Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Monday, 24 January 2011

January course done and dusted!

Time for a post from The Other One as we settle back into our new, two-studio routine.

The last week of our first January shoemaking course fled by in a blur. It all went to plan until the last few hours which culminated in an impromptu polishing class from former military man David as I battled to get his shoe from his last.

Lesson learned ladies and gentlemen - 20mm not 26mm nails in your sole and split lift; not too many nails; and don't punch them too far through please! My back and arms have yet to recover but at least his last finally came out. (Sadly not so true for Rosie whose lasts and shoes refused to part from each other. JD will be applying his muscles to them this
week so fingers crossed).

But what a great group they've been. They gelled so well that I felt like the new girl at school on Monday when I took over the shoemaking reigns.

JD assured me that the first week was a breeze and our four shoemakers in waiting have proved very capable with good hand eye co-ordination, some of the fastest stitching we've seen from a newcomer and with excellent results.

But week two is often more challenging as muscles and brains start to ache and levels of concentration fail. First sole stitching, then nail punching and finally heel building stymied each and every one at one time or another during the week.

But all four students kept apace with one another and although the girls lead
the way for much of last week the boys caught up towards the end. With heels built we finally got to focus on the finishing on Friday and Saturday.

Thanks to a final last push and really hard work the overall finish on the shoes is possibly the best yet, with good, sharp sole edges and smooth, gleaming heels - testament to some serious effort with rasps, glass and sandpaper.

The bonhomie was almost our downfall as I urged, cajoled and coaxed them to concentrate so that they would all finish on time...but we pushed on and managed time for bubbly and a sweet treat as certificates were handed out at the end. Well done guys and we look forward to seeing your second pairs!

Going back to our new life in two locales we have both found it strange not working next to each other every day. (Well I say strange but it has its benefits and I am sure JD finds it peaceful in the studio on his own). But I can't help texting and phoning to share news, gossip or otherwise. It helps to keep communication channels open and ensures we know what the other is up to! Mondays are studio days for the two of us and are an all-important day for catching up face-to-face, admin., decision-making and designing.

The rest of the week the studio seems luxuriously spacious with just one body in it and is a total contrast to being under the spotlight at Gieves.

It's rather a nice way to split our time. Half the week we get to be 'living craft' and have to think a little harder about how we look - we have chosen a 'uniform' of smart shirt and jeans for shoemaking that is practical, but smartish and the rest of the week we can be more casual.

But Gieves' surroundings is already influencing us. I am smitten by the beautiful tailoring the team at Gieves sport - particularly the sports coats and three-piece suits - and I hope to start off by investing in some tailored wasitcoats as part of my 'uniform', in due course. JD too I know likes the cut of Gieves' jib and is already sporting a very smart Crombie!

So until Friday and some more top shoemaking tips from Mr D, have a good week.


Gentleman's Gazette said...

Thanks for sharing! Your bespopke shoe course sounds great and it is pretty unique! I think there is Koronya in Hungary and a shoemaker from sweden who offer such a course.

Do the participants work on their own lasts? or do you measure the their feet and create the last for them?

Regards, le.gentleman

jimmyshoe said...

Thanks for the comment. You are right, our course is unique in as much as it teaches you all the techniques in handsewn shoemaking in 2 weeks.
Marcell at Koronya and Melkersson in Sweden do teach, but it is a longer stay you have to make with them and it is a less formal teaching environment. Everyone learns at their own pace and learn different things.
Are you thinking of doing the course?
Best, jimmyshoe

Anonymous said...

You mention here in the blog the special tool called a waist iron. Could you let me know where I might be able to purchase such an item?

jimmyshoe said...

We can sell you one. You need to decide on the size, 1/4", 5/162 etc.
Email us and we can help you out.