Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 5 August 2011

The carréducker Handsewn Shoemaking Course 2011

Greetings to all you shoemakers (aspiring or actual) out there. Hopefully you have all had a fantastic week. We have certainly been busy at the shop making shoes for our dear customers. Unfortunately, the summer heat arrived and we were all burning up in the workshop. I hope the delirium hasn't made my stitching go wonky.

First of all, let me give you the good news. Remember that pair of lasts I was adjusting in last week's post with the troublesome heel and top edge? Well, the guy came in for a fitting and has signed off the fit and we are good to get making. The adjustments were spot on and he was very happy. The closer just has to undo the back strap and re-stitch it 1/4" smaller to give a bit of tension back to the leather. Then we are good to go. I think this client will order a lot of shoes if he is happy with this first pair, so we are pulling out all the stops to get it right.

This is something we always say to clients, that it is worth putting the effort into the first pair to get them right and then it is much easier and quicker to do subsequent pairs. We can even do them by email as long as it is not too long since the previous pair.

I have been in touch this week with a master patina artist in Paris called Paulus Bolten . This guy is a genius and will colour your shoes in whatever manner you wish. We have a client who wants a specific grey/green colour and we could not find the leather, so we will make the shoes in white or pale grey and Paulus will do the rest. The service costs from 60 Euros for the simplest of patinas upwards, depending on what you want done. Imagine the life you could punch back into a lifeless old pair of shoes - awesome! I mean, just look at these puppies!

Monday sees the start of our summer shoemaking course where our students make a pair of hand welted, hand stitched shoes from scratch. Deborah and I have decided to do a mini post each day to give all you interested potential students a real insight into how the course works and what is covered. The day by day update will mean that you can see absolutely every stage.

We have 7 students this time (a full class). We do not take more as we believe that we should have enough time to dedicate to each student on an individual basis. We try to keep everyone at the same place, but people inevitably work at different speeds, so 7 is the maximum number in any one class.

The classroom is here at Cockpit Arts in Bloomsbury, London. It is big, light and airy. Plenty of room for everyone. We arrange the tables slightly differently, 2 to a table usually.

At the start of the course, we give the students the following things.

A pair of black, derby uppers in calf. Everyone gets the same thing. Remember, this course is just the making part, no design, pattern making, or closing.

A pair of standard lasts in your size. We can make you a bespoke pair of lasts, but we need some time before the course starts to do this. It costs an extra £350.

A making pack with all the rough stuff which the leather you need for the insoles, soles, welts and heels. This is all English oak bark tanned cow hide, so it is the material we use in our bespoke shoes - only the best for our students!

Finally you get a tool kit to keep with the basic things. These include lasting pliers, welting awl, stitching awl, flat knife, tape measure, silver pen and sleeking bone.
While this is not a complete kit, we feel that, to keep costs down, it is better to keep it basic, and for those who decide to continue after the course with shoemaking, we can help get the rest of the shoemaking  tools you will need.

The last thing we give the students is a folder with our notes on the various stages of making the shoes. We always encourage them to take pictures themselves and make their own notes. We also include a glossary of terms and a list of suppliers who can help with all the materials you would need if you want to make a pair of your own bespoke shoes after the course.

And, that is pretty much it.

Deborah will start the daily posts on Monday about each day's progress. It should be interesting, and shoemaking immortality awaits our seven intrepid students! Good luck to one and all. 

So, until Monday, happy shoemaking!