Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 5 October 2018

12 Day Shoe making Course October 2018 - Week 1

Once more, dear readers, we welcome you to our blog. We hope you have had a good week and that the elves, St Crispin, or whoever you turn to for shoe inspiration has been smiling on you

We had a great photo sent to us from Sighisoara in Romania of the Shoemakers Tower which was built by the guild of shoemakers to help form the city walls. It was a joy to see some of our shared heritage.

This week we started our October instalment of our classic 12 Day Shoemaking Course - twelve straight 8 hour days of intense, physical shoe making

It is a great experience and we would recommend it to anyone.

Day 1 saw our intrepid students sharpening their knives; skiving leather toe puffs and stiffeners and blocking their insoles

And here is a tutorial from the blog about skiving stiffeners

The beautiful classroom at Unit 50

Day 2 was spent preparing the insoles - trimming the edges and creating the holdfast/feather with the knife.
This is precise work and the students did really well

Here is a little trick we teach to stop them cutting the holdfast too deep - it works a treat

Holdfasts all done

Day 3 sees the shoes start to take shape with the lasting process. They insert the stiffeners and toe puffs and pull the uppers onto the lasts using lasting pliers and nails

Here is the first part of our blog posts about lasting.

Here is some paste going onto the toe puff which has already been shaped . And you can see the lasted shoe top left

Toe puffs drying

Day four and we started welting. This group has been very able and impressive, so well done guys. Welting is seen by many students as the most challenging part of the whole process, but it is also very satisfying

We use hemp which we twist into treads and then wax using our own recipe thread wax - available in our webstore - and then we attach bristles with tar. We prefer bristles as they are flexible and easy to use.
Here is a tutorial from our blog about making threads.

Today will see them finishing the welting and moving on to putting in the shanks and cork filler ready to stitch the soles on.

All the tools and materials you can see in this blog post are available from our webstore

We will report back next week with progress. Until next time, happy shoemaking!