How Oklahoman James Coldren makes buckles

Oklahoma man makes unique belt buckles without relying on patterns.
by Bryan Painter Published: February 24, 2013
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“Then I kind of modified it.”

So when James' brother gave him a buffalo horn in 1985, “I decided to try to make one myself. I've just been making them ever since.”

Marks reflect quantity

Any idea how many you've made since that first one?

Coldren walks over to a green door in his shop. Some people take a pencil and mark the height of their children through the years. He and wife, Shari, have two children, but on this door are the markings of his other children, the buckles. It's a wooden spreadsheet of sorts with years divided into months beginning in 1994. His most recent work is 1,633, but remember, he started making buckles nine years before he started recording them. Since 1994 the backs of those buckles includes Coldren's initials, the year date and the buckle number.

On the chart, those that are underlined include rawhide and silver. And it's easy to tell by the writing on the door that orders pick up in October and then go strong in November and December as Christmas approaches.

His prices range from $100 to $200 depending on what details the customer would like in his or her buckle.


by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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