Saturday, 18 August 2012

Day 6: True Grit

Why True Grit? Well, concentrating hard and using a knife close to your upper brings people out in a sweat at the best of times. Our students faced 30 degree heat (inside and outside the studio - that not even three fans on level three could diminish) and still managed a full day's work including....


preparing and sticking on soles...(when I say that the adhesive was gloopy I am not exaggerating - no amount of thinner could get it to work 'normally' today)...


trimming heels and straightening sole edges...

hammering in a horseshoe of nails to hold the heel in place...


more careful trimming...


 and then at last, stitching the sole.

There were many expletives today and a few accidents on the way - after all it has been a long week and, despite their determination everyone is tired, muscles are sore and brains must ache with all of the new information that has been rammed home in the last six days - but not one student gave up, went home early, let me do their work for them or broke down ...although it came close.

Glitches, misunderstandings, forgotten instructions and accidents were all resolved...the only real victim of the first six days was a nail punch. Not bad eh?
It was my last day with the group today, and as I hand over to Mr Ducker on Monday, all I can say is a huge 'well done' to every one of you and thank you for being such great students! Your perseverance and good humour kept me smiling on my walk home tonight...

 through the historic Petersham Meadows...


 Good luck next week, may your knives stay sharp and your heels go up straight and strong! Happy shoemaking and enjoy a well-earned rest tomorrow!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Day 5: The opposite of heat exhaustion

So day 5 loomed into view with a baking high of 28 degrees!  But undaunted our students 



hammered...


drew on...

trimmed...


hammered some more...


got competitive about their welting gloves... 

created mini works of art...


and trimmed some more... 


preparing for tomorrow when soles will go on and stitching will commence.

 Meanwhile I caught a glimpse of the beautiful day that it has been on my way home....the river Thames flowing at its best.

Until tomorrow, happy shoemaking!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Day 4: The Silence of the welters

Day 4 started with surprises...first off this startlingly yellow pair of marigold gloves which were unveiled by one student to keep protect his hands. (Yes, you read that correctly 'his' hands!) 


Fortunately they did not last very long, too hot, unmanageable and generally uncomfortable.

Then there was the disappearing holdfast...(see below) caused by over enthusiastic cutting!



And finally the silence that descended as the students got stuck into welting.






Emotions swung from euphoria as stitches were completed to very unladylike language when threads were knotted, bristles came off and welts wobbled. But every student has taken home a shoe for homework, so the day didn't totally put them off.

And for the marigold fan, please see below for the perfect welting gloves. Bicycling gloves with the fingers cut off. Perhaps less cool than a welting mitt, but twice as effective (i.e. one for each hand)!

 Finally, here's the first welted shoe off the 'production line' today...


...and it's happy shoemaking until tomorrow!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Day 3 - bravery awards all around

A hot sultry London wasn't enough to dispel the energy today...

No sooner had the buzzer gone at 9.30 this morning than holdfasts were being quickly being finished and it was on to lasting. Lasting pliers are one of the more difficult tools to master, akin to learning to drive. Legs, arms, biceps, hands and fingers all come in to play. 

Squeezing your last tight between your legs and chest to immobilise it, with one hand you have to flex the pliers to catch the leather, to leverage them using the foot, to pull the leather back and to then use its nose to hold the leather in place. With your other hand you scrabble and fumble for a nail to drive in. 



 Not for first-timers, but they took to it like a duck to water.


Not satisfied with their lasting success, they are also tackling putting on bristles with equal gusto...

We shall see tomorrow if their efforts are repaid kindly - fingers crossed. Until then happy shoemaking!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Day 2 - summer 2012 course

Like marathon runners, our students have kept up the pace today and their energy and enthusaism...! 


Hold fasts are strong and deep....

awls are sharp...


knives less so :( ...

 well some more than others...


...so we are all set for a really busy day of lasting and hopefully welting tomorrow.  Until then, happy shoemakingh!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Let the shoe Olympics begin!

Oh OK it might be a little unfair to turn the next two weeks into the shoemaking Olympics, but it is tempting to keep the happiness, excitement and general sporting buzz of the last two weeks going somehow!

What a fantastic fortnight it has been. As you know Mr Ducker made it into a couple of the events...and the pictures of the park look amazing. We watched loads on TV and got to see the bike race come through Richmond which was breathtaking - that and the torch coming through earlier in the day really set us up for an Olympic fortnight.

But as he also revealed I have been on holiday for some of the time - camping on the tiny Channel Island of Herm for a couple of days and then home to the only slightly bigger Channel Island of Sark for a week of rest and relaxation and to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary!


Needless to say, in between beaches, bicycling and beverages I have been obsessed with the Olympics dressage as Carl Hester of team GB is a fellow 'Sarkee' and school chum from way back. I was sorry not to see him take an individual medal but thrilled for the team. Go GB!

But back to shoemaking....we have a lovely group again - very positive and enthusiastic so I'm looking forward to a great week of shoemaking teaching and day 1 has not disappointed! We had insoles on by lunchtime and this afternoon has been less a marathon and more a Bolt 100m with skiving well under way.




 Fingers crossed we can keep up the pace! Until tomorrow, happy shoemaking!