Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Final Day (12) - Shoemaking Course

One thing I did not mention in the Day 11 post was our afternoon visits. First we went to see our good friends at John Lobb Ltd, where we saw all the processes in the making of bespoke shoes. Last makers, clickers, closers and makers. It was a fascinating visit, much appreciated by all the students.
We then went to Gieves and Hawkes where we saw the carréducker concession, the 'Goldfish Bowl'. Again a very interesting visit and the chance for the students to see our handiwork.

And so the end came. The final day, a mad rush to finish everyone's shoes.

We started with setting the edges. This involves getting rid of the lips formed by the sanding, re-fudging the stitches and passing over a hot edge iron. This gives the edges a smooth finished look.

Then we had to finish the soles and top pieces - glassing followed by 3 grades of sandpaper.

Next came inking - black all over for a black shoe

Then came a layer of polish which we burnished with a cool heel iron to set it in place. This stops the polish marking carpets!
Two more layers of polish and a lot of elbow grease to give a lovely high shine.

The final furlong is wax on the heels and edges. Three layers on the heels put on cold and ironed in. One layer on the edges put on hot and ironed in.
Take it all off with a cloth to give a shiny surface.

Seat wheel round the seat to give those characteristic little lines.

Single lipped iron on the heel edges to set them hard (can you feel the rush?)

Then a quick (or slow if they had the time) clean and polish and that is a wrap.

We pulled the lasts, put in the laces and tried them on. Fantastic! The work this year was of a very high standard, as you can see. So a very big congratulations to all the students. Nice job!

High Shine Polish

The Happy Group

And the rewards of their labours were not only a wonderful pair of handmade shoes to keep, a tool kit of shoemaking tools and the knowledge to continue making shoes, but a delicious cup cake washed down with a glass of champagne. What more could you ask for?

So well done lads (yes, all men this year, come on women of the world, you too can make shoes). A thoroughly excellent twelve days work.
In fact, there was a little sadness at the end of the day that the course was over, which meant that they all had to go back to normal life and work.

It makes me think - I love my job! How lucky Deborah and I are. The jolly shoemakers, ho ho.

If you feel you would like to do one of our courses, the ones for 2012 are advertised on our website

So take a look and sign yourself up. You won't regret it.

Until next Friday, happy shoemaking!


Eye Behind the Lens said...

Hello, I am so impressed and interested to see what you are teaching!
I am a painter/ scenic designer/seamstress, etc. Good with my hands. I was searching for any info on re-shaping a stacked leather heel and found your blog.
Such goings-on in Brooklyn! I'm on the west coast but will be easy in the summer, perhaps I will make some shoes!

jimmyshoe said...

You would be very welcome to make shoes with us. The course in Brooklyn starts in May. Email us if you are interested -
Best, jimmyshoe