I didn’t start out naming my boots. None of my mentors or early friends in the boot making world thought of themselves as artists, or their work as meaningful and lasting. A cowboy boot was a functional object made to be used and abused, then discarded. I saw little curiosity about the inner creative life of an artist or the motivations of the client’s design choices. The boot makers I knew wouldn’t have thought of giving a title to a cowboy boot anymore than they would have considered naming their socks.
I came to the craft from a totally different place. My relationship to footwear had always been based on both function and self-expression. In the beginning I tried to repress the artist within me, but as my creative abilities sharpened, the gulf between the work I was making and the way I represented that work deepened. I had no art training, no friends or peers who were artists, and no vocabulary to express the well of emotion and satisfaction that was bubbling up inside me.
It was music that helped me tie those two dangling cords of Art and Craft together. I had always known that music touched me deeply. A finely crafted phrase or the strains of perfect harmony will bring me to tears. I slowly came to realize that my craft touched that same depth of emotion within me. The lines of a completed design sang in harmony and the steps of making boots flowed together in rhythm.
I began tapping into the emotion that each new boot and design invoked and relating that emotion to songs. Sometimes a song refers to the client and sometimes it reveals my mood at the time I built the boot. Usually though, it’s the design itself that informs my choice of song and title.