Texas Craftsman: Clint Orms Engravers and Silversmiths

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Texas Craftsman

Article featured in Rock & Vine Magazine Spring 2020 issue - Written by Sallie Lewis

Inside Clint Orms Engravers and Silversmiths, a small team of craftsmen huddle over their benches, surrounded by tools and lamplight. Throughout the workshop, steer horns protrude from the walls flanked by framed magazine articles and glossy photos of engraved silver buckles.

Over the years, Clint Orms has built a sterling reputation for his classic designs and heirloom-quality handiwork. The softspoken designer is best known for his handcrafted belt buckles and silver jewelry, all of which is worn and collected by notable clientele, such as Lyle Lovett, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Queen Noor of Jordan, to name a few.

Orms grew up in Wichita Falls and got his start making hand-tooled belts in high school. “I’ve always been making stuff,” he shared. He went on to apprentice under a handful of silver designers across the west, lured by the timelessness and longevity of the medium.

For the past seventeen years, his store in The Old Ingram Loop Shopping District has been a revered, under the-radar boutique in this humble Hill Country community, and a place frequented by the state’s most discerning shoppers. The street-front showroom is stocked with fine leather belts and a trove of hand-engraved buckles, bracelets, money clips, and bolo ties, all of which gleam inside glass displays.

Orms’ designs are made to be passed down over generations. His buckles in particular – each named after Texas counties – are laden with symbolism and can be customized per the client’s unique wishes and specifications. Commissioned items are all about telling stories, and Orms enjoys marking them in metal through ranch brands, initials, alma maters, and special motifs like hummingbirds and bluebonnets. Buckles can take anywhere from fifteen to eighty hours on average to make, depending on the detail involved. And while they may be his most popular item, Orms has worked with clients on a diversity of goods, from custom ball markers for golf enthusiasts to tiny pillboxes for storing dried chile pequins. “The sky is the limit,” he shared of his customer’s requests. “We just want to make something that’s going to be a part of their family.”

Behind the storefront, customers can watch as Orms’ team works with grit and grace in their intimate workshop. “Everyone has their own style,” he said of his engravers adding, “We train each other.” Collectively, their skill and attention to detail imbues the work with a depth of character that’s unique to the industry.

Part of that depth stems from the myriad materials that go into Orms’ designs. Long cabinets with thin drawers conceal precious gemstones along with sheets of sterling silver and gold. One custom silver buckle might feature golden cactus with prickly pears made of rubies. Another might have sterling silver flowers with sapphire centers. The designer’s own buckle boasts a diamond “C.”

The elevated yet tasteful nature of the collection makes Orms’ work a fine complement to lifestyles both on and off the ranch. Each piece is made with an appreciation for hard work and Western values. The designs are both nostalgic and on-trend, a timeless weaving of past and present. Slipping a Clint Orms’ cuff around your wrist or buckling a hand-engraved belt around your waist, one can feel the weight of its maker. It is an homage to the craft and the craftsmen who made it, and the life it will live for generations to come. RV Article excerpt (pg. 12 -16)

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