Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 30 March 2012

Gum Tragacanth Results

Here we go again, another week passes in the riveting lives of two shoemakers from London.

Deborah returned from the States and has been processing all the new orders and adjusting the lasts for the fittings she did. We have 3 pairs we can actually make now, which is my favourite part. It's funny, my two favourite parts of the whole process are the beginning, when you meet the customers; listen to what they are looking for and design their uppers, and the last part when we make the shoes. Not that I dislike the bits in the middle, but those are the stages I love most.

I had a revelation this week, if you are running a business, you really have to think about how you want your business to develop, how you see it in 5 years, 10 years, for example. Do you want to grow and grow, make loads of money and (possibly) have a highly stressful, high tempo life? Or do you want to grow it organically, keep control and have everyone in the business poor but happy? This is a bit simplistic and two extreme points on a spectrum, but it's clear to me which end we are opting for.

And so to shoes. We finished a pair of summer slip on shoes this week which I absolutely love. Slashed covered side gussets allow the front to be very plain with no laces. The last shape is very unusual and the grey suede really compliments the shape. The two colours are gorgeous together and the pale natural finish really goes well with the grey - not a combination you would normally imagine, but it works well.

Clean, elegant forepart highlights the last shape

Love the stitched on dog ear on the back seam

Elegant profile with a low top line for the summer

3/16" sole and bevelled waist make a very light shoe

The natural finish compliments the grey suede and we pulled in the waist on both sides  to give  that lovely shape to the waist and heel

Remember a few weeks ago I mixed up some gum tragacanth? Well, here are the results on a natural sole.

Glass and sand the sole as normal, making sure you get rid of all the marks and blemishes.

I wanted to get a very pale finish, and here is a trick to achieve it. Before you use the finest grit sand paper or block, put some talcum powder or French chalk on the sole.

Then sand it in. This has the effect of lightening the colour. The amount of powder determines the shade.

The difference is not huge but it is lighter.

Then comes the gum dragon. Apply it with a cloth in even strokes. Use a soft brush if you prefer.

Allow it to dry completely. This is partially dry, but it goes uniform when it is fully dry.

Once it is dry, use neutral polish to get a gloss finish. Put it on in tiny amounts with a cloth in quick strokes in one direction. This avoids getting smears. Allow the polish to dry for 5 minutes and then buff it off. Apply another coat and do the same.

The finish is very even and much better than when you just use water to prime the sole before adding the polish.

Very pleased to have rediscovered the old gum dragon.

And that, as they say, is that for this week. We hope you have enjoyed the post and that you have a great week.

Until next Friday, happy shoemaking.