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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking


We got a few questions about the course, let me ask them here too – maybe there are people who wants to know the same.

What constructions I can learn?

That depends on you, your skills and ambitions. I have some years of teaching experience, I am confident that I can guide a perfect beginner through the process of making a pair in 3 weeks, although you need to be a hard worker.

What will we learn?

That is actually an easy question – exactly what I told you: pattern making, shoe making and some upper making demo. About the last one: this time is just not enough to finish a welted shoe from scratch to finish so I needed to sacrifice something – either sewn construction or upper making. I chosen the last.

Is there any course in the future? I can’t come for this one.

I am very busy, working on some big project, teaching in a college, run a brand, so I teach less and less classes. I understand that you are busy too, I just can’t promise anything. The next course can be in a year ahead, but easily more.

What previous experience is needed for this course?

Good news – nothing. We learn from the very beginning to finishing the shoe. Come as you are – we provide tools, equipment, leather, whatever you need to complete a pair welted shoe.

Why this course is any better than others?

Answering this question would be cheap marketing and I don’t need that, luckily many students are lined up to register. Choosing a shoemaking course is not any different than choosing a college. You check the appreciation, the faculty the alumni.. etc. Do your homework and check these! I am proud of my previous students.

I have this and this… issue, can I still join?

I am not a doctor – you might want to ask yours, but once I had a student with one arm. He could do it.

And finally…

Do you need assistance for the course? 

No thanks, I already have 3 and quite honestly the easiest part of this to get assistants. To be an assistant by the way doesn’t not mean that you will participate in the course free, more like work hard to maintain the workshop, prepare everything, moving heavy furniture, etc. so the student can use every minute of the course useful.

The course will be from 9th (Monday) to 27th (Friday) June 2014, We only have a few seats left. send an an inquiry so we will send you a registration form.


Great news, here’s the final schedule for our 2014 Summer Intensive Apprenticeship Course!

Time:

9th (Monday) to 27th (Friday) June 2014, on weekdays
The duration of the course is 3×5 days, that is 15 intensive all day workdays.

Location:

Savannah, GA, USA. This is the only location and time we have for this year, so please make your plans accordingly!

What you will be learning in this three weeks:

A hand welting technique – based on your prior experience, you will be learning one hand welting technique.
Shoes can be either men’s or women’s.
Design, pattern making and upper making. However, due to time and space restraints, we won’t be able to make those uppers into shoes. You will work with the ready made ones provided by me.
Hand finishing: we will not use any machines during the entire process. You will learn the traditional way of sole and heel finishing.
All sorts of tricks of the trade, business tips, etc.

The Koronya intensive course experience:

The intensive apprenticeship course focuses on the construction. We will do our best to provide you with the size of your choice, but supplies are limited. The point is not making shoes for your own use, but to learn the techniques.
You may bring your own lasts and design an upper and make the pattern on them. But the final shoes will be made on the lasts in the sizes that I provide, simply because the uppers we use are specifically designed on these, so they will definitely fit.
When we say intensive, we really mean it! Making a pair of hand welted shoes in three weeks while learning the process of design, pattern making and upper making is demanding. Absolute commitment is required.
All materials will be superior quality Baker leather – Soles, insoles, stiffeners, welts.
All tools used are genuine shoemaking tools and will be provided to all students.

What’s included in the price:

Use of all the tools required in the process
Use of lasts
Patterns made during the classes
One pair of hand-welted shoes, made by you
Water, coffee

What’s not included:

Lodging, food, transportation, etc.

Availability is limited, so early registration is recommended! Please contact me here or at info(at)koronya(dot)com for registration details!


 

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.

SOLE


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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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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… 

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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.

 

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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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