Brian Esslinger, of Black Sheep Custom Leather, is a saddle maker and true leather craftsman. Originally an art student in Ohio, Brian’s desire to live and work in the West, led him first to Salt Lake City where he discovered a talent and interest in sewing and leather goods while working for a mountaineering equipment company. Brian then made his way up to Montana where he fell in love with the art of saddle making while working under a custom saddle maker in Miles City, Montana. After spending years as an apprentice, Brian opened his own custom leather workshop in historic downtown Bozeman. Brian can be found at Black Sheep Custom Leather, 16 S Wilson Ave, in Bozeman, Montana @blacksheepcustomleather.
Black Sheep Custom Leather is located at 16 South Wilson Ave in the heart of historic downtown Bozeman, MT.
Esslinger, prepping materials on his cutting table in Bozeman, MT. His workshop is much like you would expect it would be. Unassuming and authentic, everything in his shop seems to have its own story and its own unique history.
Every design is sketched by hand and is unique to each individual customer. This is where each piece begins to take on a personality all its own. A one of a kind western floral, a customer’s initials, or a cowboy’s unique brand are often incorporated into the artwork.
Once the artwork is complete, the design comes to life on a piece of leather. The beginning of an heirloom with a history that has yet to be written.
The plow gauge is a tool that originated in Europe and is used to cut straps. This particular vintage plow gauge originated in France and is a piece of art all on its own, representing the dying art of authentic quality craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Adding the finishing touches.
A view of Esslingers saddle shop is both current and nostalgic at the same time.
Esslinger lining up a pattern on a piece of leather prior to hand cutting. Shop the Catera Outdoor Hat here.
The Stetson Bozeman hangs on some saddle trees in the workshop.
Roughing in the saddle tree in preparation for leather.
A finished custom saddle represents hours of craftsmanship, attention to detail, and quality.
The saddle makers mark on a custom saddle.
Courtney Green is a fine art and editorial photographer.
She specializes in capturing the rugged, spirited beauty of life in the American West, communicated through hauntingly soulful images. Heavily influenced by her background in fashion, her style has a timeless elegance and raw simplicity that feels both current and nostalgic. Her images are a visual love letter to the American West.
After spending 12 years traveling the globe in the fast paced fashion industry, Courtney followed her heart to the wide open spaces of Montana where she resides with her family, her horses, and her yellow lab.