Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 25 May 2012

Boot camp by any other name!

Well another course is over and James and I are settling back into a routine of shoemaking, creative projects and enjoying some rare summer sunshine! (Although not for long, as James is back out to Chicago and New York on our quarterly trunk show trips in a fortnight...followed by a well earned holiday in Maine)!

We get great feedback after the courses, which is really important to make sure we keep improving and keep the course relevant. Our friend and fellow shoemaker in New York, Jesse is also a great help, because she not only attended one of our courses early on but has watched us in action in her studio every year. Even she says we are improving our methods and approach!

But there is something of the course that we still find hard to convey and that is just how physically exhausting it is! We use the word intensive to describe it, not just because of the short time frame, but because it is physically intensive and you are working most of the time, seated in a low chair with your knees at 90 degrees.

So here’s the boot camp guide to shoemaking to show the tools and parts of the body used at each stage; and I’ve given each job a mark of intensity with 1 being low intensity and 5 high intensity:

Sharpening your knife – knife & strop working on a table - good hand eye co-ordination – engages hands, biceps/ triceps, upper body and core. (2)

Skiving – knife, glass board, strop working in your lap - good hand eye co-ordination, engages hands, biceps/triceps, upper body and core. (3)

Preparing insole – nippers, nail hammer, last, knife – engages hands, biceps/triceps, upper body and core. (2)

Lasting – lasting pliers, last/upper – engages hands, biceps/triceps, upper body, core, thigh and butt muscles. (5+)

Making threads – threads, leather, wax, tar, bristles - good hand eye co-ordination; engages upper body - one of the few things that you can do standing up! (1)

Welting – threads, awl, nippers - engages hands, biceps/triceps, upper body, core, thigh and butt muscles. (5+)

Preparing soles – knife, hammer - upper body, arms and hands – engages upper body and core. (2)

Stitching soles – threads, awl - upper body, arms and hands – engages hands, biceps/triceps, upper body and core, thigh and butt muscles. (2)

Building heels – hammer, knife – good hand eye co-ordination; engages hands, biceps/triceps, upper body, core, thigh and butt muscles. (4)

Finishing – rasp, broken glass, sandpaper, paintbrush, irons - engages upper body and core (4) for rasping, glassing (2) for painting and irons.

(I threw in a 1, but to be fair none of it is actually low intensity because you are using muscles groups you never even knew existed!)

So there you have it…the equivalent of 10 days in the gym! 


VonAllenTX said...

Thanks Deborah. This is very helpful. I'll have to get in shape before I take the course next May. I'm looking forward to it!

jimmyshoe said...

Yes you will. It's FULL ON. So get ready!

Jonathan said...

Its funny you mentioned this. I just realized yesterday that I got muscles in locations I didn't even now that there could be muscles. Since I started my apprenticeship as an orthopedic shoemaker in September last year I really grew strong. Im still 95 kg but it's feeling good, the belly is smaller and the shoulders wider. I'm still exhausted after an 8h day but I'm fitter than before.

Maybe you should raise your course prices, since you offer two things at the same time: a full buddy workout and a shoemaking course.

Many greetings

jimmyshoe said...

Thanks for the comment Jonathan. It is absolutely true - shoemaking is very physical!
Where are you doing your apprenticeship? Good luck with it anyway. Best, jimmyshoe