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

sandal inspiration from a teenager

A junior-high student came to visit me with her shoemaking mother; she showed me the sandals she had made with scraps left off from a project of her mothers. I love them! I think we all agreed that a toe-strap extending from the vamp band would be a good idea, which she planned to add, but otherwise, perfect!

Her work partially inspired a small book that I am working on right now, entitled “The Ground’s the Limit” – simple sandals you can make from recycled materials. I finally realized what would make great recycled soling – flip-flops that the straps have popped out of! How many of these are tossed into the trash from the five colleges here in my valley?! Now I’ve got to set up a collection scheme, I am hoping the Eco-club at UMass will help me. But people can find them everywhere, particularly along beaches. So let’s use them again – these soles and a recycled handbag and you’ve got sandals! 

Cool topline

 

I received a photo of the pair of shoes that was made during the last shoemaking “‘tutorial” (I’ll call it that since I teach one person at a time) I offered, and am sharing it with you. It’s a strange thing, how something like a pleasing line can create such a flow of uplifting brain chemicals – I felt such contentment when I saw the curve of the topline. It seems that the same part of my brain as finds resolution in hearing a beautiful musical chord was stimulated. I have to admit that there was one aspect of these shoes, that the photo doesn’t show, where I wish I had asked Linda to do things differently; we buffed the turned-out edge after cementing the natural rubber sole to the vegetable-tanned leather topsole. The rubber got kind of bunged-up, as we were trying to put a nice shine on the topsole. I wish I had buffed the topsole before attaching the rubber sole, and hopefully will remember to do it that way in the future.

Oh, and she didn’t plan to have little triangular punched holes on her shoes, just the “square spiral”. However, when I was demonstrating the sanding process, I knicked a little surface on the toe. Using the attitude that I was taught in a workshop of “don’t call it a mistake, make it a feature”, we added the triangles, and for me, the error definately transformed into a “feature”!

Well, you might think twice about coming to me for a shoemaking tutorial, as I am always learning (and re-learning) and experimenting right along with the student. If that’s within your comfort zone, I’m the teacher for you!