Listen to Windwalker Footwear’s interview with NPR
Mary and Tim Windwalker have been collaborating on custom bookmaking since shortly after meeting in 1987. At the time, Mary was making soft leather shoes for her children and many other parents asked where they came from. The light went on and she began making baby/toddler shoes for others. In 1986, she came into contact with a former U.C. Davis, CA political science professor who left formal teaching behind and taught Mary the method of measuring the feet using a soft cast and creating incredibly comfortable and durable footwear- literally a second skin.
. Around that same time, Tim had left the Chicago area home of his youth and was busking on the streets of Haight-Ashbury; through mutual friends he heard about a shoemaker and decided to travel to rural AZ to meet Greywolf and Devaki, A back-to-the land couple and their family who supported themselves making shoes, creating beadwork to decorate them, growing food, raising animals and building a home at the foot of a mesa completely off the grid in the days long before cell phones or the internet; the 8 mile drive to the pavement took an hour.
. It was quite a culture shock for Tim, but he left the city life and apprenticed with Greywolf for about a year, learning all manner of self-sufficiency and shoemaking on a Pfaff industrial sewing machine converted to a treadle.
During a change in her lifestyle, Mary arrived at Greywolf and Devaki’s homestead in 1988 with 3 sweet young girls, 2 milk goats, and a 1919 singer treadle sewing machine in the back of her ’59 Chevy panel truck. Tim was impressed. They began making shoes together in the moccasin shop; a converted chicken coup approximately 12 by 6 feet in size. At a weekend renaissance faire in Los Olivos Park in Phoenix, AZ., Mary and Tim were approached by Jeffrey Siegel, who said he was starting a permanent renaissance faire in the valley, and invited us to participate.
We had no idea what we were getting into but it sounded good so we left the back country and committed to making a life together 3 days before the first AZ renaissance faire in Feb., 1989, with Mary’s equipment and $158.00 to build a ‘moccasin coral’ in which to operate. We are very grateful for that opportunity, for our 1,000s of customers, and for our faith in each other. We never imagined hand-making soft footwear full time for over 30 years, but as Greywolf told us, you never know where the moccasin journey will take you.