Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 10 June 2011

Velvet Slippers 3

So here we are again. Making shoes and in the press. This week it is the conclusion of the creation of the velvet slippers and, to kick things off, a bit of coverage in July's UK Esquire magazine. Great article on Gieves and Hawkes and a lovely half page piece on carreducker within it. Excellent!

This weekend we have our Open Studios here at Cockpit Arts, the public's twice yearly chance to see and buy direct from the over 90 craft based businesses which make up the place. It really is a fantastic visit. This year is extra special because it is our 25th birthday and there are lots of events going on, And it's FREE, so get down here if you can.
It starts tonight from 6-9pm, and then runs Saturday and Sunday from 11-6pm. I am doing Saturday and The Other One is here on Sunday.
We are having a stock sale of our Winkers Resort Shoes at £150 (normal RRP £275). Many sizes and fabrics.

Back to those slippers. Once the sole was on, the really tough bit for me was over. The rest was heel building and finishing, which is pretty much the same as on a normal shoe.
Put the split lift or rand on first with paste and nails. Trim, skive and peen it.

With a slipper, you have a low heel, in this case 7/8", so you need to get the first lift really flat because you might not get another one on depending on your leather's thickness.
Same as before, trim, skive and peen to get a flat surface.

At this point, before putting on the top piece, I draw the line of the seat and cut it. With a brutally sharp knife of course.

Cut it off and trim in a very narrow seat. Shape the heel to fit.

I needed a second lift in this case to reach the desired heel height. You do this by placing the slipper on a glass sheet with the top piece and checking how it sits and its height.

Put in nails and punch them.

With a house shoe, you always do a blind top piece. Traditionally, this was done by banging in a load of nails all over the heel; clipping them off to just less than the thickness of the top piece; putting on a load of paste; and then hammering on the top piece. In fact, this is how I was taught to put on all top pieces, but, because I am a bit radical, I never do this now - I just use contact adhesive. It sticks fantastically well and the argument against it was that it leaves a tiny line of glue on the finished heel edge. But I can't see it myself. So there!

Next comes rasping all round heel and sole edge.

Glass it, sand it and finish it so it is perfectly, glassily smooth. Very important that it looks great at this point.

Now to set the edge with an edge iron, the same one you would use for a bevelled waist, but thinner, 1/8".
I did a natural finish, so it was important to use a very cool iron so as not to mark, mottle or scorch the leather.
Wet it with water, put on some hand soap and iron away. You should create a smooth curved edge.

The finish was with mid tan polish and a very cool iron.

Finally the customer wanted a non slip finish so I simply glassed and sanded the sole and top piece, leaving a peach skin finish. I like how it looks.

And that was the genesis of a shoe from start to finish. Sorry it took so long, but I have been away and teaching. Hope you enjoyed it, and, until next week, happy shoemaking!