October Workshop – Turn Shoes

October 16th, 2018

A weekend workshop to crank out some turn shoes. A lesson for next time – we built these in a period manner, which meant not lasting them like a 17th+ century shoe, cranked tight to the last and nailed in place. Instead, the shoe is tugged snug to the last and sewn on that way. Unfortunately, I did not advise my students to tug tight sufficiently, and many of them ended up being a half size or so too large. Knowledge to take on to the next workshop…

But wait, there is more workshoping…
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18th C. Shoes with Pseudo-Waxed Calf

May 16th, 2018

Remember that waxed calf I made in the previous post? Well, here are the shoes that were made out of it. I’m generally pretty pleased, although there were parts of the skin that were a little rougher than others, and no amount of buffing or waxing got those fibers to compress. Such is life, and the search for waxed calf continues…

Let’s not forget the soles…
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Quick Black Waxed Calf

April 8th, 2018

In the 18th century, leather was often dyed on the flesh (the slightly rough side), impregnated with wax, and then polished to get a sheen on it. When done correctly, it can look very similar to the grain (the smooth side), but nicks and scratches can more easily be buffed out. The last (to my knowledge) source of black waxed calf was Dickens Bros., who have since retired and are no longer producing. I recently made an attempt to make something that looks similar from regular vegetable tanned leather, though it certainly doesn’t have the hand and scent of the Dickens Bros. material. The test scrap is on the right, with the true waxed calf on the left. But, I am optimistic it will do until a new source can be found.

Making this was rather straightforward, though it remains to be seen how well it will react when having a pair of shoes made up in it.
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Lesson 13: Late 16th C. Corked/Timber Shoes

March 22nd, 2018

There are a variety of different references to corked shoes, that is, shoes in which a layer or multiple layers of cork have been inserted, to either keep an insulated layer from the cold, or perhaps to create an “arched” shoe, like that shown here. In this case, these shoes are based off of a pair that was found in Nova Zembla, a Russian archipelago in the Arctic circle. In 1596, a Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz led an expedition looking for the Northeast passage to the Indies and were stranded. Many excellently preserved items were found, including mules and shoes, including the finds upon which this pair is based.

This find was originally published in a Dutch journal which documented the catalog of the findings, “Behouden uit het Behouden Huys – Catalogus van da voorwerpen van de Barentsexpeditie (1596), gevonden op Nova Zembla. Di Rijksmuseumcollectie, aangevuld met Russische en Noorse vondsten.” In other words, the finds are primarily at the Rijjksmuseum. :)
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