If you’d like to make shoes the simple way, you can do so in the comfort of your own home. You might even gather a small group who want to learn together. Here’s how it works. I send you a shoemaking kit that contains a sole in the size you request – it has a vegetable-tanned topsole and a bottom sole of either natural rubber or vegetable-tanned leather. The uppers are made from leather upholstery remnants.
A 1/4″ wool felt and natural rubber sole is also available, if you’d prefer not to use leather.
You will receive as much FaceTime/Skype-time with me as is needed to guide you through the shoemaking process.
To determine what size kit to order – since the kit size is rarely the same as the size you have been wearing, it’s important to make a mock-up before making your first pair. Use felt to make the upper, and USPS corrugated cardboard for making the sole. Upon payment of the $100.00 fee, you will be sent a pdf of The Simple Shoemaking Handbook, and you can make mock-ups until you get a good fit.
The kit includes a piece of upper leather in the color you choose, lining for the upper and “veg” leather for a toe box, vegetable-tanned topsole, natural rubber or leather bottom sole, two “egg eye” harness needles, sufficient waxed braided thread, and a small bottle of Aqualim 315 non-toxic cement with a brush. You will need to purchase leather-cutting scissors and a 00 punch – either a hand-squeezed “spring” punch or a drive punch that you hit with a hammer (with a suitable surface underneath).
If we see that the mock-up is just not going to work for your feet, you can make custom patterns. I’ll work with you through this – a video of the process is on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8RMcXhw40c.
Once you let me know what size, bottom sole material and color of upper leather you’d like, the kit will be prepared and sent out.
I have created the box above as a “stage” for demonstrating simple shoemaking. I place my hands inside the box to demonstrate each step – my iPhone is taped over a hole in the top of the box. The camera lens peers down onto the action. Of course I don’t want to apply tape to my phone, so I tear off a piece of duct tape several inches longer than the width of my phone. I adhere another piece of tape to the center of the first piece, so your phone isn’t taped, but there’s sticky stuff on both ends – see photo below.
Windows are cut out of the upside-down box with a utility knife – the windows are needed so there is adequate light on the workspace.
This box needs to be re-created by the student, so I can see what her/his hands are doing.
The workshop instruction happens in spurts: a student may be ready to cut out upper parts, so we’ll disconnect until the student calls back, then we’ll work on the next step. It usually takes most of a six-hour-day to make the shoes, but the project doesn’t need to be done all in one day.
I love to offer the workshop to small groups, so if yourself and a few friends would like to work together, please email me and we can discuss the options.
Please consider taking a workshop, and becoming a shoemaker!