Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 3 July 2015

Companions, Compagnons and Chateaux

Greetings shoemaking's been another busy week and a warm one! You know how we Brits love to talk about the weather, but for once it is well worth a discussion - 30+ degrees. So we have only been able to keep making and teaching with our air conditioner in full swing!

Olivia and Alistair in air-con comfort
(We think that the weather may have come with Olivia, who is studying with us for a few weeks on a visit from Melbourne Australia, but she assures us that the weather there is just as changeable as here)! 

And we have had hot dogs to consider too...

After much pleading, Olivia relented and brought the delightful Woody (see above) in for a visit. She and her partner are both house / dog sitting for friends, so we jumped at the opportunity of a 'studio dog' (even if he is only borrowed for a day or two!) Sigh, one day....

We were also delighted to welcome a visit from closer to home - France. Prescilia is an award-winning (Silver Medal, L'Un Des Meilleurs Apprentis de France) and determined, aspiring shoemaker who is taking part in the Compagnons du Devoir et du Tour de France

Braced heel
She is juggling her apprenticeship training with working full time and meeting the demanding standards of the Compagnons... truly impressive! The Compagnons is an organisation of craftsmen and artisans dating from the Middle Ages who strive to combine tradition and modernity and to share knowledge. It is the original way to learn a trade and an approach we emulate. The Compagnonage is a lifestyle that gives importance to community life, quality work, travelling to improve technical skills and knowledge and an openness in sharing that knowledge. 
Ducks from beneath
Similar to the German journeymen, the Compagnons still operates in more than 49 countries and covers many trades. Participants undertake an apprenticeship and produce a piece of work to demonstrate their commitment before embarking on their own Tour de France, now a world tour, where Aspirants work and train with many different masters and companies. The tour not only helps them to develop their skills, but to experience life and to develop their character too. At the end of the Tour the Aspirants produce a masterpiece as testimony to the techniques that they have learnt.

The 'ducks'
Prescilia shared some fascinating insights into her own training - in France and soon in Germany - and the wonderful 'ducks' that are used to practise welting and heel building. She is a fine example of an aspirant and we look forward to hearing more of her journey to becoming a master shoemaker.

Nouvelle livrée du Château des Fougères.. (4)

Continuing the Gallic theme, I spent last weekend in the beautiful town of Trouville - at Chateau des Fougeres to celebrate the wedding of footwear designer (and I am proud to say, my nephew), Jawad Braye and his lovely wife Jessica. As you can see, Jawad rocks a slick wedding suit and designs super-cool shoes


On that happy note, until next week, happy shoemaking!