Thursday, 26 February 2015

2015 Independent Shoemakers Conference - Part 1

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Last Saturday, Alistair and I attended the 2015 Independent Shoemakers Conference. It was a great success and many thanks should go to Ian Goff of the London College of Fashion and Sue Baughan for organising such an interesting, interactive and packed day! There's too much to cover in one post, so this week's is a two-parter.

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Held in the heart of beautiful Northamptonshire, it was appropriate that Sue opened with a fascinating overview of shoemaking in the area; the shoemakers who lived in workers cottages with specially built workshops, the arrival of mechanisation, the impact of WW1 with large boot orders...
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...its heyday with some 250 manufacturers in the county, the decline with cheap overseas competition and the current climate with some 16 factories going strong. 

Next up was fellow red-head, cowboy boot maker Lisa Sorrell. 

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It was great to meet her again and to meet her husband (and some-time boot model) Dale. She generously shared her experience of learning boot making and building her own business. It was fascinating to hear about the real peacocks out there - the men who want pattern AND colour - because cowboy boots are all about showing off and looking 'purtee' (pretty). Our clients have nothing on them (sorry Rob, you've been outdone)! Alistair and I both came away enthused by colour and design, so watch this space.

Cowboy boot maker Lisa Sorrell with her husband Dale, the man with a walk-in boot room
Lisa makes her boots herself and each boot takes a month from design to finishing. The uppers are machine stitched with intricate underlay and overlay patterns of leather and then the boots have a stitched fore part


and are hand pegged through the waist and around the heel.

Sorrell Cowboy Boots in American Alligator with design in kangaroo skin; the design on the left is on a 1940s boot last - lovely toe shape!
Talk of alligator and kangaroo was timely as we then heard from Simon Yarwood of World Leather Magazine. He spoke of the impact of competition from faux materials, anti-leather campaigns and a negative consumer perception on the industry and its realisation at the International Leather Forum in 2007/8 that something needed to be done. 

Simon Yarwood, World Leather Magazine

One of the key activities that the leather industry has launched to tackle this perception and to highlight the benefits of leather and good practices in the tanning industry is a competition amongst tanneries worldwide. 

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With the focus on corporate social responsibility, the Tannery of the Year programme identifies the two best tanneries in China, the rest of Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe and has been won by tanneries from as far afield as China and Austria. 

Image result for world leather tannery competition

Whew! A long post this week, but we hope you will agree an interesting one. So, until next week happy shoemaking!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Shoe School Style 2

We gave you a glimpse of our students' work recently and , as we promised more shoes this week, here's a selection of wonderful student work both past and present. Over the years that we have been teaching we have fine tuned our courses to suit beginners and experienced alike, so that everyone ends up with a pair of shoes that they can be proud of.  

Chris's dark polished, natural finish

We now offer students a little more choice in their shoes. The Derby (shown) is still our preferred style because it offers such a flexible fit, but students can now choose from three upper colours - tan, dark brown or black - and a natural polished or inked/waxed finish. Time-permitting, they can even tackle sole patterns and military shines! Also, students who order bespoke lasts, can choose a shoe style of their choice. 

Nick's black inked and waxed finish

Caroline's light polished finish

Contrasting laces for a fresh look

 As we said, if time permits we let them go crazy in the detail...

With elegant waist patterns

and waist and nail patterns

Perhaps what is most rewarding is to see how many students get back in touch after the course to say how much they enjoyed it and to order materials, packs and uppers to keep making shoes. Somehow they fit the making into already busy lives as work, studies, family and life allows...but continue making they do!

Like these beautiful boots by Adam (a dentist!)...

And these by Nazim - note the sturdy Rendenbach soles

We hope that, if you aren't already making shoes you will be inspired to try your hand at the oldest craft known to man!   Until next week - when we'll have a round up from The Independent Shoemakers Conference in Northampton, taking place this Saturday - happy shoemaking and happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Fifty shades of ....shoe!

Only joking! To satisfy your footwear passions this Valentine's weekend here is a colourful selection of new shoes and new shots from Carreducker for you to peruse, including:

Wholecuts with patina by Landry Lacour

Black dress Wholecuts - military shine and majestic purple lining

Mink suede Tassel Loafers

Desert boots in sandstone Nubuck

Single-brogue Adelaides


Canvas and Calf Adelaides

Until next week and more beautiful shoe shots, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Shoe School Style

It's been a busy start to the year with Alistair making great strides (excuse the pun) now half way through his scholarship, a new evening class under way and a couple of extra evenings so last term's students could finish their shoes.

They are all making great shoes, but these beauties particularly stood out with their red waists and snub toes.

Well done Caroline!

We also welcomed our first one-to-one student of the year, with promising results. Coatmaker turned gardener (and perhaps prospective shoemaker), Mark showed a steady hand and determined approach in crafting a first pair he should be proud of.

We loved the brown and green lace combo...

and medieval nail pattern.

By the way, there are just two places left on our New York course in May if you would like to join us? What could be better - learning the fine art of Bespoke Pattern Making and English Hand Sewn Shoemaking in hip Brooklyn, and working alongside London and New York shoemakers?

Why not download a form and sign up!

Until next week, happy shoemaking!