Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 13 September 2019

A Trip to de Montfort University, Leicester

Hello once more to one and all. We are enjoying the last warm days of the summer, the sky is blue and the breeze is balmy - long may it last!

We've been on a trip this week...up to Leicester to visit De Montfort University. It was lovely to meet some of the footwear team; Nanette Westberg-Brown the Footwear Programme Course Leader...Head of Footwear Design, Steve Weston and Senior Lecturer, Phil Stewart, who we know from old. Nanette gave uis the full tour...

Deborah & Nanette in front of the last wall

Endless choices...

We haven't visited the footwear course for some time and were blown away by the V.J. Patel building where Art and Design is housed. It's a vast, open, airy building with windows overlooking the river and surrounded by old red-brick and shiny new University buildings.

The expansive and well-equipped closing room
Finishing machine

Design work and presentation

Student design work and prototypes on display

 The treat at the end of our visit was a walk through the corridor of workshop where students can do 3-D printing, prototyping, spray painting, woodwork etc., a veritable craftsman's playground! We're just wondering when they're starting mature student courses, because I think we'd both sign up like a shot!

3-D printing and prototyping

After much shoe talk, we then enjoyed a walk back to the station along New Walk (which isn't new at all, dating back as it does, 200 years!)

An imposing warehouse-style building

'Foot print' of an old building

All in all a great trip. We're looking forward to returning soon when the students are back to share some of our experience and experiences with them! Until next week, happy shoe making everyone.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Carreducker x London Design Festival

Welcome back good shoe folk and here we are getting ready for our very first stand-alone Chocolate Studios Open House 20 -22 September as part of the Shoreditch Design Triangle during the London Design Festival and Open House London.

Image result for shoreditch design triangle

Established in 2008 as a vehicle for the designers, companies and institutions situated in the East End to collaborate on the promotion of their activities during the London Design Festival, Shoreditch Design Triangle has steadily grown to now comprise over 60 different independent events, making it the largest official Design District of the London Design Festival.

Here at Chocolate Studios we're:

  • Running a special Introduction to Leather workshop on Friday 20th September to make a card case or key fob - sign up here

  • Showing off our new bespoke showroom

  • Showcasing how we design our shoes; the research, references and ideas

  • Hosting a drop-in recycling workshop throughout the weekend where you can come to make a leather cuff using leather off-cuts

  • And of course, demonstrating the shoemaking craft

As you can see from this map there's a host of activities on all week. Highlights for us include: 

  • Broadgate's installation Please Be Seated 
  • SCP's The Landscape of Symbols; an exhibition of products from Finnish manufacturer Iittala alongside Philippe Malouin, Matthew Hilton, Donna Wilson, David Weeks, Faudet-Harrison and Sarah Kay.
  • Cubitts latest spectacle temptation the Crofters frame...time to add yet more pairs of specs to the Carreducker collection!
  • (It might be just the name that appeals) Hide, Artform's new collection of apartments hidden behind Hackney Road
  • Ella Doran's 'Working with Wool' upholstery demonstration
  • And the MENU residency at Tala not least because we have serious showroom envy; have you seen Tala's space?
Clear the weekend and have a fantastic Open House and London Design Festival! (Beware, you'll need a holiday afterwards there's so much to see and do!) 

Until next week, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 30 August 2019

Our New Bespoke Showroom

Hello once more, shoe fans. Thanks for returning. It's Friday and the sun is shining so all is good with Carreducker

We have shown you lots of images of the workshop where we teach class in our new home at Chocolate Studios in Shoreditch. However, the new bespoke showroom next door has remained a little misty and mysterious.

That's probably because it has taken us a few months to finish it and then, when we moved out of Cockpit Arts for good and consolidated ourselves here, it became a bit of a storage space for all of our stuff until we could find a new home for everything. We have now (pretty much) done that so it is looking rather lovely, a fitting space, literally!

This is a general view of the room. We went for a dark grey walls, a pale oak floor and a vintage oriental rug in pale grey. It is generally low lit and cosy, ideal for relaxing, discussing shoe choices and doing fittings.

We found some vintage Parker Knoll armchairs and covered them in purple velvet, comfortable and luxurious.

The bespoke shoes are displayed in a 50s rosewood cabinet.

And we display the bespoke lasts on G clamps attached to an iron girder, one of our favourite features of the room.

We have made a leather store and cutting table which doubles as a dining table when we have corporate events.

We had a lot of wine boxes, great French clarets (thank you Dad), shame we didn't get to drink them though. So we made a set of shelves and we keep the current bespoke work in them.

And finally, when we have customers, we can offer them a selection of single malt whiskies. Obviously they remain untouched unless we have a visitor.

These whiskies are also what we drink when we have a Shoeshine and Moonshine evening. Where a group of friends or colleagues come in and learn a bit of shoe care shoe shining. It's a lot of fun - everyone who does it raves about how much they enjoy it. It's no surprise to us, good whisky and good company, what more could you ask for?

So see you soon in the bespoke showroom or for a Shoeshine and Moonshine class. Until then, happy shoemaking!

Friday, 16 August 2019

Summer School

Welcome back fellow shoemaking enthusiasts and we hope that you are having a good summer wherever you are ...or a good winter, if you're on the other side of the hemisphere!

We've had a packed summer of teaching with students from the UK, the USA, Norway and Italy. It's been great fun, we've met some lovely people and some beautiful shoes have been made.

Most recently we were joined by Synne Kaasin, Head of Product Development for the original penny loafer company, Aurlands in Norway; classic loafers being made in a beautiful place...take a look here... (we weren't jealous at all!)   

Synne made a chic pair of black Derby shoes with a straight toecap. She had a great time, despite the London heat wave...

Synne's shoes, finished and polished; great work!

Maybe we'll get an invitation out to Norway one day :) ...

And now we're enjoying shoemaking with Lorenzo from Lugano, another beautiful region of clean air, clear waters and blue skies! It's his first time making, but he's proving very capable.


He's proving a very able shoemaker and is flying through the process, already building heels and with four days still to go. 

That's all for this week. We'll have news of the autumn classes, London Design Week and the 2020 Shoemakers Conference next week. Until then happy shoemaking!