Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 22 July 2016

What's New In The Tool Shed?

Hello, hello to one and all. We welcome you to this week's post in the long running Carreducker blog. I say long running because, while looking at our stats, I re-read our first post which was in October 2008. We are 8 years old. Amazing! We want to send out a massive thank you to all of you who have read the blog over this time. It has been a journey for us personally, but has, to our surprise and immense pride, proved to be popular with you guys, the lovely shoe folk of the world - in this last month, we have had 47,000 page views! We are blown away by that and are so glad that there are so many people out there in the world who share our love of this fantastic trade.

Making shoes is no easy task, so  when we get emails from people saying they have made shoes on their own from our blog and from videos online, we are absolutely delighted.

So, what do we have for you this week? Well, we have some new products on our Tool Shed online tool shop

Due to popular demand, we have introduced shoe covers. Specially made for footwear, these covers are really easy to use. You simply heat them up with a hair dryer and slip them over your lasted uppers. As the plastic cools, it shrinks into place. We like to run a line of clear tape around the feather edge for more protection

A Pair of Shoe Covers - £2.75 per pair

They are great for protecting delicate or pale leathers which are easily marked or stained. They also work really well for fabric shoes

Please take a look at this post for detailed images on how to use them

And check out this video on Youtube on how to use them (the file was too big for Blogger to handle!)

They cost £2.75 per pair and are available in 2 sizes from the Tool Shed

  • Medium UK sizes 6 to 9
  • Large UK sizes 9 to 13

Do you have trouble lasting around the toe or the heel? Too much leather? Can't get in between the nails to get rid of those little creases?

We have the answer - our narrow nosed lasting pliers

These are a great piece of kit. Really well balanced in the hand, they have long handles for extra grip, helped by the sharp teeth in the jaws which grip even the smallest piece of leather, Finally the keyed hammering foot does not slip off the nails

They cost £73 and are well worth the investment

Lastly, we have the big brother of the narrow nosed lasting pliers. Aimed at more advanced shoemakers, these lasting pliers are the best we have found. With the same attributes as their smaller sibling, they are the ones we use - I have had mine for 18 years and they are still going  strong with no sign of wear.

They cost £79 and you will definitely not find a better pair

So, if you need these or any other shoemaking tools, lasts, or leather, please take a look at the Tool Shed

We ship anywhere in the world

And that's about it for this week, so, until next Friday, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 15 July 2016

New Bespoke Shoes and Crafts Magazine

Welcome back once more, dear readers. We hope you have had a good week.

We have been getting our hands dirty with making as we have a lot of orders all coming through at the same time. This is our favourite thing to be doing - shoemaking!

Here's a style we just sent out - we really like the colour combination and the simplicity of the style.

Particularly like the blue slip beading and the integral tab over the stay stitch on the facings. And the blue through the single hole punching is a cool detail

We didn't want to give them up!

 Luckily, the customer is really happy and is already talking about his second pair.

It is a version of this shoe which we made last year - also a great colour combination

As mentioned last week, we have had two pieces of press in the last week which is great.

The first is in Crafts Magazine which is the magazine of the Crafts Council.

A huge thanks to  editor Grant Gibson who wrote the article. It perfectly captures what we are trying to do with our ready to wear shoes - manufacture in England with specialist artisanal factories, investing in British shoemaking

We were also featured in the current issue of the QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) Magazine which also highlights our Barkan Desert Boot project.

So another big thank you to the  QEST team.

If you are not familiar with them, they give scholarships and apprenticeships to craftspeople to develop their careers. This is how Deborah funded her apprenticeship as a shoemaker. Check them out

And that is about it for this week. We are getting ready for our Pattern Making Course which starts on the 25th and our Intensive Shoemaking Course which starts the week after

And making shoes of course. I love my job!

Until next week, happy shoemaking

Friday, 8 July 2016

Istituto Marangoni and Cockpit Arts

Welcome back shoe fans and a belated happy 4th of July! Summer finally seems to have turned up for a few days so we've been out and about making the most of it. 

I haven't been over to the hip east end for ages, so it was a treat to visit the London campus of Milan's fashion school, Istituto Marangoni in aptly named Fashion Street, Shoreditch.

It was just a quick visit this time to catch up with an old friend and to hear about the school's fashion marketing, but I'm looking forward to a return visit and full tour soon. We hope to become involved with the school in the long term, perhaps offering a specialist handsewn bespoke module. But until then, Istituto Marangoni students can discover the English shoemaking craft for themselves on our Intensive Shoemaking and Pattern Making for Bespoke Shoes courses.

Walking back to Holborn, there were many reminders of just how much London has and is changing; buildings going up and coming down...

Being transformed from warehouses to homes... 

and becoming creative canvases...

A design company HQ
Underground train carriages converted into workshops 
A hidden 'figure'
It is a very inspiring area, full of creative energy. 

As we mentioned last week, we had another opportunity to step away from the work bench...this time for an evening of celebrations as our home for the last 12 years, Cockpit Arts, celebrated its 30th anniversary. We were blessed with a shower free sky on the rooftop gardens at King & Wood Mallesons and it was great to catch up with Cockpitters from both Deptford and Holborn sites.

We enjoyed great hospitality with thanks to Chair of Trustees at Cockpit Arts, Cornelius Medvei and some extraordinary views of the London skyline...

including the new Tate Modern extension...

Chair of Trustees for Cockpit Arts, Cornelius Medvei and guests 

Cockpit Chief Executive, Vanessa Swann with guests
Couture tailor, Thomas von Nordheim and fair trade jeweller, Ute Decker against dramatic skies
James, jeweller Kelvin Birk and me
That's enough glamour for one week...back to shoe fitting conundrums next week. Until then, happy shoemaking. 
(Our thanks to Ute for the Cockpit party shots)

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Too quiet; pegging; Crafts Magazine and a rainbow

We've enjoyed a lovely 12 days teaching Barbara and Johanna, but the studio suddenly felt very empty yesterday when they finished.

They've been great company and we've had plenty of time to answer questions and....given recent political put the world to rights of course! 

Barbara made shoes for her husband (lucky man) and it was great when he came in to try them on. Relief all round...they were a perfect fit and he was delighted. 

We just thought how lucky he was to have had such lovely shoes made for him!

Johanna has a relaxing summer break planned before she starts her new hedge fund job. We think that she'll be showing the other Directors a thing or two about style when she stalks the boardroom in these handsome Derbies. (We did suggest toe plates to command even more authority....)

She chose a pair of pale blue laces to go with her tan uppers...perfect with the natural edge finish. Style and power...those young upstarts had better look out ;)

Taking measurements

And because they'd both worked so hard, we had a relaxing last day polishing, having lunch together and then taking it in turns to measure their feet.


Hard on the knees!

Trying things out

Barbara, who works for the Museum of Vienna, was previously a conservator and has been teaching herself to make shoes.

These are details from the pigskin booties she had made....they were a very simple style with a really lovely,  slightly Edwardian aesthetic....

And, my favourite....they were pegged.

Even the lace holes were an interesting shape.

The joy of exploring a craft for yourself is that you develop your own approach and the finished footwear has a unique style...I think that's so exciting and so important.

Crafts Magazine

We were really excited when the new issue of Crafts Magazine appeared. ...we got a front cover mention and a wonderful feature. 

Looking ahead

And we leave you with a rainbow (or two) of hope.....I'm sure you've noticed that things are a bit unsteady over here at the moment....hope that our EU friends around the country will continue to see this island as their home.

Until next week, happy shoemaking.