BY VIRGINIA STILL
Hats have been around for many years with a variety of styles, shapes, and colors and have been worn for different reasons throughout the times. If there is one place that you are inclined to see almost every person wearing a hat, it would be in a good ol’ western movie. Like the newly released remake of “The Magnificent 7” which had a vast assortment of cowboy hats that were shown on the big screen, including a few custom hats that were manufactured right out of the Cowboy Capital itself at Alamosa Hat Works in Oakdale.
Tom Quintana, owner of Alamosa Hat Works, is a master hatter that specializes in making custom beaver felt cowboy hats, fedoras and he also does repairs and restoration.
His passion for hats materialized after his father passed away in 2002.
“He left me a hat and I wanted to wear the hat,” stated Quintana. “It didn’t fit me so I started looking between here and Timbuktu trying to find somebody to size this hat for me.”
After finally hearing about an ‘old guy’ in Sutter Creek that could size the hat, Quintana took his dad’s hat there and had it fitted. The man explained to Quintana that he used steam to stretch the hat and in that notion his interest was sparked and he went home, modified his wife’s steamer and started experimenting with the hat, which led to shaping it. His interest continued to grow and one day while he and his wife were watching the Professional Bull Riders Association he told her, “one of these days I will be on there” with a custom made hat.
“Six months later I got my name on TV,” said Quintana. “That is where I got into the spotlight with the Professional Bull Riders Association. Then I came up with a sticker, the logo and Alamosa Hat Works and within a year’s time I was selling hats all over the world.”
The name came from a ranch his father owned in Colorado that has been in his family since the 1800s.
“It had a good catch to it and it was because of my father that I started the business,” said Quintana. “I just kept the name and it has worked out really good for me.
“In the ‘Cowboy Capital’ of the world it has been great.”
In 2003 he began shaping hats and then in 2004 he started manufacturing them.
Not only can you see Alamosa hats on cowboys in the PBR but they can also be seen in some movies like “The Longest Ride” with Scott Eastwood. Quintana was invited to the premiere but could not make it due to prior obligations. He also mentioned a movie being filmed right now called “Wild Faith” and “Godless” for Netflix where the stuntmen in those movies will be wearing his hats.
Darby Hinton is an actor and director that has been in several TV movies and TV series throughout the years. In the ‘60s he played Daniel Boone’s son Israel on the TV series “Daniel Boone.” Quintana has made a few custom hats for him. He is also in the process of making a hat for Tony Dow, who played Wally on “Leave it to Beaver.” Rick Moffatt, a local cowboy, bull rider, and stuntman has worn Alamosa hats on a few movie sets.
The process to create a custom hat begins with a hat body and then Quintana coordinates the brim width, crown height and hat design with the client to make that specialty hat.
He has a blocking machine that was made in the 1900s that he noted cannot be found anywhere and, along with sanding the hat, it also needs to be burned which removes the long fur and then is ironed.
The hat then gets put into a press that was made for Quintana that flattens the brim. He hand sews the band and the hat is complete. All hats are 100 percent hand crafted.
“Each customer has to have their head shaped, which I do here with the conformer and I measure their head so the hat fits like a glove,” added Quintana. “You get a perfect fit that way. That is what a custom hat is all about.”
Besides cowboy hats, Quintana also makes handmade fedoras in all shapes, colors and sizes. He will also restore or repair most hats that come his way.
According to Marsha Kraft, who is an assistant at the hat shop, it is really hard to destroy a hat but if you do, Quintana can make it look brand new again.
“I just have a passion to do it all,” said Quintana. “I love it all. I like it from working with the customer to the finished product and, of course, getting paid. For me it is a real blessing.”
For more information visit Alamosa Hat Works on Facebook, visit www.alamosahatworks.com or call 209-606-4134.
Alamosa Hat Works
314 E. F St.
Wednesday through Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturdays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.