Beautiful felted llama-wool boots

How could boots be more beautiful?! Marlice van Zandt made these by felting her own llama fleece, following directions in the video workshop (http://www.northeastfiberarts.com/feltbootworkshop.php) offered by Jennifer Hoag of Northeast Fiberarts. They were made by the resist method, meaning that a piece of plastic is inserted between two boot-shaped piles of wool batting; once this is complete, it is rolled up, wet with soapy water, and agitated until it shrinks. Then the felter puts her foot in it and agitates some more so it continues to shrink, until it fits! (only experienced felters are encouraged to take the workshop series, so this explanation is from a non-felter to others who haven’t tried this before).

And for those of you in Colorado, Marlice will be offering a felting workshop at her ranch, http://www.touchtheearthranch.com/.

marlice's felted llama-wool boots

Interesting leather from Hide House

I don’t plan on ordering a piece as I don’t expect to be making many shoes, but it’s tempting.

M05 Forest Green Moose Sides 5-6oz 12-15 sq ft sides 

is available from www.hidehouse.com. It will probably be quite soft leather, not good for most derby-type shoes or flats, but might be great for moccasins or soft boots. Usually leather comes in “half-of-a-cow-hide” which is around 24 square feet. Here we have a moose – 12-15 square foot-sides – I guess that’s half-a-moose-hide. And 5-6 ounce leather is nice and thick, I may change my mind and order a piece, just imagining what great renaissance-faire-style boots I could make for myself – poor me, I don’t have any green boots!

Ask for a swatch if you consider ordering this leather to check its color, degree of softness, thickness, and surface treatments. In my opinion, you don’t want any surface treatment  (leather without surface treatment is called “naked” leather), especially in this sort of supple leather….

You could make maybe 4-5 pairs of shoes or boots from this piece of leather. That is assuming that a good portion of the leather is useable; belly leather and limb leather sometimes is so stretched and flabby that it’s not useable for any part of the shoe  – well, maybe it could be used for a topsole, especially if it were inside a boot and not visible. But for a topsole you want something smooth, not full of ripples and bumps.

So all in all, if you’re thinking of getting yourself some moccasin or soft-shoemaking leather, this smaller size makes it one of the most affordable ways to obtain suitable leather, you could easily spend twice as much on a nice piece of cow leather – especially if you purchase it from a “bricks and mortar retailer”.

I have enjoyed doing business with www.hidehouse.com. Most satisfying is the fact that they have a catalogue, so you can re-order and you will know you are getting something very similar to the leather you received in a past shipment – keeping in mind that leather is a natural product, full of unique signs of having lived a life, stretch marks, barbed-wire marks, a brand here and there…

I just checked out the leather on the hidehouse website, it is listed as $54.00/hide, so perhaps I got notice of the wholesale price. If you have a sales tax number, you can get the wholesale price also.

Price: $54.00 per hide
No. of Hides:

new page: TUTORIAL: How to Make the Side-Seam Moccasin-Boot

After seeing “Stephanie’s side-seam moccasin” project in Martha Stewart Living magazine, I decided to make it using different materials and stitching. I changed it further by stitching a piece of material along the top edge of the moccasin, transforming it into a boot! The boot can be found in the Craft Manual of North American Indian Footwear by George M. White.

I have described my process of making the moccasin-boot in the first (of many to come) TUTORIAL that I have posted on my blog; if you scroll down under PAGES on the right-hand-side of the page, there you’ll see TUTORIAL: How to Make the Side-Seam Moccasin-Boot.

A pattern for making the boot is included at the end of the directions. I welcome feedback on how this tutorial works for you, what questions you have – and then I welcome photos of the unique boots that you have made!

Side-seam Moccasin-Boot
Side-seam Moccasin-Boot

Footwear Design by Aki Choklat

This is the book to purchase if you love to design footwear – or for someone you love who loves to design footwear. It’s the workbook used when the author teaches  Footwear Design at FIT in New York, the London College of Fashion, and Pollimoda in Florence, Italy. But you can purchase it online – amazon has it, and used copies would be fine, I would think.

This book:

– describes the design process from inspiration to final presentation

– includes practical tips and step-by-step guides to collection design

– showcases the work of key designers and footwear experts

There are amazing shoes and boots in this book, this is my favorite pair:

designfeltpaint

( aku bäckström uses various interesting materials and finishes, such as felt and paint)

OMG (this is the first time I have used this expression), check out this Finnish designer’s webpage www.akubackstrom.com for photos of more footwear guaranteed to shake up your ideas of how shoes should be.

