RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN SHOE SHOW!

Rhode Island School of Design Shoe Show

A few cold months ago, I had the pleasure of teaching a one-day shoemaking workshop to Rhode Island School of Design students who had just the previous day returned from a shoe-design trip to Italy. Kathleen Grevers, Senior Critic, Apparel Design, and Khipra Nichols, Associate Professor, Industrial Design, shepherded twenty design students from a variety of media on the shoe-design trip. They each created a shoe as a culmination of all they had learned.

I was so eager to see their creations, but unfortunately on the day of the showing New England had a major snowstorm. All was cancelled. So,I had not seen the student creations until a DVD of photos recently was sent to me.

What a delightful collection! I especially appreciated so many media being represented – you can guess who came from an apparel, metal-work, or industrial design background.

The album of shoes can be seen on my Simple Shoemaking facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.174639619358456.1073741826.122659024556516&type=1

So, which is your favorite, and why?

Which would you actually like to wear? (apparently wearability wasn’t a requirement!)

Multi-color boots better than ever!

highderby

I made myself a pair of brown boots with laces several years ago. Unfortunately I didn’t make the pattern quite right, so even when the laces were laced as tightly as possible, the boots still had too much room in them. I didn’t like the way the sides slumped down, so one day I decided to cut the strips of leather off between the two rows of eyelets. At least then I could tighten the laces so the boots would fit!

However, they didn’t look too good with that chopped-off strip quite visible down the front of the boot, so I decided to put a leather flap across the eyelet area, which would snap to the boot. I found enough matching leather for the two flaps, so they were stitched in place.

derbyrisdnocolorflap

That looked pretty good, except it became clear that one flap wasn’t enough, the thin edge between the eyelets was still visible higher up the boot. I thought a flap that fastened with buckles might look better than two with snaps. Then, since I had no more of this particular brown leather, I thought I would use another color – and I had a mauve-purple that looks good with anything I wear. So, the purple flap was installed.

I had been thinking for years maybe that I needed to make a black pair of boots to wear with my grey corduroys – brown just wasn’t the right footwear to wear with gray I had learned many years ago…. but why not embellish these boots in some manner that would bring a touch of gray into my brown boots – then I could comfortably wear them with gray pants! I devised a little “collage” of the purple, green and gray that I thought I would stitch to the brown flap (I also have a green pair of pants that would look “cool” if I had a bit of green on my boots – as “cool” as a 68-year-old woman can look!) In the photo below I temporarily taped the “collage” on the flap where I would have put it if RISD students hadn’t advised me otherwise, for you to see..(does anyone think they would have liked it this way?)

derbycollage

But the little mosaic look “contrived”… Since I was soon to do a quickie shoemaking workshop for a group of students at Rhode Island School of Design, I thought – I’ll present my design dilemma to the students, and ask for their advice as to how to best bring these colors into my boots!

And, I got a couple of really exciting suggestions that I have now incorporated and I’m so pleased with the results! One student said, “Change the color of the tab at the heel  to one of the other colors you want. Another student said, “Put colored leather strips around the edge of the lower flap.” I realized that their thoughts involved making color accents more integrated into the boot instead of being an “artsy” design plopped down onto the front of the boot.

So here’s how my boots look now. I love them, I wish I could do nothing but make these boots with custom color accents – but maybe one of you reading this will turn this idea into a thriving business!

derby boot w/color accents

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!