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Art show adds some “personality”

Every year the Ponoka Stampede Art Show and Sale attracts artists from across the nation and this year designer Heather Kyle was selling
Designer Heather Kyle has been turning cowboy boots into purses and wine coolers for the last seven years.

Every year the Ponoka Stampede Art Show and Sale attracts artists from across the nation and this year designer Heather Kyle was selling the products of her passion; “giving PURSEnality to lost SOLES.”

Seven years ago, in a store in Winnipeg, Kyle saw a purse made out of the shank of a cowboy boot. “They wanted $200 for it and it was ugly.”

Kyle decided to leave the purse but expanded the idea into her own business, Skanky Shanks. She already had a large boot collection and purchased more from thrift stores to experiment on.

Kyle ruined several boots trying to turn them inside out and put one pair in the dryer before she realized that was not the way to do it. “It was just too dry.”

“I just had to think of what would make sense to turn it inside out,” she added. However, Kyle was more stubborn than the stiff leather and ended up using her hands and pliers to force the shanks inside out.

Swanky Shanks carries many collections: Rodeo Circuit, Ranch Glam, Bling it On, Sedona, Cowboys and Indians, Hardly Davidson and Wind Beneath My Wings.

Rodeo Circuit is the most western collection with Texas longhorns reflected in the boots stitching, western and rodeo themed conchoes. Western Glam purses are jewelled, but not with Swarovski crystals. The Bling it On collection is decked out with the crystals. Sedona purses are any with a desert colour and desert birds are a big part of the theme. Cowboys and Indians reflect the cultures of both groups in the purses and are made from many boots with stitching that resembles fletching and arrowheads. Hardly Davidson are biker-themed purses. Wind Beneath My Wings is a butterfly inspired collection. “I named that after my mom because she always says I’m the wind beneath her wings,” said Kyle.

While they aren’t categories, Kyle also makes pink breast cancer-themed boots and custom designs boots for customers out of their own or a loved one’s boots.

“I love the recycling aspect,” said Kyle, who adds fringes from jackets as well as beading to her purses. “The attention to detail is the part I find the most fun.”

When she sees a pair of boots ideas flood her mind faster than she can drive home. “The stitching speaks to me,” Kyle explained.

Kyle is just starting to sell at rodeo trade fairs. “That’s where you find the authentic rodeo lifestyle.”

While she likes turning people on to her purses and seeing them brought out for rodeo occasions Kyle’s favorite sales are to those who are going to treasure the design year round.

Skanky Shanks is based out of Calgary and the purses range from $125 to $400 and for more information visit

Shelley Hayden, a Winnipeg-based illustrator, also came to sell her drawings at the show and sale for a second year.

“I thought I’d give it another go,” said Hayden, who says her sales didn’t go as well as she’d hoped last year. However, this year her booth as getting the action she wanted.

Hayden has been drawing people for 23 years and animals for four. “I got bored, I needed a challenge.”

She started drawing wolves and when she tired of that, moved on to wild cats, Canadian wildlife and eventually rodeo-themed photos.

When drawing, whether people or animals, Hayden spends the most amount of time on their eyes. She can give the same animals a demeanour of happiness or a sinister expression.

“I like to show people the details they would normally miss.”