Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 6 December 2013

Open Studios, Lasts and Luck

Cockpit Arts opened to the public last weekend for its bi-annual Open Studios. It's a great time of year and everyone loves dressing their space for Christmas shoppers. There's a real party spirit on Friday evening, when we're open until 9pm for late night shopping and the studios looked decidedly festive. 

Much Christmas shopping was done by visitors keen to gift something, truly unique, made by one of the 90 or so designer-makers based here and if you've never been before, we heartily recommend it. 

Alongside our Winkers shoes, we were selling a selection of the beautiful antique lasts that James and I have collected over the years from Spain, the USA and England. 

Lady Florence Craye wore red riding boots...
dainty, bright and gay! Spanish last size 34
G. D'Arcy Stilton Cheesewright was a flamboyant fan of chisel toes
British American last 1972

Brown brogue boots saved Bertie from many
a muddy scrape! Beech wood last size 39

Senor H. was a masterful matador in black patent pumps...
(until the bull got the better of him!)
Spanish last 1953 
The oldest date back to the early 1900s and each has a story to tell, so we created a whimsical character for each one, based almost entirely on P.G. Woodhouse

Like lasts, old shoes too bring with them love and a recent story in Newport, Rhode Island USA shows:  

A pair of 19th century brown leather slippers was found under the floorboards of the "Colony House" as the building underwent extensive renovation. It was not a complete surprise to historians as Ruth Taylor, executive director of the Newport Historical Society, explained; 

"They date to about 1830 and were probably left there as the building was under construction...folks hide shoes to bring good luck...a really common place is tucked up against the chimney stack." The Newport Historical Society plans to clean them up and put them on display in their museum. They've replaced the shoes with a similar pair so as not to break the chain of good luck." 

It's nice to know that our antique lasts will continue to bring good luck as gifts this Christmas. 

Until next week, when we will be revealing the most amazing pair of shoes we have created to date...happy shoemaking!


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