Left: Kippie Wilkinson (Mother), Right: Joy Burgoon (Grandmother)
Written by Clint Wilkinson
I was born in 1982, my grandfather, Weldon Burgoon, traded the doctor a saddle for my hospital bill. He was raised on a farm in Denton Texas and loved all things cowboy. He grew up during the great depression which essentially started his journey with leather because during that time you had to fix your own stuff. After he graduated high school he was making purses, belts, wallets and saddles. In 1957 he opened Weldon’s Saddle Shop & Western Wear in downtown Denton, Texas. It was a North Texas institution to many folks which eventually landed him into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, National Bit & Spur Association Hall of Fame, and recognition by the Texas House of Representatives.
Weldon sewing on his Champion harness machine
Growing up inside a saddle shop was something pretty special. I learned the basics of leather craft at a very early age. There were times that I was put to work cleaning saddles for customers, making sure every inch of the saddle was cared for. I later would graduate in to using hand tools on certain pieces of the saddle that needed to be made. Once I got into high school leather work took a back seat to my other interests and I wouldn’t return to it until 2012. During my time away from leather I was honing my skills as a photographer, graphic artist, and entrepreneur. After spending more than 10 years away from my family owned business I came back home to keep my grandfather’s legacy of leather craft and love for the American West alive.
Since 2012 I have been perfecting my skills as a leather artisan. I put heavy emphasis on the small details on each of my products. The majority of my products are sewn by hand which not only gives the piece a beautiful aesthetic but is a much stronger stitch. My work has been featured in publications, tv shows, and museums. All of this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my Grandfathers store.
Clint Wilkinson hand sewing watch straps for Montana Watch Company
However, in 2017 after 60 years of business, my family closed Weldon’s Saddle Shop & Western Wear in order to retire. Then in late 2018 my Grandfather passed away from declining health. The man rode off into the sunset as a Texas legend. The legacy he created would’ve stopped with him, had I not decided to keep the tradition alive in our family. I feel it’s so important to pass down family legacies, it tells the story of who you are. This is why I’m starting the process of passing down the craft to my son and daughter.
As we enter 2019 my mother Kippie Wilkinson and I have decided that we want to keep the spirit of Weldon alive in retail too. Our storefront is located inside my Grandfather’s original saddle shop that he built in downtown Denton Texas in 1957. We’ve hand picked some of the finest artisans in Texas and surrounding areas to house their work under one roof. From silversmiths, western sculptors, ceramic artists, western painters, and more – we’re just getting started and would love nothing more than to share our legacy with you.
Thanks for stopping by,