Posts Tagged ‘learned’

Lesson 12: 1550s Spanish Chopines and Shoes (Cork)

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Let me start this off by saying that I’ve wanted to make a pair of these chopines for a long time. However, the construction (and the outsole in particular) has daunted me so, not to mention that I’ve never had a request, so they remained on the list to tackle at some point. Leave it to Amanda L.P. to give me one heck of a challenge. The shoes are just a simple pair of turn-shoes, although sewing such lightweight leather proved more of a challenge than expected. The chopines are bulk cork, surrounded with velvet and with silk ribbons for laces.

This pair took longer than expected, through trials and tribulations, through sewing and re-sewing (none of which you will see here, of course!), and with some helpful hand-holding by Dr. Volken. In the end, I can say that I’m reasonably pleased with these, though if you squint your eyes, they do look a bit like a pair of shoes that a bad movie rendition of Frankenstein’s monster might have worn, all dolled up with velvet and silk, of course…perhaps his bride. 😉

You simply have to see how these things were created. Grab some coffee, tea, or a cocktail, and follow along with me, as I give you the whole story.
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Making shoemaker’s wax (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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1350s Shoes from Fischmarkt

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

This pair is based on a 1350s extant piece documented in “Archeological Footwear” authored by Dr. Marquita Volken. The pattern comes from an unusual extant shoe which has an oval cutout on the inside of the shoe, along with a buckle strap to close the shoe around the foot. This shoe also has a binding strip all the way around the shoe including the strap, and is quite a pretty example of a medieval shoe. A few points of note – the original has the buckling on the inside of the shoe (it is easier to buckle your shoe this way while sitting down or standing up), but it unfortunately hides the pretty cutout and the buckle. As a result, the recipient asked that the buckle be placed on the lateral (outside) of the foot, rather than the medial side. Further, you will notice a rather thick sole – this was constructed as a turn-welt shoe, even though that particular style doesn’t really start to come about until the third quarter of the 15th century. I took several cues from Dr. Volken’s book in the construction of this pair, and I’m particularly pleased with the way they worked out. The decoration is inspired by several extant 14th century pieces with lines of decoration across the vamp of the shoe.

Let me share some of the techniques that I tried, starting with the binding strip. Although I’d done binding strips in the past, this was the first time that I’d done it in this manner.
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