Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 8 March 2013

An Unusual Problem

Good morning, afternoon, evening, whichever time zone you find yourself in. We are feeling the first warmth of Spring after a long, cold Winter which is delightful. The days are getting longer and it is no longer dark when I go home. And as the year goes on, the number of orders goes up. Why is it that people don't like to order shoes in the Winter?

Anyway, take a look at this last. What do you see? Comments? Questions? What kind of shoes will be made on them?

Take a look at the toe spring. Pretty high. You would expect a 2" heel with these.

The rule of thumb we use on toe spring is that you tip the the last up at the toe with your hand and then you put the tip of your index finger under the toe. At that height, look at the heel area and measure from the outside heel point to the ground. The standard we use is 1 and 1/8". If you do this on these, it is over 2".

The tip on this picture is not quite enough, so the heel height shown is too low. Plus it is the inside not the outside. Bad planning on my part, sorry.

Another thing to notice is the extreme curvature on the underside of the last.

Now, why all this, you may be asking yourself?

This customer has unusual feet. When he is standing at rest, his toes stick up about 1" from the floor and he has a large curve on the soles of his feet. As a result (possibly, possibly not), his gait is very bouncy and his feet have a pronounced rock from impact to lift off.

So, after discussion with our last maker, we came to the last pictured above. The rationale is this - we left the huge toe spring so that his toes are not forced down and painful; we left a big curve to fit the actual contours of his feet. This means that the last acts a bit like a rocker sole and will allow his natural gait to continue, rather than forcing him into shoes which contort his feet.

One aspect of the making with this last is the transition of the curve of the sole of the last to the sole which will hit the floor - this has to be flat. So we have to start this transition with the insole. We used a very thick one which, when we prepared the holdfast/feather, we skived the domed middle flat.

The upper side remains dipped in the middle for his feet to sit in comfortably.

But the underside has been skived flat.

The next stage was after the shoes were welted. We welted as normal and put in the shank and cork filler - we used cork here because it is much easier to shape than felt.

The trick here is again to flatten out the middle of the insole by rasping the cork well. Most of the cork in the middle was rasped completely away.

The underside profile of the shoes at this stage is much like a regular shoe because you can't really skive the sole because you want to keep the thickness unchanged so that they last longer.

This is as far as I have got with these shoes, so you can look forward to seeing the finished product next week.

Until then, happy shoemaking