By Molly Barber
I like to think that beauty is everywhere. It’s in nature, it’s in us, and in what we create. In college I was lucky enough to take a glass blowing class for a couple of years and it changed my perspective of art and beauty. I was able to see the beauty in craftsmanship and not just in the finished product. The finesse and thought, the foresight and creativity. There is a special place in my heart for people who can look at an object and see not what is there but what could be.
Sam Mix is one of those people. With her basic tools, materials, and virtuosity she creates beautiful works of art not only to look at but to wear. She creates dreamcatchers, jewelry, and moccasins. Sam’s relatively new to this trade but looking at her product, you would expect her to be a veteran of the craft. “I started (moccasins) three or four years ago but have been doing bead work for a long time.
I’m just getting better and more skilled now,” Sam explained while showing me examples of her work. “The looming is pretty straight forward. Aunt
Charmaine taught me when I was young.” The intricate patterns she is able to bead are sublime but what’s really impressive is how she beads around rocks and ties them into necklaces.
I was completely in awe and I looked at her simple set up and what she was able to create with it. Her moccasins are something to been seen and are completely custom made.
“The best way for me to make them, is for me to take an actual pattern of your foot. So it’s individualized to you. It’s only your shoe. It would fit somebody else funky, it wouldn’t ride right. But for you it would be perfect.” So not only can you get a moccasin made specifically made for your foot but then she can also customize the colors and bead work for you. “It all really depends on your personal moccasin. The range can be anywhere from $60-$70 to $300-$400 depending on bead work or if you want intricate abalone decorations.” So the price literally reflects the work that will go into making your pair, what you want your moccasins to look like, and how big your hoof is. The more material she has to use, whether it’s beads, hide or other decorations, the higher the price. “A lot of people don’t realize the hours that I put into making them,” Sam explained.
Another thing to take into consideration while thinking about what kind of moccasin to get is the leather options. Sam usually uses deer, elk, and bison hides. “Elk is thicker and softer. It’s a great deal thicker than the deer,” she explains. “This is where I run into a lot of issues with people because they request something and they expect it to be thicker or thinner or whatever.”
If you are interested in having a pair of moccasins made by Sam, I totally suggest meeting with her and getting an idea first hand of what kind of leather you want, the colors that are available to you for the thickness you want, and so she can measure of your foot.
Sam doesn’t just stick with one pattern of moccasin either. She has different styles to choose from and has also created her own moccasin sandal for the warmer months. “The sandals were my own idea, I wanted a sandal because I was hot. I just started cutting up leather and tying it together and it worked out.”
With the holidays coming up, moccasins would make the perfect gift for a loved one or maybe just spoil yourself and get a pair just for you. After watching her work firsthand and seeing the finished product I will be a proud owner of a pair of moccasins made by Sam… and maybe a necklace… and maybe a dreamcatcher, because craftsmanship like this is one of a kind. You can see the pride, love, and artistry within every product she creates. And in today’s world, that’s refreshing.