The multiple wonders of natural rubber soling

ukatamas, Huaraches, Huarache Sandal, Huarache, Mexican Huarache, ハンドメイド・シューズ, Leather Sandals, Lädersandaler, الجلود والصنادل, 皮凉鞋, Leren Sandalen, Sandales en Cuir, Ledersandalen, चमड़े के सैंडल, Sandali in Pelle, 革のサンダル, Skinn Sandaler, Sandalias de Cuero, Lädersandaler, Huaraches, Guaraches, Mexican Sandals, Sandali Messicani, 멕시코 샌들, मेक्सिको सैंडल, Sandales Mexicains, Meksikanske Sandaler, Mexicaanse Sandalen, メキシコのサンダル, 墨西哥凉鞋, Мексиканские сандалии, Mexikanska Sandaler, Mexikanischen Sandalen, ワラチ, ワラチ, المكسيكي الصنادل, Woven Sandals, Sandali Intrecciati, 编织凉鞋, Gewebten Sandalen, Geweven Sandalen, Sandales Tissées, 不織布サンダル, 짠 샌들, Vevde Sandaler, тканые сандалии, Sandalias Tejidas, Vävda Sandaler, المنسوجة الصنادل, बुना सैंडल, Handmade Sandals, Sandali fatti a mano, 手工凉鞋, Sandales à la main, हस्तनिर्मित सैंडल, 手作りのサンダル, Håndlagde Sandaler, Sandalias Hechas a Mano, Handgjorda Sandaler, Handgefertigte Sandalen, الصنادل المصنوعة يدويا, Crepe Rubber Sole, Natural Rubber Sole

Since I have been using natural crepe soling for years, I was thrilled to read this information on Huarache blog:

úkata+ Oaxaca Supernatural Huaraches – In Stock

Not only is soling from rubber trees natural and ecological, but the article below points out another reason for supporting the growth of rubber trees.

I always stitch on natural rubber soling, so I don’t need to use the toxic contact cement that is required to hold on an un-stitched sole.

The Environmental Science

The environmentally friendly Hevea brasiliensis rubber tree creates not only biodegradable rubber which can be used to make shoe soles, but the tree can also stock large amounts of carbon in its biomass.

Its calculated that annually rubber trees absorb 363 Million Kg of Carbon dioxide, a high carbon sequestration which is calculated to be greater than that of a rainforest (Variation of soil fertility and carbon sequestration by planting Hevea brasiliensis in Hainan Island, China – Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing). The increased use of regularly harvested rubber trees in the world could potentially also alleviate the greenhouse effect and global warming (Handbook of Elastomers, Second Edition, by Marcel Dekker Inc 2001) .

By using more natural rubber products, we can essentially return some of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere back into the soil where it existed in the form of oil and coal. We can contribute towards recreating the sustainable and natural carbon equilibrium that has existed on earth for thousands of years.

Lastly I should mention how cool and sheltered a rubber plantations feel. I don’t think I have ever experienced a similarly peaceful industrial environment.

My very own pair of center-seam shoes

DSCN0001To double-check the directions for my new shoemaking kit, I made a pair of shoes for myself. I had some mauve scraps that weren’t big enough for making all the upper parts, so I cut out and lined the pieces that made up each part, punched stitching holes in them, then stitched them together. For stitching, I used a multi-color thread from https://www.tandyleather.com/en/product/waxed-braided-cord-25-yds?sSearch=braided%20cord. (I noticed they have a glow-in-the-dark cord, that opens up some possibilities!)

I opted for the “skidder” (big logging truck) inner tube soles and I really like them – I told my husband, when he makes his next trip to Orange, Ma., to stop at the tire store and pick up all the skidder inner tubes they have! They’re not slippery at all, on the surfaces I have walked on thus far (I haven’t tried ice). I’m a little disappointed as I thought they might be great for spinning while dancing, but they “grab” too much. My shoemaking friend Sarah has said the flexible soles are great for bike-riding – really grips the pedals. So, I’m all in on inner tube soles!