Then design and make some yourself to shake our ideas of how shoes should be and please send photos!

Latest felt boot

 

Beki made these lovely boots from felt in a class with Carin Engen at Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival this past fall. It can be worn outside because it has been stitched to outdoor Soles with an Edge, a product that I make and sell in my Etsy shop.felt boots

 

ladybugs and leaves – baby shoes

Here are a couple of pairs of shoes that my daughter recently made for friends who have also recently had babies. The pattern is in How to Make Simple Shoes for Children, in the smallest size, which is for a 3 1/2″ long foot. Since these leathers were so soft, she made them with the seams inside the shoe instead of the usual stitch-down process that we usually use. It seems to be easier for those with such pliable feet to get shoes on made in this way. One could put a little pad of wool fleece (I have a box of it cleaned, get in touch if you’re interested)  in there also to make sure the inside-seam didn’t rub on feet, or a piece of lambskin.

 

Primitive Shoes by Margrethe Hald

I am elated with my discovery today – I was thumbing through my precious copy of Primitive Shoes by Margrethe Hald thinking, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if this book were available to everyone.”

I ordered mine from the National Museum of Denmark about twenty years ago and pick it up often to marvel at the brilliance of the minds that figured out so many unique and beautiful ways to cover their feet, and sometimes to attempt to duplicate their creations  – the subtitle is: An Archaeological-Ethnological Study Based upon Shoe Finds from the Jutland Peninsula.

I believe the book was published post- humously.  Thank you, Margrethe Hald, for leaving such a gift behind.

She even left us with this message and poem:

..”there can be no double that it was a hard fate, and evidence of bitter poverty, to have no protection for one’s feet when conditions were bleak. This can be gathered from the medieval vision poems. In these, to give shoes to the shoeless is accounted a good deed of high merit, in return for which the giver is promised relief on the hard road to the other world.”

(quoted after Knut Liestol)

“Gone have I over Gjaller Bridge

with sharp hooks in a row.

Yet worse I thought the stinking marsh

God help those who there must go!”

“Blest is he who in this life

gave shoes to the needy poor.

He will not have to walk barefoot

on the sharp and thorny moor.”

So, I googled for the book – and found the entire book available at no charge at: http://vitezek.io.ua/album213075

Last night I was scrutinizing a pair of shoes a woman was wearing that looked similar to a Roman latticework sandal – she said they were made by Mia, but I couldn’t find a photo of them on the internet.

The shoes in the photo below are somewhat similar to the shoes I saw, it’s a pair that I’d like to work out the pattern for some day.

My new granddaughter

My first grandchild, Millena Tansy Strom, was born on Sunday evening, and I am still in a state of euphoria – even though I listened to a few moans too many from my dear daughter during the day. (she says it was totally worth it). I think she’ll be called Millie, and Lena was the name of my adored Italian grandmother (Nona) who made black velvet houseshoes for us. What a fascinating baby – we all can sit and look at her expressions for hours! It’s like a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon is running in her mind! What a miracle is life, may Millie’s always be filled with love.

 

Otzi’s shoes reconstructed

I received an email from Ecopel, the naturally tanned and dyed leather from Germany, with information on an exhibition described in the following paragraph. One of the shoes on display is that of Otzi, the mummified man found in the Italian alps about twenty years ago, that proved to be about 5000 years old. (check wikipedia for more information, it’s amazing what has been discovered by testing substances found in his intestines, his mitochondrial DNA, and countless other aspects of him.)

I have been most interested in his shoes, in fact I’ll dig up an article about them and post, but in the meantime his shoes have been reproduced for the exhibit. Here’s a photo of them – I’m fascinated by the way the sole is molded upward and held in place by a strip of leather woven through it – now I want a pair!

The Rhineland-State Museum for archeological, art and cultural history in Bonn is currently showing a special exhibition about footwear. ‘From Ötzis’ shoes to high heels’ 400 samples can be seen here. The exhibition demonstrates that for us as humans, shoes have an essential jacketing and protecting meaning and at the same time are a kind of jewelry and serve as a way of self-expression. Shoe loans of famous people from Picasso over Jürgen Klinsmann to Lady Gaga can be seen there as well as women’s shoes of the Rococo or soldier’s boots of the Roman Age. Someone who is interested in shoes will find a rich fund of information and inspiration visiting the exhibition.