credit for part of his talent as she is a talented seamstress and influenced him with her abilities.
Chris does not currently offer any specific classes or workshops but is eager to assist anyone who may have a question for him regarding anything leather. Whether it is concerning one of his pieces or something he has done or even if someone has an interest in leather work of their own then Chris is happy to give a consultation!!!! Chris does commission work and understands the restore or re-creation function of any leather work. However, the Farmers Market gives Chris and Cristen the opportunity to exhibit his leather work and offer some coveted pieces for one to choose from and own for themselves until they can commission something they specifically desire. Cristen said that the art they have in the workshop is like Chris’ children and he/they are sad when it must leave the shop to be delivered. A great testimony to the investment, time and love Chris puts into his leather work!
Chris explains that his leather talent and craft is his stress relief from an analytical world we live in. One of his stress relief projects was a sheath for a Civil War sword that he restored. He always enjoys restoring or even creating scabbards and sheaths and in the beginning he enjoyed his quest to perfect a knife sheath. He shared that he made many a sheath that he deemed not up to his standards but his friends implored him to part with them anyway as they loved them. Eventually, Chris said he found a pattern he is pleased with and has a quality artistic creation that meets his high standards. Chris shared that being a leather artist is rewarding and motivating as his customers express their appreciation. He began creating women’s art products such as totes and purses and then men began requesting briefcases and belts and his leather craft art grew and in no time Chris was giving his art his “awl”.
Chris and Cristen do not currently have a public studio but they are easily
contacted by phone 775-225-8188 or by visiting their booth at the Cibolo
Farmers Market at 33 Herff road each Saturday morning from 9 am to 1 pm. They do plan on a studio later on in the future but for now their space is strictly designed for Chris to create but no room for visitors. One must make a plan to visit the Farmers Market and visit with Chris and Cristen on any Saturday!
Get started on that gift list with quality leather art!
C & C Lone Star Leather Company