Tag Archives: Zine

Deana McGuffin

What inspired you to become a bootmaker?

I was inspired to learn boot making by my then, sister-in-law. She really kind of got on my case and ask my why I wasn’t learning this wonderful and dying art that my father could teach me. I hadn’t really considered it before, but the more I thought about it, the more appealing it became to me. It took me over a year to talk my dad into it. He didn’t think girls were strong enough to do it. He finally agreed to teach me after I left my husband. I think he thought it was a way to get me back home so he could look after me and my daughter. I don’t think he thought I’d stick with it.

Who were your teachers?  

My father L.W. McGuffin was my only hands on teacher. Once I learned the basics, I picked up styles and techniques from other boot makers. That’s when Tyler Beard’s boot books were coming out. All those great photos of all the others boot artists work, I was like a kid in a candy store.

What were some of your early struggles and successes as a young bootmaker?

I think my hardest struggle in the early days was being taken seriously as a woman in a traditionally male field. There were quite a few women top makers through the years, but none that I knew of that were making the whole boot. Melody Dawkins and I were both making boots in the early 1980s.

A couple of memorable early successes were participating in the Master Artist and Apprenticeship program through the New Mexico Arts Division starting in the late eighties that consequently led to participating as part of the New Mexico program at the 1992 Festival of American Folklife at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. I still participate in the Master Artist/Apprenticeship program.

What advice would you give to young bootmakers just starting out?

Number one advice is to number your boots. I have no idea how many pairs I’ve made over the years and I’d really like to know that. Look at other people’s work. There is always something to learn regardless if the work is impeccable or a little rough. Make your style your own. You never truly have competition from other boot makers. Our styles and work are all very different. Most people have a style preference and are drawn to a particular look. Try to generate magazine/newspaper articles, have your work on some kind of social media, give demonstrations for museums, civic clubs etc. Consider doing a boot raffle to benefit your favorite charity. It’s been my experience that these things will bring in more business than paid advertising ever will. Anytime someone admires the boots you’re wearing, hand them a business card.

What are your hopes and expectations for the future of the craft?

I am excited about the future of boot making. There are so many younger people coming into the business now. I’m teaching all the time and several other makers are teaching as well. As an industry, we have to constantly educate the public about our product. The corporate footwear industry is all about cheap and disposable. We can’t compete price wise so we have to elevate the awareness of the public as to the benefits of FIT.

McGuffin Custom Boots • Deana McGuffin
Albuquerque NM
(505) 550-1113

L.W. McGuffin


The Cowboy Bootmakers. Memories and photos collected by Dana Perrotti, 2019. 

Dave Wheeler

What inspired you to become a bootmaker?

I cannot say that I was really inspired to become a boot maker, as my Dad had always been in the shoe repair business.  At age 12, he brought me in to learn repair. I worked after school and on Saturdays. At around 18 years of age, he put me over on the boot making side of the business, which he started in 1960. It was at this point that I began bootmaking, then I left for college for 2 years, then returned to bootmaking. I briefly tried radio for a time, but kept working in the shop. Continue reading

Graham Ebner

What inspired you to become an apprentice bootmaker?

Somewhere on the planes of style and function there’s a little intersection. Boots are right there in that little sweet spot for me. I’ve always enjoyed making things, working with leather or making clothing and bags. And of course as a card-carrying Texan I’ve worn boots since I was a kid and see them as an icon of my home more than anything else. Somewhere along the way all of these things smooshed together, marinated, and I found myself wanting to learn about how boots are made, who makes them, and how I might learn to make boots myself. Continue reading

Morgan Buckert

What inspired you to become a bootmaker?

I started my journey to cowboy boots as a child.  My dad is a ranch foreman in South Texas and my parents had cowboy boots made by Lee Miller in the 1980s.  I couldn’t have imagined anything more beautiful. I received my first pair of handmade boots as a high school graduation present from M.L. Leddy’s–I still wear them regularly. During the recession, I was sewing and selling bags and accessories–I quickly started working with leather and had the opportunity to go to Penland School of Crafts for a shoe class.  Penland changed my life  Continue reading