Friday, April 24, 2009

Eve Of Shoemaking Course

So this is it. The Other One is on the plane as I write, somewhere over Ireland I should think. She will have the weekend to iron out any last minute hitches and then it's the course on Monday. Can't quite believe it really. So join me when I say, "good luck Other One", see you in New York.

We received all of our marketing materials for the US trip and I must say, the images look luxurious. The biggest headache was a concertina style board with images on both sides, but our printing elves finally worked it out. It will go down the middle of the table at Leffot on the 9th May, dividing the bespoke shoes and the Limited Editions. I will probably use it in the Clift in San Francisco on the 19th.

Pretty good, huh? Check out our website,, to see more of these. We have revamped the images throughout the site and are really pleased with the results. Any feedback? You can always contact us at We would love to know what you think.

On the shoemaking front, it's been a pretty quiet week. The Other One and I have been engaged in other work. This always leaves me missing it a bit. I think to myself, oh for the quiet life, sat at my table pulling threads and trimming welts. But those orders do not create themselves, you know. It's a competitive world out there and we have to make our voice heard above the general din.

Those funny low cut shoes from last week are sitting, waiting to be finished. I had a very urgent pair of unremarkable casuals to finish, so they had to be put on hold.
I will post the results next week.

So bespoke shoe fans, bit of a fallow week I'm afraid, but I will astonish you next time! Honest.

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Baby

Crumbs! Fatherhood and new baby. Makes concentrating on work a bit troublesome. But, being a dedicated bespoke shoemaker, I have struggled into work and got my hands dirty. Besides, we have a multitude of things to get ready for our upcoming trips. The Other One is leaving a week today; by next week's entry, she will be in the air. How exciting. And I follow on the 5th of May. Can't wait.

Sometimes, I marvel at the life of a shoemaker. Picture me, sat in the workshop; bathed in Spring sunshine; listening to Dusty being interviewed on the radio; tapping away on the computer; and thinking about what wonderful shoes I will be making later.

Now, all shoes made by me are wonderful, obviously, and I love them all deeply. But I must admit that some models are harder to love than others. I suppose it is much like children. You see some kids and you think aah, how gorgeous; then you see others and you think, wow, that is a face only a mother could love.

Right now, I am making a pair of the latter. A seemingly unremarkable pair of black Derby shoes, plain and simple.

But they have a special feature.The customer came in wearing a previous pair which he had altered (butchered was my first thought), saying that he wanted the new pair to be the same. He has a painful ankle bone, so the change makes perfect sense, but the result is startling to say the least. Odd would be more accurate.
The normal height at the inside quarter is between 2 and 2 1/2 inches, so this pair at 3/4 inch is exceptional.

The result takes some getting used to, but I have grown to like it. I think that big swept curve could work, particularly on a ladies' shoe. That part of the ankle is not often on show in a man, but ladies are more used to the exposure. So it may work. We are making some ladies samples, so you never know.

So there you are, the analogy is proved, a shoemaker grows to love the ugliest of ducklings, just like a parent does. See you next week.

Friday, April 10, 2009

This week there is an interruption to normal bespoke shoe blogging.

No more shoemaking talk. Enough about heel building. Farewell to all debate on welts.

Please welcome to the world the latest little shoemaking elf, my beautiful 2 day old daughter, Kitty. Born Wednesday morning. Perfect in every way.

Normal service next week

Friday, April 3, 2009

Toe Plates

Crumbs! 3 weeks till our New York shoemaking course starts. Getting very excited now. The Loafer is doing the first half of the course and I am teaching the second half, so I don't leave till the 5th of May. Then I am off to San Francisco for a trunk show on the 19th at the Clift in downtown SF. Should be very good. My eminent friend, Paul Holm, is helping out and it is shaping up to be a great day. I am also doing private client visits on the Wednesday. Then it's off to Paul's vineyard at Calistoga for 2 days and home. The glamourous life of a shoemaker.

Remember those beaten up shoes from last week? Well, I have done my best with them and the results are not bad. It is really good to see worn bespoke shoes you have made, as I said. I am always struck by how the bevelled waist does not hold up as well as you would like. However well made it is, it always seems to peel away from the upper slightly. A square waist, though less elegant, is much more robust. Something I always tell clients.

The new top pieces are fine and presented no difficulties, just a simple replacement job. But the toe plates were more complex. First I cut a section across the sole and removed it. Then I spliced a new piece of sole in place and stitched it throught the same holes as previously stitched. Finally I attached a piece of rubber (the toe plate). The result is good and it functions like a 1/4 rubber on the heel. When the toe plate wears through, it is time to visit me again. The scuffs have been dyed and polished carefully, not a bad result, eh?

Last thing, went to the set of a stop animation film yesterday in Bow. My friend Nelson is the art director and he gave us a tour. It is absolutely amazing and utterly crazy. The amount of work and level of detail is astonishing. The puppets cost from £20,000 to £60,000; each joint moved and stays put; their clothes are hand printed, knitted or stitched. A 2 minute scene can take weeks to set up and more weeks to film. Our workshop was used to make a cobblers shop which the characters walk past and they made all my tools, my table, the lasts etc in miniature. Incredible.

Bespoke shoemakers must be sticklers for detail, but this takes it to another level. But what could be better for the big kid in us to imagine something and then have endless resources to get it realised, in miniature? Now I know what happens to some of those nerdy kids in school who obsessively make things all the time. They become animators/set builders/decorators/model makers. And the slightly less nerdy ones become shoemakers. Hooray for nerdy kids!