Currently I am offering shoemaking workshops using my shoemaking kits. The kits have all the materials needed for hand-making a pair of minimalist, ecological shoes.
The shoes are minimalist because they are bare-boned: a thin piece of either inner tube or natural rubber with a leather topsole is used for the sole, the upper part is thin, lined leather.
I describe them as ecological because of the soling materials named above, and the leather for the upper parts is cut from upholstery remnants.
If you have an interest in any of the workshops mentioned on the home page, please send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org or call (413)259-1748.
Would you like to have the “hands-on” experience of making a pair of adults’ or children’s shoes, sandals, or moccasins? I provide shoemaking instruction to one person at a time (exceptions can be made) at my home studio, whenever our schedules allow. Please email or call me if you have questions or would like to schedule a workshop.
The workshop usually lasts for two six-hour days, at the cost of $30.00 – $60.00 per hour. I can make exceptions to the fee, please inquire if needed.
Or, a “skype” workshop is a possibility. I will send you out the tools and materials you need to make a pair of shoes; if you decide you don’t want to keep the tools, they can be returned for a refund.
I offer two types of shoe-making workshops:
- a workshop for learning how to make stitch-down shoes, such as the flat shoe above, over lasts
- a workshop for making Nomocs, Lomocs and/or Fomocs. These are shoes made without lasts.
A last is a foot-shaped mold, as shown here.
Stitch-down shoemaking workshops
I teach how to hand-make a “flat” shoe made with a one-piece upper, or a chukka boot (also called a desert boot or a “vellie”). They will be made using a process whereby the sole with a 1/4″ lip around it is nailed to the bottom of the last, with non-toxic contact cement on that lip. 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 lip of the sole. The shoe is stitched together along this lip.
If a student wants to learn how to make patterns over lasts, we begin the workshop with this process. These patterns can then be used for the shoe we will make in the workshop.
If the student prefers to use patterns from one of my books, we’ll skip the pattern-making process.
Nomoc, lomoc and fomoc workshops
These shoes are made without lasts. Nomoc and lomoc 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. The nomoc topsole extends only 1/4″ above the sole, and the lomoc topsole extends 5/8″ above the sole. The upper of the lomoc shoe is 5/8″ smaller than the nomoc upper. There are gathers at the toe and heel.
Fomocs aren’t moccasins at all; a band is stitched between two layers of soling, so there are no gathers, just a straight edge around the shoe.
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 Vibram eco-crepe are other soling options.
What you will learn from this process:
- All about materials you will need for shoemaking, and where to purchase them. This includes leather, soling materials, thread, cement, etc. (Check out the Tools and Materials needed to make shoes in How to Make Simple Shoes for Women, on the Home Menu, it’s the same one that I give to students.)
- How to use hand-shoemaking tools. These include leather-cutting scissors, the hand-stitching awl, the skiver, (used to thin the leather at seams), and lasting pliers.
- In the stitchdown shoemaking workshop, the basics of using a last for pattern-making and shoe-forming. Before your arrival we will determine if I have a last in the size you need, either for your use or purchase. 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. Lasts can be obtained from hormas el arbol in Mexico (email@example.com).
- How to attach eyelets or other closures (zippers etc).
- How to make and insert heel counters and toe boxes.
- I enjoy teaching a variety of decorative techniques ( embroidery, reverse appliqué, use of studs, rivets, paints, dyes) if you are interested.
- How to shape the upper over the last and cement it to the topsole.
- How to stitch the upper to the topsole.
- How to finish the edge of the soling.
I also offer workshops on sandalmaking – sandals like the continuous strap gladiator sandal shown above, or:
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.