Workshops

Below are the regularly-scheduled workshops that I offer – however, we can arrange a workshop at a time that works better for your schedule if need be.

A “skype” workshop for $100.00 is also a possibility. I will send you the tools and materials you need to make a pair of shoes (only is USA), then I will walk you through the shoemaking or sandalmaking steps.

If you live in another country, I can help you gather materials and tools, then we can skype.

First weekend of each month:

9:30 – 4:00 both days

$30.00/hour (can  be negotiated)

Make a pair of minimalist center-seam “nomoc” shoes

These shoes are made without lasts and are the simplest real shoes to make. Nomoc patterns have a certain number of holes along the edge of the topsole, and along the bottom edge of the upper. After the sole and upper are made, the shoes are stitched together using these holes.

These shoes will be 99% ecological – the uppers will be made of upholstery remnants or felted recycled wool coats. The soles will be stitched to the uppers with waxed braided thread that makes up the un-ecological 1% (it’s polyester). We’ll only use non-toxic cements.

What you will learn in this workshop

  • All about materials you will need for simple shoemaking, and where to purchase/obtain them. This includes leather, soling materials, thread, cement, etc
  • How to use hand-shoemaking tools. These include leather-cutting scissors, punches and the skiver (used to thin the leather at seams)
  • How to stitch the upper pieces together
  • How to attach eyelets, buckles or other closures you might need
  • How to make and insert heel counters and toe boxes
  • How to use a variety of decorative techniques ( embroidery, reverse appliqué, use of studs, rivets, paints, dyes) if you are interested
  • How to stitch the uppers to the soles

Second Saturday of each month:

10:00 – 2:00

$30.00

Make a pair of First Footsteps shoes

We’ll make First Footsteps shoes, using my kits. These are “toddling” shoes, that make for a great baby shower gift. The three pieces that comprise the shoe are already cut out and the stitching holes are punched, all you have to do is embellish (if you like) and stitch them together. Making these shoes provide a great introduction to simple shoemaking.

If you would like to gather a group to skype this workshop, I can offer wholesale prices for the kits, please inquire if you are interested.

Third weekend of each month:

Make strap sandals

9:30 – 4:00, two days

$30.00/hour (can  be negotiated)

Sandalmakers could be found on street corners throughout the U.S.A. during the seventies, ready to draw around your feet and provide you with leather sandals in a few hours. Now, they are rare – I couldn’t find any when visiting Santa Fe, NM – a prime city, I would think, for a sandal-making business.

In this workshop you will learn:

  • How to select the leather and tools needed
  • How to pick the correct size of sandal
  • How to cut thick soling leather
  • How to cut straps
  • How to use punches
  • How to attach buckles
  • How to use an edge beveler
  • How to cement, then stitch the sandals together.
  • How to finish the edges of sandals

Fourth weekend of each month

Make a pair of stitch-down vellies (aka chukka boots and dessert boots) or slip-on flats

9:30 – 4:00, two days

$30.00/hour (can  be negotiated)

In this workshop you can choose to make flats or “vellies” (also known as chukka boots or desert boots). Vellies are shoes that school children in South Africa have worn for centuries.

They will be made using a stitch-down process whereby the sole with a 1/4″ edge added around it is nailed to the bottom of a last, with non-toxic contact cement on that edge. Cement is also applied to the bottom edge of the upper. The upper is draped over the last, with its bottom edge becoming adhered to the edge of the sole.  The shoe is stitched together along this edge.

 

In this workshop you will learn all the processes described above under “Make a pair of minimalist center-seam shoes ” plus the following:

  • How to use a last for pattern-making and shoe-forming. You can make lasts following direction and patterns in my book How to Make Lasts, or order them from hormas el arbol in Mexico (trafico@hormaselarbol.com). Before your arrival we will determine if I have a last in the size you need. If your feet have special features, we can modify your last a bit. Once you have your pair of lasts, all the potential is there for you to make yourself a lifetime of unique, comfortable footwear.
  • How to use a stitching awl, lasting hammer and lasting pliers
  • How to shape the upper over the last and cement it to the topsole
  • How to make shoe laces from polycord or inner tube
  • How to stitch the upper to the topsole
  • How to finish the edge of the soling

With all these workshops, my assumption is that you will be hand-making shoes for yourself, family and friends. That’s why we usually make the shoes entirely by hand. If you are thinking of creating a small business I can acquaint you with the machinery that I have.

I use processes that are as environmentally-friendly as possible. I don´t want to expose someone to a craft that in the long run may not be good for his or her health, the health of their family, or our shared environment. This means using non-toxic cement and biodegradable, non-petroleum-based materials whenever possible.

I like to use plantation crepe soling, made from the sap of rubber trees. Soles made from it are called “gum” soles, and truly will get “gummy” if worn on hot sidewalks, so they may not work for people living in warm cities. But if you can avoid those sidewalks, the crepe soling is very comfortable, and can be cut with scissors, making it ideal for the shoemaker working without a lot of machinery. Because the crepe is compressible, when hand-stitching the sole to the shoe the stitches pull up. Therefore, it will take a long time before these stitches are worn through.

Leather and tractor inner tube are other soling options.

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I live in a rural area of Western Massachusetts, near Amherst. There are many places to eat and lodge nearby.

My intention is that, by the end of the workshop, you will be able to make shoes on your own. I will be available to answer questions that may arise as you continue your shoemaking adventure.

If you have an interest in any of the workshops mentioned here, please send me an email – sharon@simpleshoemaking.com or call (413)259-1748.