When I was in the hospital as a child, a nun there taught us to embroider mukluks. After I came home, my mom was always beading and making moccasins, so I watched and learned from her.
I made my first pair of slippers when I was fourteen. My mom was watching to make sure I did it right. I took them to the church, and I met someone who offered to buy them. They asked me how much I wanted for them, and I said “$10.” I didn’t know any better – that was a lot back then! But they said yes, and my mom didn’t say anything, so I sold the first pair of slippers I ever made.
For a fully beaded moccasin, it will take me about two weeks, and then about two or three days to put the hide and fur on. I mostly make moccasins and mukluks for other people, but I’ve also made little parkas for my girls, and some other things for my family.
It’s not too hard to learn things – you just see someone do it, and try it yourself. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, take it apart and try it again. You’ve got to keep at it, even if your shoes don’t look like shoes when you first start!
I’m now in my late seventies, so I’ve been beading and sewing for almost 65 years. It’s an excellent way to pass the long winter.