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1  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Re: Wedding shoes OMG on: April 15, 2012 04:09:14 PM
These are a beautiful concept.  I would love to borrow your idea and adapt it to a scratch shoe if I can figure out a way to make it work.  These have an entire story in the design.  They really call out.  Incredible doesn't even come close to describing what these shoes are. 
2  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Re: red stripper heels to wearable :) on: April 15, 2012 03:57:40 PM
Excellent paint job.  You should consider doing custom work on jackets.  Maybe even on cars and Bikes.
3  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Re: Two Equals One? on: April 15, 2012 03:54:20 PM
Very cool combination.  I like the use of the yellow, but it seems like an afterthought.  Maybe thinned out a bit much before you applied it. Still, an excellent job.
4  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Re: Custom Black Oxford on: April 15, 2012 03:48:15 PM
I'm fascinated by the whole idea of shoe making. How long does the whole shoe making process take?


The total time varies a bit depending on style and details of a given shoe.  These were quite a challenge as I had some unexpected surprises including hidden flaws in the leather that tore while stretching on the last making it necessary to remake one of the shoes from scratch and having to redo one of the soles for a similar problem that appeared during the pre-finish sanding.  They took about twice as long as they should have, but were well worth the effort.

Ordinarily a pair like this would take around 35 to 40 hours using all hand techniques as I do except for closing (stitching together the uppers) and the final finishing.  Simpler shoes might take as little as 30 hours and a pair of boots 45 hours or more.  The more detail that goes into a pair, the more time gets added.

Eventually I hope to be able to afford a sole stitcher.  That $5000 (If I get lucky) machine will save me a good 5 hours or so per pair all by itself.  Not to mention the wear and tear on the hands.

5  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Custom Black Oxford on: April 14, 2012 04:38:19 PM
I just finished a pair of very plain Black Oxfords for my oldest brother and am waiting to hear from him as to what he thinks of them.  He has some fitting problems that made these a bit of a special challenge.  His feet are curved quite a bit, in different places and are a size and a half different in length and one is a D width while the other is an E.  All in all it makes the shoes look a little off kilter in the pictures, but all of his shoes have the same appearance.  

These are made of 3 ounce bullhide with pigskin lining and have kangaroo laces.









6  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Re: Marie Antoinette Shoes on: December 06, 2011 05:21:07 PM
These are beautiful.  They are close enough to satisfy most anybody but the most demanding history buff.  And you'd hate period accurate heels as they are set much farther forward under the shoe and make walking a lot awkward until you get used to them. 

Did you check to see if the heels were nailed on or screwed on before you covered them?  Pull up the insole and peek at the beginning.  if you see screws it's no big deal to take the heels completely off, cover them and put them back on.  Just a little contact cement and replace the screws.  Makes dealing with those seams a lot easier.  I just wish boots were done the same way.
7  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Re: What I've Been Up To on: December 06, 2011 05:05:36 PM
Beautiful work.  I love the skunk boots.  Never thought of working with skunk pelts.  Only ever made mountain man hats out of them.  Wonder what those boots would look like with the tails hanging from the back of the tops?  probably be a tripping hazard anyway.  Keep up the amazing work! 
8  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / My Latest Footwear on: December 02, 2011 04:22:00 PM
I just finished these a couple of days ago for my wife and after a little adjusting she's very happy with them.  I wanted to do something outside what I had learned in school and requiring a lot more challenge.  These delivered that in buckets.  If not for the books I got from one of my suppliers I would have been totally lost.  I now know how different bootmaking is from shoemaking.  The same basics, but only the basics.  I can see why so many in the trade tend to specialize in either boots or shoes and try not to cross over.  But now that I know what it's like I'm hooked on both.  Some of the stitching on this pair is off as my machines both had problems and needed new parts and a lot of adjustments to get them back to proper running condition, and now I have to get used to operating them running as they should.  It's astounding how far out of time a machine can be and still do a reasonable stitch until a part fails and you start fixing things.  Then it all has to be set right and you have to learn how to operate it all over again.  The difference in performance is unreal!

Anyway, here are the pics, starting with several of the assembly shots so you can get an idea of what is involved. 

This is the upper, lined and ready for trimming.


This is what the vamp looks like just before the lining is attached.....


This is the closed boot from the side.  Notice that the lining of the vamp is only glued a little past the stitches.


This is the closed boot from the front.


And from the bottom.


Here is a shot of the uppers soaking in warm water before being stretched over the lasts.


This pic shows the boot after the upper has been hand stitched to the inner sole, the welt stitched around the edge,
the center filled with cork and the rand piece tacked on the heel area.  It is still on the last.


