Well, it may have been rather lively for our students in London last night but, despite the best efforts of a whole bunch of feckless thugs, they all made it in to the studio safe and sound today. Shoemakers are resilient creatures.
We are embarrassed that London has nothing better to offer our overseas guests - perhaps it is time to introduce compulsory shoemaking apprenticeships...it would soon sort the men from the boys!
Talking of men, the guys cracked on in class today and all have started lasting their uppers (one or two are nearly finished!)
There were some accusations that the shoe knife fairy had been wreaking vengeance first thing, as sharp knives were found blunt this morning. But I have no real explanation. Unfortunately a couple of students' knives never quite returned to their former sharpness so, although there were some beautifully crafted holdfasts carefully cut and skived today, some left much to be desired. (Comparisons with the Grand Canyon were not beyond exaggeration being craggy and deep!)
But lessons have been learned and the value of a truly sharp knife is now appreciated by one and all. There is no point struggling on with a blunt knife - it is dangerous (you are more likely to slip and damage either you or your shoe) and demoralising - when a few minutes on a strop can make all the difference. Anyway, there will be some studious sharpening tomorrow morning me thinks.
Gradually, as we go through the different stages in the handsewn process each student is finding their own pace and learning their capabilities with the various hand tools that we use. Ian is still getting to grips with the lasting pliers whilst keeping Roberto's knife sharp is an ongoing challenge! I will have to spend some more time watching him sharpen it to see where it's going wrong. Fortunately, creating a strong holdfast and lasting seem to be his forte (see picture).
So some are faster and more accurate with a knife, others are fantastic at lasting or using an awl...
Welting tomorrow will be another test of patience, dexterity and skill for everybody...luckily the air fan will help to keep them cool as they battle with threads and bristles. Alex's shoes below, ready for toe puffs, mark the end of a very good second day.