Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 16 September 2011

Antiqued Pigskin

Greetings fellow shoe nerds of the world! Another week passes and we at carréducker have been very busy little elves. Are we older? Certainly. Wiser? Doubtful. But we are still as passionate about our beautiful trade and happy to share our knowledge with you. So here goes.

Just a little plug as India beckons for our bespoke expansion. Check this article out, but be patient, or just skip to the end if you can't contain yourself.

This week we started an interesting pair of wholecuts. The principle interest is the upper leather - pigskin.

A few months ago we made a handsome pair of derby shoes in the same pigskin and they were universally liked. This new client saw the shoes and decided to have his new pair of bespoke shoes in the same leather.

His choice of style was a wholecut and the last shape he chose was this:

So you can imagine how the shoe is going to look - pretty striking, I'd say!

But let's start at the very beginning. We have the lasts and the upper leather.

We started with a tan pigskin. First we deglazed it. This allows the dyes to take better on the skin. We use Fiebings Deglazer and rub it with a cloth. The harder you rub, the paler the effect on the skin.

You can see that the leather has a natural grain to it which is the secret to achieving an interesting result.

Now comes the colouring process. Leather dyes are not good if they contact the skin, so please wear latex/protective gloves.

We use Fiebings dyes which are very good.

We start by applying the darkest colour and for this effect we use a cotton cloth to apply it.

Continue to add the dyes layer upon layer. We used Mid Brown, Light Brown, Mahogany, Dark Red, Yellow, Orange and Red.

Build the layers.

This is a detail of how it looks. You can see that the pits of the grain do not take the dye.

To get the dye into the pits of the grain, we use a thinner to wash over the top. This also has the effect of mixing the dyes to soften the antique effect. The more you do this, the more uniform the colour.

And this is now ready to send to the closer. What happens from here is that as the uppers are handled by the closer and ourselves during the making, a little of the colour comes away from the surface, so that the pits of the grain are dark and the surface in between is lighter. The effect is very pleasing.

Really looking forward to getting the uppers back and getting on with the fitting process. We will keep you updated on the progress of these shoes.

And that is that for this week. So, until next week, happy shoemaking!