Coffee table turns keepsake
One of the most unique pieces of furniture in Alesa Jones’ house is one she built herself in high school.
The unique coffee table she built in welding class is a design she created with help from her welding instructor. “I needed a project,” she said. “Working with my teacher, we started putting ideas together. We developed a plan to make a coffee table with a display case that was big enough to hold mementos, like the belt buckles I had won rodeoing,” she explained. “I had some work horseshoes for the base. I wanted to make it as a coffee table that would open, so I could put my buckles in there,” Jones explained.
“My coffee tables are unique because every horseshoe on there is special to me,” she continued. “I know the horse the shoe came off of, and I could tell you a story about each horse,” she said. “The shoes off my very first horse are on that coffee table. It is very special to me,” she explained.
Jones’ welding work even earned her an award. “When I was 17, I built a roping dummy for the high school rodeo,” she explained. “It was a life size roping dummy built on car tires with iron in the middle. When you’re using it, it kicks its heels up. It earned me an A in metals class, and recognition in the Midwest when I placed third in the James F. Lincoln arc welding contest. The next year, I won the award again with my coffee tables,” she said.
Although Jones didn’t pursue formal training in welding after high school, she continued to practice her skill in her brother’s shop. “We did stick welding at school, but ever since, I haven’t done anything except wire feed,” she said.
In 2005, Jones was named Miss Rodeo Nebraska, and she needed some table decorations for a fund-raising event. “I had seen a bronc rider figurine in someone’s house, so I started making different figurines for the table decorations,” she said.
Since then, Jones has continued to make items from horseshoes and metal. Her latest creation is patio furniture, which consists of a bench and chair made from horseshoes. “Two year ago, I wanted to take figurines and coffee tables to the Cowboy Christmas event in North Platte, but I felt I needed something else to go along with it. I was sitting in the shop in an old wooden chair, and it occurred to me to make a horseshoe chair and a bench. I thought I would be able to make the chair easily, but once I got into it I found out it was more complicated than I first thought. After making the first one, I have found it is easier to make two or three at a time instead of just one. I can make one in 48-72 hours if I really stick with it. Cutting the angles of the iron for the chair so the legs and back are right is the most challenging part,” she explained.
This past Christmas, shoppers ordered chairs with their brands in the back of the seat, which proved to be a new challenge for Jones. “Some of the brands are challenging to get just right so they look good in the chairs,” she said. “It is also challenging on every chair I make to get the angles just right on the chairs so they sit correctly and are comfortable,” she added.
So far, Jones has used horseshoes from their own horses to make furniture and figurines. However, as her business grows she has started to seek out feedlots and ranches to ask for their used horseshoes. “I could go to the store and buy new horseshoes to make furniture,” she said. “But, I feel like the used horseshoes add more character to the items I make, even though I have to clean them up first,” she said.
Jones, who was born and raised in North Platte, Neb., started showing horses when she was eight. “I competed in every event in 4-H, in addition to junior rodeos, high school rodeos, and cutting events,” she said. “I went to nationals in high school rodeo in cutting, and placed 17th in the nation in 2001,” she added.
Her biggest accomplishment came in 2005, when she was named Miss Rodeo Nebraska. “It started when I was eight, and someone told me I couldn’t do that,” she said. “From that point on, I was driven to do everything I could to become Miss Rodeo Nebraska. I really wanted that. It helped that I had a few idols along the way that were Miss Rodeo Nebraskas,” she said.
“A lot of opportunities came my way as a result of that title,” she continued. “I made some amazing friendships I never would have had. I also ride a lot of outside horses for people I met while I was Miss Rodeo Nebraska. I also had an amazing job as a Clydesdale handler for Budweiser. I traveled the country with the Budweiser Clydesdales. I saw a lot of countryside I wouldn’t have, if it wasn’t for Miss Rodeo Nebraska,” she explained.
Her latest venture is an opportunity to compete in Project Cowboy, which is a reality television show for horses. “On April 2, I was notified I was selected as one of the contestants chosen for Project Cowboy in Sacramento, Calif.,” she said. The competition is for different levels of ranch horse versatility. Questions will be asked on television, and segments will be held like ‘Cooking with your Spurs on’, she said. Of the 38 contestants selected to participate in the program, 15-20 will be selected from those to be on the television series.
The three-day competition was held June 8-10, and will later be aired on RFD-TV. During the competition, Jones said the contestants competed with their own horse in a series of obstacles.
Throughout the year, Jones enjoys competing in ranch horse versatility at the stock shows in Denver and Rapid City, and at the South Dakota State Fair. “This year, at the stock show in Rapid City, I won third in the ladies open,” Jones said. “A lady had called and asked if I would ride her horse there. He hadn’t been used on cows for awhile. I rode him at my house for a week, but we didn’t work with cattle. I took him up there, and worked him on cows like I do my own horses, and we placed third,” she said.
Jones will also compete in a two man ranch sort later this summer, and as an alternate on her husband’s ranch rodeo team.