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Published September 06 2013

A new life for old cowboy boots

WEST FARGO - Cowboy boots may have been made for walkin’, but, in the case of Myron and Jill Halvorson, they also work for framin’.

The husband and wife from West Fargo use the tops of old cowboy boots to make frames for mirrors, creating one-of-a-kind Western home décor pieces.

“This (one) we gave to my niece as a wedding gift,” Jill said as she looked through photos of boot-framed mirrors they’ve made. “My daughter-in-law’s got that one.”

It started two years ago with a mirror and frame for their son-in-law. But it didn’t stop there. They’ve made three dozen so far.

The frames are formed by wrapping boot tops that have been cut in half around wooden frames and stapling them down.

Not only are the boots recycled, but the Halvorsons typically use old mirrors, too. Myron removes the old frames, and they salvage the glass.

“You know you get a variety of shapes that way,” Jill said.

The Halvorsons, who both taught sales and marketing at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead, enjoy hitting up thrift shops in search of old boots for new projects.

“That’s the hardest thing, getting the boots,” Myron said.

If the boots are in bad shape, people throw them away. If they’re still good, the resale prices are high, he said.

Jill tries to find boots with a little something extra such as fancy stitching or colorful patterns.

That helps to “make the frames more beautiful, to give them some character and some uniqueness,” she said.

Jill is sentimental about boots. She grew up on a farm near Warren, Minn., where her family raised race horses. She rode horses, and her father and brother dressed in Western wear.

“When my dad passed away, he had about 10 pairs of boots,” she said.

She worked a pair of her father’s boots into a frame. That one’s special.

“That’ll be a nice remembrance for my children to have to pass down,” she said.

Myron said they’ve “kind of thought about” selling the boot-framed mirrors, but they haven’t so far. That’s not why they do it.

“We’re not looking to make money at it,” Myron said.

It’s a hobby.

“I like to be creative,” said Jill, whose other projects include making mittens from old wool sweaters.

They’re proud of their boot-and-mirror creations, and Jill says it’s fun to “show them off.”

They enjoy giving their works to people who appreciate them and will treasure them. One of those appreciative people is their niece Jazmin Gensrich, of Bismarck. Myron and Jill gave her one of their framed mirrors for her wedding.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Gensrich said.

She said the gift pleased her “more than words can say.”

“Got me pretty teary-eyed,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734

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