A few months ago I was fortunate to inherit many of the materials and supplies of Gaza Bowen, a renown shoemaker, teacher, artist and friend. In Gaza’s spirit of teaching, I would like to pass on some of her knowledge to the shoe making community. I came across some of her source lists while I was sorting through some older shoemaking materials. It seemed only natural to pass that on.

This is an incomplete list, but one which I hope will serve as a starting point for amateur shoe makers. Gaza’s understanding of shoes was so deep that I’m sure there are many things which she simply knew intuitively. Whenever possible, I’ll try to clarify her references and offer a little more of an explanation of materials and sources.

I also invite all of you to send me additional sources and resources so that we can continue to spread knowledge about this ancient craft. I should also note that although I’ve used some of these suppliers, there are many that I have not. If you find any of these resources to have dried up, or moved, please let me know.


Kaufman [From Gaza’s notes, not confirmed]
346 Lafayette St.
New York, NY 10012 212-777-1700
fax 212-777-1747 (Bondtex insole material)

J. A. Dawkins
(custom/ expensive) Dalhart Custom Boots
381 Denrock
Dalhart, TX 79022

Larry Waller
Walrus Leather (Wisconsin)
pairs $15 and full runs

Dick Anderson
Some Specific Used Plastic Shoe Lasts $15/pr.

Thornapple River Boot Shop
(will mail them, let you make a pair and see if you want them before you buy!)

Richard Rogers
21 River St.
Fort Plain, NY 13339-1148

Randy Merrell
3430 N 3500 VV. Vernal, UT 84078
Fax 801-789-5151

Simple Shoe Making Co.
I haven’t used this site, but they seem to have some lasts.

Leather and Soling materials

O. Baltor & Sons
265 East Harris Ave.
South San Francisco, CA
custom shoe trade; rep for Gotz tools

S.H. Frank
17th & Folsom San Francisco, CA
(shoe supplies in Oakland at: 510-347-1080)

Charles L. Hardtke, Inc.
11040 Argal Court
El Paso, TX 79935 915-590-0088
(black pig lining & beautiful shoe kangaroo, etc)

Mid-Continent Leather Sales
POBox 4691
Tulsa, OK 74159

(also Osborn Tools)

Stevenson Paxton Sales
12 E. Pamaron Way
Ignacio, CA 94949 800-648-1622
pig lining, etc.

Texas Wholesale Leather
2017 A White Settlement Road
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Lyn-Flex West, Inc (New addition!)
405 Red Oak Road
P.O. Box 570
Owensville, MO 65066-0570

Books and Publications

Shoe Trades Publishing Co.
(Call for catalogue of titles)
P.O. Box #1530
E. Arlington, MA 02174
Ph: (781)648-8160
Fax: (781)646-9832

Harness Shop News
Newsletter with classifieds for shoe/bootmaking supplies
12 issues/$26

The Pattern Cutter’s Handbook
Accrington and Rosendale
Haslingden Road,
Rawtenstall Lancashire BB4 6RA
(available from Shoe Trades)
Available at Amazon (often out of print)
Review: This is a great book with lots of technical knowledge. It’s not always the easiest to understand but it covers how to make patterns for several types of shoes. Highly recommended, but requires some commitment.

Handmade Shoes for Men
László Vass and Magda Molnár
Available at Amazon
Review: This book is absolutely amazing. The photographs are incredible. The detail and craftsmanship is unreal. I must have pored over these pages hundreds of times. The only downside to this book is that it can be intimidating. It’s not so much a book about how to make shoes as much as it is about how a master makes shoes. There’s plenty to learn from it, but they tend to make the process look much easier than I found it.

Crafting Handmade Shoes
Sharon Raymond
Available at Amazon
Review: This was the first book I got when I started making shoes. It’s very approachable and a great starter if you’re not sure that you’ll want to commit to more serious shoe making. This book shows you how to make simple shoes with very basic tools. The downside is that this book only covers the outstitched method. (and some of the shoes in here are a bit goofy. Although I’m sure folks could say the same about mine).

Make Your Own Shoes
Mary Wales Loomis
Available at Amazon
Review: This is a pretty good starter book. The illustration and photographs are very dated, but it does have quite a bit of good, basic information in it. This book only shows how to make women’s slip ons, (flats and heels). That said, some of the basics on simple methods for lastmaking could be worth it even if you want to make other styles of shoes.

Western bootmaking: An American tradition
D.W. Frommer
(fairly hard to find)
Review: Very thorough. Lots of text, not a ton of illustration. The illustration that is there is clear. I’d put this in more of the advanced category.

Last Designing and Making Manual
George Koleff
Available at Walrus Shoes
Review: Great resource (the only one I’ve found) for making lasts. It’s far more detailed than Mary Loomis’ method and will walk you through the process of making a last that is durable. The accompanying DVD is also useful. That said, this process is still quite challenging. I’m not great at following instructions, so I often had to go through the process a couple of times to understand exactly what I should be doing. All in all, well worth the money. There’s plenty of great information in here.


Honourable Cordwainers Company
c/o Al Saguto
111 Indian Summer Lane
Williamsburg, VA 23185

The Crispin Colloquy
excellent website/message board for handmade shoe questions; meeting place for custom boot and shoe makers.


vent fan: Grainger Industrial Supply online: grainger.com
bench belt sander of choice:
Delta model #31 460 (4″ belt / 6″ disc)

Sewing Machine Info

repair books for old machines:

Southeast Sewing Products
2581 Piedmont Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30324

Tools and Supplies

Shoe Repair/Hardware Store
This is one of the most overlooked places to get shoe supplies. And these folks are always good to know if you have a procedure that requires extensive machinery.

Maine Thread Company
550 Lisbon Street
P.O. Box 139
Lewiston, ME 04240
FAX: (207)-786-3961
sales [AT] MaineThread [DOT] com
Nice online store.

APEX Foot Health Industries
Inc. 330 Phillips Avenue
South Hackensack, NJ 07606
800-526-APEX (catalog)

O.Baltor & Sons (Dave)
265 East Harris Ave.
San Francisco, CA
custom shoe trade; rep for Gotz tools

(German tools) catalog
for local supplier call 800-2-GET-SHU
Box 1819
Duxburg, Massachusetts

C.S. Pierce Companies
135 Oak Hill Way
PO Box 3750
Brockton, MA 02404-3750
508-587-1101 (catalog)

S & B Sales
Myrna Salzberg
6610 Claybourne Ave #11

Online Resources

Search for shoemaking on YouTube. I was surprised by how much of the process shoe makers have posted. There was so much more there than even just a few years ago.

As with YouTube, I’ve seen so many great examples of different types of projects on Flickr. Search for shoemaking and you’ll see some great stuff.


If I post something related to shoe making I’ll add the hashtag #shoemaking. I encourage you to do the same. It’s a great way to keep the community going strong.


This is great. Wow, this guy really knows his stuff and has done a great job of documenting the process. I know I’m petty and jealous, but I hate him a little for being so good.  http://handmadeshoes.wordpress.com/

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.

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