"COWBOYS ALWAYS WORE THEIR HATS out of necessity,” says Barney Coppedge, owner of This Ol’ Hat, in Artesia. “To keep the sun off your face and the rain off your head.” After 28 years spent working as the livestock foreman on Vermejo Park Ranch, in Colfax County, Coppedge moved to Artesia to be closer to family and took up his new trade. “Everything I do is by hand,” he says. “I know every square centimeter of that felt.”

Decades of ranch work honed Coppedge’s sensibilities on what makes a lasting, reliable hat. “I got to the point where I couldn’t walk in a store and find the hat I wanted,” he says. So Coppedge attended a Colorado workshop taught by Tom Hirt, who’s created hats for many Western films, including the one worn by Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone. Working from home, Coppedge starts with chinchilla, mink, or beaver felt. (“Beaver fur just lasts a long time,” he says.) He then carefully molds each hat using a wet-block method instead of a machine.

He keeps his output small—25 hats per year—to ensure quality. After seven years of hat-making, he still finds joy in his work. “These hats are made with love,” Coppedge says. “When you give somebody a hat, they put it on, and they’ve got a big smile on their face—it’s a lot of satisfaction.”

Read more: This self-taught maker of colorful headgear is brimming with new ideas.

Place an order for a custom hat or restoration at This Ol’ Hat, 810 W. Mann Ave., Artesia, or call 575-643-8868. thisolhat.com