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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Goyser this time, one of my speciality.

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This one is made for the modified last no. 224 for bespoke order.

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…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.

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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.




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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.

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If you did a good job, now you have a nice, long tapered end. Just to be sure – repeat the these steps again.

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Find the part of the thread, which is not the full thickness, and press it flat with the needle.

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Then push it through twice. Note: the eye of the needle is closer to the tapered end.

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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)

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Slowly pull the needle towards the pointy end. (these needles actually blunt)

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Well, done. Almost there.

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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)

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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.

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