Saturday, February 18, 2017

Shoemaking update

It has taken a lot of research to get this far, and I must say that it has really been quite an exploration.  Can you make shoes?  Yes.  Should you?  Well, that's still debatable.  Certainly not for the sake of having shoes... That is to say, it won't save you money or time, or anything. Making shoes by hand that you will immediately abuse is a questionable pursuit, too (this is especially true in New York City). But... the shoes you make will be one of a kind.  And only you will have THAT pair.

The best scenario - do it for the art of it.  When you need performance, you need engineering.  From my research, I would say, don't make athletic shoes unless  you're gonna assemble a workshop and proper tools.  I don't think you can play around at that level. For me, the answer for my first attempt is to add artistry to a well made foundation.  No, they will not last forever.  I can abuse them as life requires... whatever.  The shoes you make are a different animal.  Entirely.

My first try will be semi-homemade.  Much like Sandra Lee's cooking concept, I will use a beloved but bedraggled shoe as a base for re- creation.

My choice

Boy, the sole of these shoes was made to last, but the bandage-like top is not particularly feminine for the foot, and even less so when it gets dirty. What ends up happening?  I never wear them. Obviously made for neither the subway nor quick supermarket runs, they linger in my closet waiting for an opportunity to dangle over the side of a deck chair or give a bit of cheer to the entryway shoe pile at my "we don't wear shoes indoors here" friends' homes. I've worn them when impractical, but I sorta wince and bear it, especially when I need to do a lot of walking, because I have to work a bit to keep them on my feet.

I have separated the sole from the insole, and am now free to make whatever upper works, is visually appealing, while allowing flexibility of the foot, since these soles don't bend.  I have now entered the design phase.  The insole was wrapped in leather and adhered to the base with strong glue, and a layer of fabric between the two feels a bit like tailoring canvas.  I've cleaned away all of the red pieces of fabric, and discarded the tape (like a thin twill tape) perimeter. 

I will seek manufactured soles/heels as the foundation of my first pairs of shoes.  I find that you can easily get never-worn shoes for $1 from thrift stores. Because I haven't invested in a last or more sophisticated materials, I will keep my projects simpler for now. 

When I make flat shoes, I will fortify both the back (vertical) heel and toe cap with stiffer leather. I may figure out how to shape the sole to the insole. I will make sure the insole is contoured and supportive, but outsole must be hard enough to not feel the ground, rocks and glass and random hazards.

Follow my Pinterest page if you would like to join me on the journey!

More info as I progress...

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At February 19, 2017 at 6:14 PM , Blogger elizabethdee said...

By some coincidence the Guardian was also talking about shoemaking this weekend. Did you see this?

At February 19, 2017 at 7:33 PM , Blogger mimi jackson said...

I have not - i'm gonna check it out!


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