The next time I’m at a really boring gathering, I’m planning to sit and wrap heavy cord around the sole stitches, four on each stitch, to prevent abrading. I plan to check them every once-in-a-while to see if they need re-wrapping.   I don’t expect them to abrade much, because the sole patterns have 1/8″ added to them, so the stitches shouldn’t actually be under your feet.

I also offer a kit with natural rubber soling. You wouldn’t need to wrap the stitches on these soles, because the stitches compress the soling so they are up off of the ground.

I’ll wear them as I walk on my country road in the morning, I greatly enjoy feeling the earth beneath my feet (it’s like having a foot massage) in flexible-soled shoes, but with the protection of brawny skidder inner tubes!

 

Heather’s shoemaking workshop

Maria's Grey Pergamena Shoe 7.2016

The results are in from Heather’s center-seam shoemaking workshop with fourteen Waldorf School hand-work teachers – and most participants successfully made nice-looking shoes that fit!

Two participants made shoes that were too big. They made their own patterns by taping their feet, and it’s expected that there will be some trial and error-learning – that’s why I encourage the making of “mock-ups” before making the actual shoe so patterns can be “tweeked” – which all of the students in the workshop made so it’s not “fool-proof”.  Perhaps they didn’t slant their pencils in sufficiently when drawing around the sides of their feet.

Another participant’s shoes were loose along the topline. A good thing about center-seam shoes is that the topline of the pattern can be tightened or “sprung”, so this is a reminder to consider doing this for anyone who has a narrow, thin foot.

Marcela's Embossed Navy ShoeHere are photos of two of the pairs of shoes that were made. They are both made of Pergamena vegetable-tanned leather – the grey pair above has the suede-side out. Doesn’t the “bar” stitch down the vamp of the shoe look perfect with the square neckline?! And, they both have natural rubber soles. Eco-shoes for sure.

These two pairs are really beautiful in that the makers pulled the stitches evenly when stitching the uppers to the sole, as there is a nice even line on both shoes. The blue pair is embellished with an embossed pattern, which is a possibility when working with vegetable-tanned leather.

So, I will be selling kits for making these shoes – or if you can pull together your own materials and tools, you can purchase just the directions and standard patterns. I’ll be putting these in my shop over the weekend.

 

 

The story of five shoes

I have been developing a minimalist, flexible shoe for a women’s shoemaking kit for quite a while, and I plan to provide the same kit to participants when I teach group shoemaking workshops. To me this is the simplest first shoe to make, yet it offers – trust me – unlimited design opportunities for making the shoes uniquely your own.

My friend Heather will be teaching a shoemaking workshop to fourteen Waldorf School hand-work teachers next week, so the pressure was on for us to decide what would be the ultimate shoe to make for the kits, and in her workshops and mine. We did it – the center-seam shoe is the winner!

The shoes that Heather and I make and teach others to make are ecological. Why not be part of the solution instead of the problem?! That means no use of toxic shoe cements and if possible, the use of “upcycled” materials. And, if some leather has to be purchased to make the shoes, it needs to be vegetable-tanned.

For soling, we use either “upcycled” tractor inner tube or natural rubber. I made one sample using natural rubber, and the rest using inner tube.

(Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products).

I made samples in women’s sizes 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 for her students to try on, which of course is the easiest way to know which size shoe for each to make. If a participant finds that none of these shoes fit, we’ll help the student make a custom center-seam shoe.

DSCN0757

My process evolved as I made each one. I look forward to the feedback from Heather’s workshop, then my simple shoemaking kit will have been rigorously-tested and ready to be offered in my website store!

Here are some notes about the shoes that I made:

DSCN0759size 10. I decided to use upholstery remnants for the uppers of the kit shoes. I expect that workshop participants who want to continue making shoes will create their own shoemaking kits (directions are included), and if they use leather from thrift-store clothing or handbags, that leather is usually about the same thickness and has similar qualities to the upholstery remnants.

Even though I have accumulated a big supply of remnants, I am quite miserly when I think about using any of them for making samples. But I found a grey remnant with a stretched-out belly area that would not be suitable for including in a kit, so I used it to make this shoe. I knew I wanted to line the shoes, as upholstery leather is a little thin, so I thought I would line the shoe with more of the same leather.

