I’m a bit behind on posting about my recent travels to Europe, but I hope that the scope and content of this do end up making up for it. My original plan was to visit four museums, both the V&A and Museum of London, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and the Northampton Museum. Unfortunately, the MoL was unable to accommodate my visit due to a last minute project, but I still was able to get in quite a bit of work. Unfortunately, I’m unable to post/publish my photos of the work specifically, as I had promised that I would not publish them in any real way, but I don’t think that the Ashmolean will object to me posting a selfie of myself with a shoe that I’d been lusting to see for many years. =) This is the 1600s shoe after which the “Stratfords” were designed.
Archive for the ‘Learned’ Category
So, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from shoes to work on other projects (repairing house stuff, sewing, etc.) and in case you were not aware, I actually have to work for a living, more is the pity. It does have a few perks, though, other than keeping a roof over my head and the cat fed. This time, it’s a trip to Japan, and I’m fortunate enough to spend the weekend in Japan for a bit of sight-seeing and tourist-y stuff. This post focuses primarily on my trip to Nippori Fabric Town. Now, there are a lot of blogs out there that talk about their trip to Nippori Fabric Town with stunning amazement at the wide selection and the number of stores. If you’re interested in scarves, jeans, quilting, or anything that is remotely modern, then I suppose this is a fair assessment. The moment you start looking for materials suitable for the 18th century and before…well, aside from the restaurants with really good noodles, I’m afraid that I’ll have to disappoint you.
It started off favorably – a very easy trip to Nippori station from Shinagawa, and pretty much right out of the station, I saw a sign!
Well, it was a specific sign telling me I was on the right track. Now…where did the signs lead me?
I earlier made a pair of Poulaines on a set of modern lasts, and the results were not bad – in fact, I thought they were rather pretty. Of course, we all know that the fit has to be perfect, otherwise they can be as pretty as they like, and they won’t be suitable. As a result, I decided to carve a last based on historical reproductions. First, the finished results, and I apologize for the fuzzy image.
The lasts that I received were appropriate for a mid 15th century shoe, so my task was to scale the last up to suit a larger foot.
Back in June of 2011, my friend Matt and I worked up a batch of shoemaker’s wax, often called “coad” in the medieval jargon. We started with pine pitch, pine rosin, and a bit of beeswax to make some nice little balls of coad that were perfect for shoemaking. Fast forward to today, and unfortunately, our source for excellent pine pitch has dried up (pun intended). What is commonly available today is pine tar, a similar formulation, but with a great deal more volatiles still embedded, which makes it into a thick, viscous liquid rather than a gummy, solid substance. Below is experimentation to come up with some shoemaker’s wax using what we have available today. As always, if you find a source for solid, but slightly soft, gummy pine pitch, please let us know!