"To me, it seems like a dying art," he said of its appeal. "I've got a holster and gun belt that were made 50 years ago. My mom has a purse she's had since she was a little girl and it looks new."
Ali taught himself the finer points of design, including stamping, carving and even painting the leather with intricate designs. He has made straps that look like snakeskin and straps with names on them.
"I'm a fan of putting their home state on there," he said.
Although he's given many as gifts, he gets orders, too, and charges up to $400 for guitar straps.
His early gift to Paisley paid off later in a rather surprising way.
"Fans of his who want everything like his have ordered them," he said.
Besides guitar straps, Ali has created elaborate hand-laced guitar covers.
He figures he may have inherited his artistic talent.
His great-grandfather cut class for Seneca Glass of Morgantown, a premier producer of leaded glass until it closed in 1983.
"He was a crystal cutter," Ali said. "I have a book of his patterns I'd like to use."
The biggest benefits to his hobby aren't money.
Ali said leatherwork is a nice stress reliever after a long workweek. His craft has given him access to many of the country stars he admires - he has lots of photos of him, his wife, Rebekah, and their 2-year-old daughter, Reagan, with their favorite musicians.
It's pretty thrilling to see one of his straps on TV, in a music video or in a magazine spread, too.
"It's nice to see these guys achieving the success they do," he said.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymaillcom or 304-348-4830.