What inspired you to become a bootmaker?
I became a boot maker for a few reasons. One was the need to create, to make something tangible, functional art. Another was a fear of boredom. I was entering a new phase of my life and needed something to do as a hobby. What I thought was going to be a hobby however became a full time job.
Who were your teachers? What was it like to learn from them?
Deana McGuffin and Paul Krause. Deana taught me the process, Paul the fit of a foot. I only spent a small amount of bench time with both. The rest was and still is phone/email/etc contact. Both mentors are great teachers with more patience than I deserve. I also must give a shout out to the community at large. Everyone is helpful, from Lisa Sorrell videos, to the makers forum, to the impromptu phone calls with Lee Miller, Dustin Lauw, Mike Vaugn. You name it. Seems most makers are willing to help when needed.
What were some of your early struggles and successes as a young bootmaker?
First, I was never a young boot maker. I began my quest in my 40s. The hardest part was my patience. I am a person who moves constantly, very social. Learning to be still and by myself at the bench was the hardest part. My biggest success and continued success are the small things. No wrinkle in the waist on a flat foot, a smooth rand, and a second order because I did my job right.
What advice would you give to young bootmakers just starting out?
Marry rich, work with intent.
What are your hopes for the future of the craft?
I would love to see the craft carry on into the future. People buying and people making. A symbiotic relationship between maker and client. With makers staying with tradition and striving continually to make a better boot.
Music City Leather • Wes Shugart
The Cowboy Bootmakers. Memories and photos collected by Dana Perrotti, 2019.