Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 23 April 2010

Nearly Home

Still here in Barcelona! But home tomorrow, thankfully. While it has been very relaxing having some extra holiday, it has also been disruptive. And any of you who are self-employed will know the double whammy of not earning and spending at the same time. But I am not complaining (much).

Curiously, while stuck here, a follower of the blog and fellow shoe nut, Emili Guirao was stuck in Liverpool. He owns a shoe shop here called 2046. He managed to get home via London and Paris, but while he was in St Pancras Station he went to our studio. Unfortunately it was a Sunday and nobody was home. Anyway, he contacted us and I went to see him this week. Lovely shop, well worth a visit.

Now it turns out that he is learning handsewn shoemaking here in Barcelona from an old guy who has made shoes all of his life and still has a shop in the old city. So I went to see them at work which was very interesting.

His name is Josep Cunillera and the shop is at c. Sant Pacia, #3, 08001, Barcelona. Josep is an orthopedic shoemaker, but knows all aspects of the craft. He started at 13 and has done it all his life. He says there is little market now for non orthopedic bespoke shoes here.

His shop and workshop are great, in a medieval building. So much space! Very envious. So we swapped stories, tips and techniques. It is pretty much the same as in England, the main difference being the use of wooden pegs instead of nails.
He told me about all the old makers here who had taught me at the Guild School here.

68 and still going strong. I dont know if that is a good thing or not. Will I have made enough money to retire by then? Somehow I dont think that is how it works. Shoemakers dont retire, their faculties just fail progressively. Ulp!

But it was great to meet a follower of the blog and someone who actually learns from what we write here. So good luck Emili and keep going.

By the way, in the post about making thread wax (Wax Miracle, 09.04.10), there was a video about the final phase of kneading the wax, but it was with a black still so not immediately obvious. So if you didnt see it, take a look because it is quite interesting.

It happens to be St. Georges Day, which has a lovely tradition here. Everyone gives a rose or a book to each other. All the bookshops in the city have stalls outside on the pavement, so the people wander around, perusing books and there is a great atmosphere. The Ramblas are especially busy, so that is where we are off to now for a wander. Life is not so bad really.

So, having confirmed the flight for tomorrow, I will be posting from work next week and normal service will be resumed. Happy making!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Nature Bites Back

I am stuck in Barcelona! Lucky you, I hear you say, but it is not all good. Everything is in limbo and uncertain. I have things to do in London!

A timely reminder that we live on a big planet that can dictate to us whether we like it or not. It would not be inconceivable to slip into disaster movie territory. Nobody has died thankfully, but there are massive forces beyond our control. The airport this morning was like a B movie - chaos!
Looked into trains but the French are on strike. And coaches to Paris are fully booked till the weekend.

Still, it is warm and sunny here. I can think of worse places to be stranded.

Wish me luck!

A no-fly zone

Well I'm sitting here wondering whether it's worth getting on a boat now to get to New York in time for our course on May 10. Seriously concerned if the wind doesn't start blowing the ash cloud somewhere else!

Who knew Iceland could cause so much trouble! They may be vikings, but bringing the whole of Europe to a grinding halt is quite an achievement! From a small business point of view, what was originally a rather amazing phenomenon has become a bit of a pain to say the least! Mr. Ducker is 'stuck' in Barcelona (yes I know it doesn't sound too awful to me either), our boxes for New York are stuck at Heathrow and various clients due through London this week are staying put (whether they want to or not). I really feel for everyone stuck after Easter's a nice idea to think that you'll get your holidays extended, but when the reality means no idea of how to get home or several days of travel to get thanks.

It's a sharp reminder of how much we rely on the air and how we have got used to being able to get ourselves and our products to places around the world quickly.

Small boy goes back to nursery school tomorrow - hurray! It's been a lovely Easter, but boy do I need more time in the week to get on with work, so the rest of the week will be a busy one meeting with agents from the Nordic countries and Russia, planning bespoke events later in the year and ordering materials for bespoke clients coming through later in the month. We're also eagerly awaiting new lifestyle photography from Eloise Grey featuring our summer Winkers in her signature organic tweed and some sample tweeds from Harris Tweeds to make new Winkers for the fall.

Sorry there's no making tips from the master this week - I'll post some polishing tips on Friday if he hasn't made it back from Barcelona by then!