I had my own reasons for wanting to make my own shoes. My daily dog walking was wearing out my shoes faster than at any time in my life. The soles of walking shoes did not seem to wear as well as they once did. I was shoe goo-ing them repeatedly (glue used to fix holes in tennis shoes). Then I read an article brought to my attention by a newsfeed I subscribe to called the Village Green Network which usually concerned itself with food and recipes for making something simple like laundry soap.
I watched a video on my shoemakers blog on how to make a last upon which to build a shoe and went to visit the Anarchist with duct tape and homemade play dough in hand. The play dough was for filling the spaces over the toes to make a shoe like shape. I had her slip on a pair of knee high nylons I had brought with me and she stood on the cardboard soles I had made with a little wall of duct tape around the perimeter. I went to town ripping off pieces of duct tape and wrapping them across her feet attaching them to the side wall. After I was done I carefully cut the duct tape boots off down the top of the foot. The results looked like a pair of boots left behind by the Tin Man after a thorough beating.
The insoles were also challenging because my customer’s feet were of such a shape that no conventional insole from the drug store would work. So in the end I used some square sheets of rubber I had on hand that came as knee pads inside gardening pants. I covered these thick pieces with scrap upholstery material I had gotten from FabMo a non profit that collected samples discarded by interior design stores. For shoe laces I decided to use gross grain ribbon from the fabric store was in order. These ribbon ties along with the pointed pixie toes made the shoes look magical.
It was also a skill that pushed beyond most people’s ability requiring sharp tools, a bit of strength to push needles through leather and thick rubber and an imaginative design sense plus an ability to visualize three dimensionally. Just the sort of skill set I had been cultivating since childhood. And the potential for recycling and making unique fashionitems would entertain me for some time. What better way to upset the paradigm than to make one’s own shoes? A village cobbler could help turn a community away from exclusive designer brands to unique one-of-kind efforts in a locally made product.
May ye all be well shod.