LEWISTOWN — Sting Saddlery in Lewistown is celebrating its one-year anniversary of creating unique custom saddles and leather goods. Sterling Campbell, known as "Sting" to locals, does that with 14 years of experience and a passion for his trade in leather work.
A saddle starts on an order sheet with custom measurements and designs. Then Sting goes to work for up to 80 hours hand-crafting before the saddle goes on the back of a horse.
“I love building saddles. That is my favorite, it’s always different because rarely does someone pick the same pattern. My favorite saddle to build is floral-tooled. I like the floral because everything is free-hand. That means every time I do floral, it’s done on the leather. There’s no pattern drawn for it, so it’s always different. It’s like a work of art, you never paint the same picture twice; you never floral-tool the same saddle twice,” said Campbell.
The precision and art that Sting creates is appreciated. Customer Troy Damschen explained, “People look at it, it’s just a saddle - no it ain’t. It’s art. There is no production line on making these saddles, it’s one at a time and each one is individually done and that’s why you just look at it and go 'Oh my God, how did you do that?'”
Sting Saddlery was open in Helena for two years before the Campbells decided that Lewistown was the perfect place to set down some roots in cowboy culture. “We wanted to be more into a cowboy culture where (Helena) was more of a city, so we ended up moving here. When we moved here it just took off. It is a unique thing so people are still looking for it. People just came in even before we were open, we were setting up and the cool thing about Lewistown is that everyone is so friendly,” said Adilene Campbell, the business manager.
Now Sting is working to build a legacy in his Lewistown community that he hopes makes him, in his words: "One of the best saddle-makers that ever lived but also one of the most honest and fair saddle-makers that ever lived and just go down in history as being more than just a saddle-maker, being a really good person.”
Sting also creates other leather items, such as wallets and belts.
Sting Saddlery is at 113 East Main Street in Lewistown. For more information, click here to visit the website, or call them at 406-899-3029.