The Colorful Cowgirl Mecates are individually hand-made by Gloria Keys, a 4th generation mecate maker. She specializes in making a statement, “no 2 pieces are alike”. Call us to see what colorful creations we have on hand.
Better in Color By- Elizabeth Putfark
If you stumble upon a collection of Gloria Keys’s pink, purple, and turquoise imbued mecates in a western shop, you probably wouldn’t describe them as “traditional.”
Yet few craftsmen can claim stronger roots in their trade than Keys, known to her customers as The Colorful Cowgirl, Keys is a fifth generation mecate maker, and her family has been in the business for more than a century. In the 1800’s, her great grandmother Clara started spinning the vaquero-style horsehair ropes for her family on Oregon’s 5 Bar Homestead. The tradition was then passed down from Mother to Daughter, with each girl learning the trade before her 10th birthday.
Yet for Keys, mecate making didn’t catch right away.
“At first, I didn’t want anything to do with it,” she admits. “I went to the city, went to college, held corporate jobs. Then finally I realized that just wasn’t for me”
At age 30, Keys returned to her family’s ranches in Nevada and Oregon and started practicing the skill she’d learned as a child, but this time with her own twist. Instead of the subdued natural tones of traditional mecates, she began to spin her ropes in vibrant color.
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