Sunday, 28 September 2014

Finish and details

The five day intensive shoemaking course was at Prescott and Mackay
52 Wareen Street
London W1T 5NJ
The training project funded by The Arts Council of Wales
Thank you to both of these organisations for making the project possible.
 The course tutor was the lovely Melissa Needham, who trained in costume at Wimbledon art school, was a shoe maker for many years, and now runs the training venue in Warren street and has a shop, Black Truffle in Hackney.
. The process of making shoes is complicated, and top end hand made designer shoes are works of sculpture, often requiring dozens of prototypes before the final shoe is approved by the creative director. The design and creation of these  beautiful art products is guarded with  extreme care and secrecy. As with any skilled manual trade. shoe makers skills are acquired by many years of practical making and modelling, designers or pattern cutters often specialising in just one aspect of this tailoring for the feet.
The shoes we made were cut from one pattern draft , so are actually a really basic prototype.  I was surprised that they fit and feel so soft and comfortable, like a glove for the foot. The pattern cutting needed adjustments , which were discussed, and in a design environment , they would be a team working on different aspects of the fit and style. Although there are visible mistakes , I am very pleased with the results of my first attempt at making a shoe.
The course tutor, Melissa was enthusiastic about the design of my shoe, and was a paragon of patience and virtue with Ruth and myself as we plagued her with questions and little moments of fear and insecurity all week.
The course itself is well planned.  As well as being lead step by step through the complicated aspects of  pattern cutting process, there is a choice of last shapes and good advice about suitable materials for the uppers.  Lining leather , facings and all other tools and fabrics are provided. Melissa even sacrificed a piece of her coffee bean sack furnishing so I could make hessian heels. Above and beyond the call of shoemaking duty. Thank you!
 Working to millimetre measurement with razor sharp scalpels and hallucinogenic glue ( because we forgot to keep the lid on- sorry!) was a challenge , which I enjoyed .  Being in a situation where extreme manual control and care is needed was a good experience for me, although as
 the week progressed the concentration and attention to detail was quite tiring .Learning is hard work!
At times I found myself dipping into a store of  acquired practical skills  and reapplying  them to familiar and un familiar tools in a new situation. Although I have experience with drawing, designing, buying materials, measuring, canvas stretching, machine sewing ( but never before on  industrial machines- wow), modelling and shaping, it all seemed very new and  challenging. I
can`t wait to see what effects this past week has on my future work. I am so inspired. I know my seams will be neater.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Last Shoe Standing

Tools for the job. Paint stripper softens stiffening

self adhesive when hot


Thank you Melissa for sacrificing some of you furnishing for my heels.xx

Melissa skiving and smoothing Ruths shoe

Assembly time

Watching glue dry

Nailing heel on

ta daaaa

difficult nails

Six on the dot finished

Taken upside down this morning

Arts and Craft inspired footwear prototype.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Upper assembly and banging

Hitting the thumbs, unpicking and re sewing, trimming and gluing.  Still exhausted at the end of the day, but so pleased.
uppers and linings

soft pigskin lining

back strip top stitched

Not easy to top stitch

Nailing and stretching

inner soles on the last

 Iconic nailing shot

stretching and nailing in symmetry

toe lining

on the last

All glued and ready for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The devil is in the detail

Cut pieces

skived leather

what size the tabs?

How small?

tabs n stips

soul and lining



so tricky

uppers unders

 Lots of tricky technique,
gluing and trimming today.
Its all coming together,exciting times.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Soles and cutting and facing.

uppers, lining, heel, toe
Not as exhausted today as yesterday. Got this blog entry
finished really fast. This is just the most brilliant experience.

mean form- all the info on one sheet.

bottom plate pattern

peel my sole

Bottom plate stock

heel pattern

Lunchtime pigeons

leather lining so soft




skiving and gluing and folding

gentle rocking motion