well its that time of year when i take off from painting and fallow my other passion Shoe making. i only do this in the winter time one pare per year if it was not such a challenging project i would probably do more.
this years shoe making extravaganza centers around a pair of boots i fell in love with (see Photo Number 1) a brogue boot i do not really have a last that fits this style but i do have a boot last from last years project its a bit chunky so i will have to modify the last. this is cool to me as if gives me more of an opportunity to create something truly my own instead of just ordering a last from JV and taking what they give me i have never received a last from them that had any elegance to it (i think they draw from sets that were done in the 70's) needless to say i want a really elegant English looking pare of boots
I think what i like about this boot is of course the broguing but all so the welt. its a Norwegian style of welt known for its water sealing properties. instead of the welt being sown on to the underside of the uppers and to the in soul its sewn to the out side and turns an L shape the upper is brought along with it out on to the mid soul. the whole thing can be sealed with a wax resin known for its water repelling property. the one pictured above is a sort of modified Norwegian its only sewn to the mid soul this will not do for my boots in the Norwegian you have two lines of stitching one to the upper and one to the soul its twice as much work but its all so twice as water proof. and it uses three threads per row as the stitches cris cross back and for with a third thread that crosses over the X's so its very decorative(called a spinning stitch.) you see this of course in many traditional norther Asia as well as Scandinavian countries it goes back at least 200 years was favored by the s solders of the 19th century Prussian army's (I like to know the history of my shoe's it makes them even more special.) but i have seen this stitch used in brogue shoes of the early 20th century so that feature is set for me it has to have a Norwegian welt. another thing that attracted me to this photo was the two tone leather something i had been considering even before i saw this one
Step one modifying the last
1 reshaping toe box
2 elongating and deepening arch
3 reshaping and reducing heal
my problem with the fit of this last it was supposed to be custom to my measurements which it was not, is that my heal slid in the back necessitating reshaping of the heal its a good 1/4 inch to large on both sides. the Achilles is to wide and the side slope is not convex enough to grip my foot. so fist step is to fix the heals photos to fallow. this will be an ongoing blog post.
so i jumped right in to modifying the last it was not that hard but i wont know if i did a good job until i try on the boots many weeks from now.
i changed the shape of the toe it was not that drastic i just made them rounder and less chiseled took a bit of the front 1/4 on the sides to make them have a small amount of arc towards the toe i think it made them much more elegant looking more refined like an English boot should look not so much like a traditional brogue more like a riding boot but i think its going to be interesting the shape of a riding boot with broguing. well we will see it certainly going to look good with jeans. part of making shoes is that you can make what you want be experimental sure there are though makers that are going to poo poo the idea but i could care less. the shoe world basically falls in to two categories the hard core people that learned by apprenticing under some old guy that probably saw his students as free labor and could have cared less what they thought or in any way encouraged them to try new things. on the contrary all deviation from tradition is heresy and there for you could not possibly be a shoe maker if you fallow in sin!. the second and the class i fall in to is people that are true artist and see shoes as fashion and there for any thing is open to interpretation we don't reject tradition we just think it could be ogmented a bit here and there i mean who in there right mind would turn down a pair of good solid derby's made from the finest English box calf all tell you NOT ME but now and then you just have to get out your retro silver zip half boots from 1967 and paint the town retro red right!
so i digress a bit there as you can tell iv had a few scraps with the So called Masters of the shoe universe there are not that many of us its a small town as they say
so did the toe
made the arch about 2" longer it actually extends back in to the heal cup a bit which is probably not good design but as i stated early in this blog I HAVE SPECIAL FEET LOL i get a lot of foot fatigue do to no arch support so i thought if i was going to all the trouble of making a boot this complicated and given my temperamental mood why but go for it if it dose not work or look good i wont do that again (that's one of those taboo things your not supposed to do according to the shoe police)
so after i finished the ache i took on the monumental task of fixing the heals. this is were this last really sucked and made my feet hurt i had to take nearly 3/8 of an inch out of the with at the widest point on the side of the heal. i rounded under the feather edge again probably not the best idea but i have very round heal and i need my heal cup to comfortably hold the shape of my heal not be some fashion statement. mostly if some ones going to discreetly check out your shoes and o Yes people do look at shoes perticulerly woman love to look at a man in a good pair they are going to look mostly at the toe shape and perhaps the out side of the shoe pants tend to cover the heal so its one place i think you should make it as anatomical as practical and as i side this shoe is going to have a Norwegian welt so it will disguise some of the feather edges roundness i will just have to put in an exstra thick piece of heal leather to compinsate shoes requier certen comramises
photos to fallow though im not sure you can see what i did
i think you can see in this last photo how really long and deep my arches are so conclusion no shoe every fits my foot as no manufacturer would design a shoe for that kind of arch but is it not wonderful to have shoes that fit your particular peculiarity. some times i do not know how i put up with of the rack!
