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Topic: Hand Made Shoes  (Read 6655 times)
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« 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.

« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2011 12:31:49 PM »

Those shoes look great. May I ask where you finally found instruction? I haven't been looking too hard lately because there was no way I could afford the few classes I did find (especially when I considered travel expenses on top of the cost of the course) but I still have hope that I might someday get the stars to align in such a way that I could afford it, somehow.
'Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools.' - N. Bonaparte
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« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2011 01:56:24 PM »

That's amazing! You do beautiful work. And that class sounds like a lot of fun.

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« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2011 03:08:00 PM »

Wow...all I can say is WOW!  Amazingly talented you are!

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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2011 03:51:55 PM »

You have phenomenal skill - wow.   Shocked Smiley

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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011 05:14:06 PM »

I am kinda speechless.  These are just so incredible. I have never been a traditional shoe girl but to be able to make them like this!  I would so love to be able to make period appropriate footwear that would actually fit. 

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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011 06:56:28 PM »

Really beautiful! Shoes are on my list of things I'd like to do. How awesome do you feel?


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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2011 04:06:11 AM »

Myr! Your shoes are awesome! You must really make me a pair now. I mean it! Tongue Beautiful work. See you on PP!

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« Reply #8 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?


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« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2011 02:29:51 AM »

those are AMAZING!!!!!!!

omg I cant believe you made them, cobbling is a dying art and you, sir, are going to revive it Wink
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