Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 27 July 2012

Workshop Snapshot

We had an exciting week this week. As the Olympics is about to start, the whole of London is decked out in flags and banners. It looks clean and beautiful - hope all the visitors agree.
As part of the bigger picture, there is an organisation called the British Business Embassy which is an opportunity for UK businesses to shmooze foreign dignitaries and business people. It is located in Lancaster House which is nestled between Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace. A very grand 18th Century neoclassical house, it is usually filled with fusty old furniture, but for the Olympics, British Business Embassy have filled it with contemporary British furniture, art and craft. And we were included! So on Tuesday, all the contributors had a reception. We were in good company with the likes of Damien Hurst and Grayson Perry, we felt very grand. And out of the hundreds of contributors, we got a name check in the speech from the head honcho - excellent!

Garden At Lancaster House

Deborah In The Garden

But back to more mundane matters. This week we thought we would give you a little snapshot of the life in a shoemaking workshop.

One of the most exciting parts of shoemaking is the transformation of a design into an upper. You never quite know how your designs will turn out.

So getting a package from one of our closers is always good.

The wrapping comes off.

3 pairs of uppers, all safely wrapped in bubblewrap.

First up an adjustment on these gorgeous button boots. The leather is shrunken calf. They shrink the calf skins and it results in a natural grain which is uneven and lovely. Not like the standard stamped grains you usually get.
Suede quarters; plum glace kid lining; and antique resin buttons.

Detail Of The Buttons

Military Ribbon Tug

Next up is an antiqued wing cap Oxford. Monogrammed medallion - nice shoe. These are a second pair, so we can go straight ahead and make them.

The closer pulls one of the uppers over on the last to check that it fits properly.

The pattern is returned with the uppers too.

Lastly is a black Derby with red glace kid lining and red slip beading on the top edge. The last has an elegant chisel toe and will make a lovely shoe.

Patterns back with us too. These are for a fitting, so we will brace them onto an insole and get the customer in to see how they fit.

So we have plenty of work to be getting on with next week.

And that was the highlight of our day yesterday. Hope you enjoyed sharing it with us.

Until next week, happy shoemaking!


Von Allen said...

That was great. So simple but helpful. I am wondering about the process of acquiring the lasts and making the patterns. Do you send the client's measurements to the last maker with the style of shoe in mind and they send the lasts? Which of these are handled by you: 1) making the patterns from the lasts; 2) selecting and purchasing the upper and lining leathers from leather vendors; 3) cutting the pattern pieces? I've read a lot about making, but I am a bit unclear about the shoemaker's involvement in the processes between measuring the client's foot and the finished upper.

Topher said...

Haha! Leave it to master shoemakers to wear flip flops! I love it

jimmyshoe said...

We send the clients measures to the last maker with a toe shape. When we get them back, we tape up the last and draw the style onto the left last. Then we send this to the closer along with specific instructions. Sometimes we send rough cut leather and sometimes the closer has our skins in their workshop. They then make the patterns and uppers We buy our leathers from a specialist merchant in Norhtampton. Hope that helps. Best jimmyshoe

jimmyshoe said...

And yes, eagle eyes Topher, I wear flip-flops, trainers and sandals. But the rule is, it must be above 25 Celsius. Which is only about 4 days a year. Best, jimyshoe