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This project was successfully funded on June 15, 2017

Bespoke Cowgirl Boot Making Program

by Emily Boksenbaum


  I believe in the power of craft! The handmade can teach us to be self aware. It can teach us that we are capable of anything, and that we cannot exist on our own without the help of other hands and other humans. 

   My name is Emily Boksenbaum. I have a custom leather working and shoemaking business called UnderHill Leather. I am fascinated by the decorative arts because if you don't pay attention, it is very easy to take the many different objects in your life for granted. 

   For the last five years, my work has reflected my development of traditional leather working skills and the basics of shoemaking. I have used the handmade shoe as a canvas to apply my practice of decorative tooling. 

   I have the opportunity to learn from a Master Cowboy boot maker out in her studio in Albuqurque, NM at the end of June. She will cover the principles of Bespoke Shoemaking, making shoes to the specific measurements of one client. I will produce my first pair of cowboy boots (the ultimate canvas!) during the program, and leave with the skills and knowledge to continue making boots in my studio at home. 

   Bespoke Shoemaking has a long history, yet it has become less and less present in America as globalization has taken footwear production to other countries where it is faster and cheaper. The act of sending production overseas has made it harder for traditional artisans to survive, to the point where there are not as many people teaching traditional craft as there once was. The bootmaker that I hope to learn from is passionate about passing her craft to the next generation.

   The value of keeping bespoke shoemaking alive is not an effort to make the perfect pair of shoes for everyone in the world. It is to have a presence in our society that reminds us that even in factories, humans are making our products. Humans are operating the machines and sourcing the materials to make the objects that we depend on to keep us comfortable. Bespoke shoemaking values the artisan and honors the skill that goes into these products. 

   I am asking for $3800 to pay the cost of the two week program. The fee covers the hours of her teaching and the value of her great knowledge and skill level. The $3800 also covers the cost of maintaining sewing and sanding machines, and all of the materials such as leather, soling, and hardware. I will be staying in New Mexico for two weeks under her instruction and making my first pair of proper, handmade cowboy boots.

   Extra funding up to the amount of $5590 would help cover the cost of travel and lodging during the two weeks. In the event that the project is over funded it would enable the purchasing of any additional tools or machines that I will need when I return home to be completely equipt for bootmaking. It will also help fund the shipping and materials to get amazing perks out to all of you!!

   I am so grateful to have your attention and your support. Your tax-deductible donation will go towards helping me hone my artistic skills and to keeping the tradition of bespoke shoemaking alive. For that, I thank you.