Archive for the ‘Learned’ Category

15th C. Poulaines Redux, with period lasts!

Monday, July 20th, 2015

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.
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Making shoemaker’s coad (redux)

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

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!

There are two primary sources for pine tar that I’ve used. One is the Auson Kiln-Burned Pine Tar, and the other is “The Real Stuff” pine tar, with sources in the links.
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Sewing the Treadsole of a Welted Shoe

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

I thought it might be illuminating to describe the manner in which I currently outsole a shoe, since I’ve recently started playing with a new technique and rather like the results. In two separate instances with two different and very knowledgeable individuals, I’ve had welted stitching described to me as “rice grains laying against each other,” or a similar variation thereof. As a result, I think I’m getting rather close to the ideal, as I hope the images will soon describe.

But, just to be sure that we’re on the same page, let’s first remind ourselves the construction of a welted shoe.
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Europe Trip Part II: Lausanne

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

If you saw the first half of my Europe trip, then you will recall that I was in Munich for business, but had the opportunity to do some exploring and visit some museums while I was there. As it turned out, I had some vacation time coming up, so I decided to stay in Europe a bit longer. And, coincidentally, Dr. Marquita Volken, of the Musee de la Chaussure in Lausanne, Switzerland (the Museum of the Shoe) had recently published a manuscript, “Archeological Footwear: Development of Shoe Patterns and Styles from Prehistory til the 1600s.” On a lark, I looked up how far away Lausanne was from Munich – only about 330 miles! That’s about the same distance from San Francisco to Los Angeles! I was sold – I booked a train and routed my return flight through Zurich instead of Munich. And, after my last day of work, I found myself on the train headed for the beautiful city of Lausanne, Switzerland.

The very day I arrived, I was already in shoemaker heaven – I met up with Dr. Volken, her fantastic husband (also Dr. Volken), and their charming daughter, and travelled together to the Chateau de Chillon, probably one of the most fantastically preserved chateaux in the area.
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