Then I had to decide how to connect the tabs. I looked through my ribbon and shoelaces, but finally decided on a piece of elastic.

DSCN0768size 8. I decided that I wouldn’t use upholstery remnants for lining, that it would use them up faster than I would like. So I thought I would experiment with using felt lining. It seems felt is made from recycled plastic bottles these days, so I thought its use would satisfy my ecological requirements. (If you know Waldorf School handwork teachers, you know they would be using beautiful wool felt.)

I wanted to make a shoe that men would be comfortable wearing, so I made this shoe a little higher, with a velcro tab to close it. I also want to try it without the tab, and then with lacing and a tongue – so many possibilities… I lined it with felt, and it seemed to work..

DSCN0771

size 7. With a center-seam, it’s a temptation to make one side one color and the other a different color.. but I’m not too crazy about the look. But I thought with another color added it might look more like a quilt. I lined it with felt again – and this time I knew it was NOT a good choice.. the quality was terrible, it practically shredded, and “felt” awful.

I thought I’d repeat the colors with “couching” strips, that are visible under the seam stitching.

The final experiment on this shoe was to use a single running stitch along the topline, and I liked the way it looked.. the best thing about it is that it can gather in the topline so it’s snug. And, what to do with the ends of the threads once they emerge at the heel, I put some beads on them – the threads could terminate in the front of the shoe also.DSCN0761

size 9. I had an abundance of lavender suede, so I parted with some of it for this sample. I had some turquoise deerskin that was too soft for any other use, so it became the lining. I added a tiny bit of embroidery, to show another embellishment option.

DSCN0764size 6. I also had some rather stiff white suede that I didn’t think I would ever use, and I had a page of my granddaughter’s “writing” that I thought I would embellish the shoe with (she’s three). I tried to copy the “writing” with a permanent marker.

She had sat on my lap at my treadle stitching machine a few days previously, and asked me to stitch a heart, while she “helped” guide the leather under the needle. I wanted a sample of “appliqué” to put on one of the shoes, so I cut out the heart and stitched it on – and named the shoe “Millie’s message”.

I lined this shoe with a piece of a vegetable-tanned split from www.etsy.com/shop/pergamenany, and it was clear that this was the ultimate lining material for the kit shoes. I think this is the last decision we need to make!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been developing a shoemaking kit for women for quite a while, and I plan to provide the same kit to participants when I teach group shoemaking workshops.

 

My friend Heather will be teaching a shoemaking workshop to fourteen Waldorf School hand-work teachers next week, so the pressure was on for us to decide what would be the best shoe to make for the kits, and in her workshops and mine. We did it – the center-seam shoe is the winner!

 

The shoes that Heather and I make and teach others to make are ecological. That means no use of toxic shoe cements and if possible, the use of “upcycled” materials. And, if some leather has to be purchased to make the shoes, it needs to be vegetable-tanned.

 

For soling, we use either “upcycled” tractor inner tube or natural rubber. I made one sample using natural rubber, and the rest using inner tube.

 

(Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products).

I made samples in women’s sizes 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 for her students to try on, which of course is the easiest way to know which size shoe for each to make. If a participant finds that none of these shoes fit, we’ll help the student make a custom center-seam shoe.

 

My process evolved as I made each one. I look forward to the feedback from Heather’s workshop, then my simple shoemaking kit will have been rigorously-tested and ready to be offered in my website store!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some notes about the shoes that I made:

size 10. I decided to use upholstery remnants for the uppers of the kit shoes. I expect that workshop participants who want to continue making shoes will create their own shoemaking kits (directions are included), and if they use leather from thrift-store clothing or handbags, that leather is usually about the same thickness and has similar qualities to the upholstery remnants.

 

Even though I have accumulated a big supply of remnants, I am quite miserly when I think about using any of them for making samples. But I found a grey remnant with a stretched-out belly area that would not be suitable for including in a kit, so I used it to make this shoe. I knew I wanted to line the shoes, as upholstery leather is a little thin, so I thought I would line the shoe with more of the same leather.

