Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 28 May 2010

Back In The Saddle

So, the course is over and here I am , back home and back to work. It's amazing how much it piles up after ten days away. It is also amazing how soft your hands get! In fact I saw my master, Paul Wilson, in New York, and he was telling me how he has had a three year break from shoemaking. He is planning to start up again and is worried about the state of his hands and whether he will remember how to do it. I reckon it is like riding a bike though. It will all come flooding back and he will be up to speed in no time. It's all good.

All the students finished their shoes on the Saturday and were very happy (see the video in previous post). Here are some shots of the finished shoes. The overall standard of work was very high and I was very pleased with everyone.

Wesley, clearly delighted with his finished shoes.

I particularly liked the natural stitching on the welts.

There was talk of how they will continue to make shoes on their own. All of them want to do this. Of course we are available to help with individual problems, but there was a larger issue - the difficulty of getting the uppers and rough stuff (the insole, sole, heel lifts etc). One of the problems is that you need to buy a whole skin of each of the different pieces and it is difficult to find, especially in the States. And buying all these skins is expensive because they are large. Some of them are enough for ten pairs of soles, for example.
Unless you also want to try closing uppers (many students do), the other difficulty is finding a closer to make the uppers for you.
We talked about carreducker creating and selling 'making packs' which contain all the materials and a pair of uppers to make one pair. This could be done. What do you think out there? Is it a good idea?
They would probably need to contain some basic tools too.
A lot to think about, so watch this space.
One thing is for sure, it would be a shame to have done the course and then be frustrated in one's attempts to make further pairs.

We have quite a few bespoke orders at the same point, ready for a try on. There is one particular pair that I like very much. It's a ladies' brogue based on our original ladies' brogue we launched last year. The client's name is Frost, so the Other One did some brogue patterns based on ice crystals, with a purple underlay, and I think it looks really lovely.

I have blocked the insole, which is now dry. The uppers are ready, so all that is left to do is last them over; brace them onto the insole; and glue on a temporary sole.
At this point, the client can have a fitting and from here, we can make any adjustments to the lasts before making the shoes.

I will keep you up to date on the progress of these bespoke shoes.

So, until next week, happy shoemaking.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Carreducker Shoemaking School in New York

A taster of things to come. One of our hosts Tom took some video footage of the course and this was the last day. Some of the students try on their finished shoes and are so happy, they leap for joy. Good times!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Other One running to catch up!

Apologies that this posting is not sequential, but I have been busy catching up with client work in the studio having just made it past the ash cloud by the skin of my teeth!

Mr D. is still out enjoying juicy bites of the Big Apple but what a great time we had...and hopefully our students did too. I really loved teaching the group, but felt rather guilty because I really had to push hard during the first week to keep everyone on track for when Mr D. took over. But it seems to have all paid off and I received a little mini-film this afternoon of the class dancing about in their finished shoes! Whew, well done guys, you really worked hard and I loved seeing the results!

But to re-cap and fill in some of the gaps here are some pics from the outset of my time in class. As you can see we are in the light and airy space of former student and now NY shoemaker Jesse Moore. A big shout out and thank you to Tom and Jesse for looking after the limeys so wonderfully...a jog in Prospect Park, supper at Gotham and a NY pilates class are amongst my highlights!!!

Some of the tools of the trade set out to show the students what to expect and what they will be working with. Front and centre are the most important - the shoemakers' knives!

Hesper proving you don't need to be big and muscly to be a shoemaker.

The NYPD's loss was our gain as Tom determinedly hand crafted his shoes. The beauty of the shoemaking classes is how supportive everyone is.
Kris, Tom and Ryan urged each other on through lasting lumps, welting wobbles and bristle breakdowns and Colin kept the mood light with some choice one-liners.

We always knew the two-week, six days a week intensive was going to be tough and sometimes the guys just needed a little down time...even if it was a 20 minute cat nap mid-afternoon!

Thanks for a great class everyone...let us know how you get on with your next pair (and don't forget we are only an email or Skype call away if you get stuck!)