Glen Leasure and myself both took up shoemaking in the 80’s, inspired by Christine Lewis-Clark’s book The Make-it-Yourself Shoe Book. We met and realized our common pursuit when my husband, daughter and I were visiting “intentional communities”, seeking a place to live that would provide us with an extended family as well as an opportunity to share resources and live simply. We met Glen and Peggy at Common Ground Community in Lexington Va.
In Lewis-Clark’s book, she taught the stitch-down process, and her belief that lasts weren’t needed for shoemaking, that instead one’s own feet can serve as lasts.
(Lasts are standardized molds that shoes are built over that include adequate toe space and the desired toe shape).
Glen stayed with Lewis-Clark’s teachings, and therefore each pair of boots – the footwear he most-often made – he made were custom-made over a customer’s feet or a replica of their feet. For myself, having done a lot of dress-making, I was drawn to making patterns and the using of commercial lasts.
We remained constant in the support we gave each other and there was much shoemaking information that we could share with each other and we did.
I was an admirer of the beauty of the boots Glen made, because he made hundreds of them and constantly worked at improving his process. He has a dvd available on his website, www.healthyhandmadeshoes.com, describing how he made his boots.
Glen aspired to teach shoemaking to those in areas of the world where foot-wear making knowledge was lacking. He spent over a year gathering materials to be used to teach shoemaking in Sierra Leone. His death after exposure to tropical diseases left his goals of helping the children there who were sickened by parasites entering their bodies through their unshod feet, temporarily incomplete.
I use the word “temporary” because his family, friends and others inspired by his dedication are determined that his goals be met, and will find a way. If you’re going to Sierra Leone, please get in touch.
Rest in peace, my generous friend.