 

Then I had to decide how to connect the tabs. I looked through my ribbon and shoelaces, but finally decided on a piece of elastic.

 

size 8. I decided that I wouldn’t use upholstery remnants for lining, that it would use them up faster than I would like. So I thought I would experiment with using felt lining. It seems felt is made from recycled plastic bottles these days, so I thought its use would satisfy my ecological requirements. (If you know Waldorf School handwork teachers, you know they would be using beautiful wool felt.)

 

 

I wanted to make a shoe that men would be comfortable wearing, so I made this shoe a little higher, with a velcro tab to close it. I also wanted to try it without the tab, and then with lacing and a tongue… I lined it with felt, and it seemed to work..

 

 

 

 

 

 

size 7. With a center-seam, it’s a temptation to make one side one color and the other a different color.. but I’m not too crazy about the look. But I thought with another color added it might look more like a quilt. I lined it with felt again – and this time I knew it was NOT a good choice.. the quality was terrible, it practically shredded, and “felt” awful.

 

 

I thought I’d repeat the colors with “couching” strips, that are visible under the seam stitching.

 

The final experiment on this shoe was to use a single running stitch along the topline, and I liked the way it looked.. the best thing about it is that it can gather in the topline so it’s snug. And, what to do with the ends of the threads once they emerge at the heel

– the threads could terminate in the front of the shoe also… I put some beads on them..

 

size 9. I had an abundance of lavender suede, so I parted with some of it for this sample. I had some turquoise deerskin that was too soft for any other use, so it became the lining. I added a tiny bit of embroidery, to show another embellishment option.

 

 

 

size 6. I also had some rather stiff white suede that I didn’t think I would ever use, and I had a page of my granddaughter Millie’s “writing” that I thought I would embellish the shoe with (she’s three). I tried to copy the “writing” with a permanent marker.

 

 

She had sat on my lap at my treadle stitching machine a few days previously, and asked me to stitch a heart, while she “helped” guide the leather under the needle. I wanted a sample of “appliqué” to put on one of the shoes, so I cut out the heart and stitched it on – and named the shoe “Millie’s message”.

I lined this shoe with a piece of a vegetable-tanned split from www.etsy.com/shop/pergamenany, and it was clear that this was the ultimate lining material for the kits. Another decision made!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Honorable Cordwainers’ Company 32nd Annual General Meeting

nvcfeelings 2For those of you interested in gathering with other shoemakers, attending this meeting might be what you’re looking for. The “Honorable Cordwainers Company” is an organization that “promotes the study, practice, interpretation and preservation of historical shoemaking and allied trades”.  And, this  year’s meeting will be particularly educational and enjoyable because it will be at the

Bata Shoe Museum

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

October 4-6

The program will explore the theme “Material, Methods, Purpose and the Fourth Leg of Fashion” and will include tours of the fabulous Bata collection as well as hands-on demonstrations. The HCC website, thehcc.org will have the latest updates.

What I learned while teaching a shoemaking workshop

Diane's 1st pair of home made shoesI taught simple shoemaking at Snow Farm – The New England Craft Center – in Williamsburg, MA, recently. I had seven of the most congenial and creative students that could ever be hoped for. I wanted it to be simple and successful for everyone. And, that’s how it was for most participants, like Diane who made this red/brown pair.

DSCN1050I made nomoc variation* soles for everyone before the workshop (note the yellow heel piece on the sole, that says “UnkonvenTional shoes, handmade by emily”).

DSCN0572Five participants fit into standard sizes, but two had wide feet. For their custom upper patterns I asked them to measure their feet at the ball and at the half-way point so we could make the front half (vamps) of the shoes.  Then I taped a standard heel section pattern onto the vamp pattern. Well, the front parts – the vamps – of their shoes fit great, but the heel parts weren’t sufficiently ample.

DSCN0574I have never forgotten a piece of advice I received from a British workshop leader – “don’t call it a mistake, make it a feature”. So, we pieced and stitched, (the purple heel was part of the original plan, but the blue “inserts” were not!) and came up with these heels for one of the pairs of shoes.

