Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 6 August 2010

Red Hot; Tightening Tip; Final Week of the Summer Course

After a week of teaching, he is off on holiday for a well-earned rest, so I'm delighted to say, that it is my turn, The Other One, to deliver a post or two.

Above: These little beauties are our new studio favourites
. Much thought as always went into the design to distract the eye, narrow the profile and elongate the foot - now they've gone to have their bespoke shoetrees made and then they are off to their new home, only to be worn on special nights out we are assured.

The black calf and lizard uppers with the stitch detailing are enticing enough but...

to spice them up and give them the real WOW factor, they've got red-hot bottoms!

Looking at the pic below, "they've turned to shoe art" you may think, but you would be wrong!

This is a sneaky little way to help the uppers settle down onto a very concave last. Always keen to use materials around us, we use inner tubing stretched tight over the uppers to help bring the leather right down onto the last. If the upper doesn't sit tight onto the last then the customer ends up with more leather than they need. In this particular case, the fit is even more important as the customer has highly sensitive toes and if we leave too much leather it will create deep wrinkles which dig into the foot.

As you can see it took some doing but...

the end result is a tight fitting upper.

Now last week was also the final week of our handsewn shoemaking course. After a very physical first week lasting, skiving and welting the second week started with some intensive sole preparation and stitching.

The second week of the course is always less physically demanding but knife skills really need to sharpen up (excuse the pun) so that the upper doesn't get too beaten up. Shanks were made, cork cut, soles prepared, stitched and then heels built. Everyone was surprised at how long the finishing then takes - rasping and sanding the soles, heels and edges - but grateful for the way the wax, dye and polish disguised blemishes, stray stitches and those inevitable slips of the knife.
This is Joorn preparing his sole edges.

Below you can see just how hard everyone was concentrating - only our Ossie Karin student could still see the sunny side...

Nazim, Joorn, Vijay, Steffen, Canan, Nathalie and Karin excited to see their shoes finally taking shape...only Peter is missing - off on a chocolate run no doubt!

Well done guys - great work and an impressive finish. James and I remained unscathed until the very last - popping a bottle of bubbly to christen the new shoes I managed to gouge a chunk of bottle into my hand. Will anyone believe it wasn't my knife?