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.
Percy Stith, The Stith Collection
At the turn of the previous century, says Percy Stith, wearing a hat “wasn’t the trendy thing, it was just the thing you did.” He has a vision of that being the case again. And with his idea of making hat-making (or millinery, if you’re fancy) an accessible craft for everyone, that vision just might become a reality.
How did you start making hats?
I lost my favorite hat, an old Stetson. I went [to the hat shop] downtown [Santa Fe], and I had pictures of me wearing it—I knew exactly what it was. I talked to the guy about it, and he said, “It’ll be thirteen hundred dollars.” And I saw a lady there making a hat… When I was young, I lived in New York City after college, and I met this woman, and two weeks later we flew to Vegas and got married. She was a hat-maker. We were only married for about six months, but in those six months, every day I would leave my job at five pm on the button and walk over to the hat shop where she worked and sit and wait for her. And after about two months of waiting, she made me a hat. And then, the next month, I started making a hat. I probably made three hats—this was about a dozen years ago. And when I saw that lady making a hat downtown, it was a flashback moment, and I thought, “Oh, right, I can make a hat.” I wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but for thirteen hundred dollars, I figured I could give it a try. So I bought some things, and I made a few hats.
How did you find this location? A shop right on Canyon Road [in Santa Fe] is really ideal.
It just kind of fell into place. My goal was to open a hat shop where people make their own hats. Kind of integrate more tech into making hats. We’d 3D scan your head, design your hat block on the computer, then 3D print your hat block, then you do some of the labor. That’s still kind of my goal. But to do that, you need 3D scanners and printers, which cost a little bit of money. And then somebody was like, “Well, Percy, why don’t you just open a hat shop to begin with? Version 1.0.” And that’s kind of what I did.
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