Twenty-five years ago I was living with my husband and daughter in a commune in the UK, where hand-made shoes were on the feet of gardeners, potters and other residents. Realizing that it was possible to make footwear was the moment my life transformed.
Now I want to help other people become shoemakers by offering books, videos, workshops and my “First Footsteps” shoemaking kit for making toddler’s shoes. These are available on my “products” tab, including my new book, How to Make the Simplest Shoes: nomocs, lomocs and fomocs with your own two hands!
All of my footwear is made ecologically, which means that all my processes avoid toxic shoe cements and new petroleum-based soling – my favorite soling is composed of layers of inner tubes, preferably from trucks and tractors, but car will do. I don’t sand the soles to smooth the edges as I don’t want to deal with the black dust, but fortunately I love the look of the soling layers cut with pinking shears – no need for smooth!
I encourage the use of vegetable-tanned leather, which is available from www.pergamena.net. They have an etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/pergamenany which offers skins at lower prices. The use of scrap leather is also encouraged, from upholstery shops or thrift stores.
Why make shoes?!
- they can be made of materials that you feel good about
- they can be made in natural, healthy shapes
- they can be made to fit unusually-shaped feet
- you can express yourself creatively
- it lessens your dependence on factory-made products that may not always be available
- it’s empowering to make something that most people think you can’t!
- you can repair them, so they don’t end up in the dump so fast.
- you know that no one was exploited in the making of them – they are made with joy.
1992 – began making shoes after seeing them made at Wonkton Wyld, a British commune where I and my family lived for a year
1992 – 2000 – continued to make shoes to sell at craft fairs
2000 – decided to focus on teaching “simple shoemaking”
2001 – taught simple shoemaking at Brookfield Craft Center, CT. for six years
2003 – 2004 – taught simple shoemaking at Peters Valley School of Craft, MJ
2005 – taught simple shoemaking at Guilford Art Center, CT.
2016 – taught simple shoemaking at Snow Farm, Williamsburg MA and will teach there again in 2018
2000 – present – taught shoemaking workshops at my home
2009 – 2013 – taught shoemaking to Heather Collis-Puro, handwork teacher at Moraine Waldorf School, Beverly, MA. Continued to collaborate with Heather on shoemaking workshops for her students, school faculty, parents and fellow handcraft teachers
2016 – taught shoemaking at newvesturesfashion.org/, a new makerspace in Lowell, Ma.
Shoemaking instruction and pattern books that I have written:
How to Make Simple Shoes Women with your own two hands!
How to Make Simple Moccasins with your own two hands!
How to Make Simple Sandals with your own two hands!
How to Make the Simplest Sandals with your own two hands!
How to Make Simple Shoes for Children with your own two hands!
How to Make Cinch-tops for Everyone with your own two hands!
How to Make the Simplest Shoes – Lomocs, Nomocs and Fomocs – with your own two hands!
How to Make Center-Seam Shoes with your own two hands!