Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 26 July 2019

Carreducker's London - Cornelissen

Greetings, greetings, dear shoe people, once more unto the breach. We hope you have had a great week and, if you are in Europe, are not suffering too much with the heat. We reached 38 C yesterday which was pretty extraordinary, not in a good way.

This week's post is part of our occasional series of places in London which we love. And on this occasion it is an art supply shop called Cornelissen in Bloomsbury. It was founded in 1855 by a Belgian lithographer called Louis Cornelissen and supplied pigments, paints and stretched canvases to local artists until the present day. Famous customers include Walter Sickert, Rex Whistler, Francis Bacon and Anish Kapoor.

It is a beautiful shop both inside and out.

As you enter, you immediately notice that this is not your run of the mill shop. The dark wood fittings are original and full of character, including the stairs to the basement

The counter is backed by three walls of shelves and draws with this clock a particular favoutite

Mysterious numbered draws - what do they house?

Another unique feature of the shop is the floorboards which are very creaky so it is impossible to wander round unnoticed.

We buy beeswax, colophony and tallow from here which we use in our home made thread wax, available from our online supply shop.

When you buy these dry materials, they are housed in floor standing wooden cupboards and the staff magically know where to find everything.

The packaging is simple but really lovely.

The higher shelves are filled with jars of pigments, carefully arranged into a rainbow of colours.

Cornelissen is on Great Russell St very near the British Museum, in Bloomsbury. So if you are visiting London and want to do something different, or even buy your own ingredients for making thread wax, you could do a lot worse that visit this hidden London gem.

And that is it for now. We hope you have a good week and look forward to seeing you back next time. Until then, happy shoemaking!

Monday, 22 July 2019

Summer Intensive Shoemaking

Hello again, dear readers, we hope you have had a wonderful week and have been enjoying the good weather as much as we have

We have been joined in the workshop for the last two weeks by two medical doctors from the UK who wanted a working holiday where they learned to make something. And what better than a pair of shoes?

And here they are, Clare and Ling at the start of their shoemaking journey.

We had a great two weeks, teaching the whole process from blocking the insoles to preparing the feather/holdfast.

We had a leftie this time which always keeps us on our toes with the demonstrations as you have to reverse the usual way you do things.

During the two weeks we tackled all aspects of making shoes by hand, including skiving toe puffs and stiffeners; hand lasting; and hand welting with a little thread making and bristle attaching sprinkled in

They were both very capable (which you hope for in a doctor!) and took to the shoemaking very well. We also had a great time discussing medical issues and hospital stories which were quite shocking as you can imagine.

After stitching the soles by hand, and drinking lots of tea, came the heel building, one of our favourite stages because of the technical precision need to get the heels balanced; the same height as each other; and sitting flat.

Measuring out the heels
It was a thoroughly enjoyable two weeks and both of them made a pair of lovely looking shoes. It is quite an achievement and a very big well done to both of them.

As you will see below, the sense of achievement on the final day is amazing.

If you want to make a pair of shoes with us, please take a look at our website for a list of the kind of courses we run, along with dates, times and prices

We have a wide variety of learning options from group classes to one to one tuition and we can teach complete beginners to more experienced shoemakers.

So get in touch ( and book a course. We look forward to hearing from you

Until next week, happy shoemaking!