Author Archives: koronya
Which is coming with a story. So, some time ago, I was walking in NY with some friends and their friend – first time in my life there – and stepped into a fancy shoe store in Madison Avenue. They started a conversation with the salesman there, who was actually a shoemaker, just being there for educating customers, custom patina their shoes, etc. So at a certain part of the conversation, they were talking about what they do for living.. Banker, whatever.. then the salesman turned to me – “and you Sir, must be a shoemaker”. No, he was not a mentalist. How did he knew? We, shoemakers look the shoes at a different way, than other people – upside down. We are well aware, that upper making is a different craft (even if many of us practice it on a daily basis), so e start at the sole, heel, edge finishes. Not just shiny-shiny, looks good way, but as a sommelier tastes wine, enjoying every little bit of the taste. We know where most of our work goes – the finish. Everybody can make a decent welting, lasting after a certain time of part ice, but finishing is an art (even if I don’t like to use this word for what we do). Finishing is about skills, balance, control and concentration. This is the biggest challenge for most of all – one sloppy move is enough to make your shoes crap.
I love finishing, it almost like meditation. I love doing it alone, no chatting, no distraction, just me and the shoes. Years ago I made long list on my wall, which lists it step by step – so I can follow the same way all the time… and I never do.
So, enjoy the look of these shoes – just off the last, soon they will be on my customer’s foot, who hopefully happily will wear them for long years. A very moderate fiddleback, new, matt sole finish, a sole channel, what – I believe – only I do, new style from brass nails, and hidden welt (and bevelled) waist. The last is my old-new 224. (old as I designed it several years ago from a block of wood, new as I redesign it every single year a bit – some millimeters here and there). This one is 224/2013.
ps. new, professional pictures will come soon.
I think it not even necessary to explain how beautiful this leather is. By the way – they cut cut it off from the animals two different way – through the belly, so the back will be in center of the hide – we call them hornback and the other way around, cutting the back alongside – that is the belly. I prefer bellycuts (this is what you can see this picture). Shows the beauty of the skin, but not too rough. For technical reasons (let’s just mention skiving) this is less challenging than the other.
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Continue reading this article ›
I assume if is redundant o mention: this post is not written for people with sensitive stomach. Told ya.. Anyway: shoemaking is not for sensitive people. Shoemaking, like it or not, use animal hides, which come from animals. The good news, the hides are usually side products, as animals are killed for their meat. Not the alligators – in this case meat is the side product. Well… still a beautiful leather, hmm? I might have to make myself an alligator shoe eventually…
Alligator leather is one of the most expensive, most luxurious looking leather type for a good reason. It looks fabulous with the texture, the deep colors what you can achieve with the cheap printed cow, but somewhere deep inside every human being there is a string, which start to resonate the sound of the danger when you see those shapes.
Alligator is not of the endangered species – moreover there are over a million only in Florida, but still has a special status, which lets the government to control the hunting. There is a strict regulation for hunting them – the CITES ((the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The CITES is an international agreement between governments, making sure that endangered species are not threatened by hunters and after all us – craftsmen and customers. Long story short: your exotic skins, or at least most of them, should be tagged with a plastic band. Without that you shouldn’t buy them and the seller shouldn’t sell it. There is only a limited amount of those every year, available for alligator farmers and hunters.
Yeah, it is me, being sarcastic again. It is painful to see which pieces/makers the magazines pick to represent our Craft. No offense to anyone who showed up there – I am not saying all featured makers are bad choices. I was there too, and some of my respected fellow makers, but they make some pretty miserable choices as well. How? Let me illustrate:
In a parallel situation, allow me to introduce Mr. ……..*, from ……… ** who started his English studies last week (my English is not that great as well, so I hope nobody takes it as an offense. I could have picked pottery*** too), but already succeeded to write down his own name + 2 whole sentence, with only 5 mistakes! Here they are:
“I em ….., fromm …. I lice reiding and lerning. Where is the postofis?
I received a phone call from an aspiring shoemaker, asking about what tools I’d suggest to get to make shoes. Although it is a really difficult question, however, there are some basic tools all shoemakers need. I am gonna list a few (not a comprehensive collection) and enclose a link to purchase it, if you want. Again: it is more for beginners, maybe for teachers to support students.
I don’t think that I really have to write a tutorial about this, some people seem to be really well educated in this topic… but… As this is just a sarcastic title, kind of ”end of the year” post – maybe some will learn the opposite. So, how to make a craftsman upset? These are the types of people, who can achieve it easily.
I participated in the HCC meeting in Guthrie, Oklahoma a few months ago. I was asked to do a presentation about any chosen topic – I thought the best one would be finishing, which is probably a constant challenge for most of us. I promised before I will upload the presentation, but let me just add a few thoughts about it.
Goyser this time, one of my speciality.
This one is made for the modified last no. 224 for bespoke order.
…and this is my new Budapest last, duotone cordovan.
Sorry for the short notice, but it just turned out, that I can take 2 apprentices for 3 weeks in December, in Savannah, GA. Hands-on, old fashioned apprenticeship course. Please contact me if you are interested.
Due the many mails I received, let me answer some questions here:
- the course is flexible. I am available from 20th of November
- the course program is also flexible. We will make upper pattern constructions, and at least 2 different shoe constructions and a lot of practices
- I don’t provide lodging, but there are B&B close by (one in the same street 4 houses away)
- Hours: everyday from 9 to 4.
And.. the weather is great here in Savannah in the winter!
I can’t even remember how many times I have seen student struggling with their threads during sewing, which is obviously easy to avoid, if you know how to prepare them properly. This way.
1. First – you put a good amount of shoemaker’s wax on it, rubbing the thread on the wax. I have heard a lot of recipes, here is mine: I melt one part resin with one part beeswax and just a little bit of paraffin. When they are well mixed I pour the hot mixture to a bucket of cold water and make balls. Done, no mess, no burned hands.
2. Now you have to spin the thread on your lap – S spin – away from you, Z spin – towards yourself. Spin and pul in the SAME time.
If you did a good job, now you have a nice, long tapered end. Just to be sure – repeat the these steps again.
Find the part of the thread, which is not the full thickness, and press it flat with the needle.
Then push it through twice. Note: the eye of the needle is closer to the tapered end.
Now pull the thread through the eye. If you did well, you have a S shape in your hand (or a reversed S, if you hold it like I did on the photo)
Slowly pull the needle towards the pointy end. (these needles actually blunt)
Well, done. Almost there.
Now you have to spin the needle (this is a curved needle, so it will be easy). By the way, again – S spin away, Z spin – toward yourself)
Done, ready for sewing. The needle looks like the end of the thread, same thickness, just a little transition from thread to metal. The black dirt (wax) on your hand comes of easily with any commercial hand sanitizer gel.
And finally some explanation, what is “S” and “Z” spin.