Craft is alive and well in New Mexico. The home of Pueblo pottery and colorful Diné tapestry, this part of the world has a heritage of craft and design that continues to inspire artisans to practice old trades or create something entirely new. Often some mixture of the two.
These are just a few of the craftspeople in New Mexico who are creating one-of-a-kind goods by hand. You can find all of them on Instagram and at local markets.
Murphy Thiel, Run and Hide Leather
Under the name Run and Hide Leather, Murphy Thiel makes custom cowboy boots and other leather goods entirely by hand out of a studio in Albuquerque’s South Valley. She is one of very few women bootmakers in the country. She hopes to open her own studio and storefront sometime next year.
How did you start Run and Hide?
I went to school for menswear design in New York. I originally wanted to be a tailor, which is crazy because now the thought of doing that is kind of repulsive to me. I ended up working for this company in New York that made motorcycle jackets, this really cool punk label, right out of college. I really fell in love with leather. I went back to school for footwear and accessory design and kept working for big companies—I worked for Rag & Bone for a while. Then I thought, “God, I don’t want to work for big companies forever.” It was not hands-on at all. I was sitting in front of a computer all day, and it was soul-crushing. So I was making it in New York but still miserable. So then I went through a slew of working for small designers and eventually got the idea to start making things myself. So I started making this clog line, which was kind of the birth of Run and Hide, about five years ago.
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How did you wind up in Albuquerque?
I was making these clogs out of a studio in New York, and eventually I thought, “I could keep doing this, keep making the clogs and small stuff, or I could go learn from a master.” Because that’s really the only way you can learn that stuff [bootmaking]. Which is crazy. They don’t really teach this stuff in school.
So I looked up this list of bootmakers and emailed all of them. I looked at the towns they lived in. It got boiled down to El Paso or Austin or Albuquerque. I didn’t want to move to El Paso. There was a guy in Austin who’s one of the best in the U.S. He was like, “Yeah, come out. An apprenticeship is fine. But you have to wait two years to even start.” And I was like, “No, I need to leave New York. I want to do this right now.” And then I found this woman named Deana McGuffin. She’s the woman I work for now. She’s totally insane, this wild woman. There are very few women in bootmaking.
She’s a fourth-generation bootmaker. Her dad didn’t even want to teach her, though, because he said she wasn’t strong enough and just, generally, “women don’t do this.” He wouldn’t teach her until she was, like, thirty-five or forty. Now she teaches people how to do it. She gives a two-week intensive course. But I was like, “No, no, I don’t want to take the course; I want to learn everything. I have this background. I’m serious: I want to do it.” So now I share a shop with her. She’s retiring, so there’s this big up-in-the-air thing—I’m going to be setting up my own shop sometime soon in Albuquerque, and I’m gonna buy a bunch of her equipment.