Its Official the boot is now designed feast your eyes on this sexieness!!
only a true Gentleman could pull this boot off ! and i plan on being that man!
so moving forward after i did my tape up and my ruff design i took it off the last you split the tape down the center line and past it on to a heavy piece of tag board resulting in this
now wanting to do a good job i decided to let a shoe maker friend of mine reveiw my concept for flaws he made some suggestions. here are his edits and comment in a graphic form
i was not to sure what a "not so Sexy" wingtip was i asked for more clarification he showed me this
and said that my toe cap needed to be more harmonious with the out side shape of the form.
so being the exacting kind of person i am and not wanting to waist 400$ worth of English box calf i am going to start over. taking every thing i did and adding the suggestions he gave me to come up with the second faze of my shoe design. its not just about having a new shoe to ware as its about the process not the end result which is how i feel about any thing worth doing. my basic philosophy in a nut shell. time spent is time enjoyed why i can do complicated paintings and not get all bent out of shape about them like some people checking ones frustrations at the door is a key component to great art be it a painting or in this case a shoe. yes i know some of you are thinking what the heck a shoe as art why not. i know technically a shoe falls more in to a craft trade then an artistic one but some times i think that depends on the maker. i am fist and foremost and artist so im my mind that makes my shoes art. its cool to me if you don't agree and some day i am going to make a shoe that has painting incorporated in to it so that definitely will be art but for now i'm still working on becoming a good shoe designer. i will get back to you all on the second faze soon.
Ok after implementing all the changes here is the master stranded this is the drawing the pattern is made off i want to thank all the people that helped me do this it is a complex boot
well as good as i thought that was there were more edits
im such a newbie some times the lines are getting there still a few more tweeks need in the toe i could go with this and see how it looks in a paper mock up.
bellows Tongue detail its a bit confusing on the main drawing
if you don't know what a bellows tongue is
flap of leather that connects the tongue to the sides of the facings at the lower 1/3 to keep snow and water out of the shoe. used in boots i live in a cold climate! lots of snow these are winter boots after all decided to make one more modification to the tongue added a piece of foam inside to pad acrossed my ankle and instep i am very sensitive to pressure in this area.
final pattern now on to making my clicking patterns
Clicking is the term used to describe the process of cutting out the pattern pieces. the patterns have to be more substantial then just a piece of paper they are made of very heavy tag board so they can stand up to the abuse of cutting around them with a clicking knife. photos to fallow
Sins we are on the subject of Clicking i wanted to take a moment and talk about tools and there care. cutting leather requires good tools and shape one now when i say sharp i mean a level of sharpness a kin to surgically sharp you are after all cutting skin you have to learn fist and foremost how to sharpen a knife this is more then just filing an edge the knifes have to be honed too. honing is normally done on a stone you start at ruffy 400 grit then go up as high as you need to get the type of knife sharped then you have to use a strop on it this is a piece of leather that has polishing roush on it you work the knife back and for until the edge is precision sharp edge this take several hr's and you can not skip it after every cut you restrop the edge 3 or 4 times this keeps the edge sharp all throughout you clicking operation you want the edged of your work to be clean and smooth professional jagged leather edges look amateurish so do not ever skip this step and at any time you think your knives are loosing their edges you reshape shoe making knifes do not generally last as long as other knifes do to the constant need to keep there surgically sharp.
WARNING never cut towards your self ever keep hands fingers and body parts out of the way of all cutting instruments. the surest way to cut your self is to work with dull knives they will catch in the cut and slip going of at an angle right in your your precious body do i need to say any thing more? or at the least you will cut in to your shoe and ruining it.
here is a photo of my recently obtained diamond honing block this is 10 times faster at hone on then a stone and you do not need the messy part of working with oil its a dry bock if you can find these get one for sure if not stick to the traditional stone but stone ones cost more and are not as effective
Clicking patterns all cut out and ready to have the broguing pattern punched out we punch that pattern so we will have perfect placements on the final uppers we don't want crooked decorations now do we?
i forgot to talk about my madalon.
in brogues generally speaking there is a madalon on the toe of the shoe/boot there are no standards for this its an artistic expression of personal nature the sky is the limit the only rules are that it fit with in the toe box section and that you like it every shoe maker has at least one if not several that are unique to them. its a simple thing to be sure but it can be maddening to come up with one you like. many shoe makers try and use some kind of symbolism here is mine
its basicly a six pointed star with an infinity symbol. no real meaning just something i thought looked good on the shoe toe
im jumping ahead a bit as i think i may be boring you all to death with details here are the toes and vamp all cut sewn dyed and punched. they are more of less the same color but my photo came out a bit wonky. this is the easy part now on to the quarters. im not showing any of the actual techniques for shoes unless some one wants to know just MSG and i can add that stuff
ok here are the quarters less the beading that goes on the upper edge im still working on that. the brass eyelets will be painted in the end so not that bright. i went with a darker color as i want to ware these to work and i have to conform to a dress code of brown or black shoes. there is finger pull to add too cant have a boot with out one makes them much easier to pull on. its at this point i always worry about the mistakes i'm making one or two not bad but they do accumulate and you have to hope you designed the dang things right. its horable to go to all this work to find they do not fit the last though that is a slim posability. sorry this is taking so long but i have a job i have to work besides making shoes and painting my time is limited.
si i was not liking how many lacing holes i put in had to restart the quarters again and i made some construction changes got rid of the beading on the edge it was to heavy looking. added a sewn in facing i think i'm on the right track' had a bit of a breakdown with the sewing machine have been waiting for parts as well as thinking about a new machine' my old one is just not heavy duty enough maybe a Jinka or a new Singer industrial so the shoes are on hold untill i get that taken care of. but here are some photos of the new quarters
the white powder is a dry lubricant i put on the surface to make the foot of the machine glide over the leather more smoothly as you can see the stitches are very uneven which is how i knew my machine had a problem