This shows the sole applied just after shaping and just before hand stitching to the welt.


And these last views are of the finished boots after all the stitching, stacking the leather heels, adding the rubber top lifts
and the black inking of the edges and sole.  The last step is 2 coats of leather balm allowed to dry slightly before buffing. 
for a high gloss a premium soft shoe polish can be used after the leather balm.






Unfortunately the pictures don't do justice to the boots.  They are a deep blood red and black lizard skin print leather.  The black trim
is a perfect complement although it doesn't show well in the pictures.  My lights are on the fritz and the flash washes everything out.
Still you can more or less get the idea.  Even though these are not perfect, I'm happy with the result.  A little more practice with the
revamped machines and there will be no stopping me. 

Now if I can just find that box of jewelry pics and get them rescanned........
9  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Re: Hand Made Shoes on: November 10, 2011 03:17:34 PM
I got lucky and found a fairly new school run by a man who has been a custom shoe and boot maker for over 30 years working with his wife in Ashland, Oregon.  You can find them at www.shoemaking.com and view all the pertinent information there.  After checking out all the shoe and boot schools I could fine over a 7 year period they are about $200 less on all their classes and much more thorough.  Each student designs their project from scratch during the course of the class.  And they are the only school that offers a 20% discount on return students for other classes. 

I initially just wanted to learn to make shoes, but have gotten to a oint of needing to get out of my profession of construction and do something less physically demanding.  This is where I intend to concentrate my efforts.  I think if I combine this with what I know in fine jewelry garment making hatting and a couple of other things I might be able to survive on it.  Maybe even build some of those spy shoes with the spring knives in the toes.........

Then again maybe not.  Those might be illegal.

And while I don't feel particularly awesome, I do get a sort of deeply satisfied feeling knowing I can do it right.  When I get around to doing another post I think I'll put up some of my jewelry.  Rings, or Pendants?  Maybe that silver buckle?

10  CLOTHING / Shoes: Completed Projects / Hand Made Shoes on: November 09, 2011 11:31:06 AM
After years of struggling to find a dependable source for quality footwear that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg I finally gave up.  I also had a desire to learn how to reproduce accurate historical footwear and could find little information on the subject.  This last bit has changed radically in the last few years courtesy of the net, but is still a long way from where it could, and should, be.  Finding a school where I could learn traditional shoemaking techniques for a igh quality end result was almost aas frustrating as most in the U.S. either only teach glue lasting or are very expensive, or worse, both.  The alternative was bootmaking school which is even more expensive, but I kept searching and finally found the right place with the most amazing teacher I have ever encountered.  Below are the results of the 8 day intensive workshop I took last spring.  I couldn't fine the pics taken at the end of the class and had to reshoot so they have been worn a few times and have the creases to prove it.  They are amazingly comfortable as they were made using all the measurements from my feet and by modifying a standard shoe last accordingly.



They are made from french calfskin with rolled seams and edges.  This is a Derby style shoe cut to resemble an Oxford with hand stitched details.  The soles are heavy veg tan leather and the stacked leather heels are made of the same.  The toe piece does not overlay the vamp of the shoe as it would with brogueing (punch work) and the uppers consist of 7 pieces of leather.  8 if you include the tongue.  The lining is 2 pieces, the back piece of pigskin and the vamp piece of perforated calfskin to help keep the foot cooler in the hot months and warmer in the cold months.   The innersole is a softer version of the sole material, made so by sanding the grain side with a fine grit belt until it loses it's shine.  This greatly softens the top of the leather and eliminates the need for padded insoles.  To cover the marks from the lasting nails inside, an insert of kidskin is glued inside.  This also adds to the comfort.

Since school I have done a few more pairs, but only have one other available for pics at the present time.  This pair is one I started on while working at the local Renaissance Fair while working in my booth.  (A film crew for National Geographic shooting The Knights of Mayhem on the air this month got some footage of me putting them on the lasts, but I don't know if it will be on the air or not)  This is a pair of Elizabethan Slippers.  They are of green embossed cowhide and lined with pigskin. 



The most noticeable features of these are the high flap on the front of the shoe and the very low sides.  These are typical of slippers worn by both men and women of that time, but with heels.  This shoe ordinarily would have had no heel or a wedge of one or two layers of leather for a heel.  Only rarely would a heel such as I have on these appear, and again it would have been only one or two layers thick.  (about 3/8 inch)  The heel I put on is more to accomodate the lasts I have and I think complements the shoe nicely.
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