Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Tassels and Training

Welcome back fellow shoe fans! It's been a fantastic week of teaching, bespoke making, exciting new leathers and ordering Barkans!

With all of the shoemaking teaching going on, we don't want you to forget the Tassel Making Masterclass planned for next month. We'd like to have all places filled before the end of June, so if you are interested please email us and we will send you a booking form. Just think where your new tassel skills could take you!

The joy of teaching one-to-one classes in our workshop is that students get the (we hope) benefit of two shoemaker's approaches, techniques and solutions in one...and get to work alongside us. 

Everyone makes differently. so our students this week learned both the 'Push Me' and 'Pull Me' techniques of skiving. 'Push Me'  being the technique of pushing the knife through the leather away from you on a sheet of toughened glass and 'Pull Me' when the knife slices through the leather towards you on toughened glass propped securely at an angle between the lap and chest.



It's just a question of preference...after all, the results are the same...


Toe puffs 
It's the last week of our evening classes who don't get featured as often as we would like, so here's a glimpse of some of the Monday guys in action.

George of George's Shoe Repairs stitching his sole

William finishing, Maurizio preparing his soles and Vincent stitching his.

I'll miss our evening classes....with lighter evenings, the walk across Waterloo Bridge has been beautiful. Many of the new, tall buildings will become landmarks in their own right - The Gherkin, Shard and Cheesegrater - but sadly, clustered together, the skyline sadly lacks any design sense.

A rare 'strawberry moon' just peeking out behind the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank

The new Tate Modern extension and The Shard in the distance...
That's it for now. Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 17 June 2016

One-to-two students and taking measurements

We're almost back to normal and have welcomed two new students to Studio W9 for 12 days of shoemaking. They're off and running with puffs and stiffs prepped, soles blocked and threads under way.

Johanna and Barbara

James demonstrating the pulling skiving technique

Pushing skiving

Finished heel stiffeners
...and toe puffs

We also had a long-planned visit from Wylie, a former student intent on taking the last making world by storm, who has been honing his making and fitting skills in San Francisco. 

James and I are being guinea pigs to see how his approach works. Here's an insight into what we've had done so far....and it's quite exciting.

The ink impressions of Mme Carre and Mr Ducker's feet

My super, supinated feet

James's unusually weighted feet

Wylie reading the results

Taking foot casts - rather a nice, warm feeling

Three casts down and one to go

The treacherous bit...cutting off the cast without cutting skin or socks - not to be attempted without surgical scissors!
Thanks for coming to see us Wylie. We're excited to see how your plans go....and we'll let you know so watch this space. Until next week happy shoemaking! 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Leaving it too late - beyond repair

So we promised a shoemaking post after weeks of Kickstarter and here it is...the sad story of a pair of handsewn shoes and how we are bringing another pair back to life.

These once we're pimply Dainite soles but they have been worn and worn until there is nothing left!

This was a hold fast in a 6mm thick insole, now compressed to less than 3mmm

This was the rubber insole

This was the heel - not the original I hasten to add!

The inside of the sock

The insole

You know us...we encourage clients to wear their shoes in gradually until they make an imprint on their insoles....but this is a little extreme.

So what can we do? Nothing this time. These will be replaced by a new pair of shoes! 

Fortunately we got to see the client's second pair in time. This time we have cut away the welt at the toe and welted in a new piece before we re-stitch the sole and add a new, thick rubber sticker sole.

Next week we'll show you how we get them back on the road. Until then happy shoemaking (or repairs!)

Friday, 3 June 2016

Finish line, Open Studios and Tassels

Here we are in our final week of Kickstarter campaigning and what a ride it has been! Big celebrations last night...our fabulous backers have smashed the £18k target and we are now £20,000 thank you, thank you, thank know who you are!

But ever-ambitious, we hope to see Barkans on plenty of Open Studios visitors over the next few days.

Last night was opening night and it was a joy to show the new boots to our guests....including some Kickstarter champions. They finally got to see the boots in person and the chance to try them on...the feedback was great how they look, feel and and how comfy they are!

(We hope that you don't feel inundated with talk of Kickstarter, but it is SO important to us and to our British-manufacturing dreams....please forgive us!)

So we're all set for a weekend of selling shoes...

Clean windows...
The shoemaking process as 'installation'
Some of you may not recognise this clean and tidy space!
Winkers ready for the summer - may need to go abroad for that!
Size 8 Barkans in cognac veg. tanned leather - soooooo light and comfy
Winkers at the seaside

We mentioned our new tassel making masterclass planned for Saturday 16th July....well, here's a photo of what you could be making. If you'd like to take the course, please drop us an email and we'll send you more information and a booking form.

Until next week ....when we promise we'll be back to normal (well for a while at least)...happy shoemaking...and cheers to you all for your support!