DSCN0605

I don’t stop teaching until everyone has what they came for…a pair of shoes that fit, and a pattern they can use to make more shoes on their own. So, after returning home I made a masking tape copy of this colorful shoe, then a  mock-up of it for the maker to try on. If it fits, she’ll have what she needs to continue shoemaking. If it doesn’t, we’ll try again.

 

 

In my next workshop, that will be offered in Maine in August, I”ll teach how to make center-seam shoes. We’ll make a masking tape pattern over one of the maker’s feet, using the process described in my video “how to make custom shoes and lasts”.

DSCN0595

And, we’ll make “nomoc basic**” soles for the shoes in the workshop.

If you’re from Maine or nearby, please consider attending. Here’s a link to the brochure:

http://files.ctctcdn.com/4936d993101/696e618c-6c47-4e43-8978-e9a5119ac1b9.pdf

*nomoc variation soles – soles with bottom sole of natural rubber or thick inner tube, and topsole of leather that is 1/4″ bigger all around than the bottom sole. The topsole has holes punched around its edge, so any upper can be stitched to it.
**nomoc basic soles – soles with the same two layers, but both are the same size, and the upper is stitched to the sole through both layers.

Sometimes you just can’t win..

DSCN0464

I noticed this pair of denim slip-on sandals in my closet recently, and was reminded of the occasion of my making them– I was on vacation with my mother, and wanted to have a project with me. It was a laid-back vacation without much to do.

I decided to enter a contest found in a craft magazine: “Make something unique from denim!” I thought making these sandals would guarantee I would be the winner – what could be more creative and unusual?

I spent many hours making them, then mailed them in time to meet the deadline. I waited for the magazine’s decision, but didn’t hear anything.
Then, the next month’s magazine appeared, and I checked the back page to learn the results of the contest – and there was the winner and it wasn’t me! Someone won who made a pot holder out of a jeans pocket!

At least it allowed me to remain in that meditative stitching state for many hours during my time together with my mother, which was of great benefit to us both.

Results are in from my first shoemaking workshop in years

DSCN0969

The suspense was high for five weeks, as the students in my local adult education class made “nomocs” for themselves. I have only taught one person at a time for years, so making six pairs of shoes that would fit six students all at the same time was challenging for me.
But, I thought that the nomoc process simplifies shoemaking so much that maybe I could pull it off. Now, the verdict is in – the shoes fit! A few were a tiny bit tight, but I think putting them on lasts will stretch them out just right. And, they are beautiful! (I’ll post a group shot next week, at the final class).
I was expecting to make espadrille-type shoes with the participants, but when they saw a little “flat” shoe, a shown in the photo, in my bundle, all wanted to make it instead. So, I’ll offer students in the other workshops I have this summer- Snow Farm, Vestitures in Lowell, Ma and at The Handmade Effect in Portland, Me. – both styles of shoes to choose from. Yay nomocs! (you see that little edge with holes in it rising up from the sole, that the upper is stitched to, that’s what makes it a nomoc) – although lomocs and fomocs are great shoemaking processes too!

Really exciting eco-method for making shoes

Two posts in shoemaking forum’s facebook page this morning might be of interest to you as they were for me…

link to article: http://showtime.arts.ac.uk/nidagonul

Did you see this, Ellen? Ellen is a weaver as well as shoemaker, when she sees this article, she’ll have a pair like this made by sundown.

I have fretted with how to make soles from inner tubes less smooth and potentially slippery – and here’s a technique – I’m imagining the soles made from cotton clothesline wrapped with bike inner tubes. I recently read that having a creative project does wonders for an aging brain – shoemaking provides endless problems needing creative solutions – I’m so happy to have problems to solve every day!

http://www.ecouterre.com/faux-leather-made-from-fermented-tea-could-revolutionize-fashion/

This article describes a technique for making faux leather from fermented tea, and a recent article was posted about making faux leather from pineapple waste.

One problem that needs a creative solution: if biodegradable artificial leather gets manufactured on a scale to eliminate the need for “real” leather, what will happen to all those hides that are a by-product of the meat industry?