I prefer to teach one or two people (friends) at a time, at the sliding scale rate of $25.00 – $50.00/hour and work a six-hour day. Two days are usually needed to complete a pair.
A “skype” or “FaceTime” workshop for $100.00 is also a possibility. I will send you a pdf of The Simple Shoemaking Handbook (or The Sandalmaking Handbook) and the tools and materials you need to make a pair of shoes (only in 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.
Make a pair of minimalist center-seam “nomoc” shoes
These shoes are made without lasts and are the simplest real shoes to make. The 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 sole
Make a pair of stitch-in “flats”
The stitch-in process creates shoes that look like they have been made over lasts, but they haven’t – they use the same technique of punching holes in the shoe pieces, then stitching the shoes together. However, they are stitched “inside.” This process is explained in my book,
You will learn all the steps described above, using the stitch-in process.
Make a pair of First Footsteps shoes – $30.00
KIT PLUS INSTRUCTIONS and PATTERNS FOR MAKING CHILDREN’S SHOES IN OTHER SIZES
We’ll make First Footsteps shoes, using my kits. These are “toddler” shoes, that make 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 FaceTime this workshop, I can offer wholesale prices for the kits, please inquire if you are interested.
Make strap sandals
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
Make a pair of stitch-down vellies (aka chukka boots and dessert boots)
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.
The vellies will be made by the “stitch-down” method, which means that the upper is turned out onto the edge of the sole for stitching. The pattern pieces have stitch-marks on them. The shoe pieces are cut out, and the stitch holes are punched out. The shoe is then stitched together. A last is inserted as a final step, to bring the shoe to its full size.
In this workshop you will learn all the processes described above under “Make a pair of minimalist center-seam shoes “.
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 conveyor belt are other soling options.
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 – email@example.com or call (413)259-1264.