Craft, art or commodity and the V&A Lecture

Welcome back good shoe folk and here we are finally basking in sunshine and 30+ degrees! Sewing welts and stitching soles is currently a very sticky experience; it's definitely too hot for thread wax and tar to be left out, so ours is resting in the larder to stay cool, along with the dog!


One of the joys of being a craftsman is meeting other craftsmen whether they're shoemakers or from associated trades like saddlers and leather workers. It was great to visit Frankey in her new workspace at Cockpit Deptford last week and to see her new work drawing on her experience in shoemaking, bag making and interiors. 

Visits to her workshop and the other leather workers at Deptford reminded me of the array of specialist tools, rules and techniques that have developed with each trade, but which, if you have a moment to reflect, often do a similar or even the same job.  

We all stretch and manipulate leather

we use blades of various sizes and shapes to slice, groove, shape and cut away layers of leather 


we make holes with awls of varying shapes, sizes and proportions 

and create decorative stitch, applique and hole punch patterns into and on the leather. 

we sew layers of leather together using waxed thread or sinew to stitch by hand

Photo credits: t.shirakashi,,,
There's a great sharing of technique and tips amongst shoemakers; even when we've learned to do something the same way we naturally evolve and adapt the technique to suit us. 

But there is an even wider shared language amongst the leather trades, which is now being more widely explored as leather craftsmen post their work online; it will be fascinating to see how our various disciplines evolve and whether the boundaries between the crafts become more blurred or more clearly defined... what is craft, art or commodity?   


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Book here for A Celebration of British Craftsmanship
Venue: V&A, London
Date: Tuesday 24 September
Time: 7pm

We often pay a premium for hand-made objects that combine utility with beauty: they seem to have 'soul'. But who is behind their design and manufacture? Over the last six years Jonathan Foyle, a QEST Ambassador, has penned the 'Artisans' feature for the Financial Times Weekend, investigating the inspirations, talents, traditions, and legacy of scores of craftspeople. This talk takes you into their workshops to reveal the state of British Craft today.

That's all from us for this week. Until next week, happy shoemaking!