Boot maker veteran, Deana McGuffin from Albuquerque, NM sent me her responses to the ten questions for this weeks profile. All of us know her. She has won several awards over the years and currently teaches boot making classes for anyone wanting to learn the craft. Thanks Deana for sending in your responses! Visit her website at http://www.mcguffinboots.com for more information.
When did you start making boots and how did you get into the craft?
I started my apprenticeship with my father L.W. McGuffin in 1981 my sister-in-law at the time chastised me for not learning this wonderful craft from my talented dad. It took me a year to talk him into it. He didn’t think a girl was strong enough to do the bottom work. I think he finally agreed just to shut me up.
What do you enjoy best about boot making?
I like making fancy inlayed/ overlayed tops.
Pretty Damned Hot
Who has been the biggest influence on your boot making?
Besides my dad, I think I’d have to say Dave Little.
What lessons did that person teach you?
I always loved the classic line of Dave’s boots. The Texas Boot Book had just come out when I started with dad. Dave had a couple of boots pictured in that book. I looked at those pictures a lot and tried to learn from his style.
Do you consider boot making an art form?
Absolutely. When you see all the beautiful boots in all the books out there, how could you think otherwise? I’m always amazed at everyone’s creativity.
What lessons of life has boot making taught you?
Perfection is a goal we all strive for, but no one attains. It is after all, the little imperfections that make a handmade product unique in the world. When you teach some you end up learning as well.
Have you made boots for any celebrities?
During my apprenticeship I worked on boots we made for Woody Paul and Ranger Dour of Riders in the Sky. I have made boots for Appalachian folk musician and writer Anne MacFie. Most of my clients are just every day folks that appreciate beauty and quality and don’t mind paying for it
Do you have any favorite stories about making boots or a particular client?
I was at a shoe repair trade show in Pittsburg early in my career and was introduced, as a bootmaker, to a well known mid-western repairman. He looked down at my boots and said, ”did you make those all by yourself?” I looked him right in the eye and said, “there’s only one thing men bootmakers have that women don’t and as far as I know none of them use it to make boots with.”
Number your boots from the very first pair. I wish I had done that. I have no idea how many pair I’ve built over these 30 some odd years. Also, don’t dishonor yourselves or your profession by selling yourself short. Consider what your mechanic, electrician, message therapist, your accountant and other professionals charge an hour for their services. Your time and talent are worth every bit as much. Think about how few of us even do what we do in the whole country. Be proud of your work and your profession and charge what you are worth.