I can’t believe Maker Faire is right around the corner.

I’ll be speaking at the Craft Demo Area at 5pm on Sunday, May 22nd. It’d be great to see you there.

flattening out the pattern

Flattening out the pattern.

Oh, so busy. Both with work and fun stuff as well.

I don’t have time to write up all the details right now, but, go to my Flickr page if you want to get a preview of the steps I’ll be demonstrating at Maker Faire in a couple of weeks.

Skiving is a way of gradually thinning out the leather in order to create a smooth seam when you fold it over. If you are used to sewing cloth, this may be a surprise to you (I know it was for me). The illustration below should give you a sense of why you need to skive. Unlike a clothing hem, the edges of shoes will cause problems (given the snug nature of the fit). Throw in the fact that leather is almost always thicker than cloth, and you’ve got a recipe for blisters. So, skiving comes to the rescue.

Skiving is one of those skills shoe making skills that takes a long time to master. I still screw up all the time.

The good news is that the practice can be therapeutic. Get a piece of scrap leather, a sharp knife and go for it.

I’ve used the traditional style skiving knife as well as well as the “safety knife” (both demonstrated below.)
The safety knife is easier to keep sharp because it has replaceable blades, but it’s easy to overcut, and you end up with a lot of useless blades.

With a traditional knife

With a safety knife

After a very long break from shoe making (work deadlines, vacation, holidays) I was back at it this morning.

Online Source List for Shoes. (It’s coming)
Last summer I inherited all of the shoe making materials from my former teacher, Gaza Bowen. Gaza passed away in the summer of 2005. As I was going through her materials, I came across some wonderful source lists that I’ve never thought to put online. I’m in the process of formatting that right now. Gaza was such a wonderful person and so steeped in the handmade shoe community. I hope some of her intense spirit will live on through folks who make their own shoes. I also hope that by making the sourcing more accessible, more folks will be able to get into it. Until it’s published, I’m happy to send you an unformatted version.

Shoemaking book
I’d love your feedback here. After some prompting from Carissa at Snowflyzone I decided that I’m going to start a book on shoe making. My hunch is that Chronicle Books would be a great publisher for it. I’m working on the first chapter now which will be about creating a pair of mules. (a term, that I’ve always hated. My challenge, then, will be to create a really cool looking pair.) At any rate, I’d love to know what sorts of things you all would like to see in a book about shoe making.

Building a functional version. Flip Flop
I’m also working on the functional version of the venentian flip flop (needs a better name). The workshop’s a bit busy.

Prototyping is such a discipline. I was so tempted to use leather to try this out. Paper has similar stiffness so it did the trick. When in doubt, don’t buy/make anything.

There might be something here, but since I’m not that steeped in the fashion world, I’m sure this could have been done before. If anyone knows of something similar, please let me know. The idea is that the initial strap holds the foot and the rest are there as decoration. I’m pleased with the architectural aspects of it and I think there could be some interesting things that happen with the light on the different layers. The underside of the leather also has tons of possibility. I’m also curious how it will interact with the shape of the foot. This is going to yield some unusual lines.

Questions:
How comfortable will it be? How will it perform in action? Will it be playful? Annoying?

Learnings:
The paper was great. Just pinned it to the EVA blank. No glue, no waiting, infinitely modifiable. I need that.

Other thoughts:
I’m not really sure what I’m doing here. Just playing around trying to find something that is worth pursuing in more detail. Trying to come up up with something new is hard.

I haven’t been building as much as I’d like to lately so I’m trying a new schedule. Up at 6 (or 6:30) and I’m going to give myself 2 hours to work on shoes. This morning I started by playing around with material. Just cutting grooves into EVA foam to see how it responds. Eventually I ended up here.

The idea is to create a structure (with the stays) that would support a very lightweight and loose fitting boot. The sandal type strap across the forefoot would provide a snug fit.

I’m not sure if this will go anywhere, but I could see it having the potential to play around with some very unusual profiles without sacrificing the fit of the shoe.

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