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.
Posts Tagged ‘techniques’
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!
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.
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.