Archive for April, 2011

No, I’m not a very good shoemaker … yet

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I went to Budapest in March for an intensive shoemaking course with Marcell Mrsan, master shoemaker.  In that time I made two pairs of mens dress shoes.  The first one was a standard cemented construction and the second one I learned a new technique:  welt stitch construction.

Budapest was amazing; the course and the instructor were intense.  I bled, blistered, and bruised; I laughed, smiled, and yes, I also cried.  But most importantly, I took a giant leap forward in the pursuit of my dreams.

It takes me time to gain confidence and develop a comfort for new tools (especially really sharp knives and machinery of any sort), I rarely learn something well after only one or even a couple of examples – I learn best after I’ve made all the mistakes one could possibly make, I ask a lot of questions, and I’m really slow.  No, I’m not a very good shoemaker … yet.

*click on each of the pictures in the gallery for additional commentary

Yellow platforms

Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Yellow platforms

Yellow platforms

This was my first attempt at building up my high heel last to incorporate a new toe shape and adding a platform for a higher heel.  My original intent was to have these shoes completed for New Year’s Eve.  That unfortunately did not happen.

Lessons Learned:

I skived the upper too thin, which is what I think caused the wrinkling in the lasting that I could not correct.  I must have re-lasted these shoes half a dozen times trying to solve the wrinkling problem.

The original design of the eyelets with the snakeskin showing through was supposed to be centered on the top of the vamp.  I did not calculate enough stretch into my design so when I lasted the upper, the design stretched more than I anticipated.  This also happened on the heel.  Next time I will use fiberglass tape to ensure the design does not stretch.

I currently only have one high heel last, which is a pointy toe shape. I wanted more of a round toe for these shoes, so I built up the last with veg-tan around the toe area.  I did not anticipate that with a more rounded toe, my foot would slide more forward therefore causing the shoe to be a half size too big.

I used my sewing machine for these uppers and just need to spend more time practicing on it.

When making dorsays, I need to figure out what method I want to use for blending the vamp and heel to the inner sole so that there is not a dip or a gap when I attach the finished sole.

I really struggle with the finishing touches, especially attaching the sole.  I have tried to pre-cut and finish the sole before cementing to the shoe and I have tried forming the sole to the shoe and cutting it down, then finishing the edges.  It’s just something that I know I need to work on.

*No, the mouse is not real.  :)