June 19, 2011 Making a Shoe Prototype
First of all – I am fine. I work hard, basically the same things I have posted so many times: making shoes, keeping courses. The usual. The actual course is a shoe prototype making – or as they call it in fancy design colleges: 3D model making.. Anyway: let me share a few thoughts about this process.
Phase one: design work
Most of the designers has knowledge about the whole process, or at least the part which is interesting for them: the upper making. Why it is so important? because sketching is already a part of the whole process – a few bad lines can course serious costs or feasibility problems. If you are only a “sketch artist” – do something else.
Phase two: stepping up to 3D
We need to choose the last (don’t forget the old saying: “the last comes first”!), then we try to imagine the footwear on it, the the usual things: paper model (pretty useful in case if we make a sandal), first tries with leather.
Phase three: facing technical problems
No doubt – you will have some, especially if you work with designers, or you are one of them. Some can be solved, some not. At this phase you might have to go back to phase two and re-construct the whole upper, or find out something revolutionary new in terms of lasting, sole attachment, etc..
Phase four: drop or compromise
We might drop more than we make, but consider it like this: if you never have to give up any design you make – you are a genius or you don’t even try to make anything new. Compromises are important and they have to be made. Why? Because we have limitations in budget, materials, technology, accessories… etc. You can be the most picky designer – you still have to make compromises.
Phase five: make it!
And this is something which take plenty turns in create the footwear you dreamed about. No good recipe – or at least I don’t have any. Try, try, try.
Phase six: evaluate… and be strict with yourself
Do I need to explain? Who should be honest with you if not yourself? If you are not – the market will be, I promise – your friends will give you only compliments (that is why we call them friends, right?), but nobody will buy the shoes for being kind – finally your bank account will be honest with you.
And finally let me share a few thoughts about a prototype: do not wait too much! Yes, bespoke makers make every, individual piece beautiful, but a prototype is a bit different – since the bespoke work is almost the same except a few change on the upper, prototypes are really different, so maybe the first few attempt won’t be that perfect – but this is not the reason to make them, but check the pattern, the technology-design feasibility, etc. If you want a wearable model – you might have to wait until the mass production starts.
(well, not necessarily true – sometimes, we shoemakers are asked to make wearable prototypes so we do… just there will be a slight difference at the bill).