Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Thursday, 20 May 2010

New York Shoemaking Course

So, here I am, the start of day four for me, day ten for the students. We are heel building and on course to finish on Saturday.

The Other One led them very well to the half way point, on schedule, with the most challenging tasks behind them. That is one of the quirks of the process, that the hardest jobs, sharpening the knife, skiving leather, and welting, all happen in the first few days. I suppose this is not a bad thing, at least it sets the tone for the rest of the time. This is course is intensive! But it is also thoroughly enjoyable and very satisfying, especially now their shoes are looking like proper shoes.

This year the students are a thoroughly mixed bunch, from a bio-mechanical engineer to an NYPD detective. Hailing from all corners of North America, they have one thing in common however, a love of handmade bespoke shoes. They have all applied themselves very well to the tasks and I applaud all of them. Nice job guys!

The great thing about this course is that the teacher:student ratio is so good that everyone can work at their own pace and still get lots of 1:1 tuition. As long as they finish on Saturday, we don't mind. Each stage presents different challenges and some people find certain things harder or easier than others. One thing is for sure though, punching nails is universally difficult! I have no idea why.

Here are some pictures of the course. As you can see we have a large, airy studio to work in, thanks to our lovely host, New York's premier bespoke shoemaker, Jesse Moore. She has been very welcoming and helpful, so thank you Jesse.

Wesley building his heel. He has attached the split lift and is trimming it to size.

Tom stitching his sole on.

Hesper taking notes. This is absolutely essential to allow you to make shoes in the future. We provide comprehensive notes, but students must add to them.

Colin attaching a bristle to his thread. Originally boers' bristles, we now use nylon ones as they are easier to find and stronger.

Ryan stitching his sole.

A shoe in progress. Split lift and two heel lifts on. At this point, the shoe really begins to look like a proper shoe.