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Shoes and Craft

A shoemaker's blog about shoemaking

Monthly Archives: December 2008


mule

a mule. I bought many cheap Asian home footwear, but no one of them can be used more than a few months (sometimes even weeks), and all of them are made from full synthetic materials, causing swetting feet.. So I asked myself: I am a shoemaker, why I don’t make these things for myself? I bought a piece of lamb leather with fur on, and used the pieces of leather – left from other works and designed a pair of mules. OK, it is a but exaggerate to call it design – so I found out how to make footwear from it… and I did it. I made it symmetrical (no left, no right), and soft. A bit more heavy than a cheap Chinese version, but it just shows, that there are real materials in it: leather, fur, cork.. and a bit of handwork.


dsc_0324

déjà vu means the feeling that you were in that the situation previously. Here is the story:

when I finished the shoemaker school I wanted to practice sheomaking in real life, so I was searching a workplace as a shoemaker. Frankly: in that certain period shoemaking industry started to shrink in Hungary, and I could have find an other job much easier and for bigger salary. Finally I went to work to a ballet shoemaker workshop. I must admit: that is something, what I never did before, even I had 3 years intensive shoemaking practice behind my back! Balett shoes are made by really ancient technologies – symmetrical last (no left, no right), and turnout technology. That is something. You put all the stiffners (a ot – believe me), last the shoes, sew it all around, then out out the last and turn out. If you wasn’t that quick – no chance you can do it. (there are other technologies, but we used this at that time)

18 years passed.. and I met with an old collague from that place. We drunk a coffe and decided to go there to see if anything happend from that place. The house looked like left yor years.. no. Frankly: it was looking like a house after a bomb attack after years. And what I seen? The workshop is still there, closed, but as I can look throught the very dirty window – everything on its place: furnitures, machines, even pictures on the walls. I couldn’t believe. History stopped in that workshop for 15 years!

to be continued.. (sorry I need to work a bit 🙂 )


Sometimes I just realise how much time I can spend to finish a pair of shoes – from the point the heels are bulided, “only” painting, waxing, sole painting, decoration etc. is left. One of my friend – makes only RTW dance shoes – can finish his products in minutes. I don’t mean it bad: dance shoes are not for elegant dresses, but dancing on a dusty stages, so fancy, shining heel is really not a demand. For me: this is the most challenging part of shoemaking: I always try to approach the PERFECT finish. And I never can.. some small stain on the sole (it will be dirty after the first step), etc, etc.. I could continue the small details.

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This is a relatively old customer: this is his 3rd pair in this year. He knows very exactly what he needs: French boxcalf, double sole, English sewn on his bespoke last.

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I had to work in the weekend in the workshop. There are two reasons for that:

1. there was a short term student coming to learn the basics, so we needed every minute

2. I had to finish some orders until christmas (I can’t).

At the end of the day – when my student was kind of professional in sharping the knive (and had all the fingers), half professional in cutting and very beginner in lasting a strange guy came into the worshop, asking if I have any work for him… he was a orthopedic shoemaker. I get happy – I hav e a lot of work, and now I have someone intending to work for me! wow! Unfortunately he didn’t have any experience in hand stitched shoes, so he would be just an other student.. so I will continue all alone.

Tomorrow  will be ready with an other pair (urgent work). I promise I will post it.