Monday, November 19

Hi, Yo, Silver away!

And we're back to business with a pair of bespoke ladies heels in the vein of a western styled low cut walking shoes.


I think pictures talk more than me, so:
To begin the process of lasting, it's good to use talcum so that the lasts are easier removed afterwards.

The first front pull. Here you can see clearly the effects pattern making has to your lasting. I have to get that whole upper down to wrap around the last evenly. Thanks.

Bottom view after the first pull. You might be wondering what the hell is that white canvasy thingy over there? It's for handsewing the uppers. We'll get back to that later on.

Pulling the leather with specially made tools for the purpose. Lasting pincers.

After some while, I shape a sharp corner to the heel seat. This makes later phases easier and helps to create a neat look.

Before and after hot ironing.

The toe stiffener is glued on.

I use a shoemaker's rasp to accent and smoothen the shapes of the stiffener.

While still a bit moist, I use my hammer's shaft to compress the fibres and to accent the shapes of the stiffener.

The handsewn welt construct requires specially prepared thread. And you guessed it: one has to make it themselves :)
There's shoemaker's tar-wax that works as an sealant/binding agent for the threads and stearine wax to be used as a lubricant.

I won't go into detail in making the thread, but you use your whole arm to determine and separate the layers of thread. My master taught me to make a thread with 8 strands for the inseam.

Here's the reason one can't buy this thread: the strands have to be separately thinned from the ends so the final thread looks like this. This way it'll move easily through holes made in thick leather. 

And here's both rolls ready for sewing.

Next up, the handsewn welt.

Monday, October 29

The western trail goes on...

Well, I've still got no working space, so if you've got any ideas from the Helsinki please let me know, I'd be much obliged :)
 And so we continue with our strange western journey. It's time for the mockup and fitting and some good old tooling:

After I made the patterns I cut and assembled these mockups for fitting.
It's all for the mockup baby!
And a surprisingly decent fit. Really, it rarely happens.
A better view of the opening.

And next it's back to the bench. While the uppers were done by our magnificient clicker (=> who cut's and sews the leather pieces together to form uppers), I started to make the red tooled leather inlays to the uppers.
Here's what happens really, you take tooling leather (mine's roughly 1,5mm thick) and draw lines to it. I'm of course using the pattern from the actual shoe's patterns. And then you cut it with the special rotating knife shown to the left.
Like so.
On the left is the one with the cuts and to the right with just the drawn lines.
Tooling leather needs to be moisted regularly while tooling, so it's like wax to shape the way you please.
After the main lines, I drew some roses by free hand.
The right one tooled and ready for dyeing, the left has just been cut along the drawn lines.

All sewn on the uppers and ready to go!

Saturday, September 15

A lament for the western heels

Hi everyone,
It's almost three months since my last post. There's been some dramatic changes to my current hobby: making fine bespoke ladies shoes, as I've been kicked out of my employer's shop to pursue my hobby elsewhere. As I'm writing, I've still no actual working space so it makes it somewhat impossible to continue. I managed to get a hold of a post bed sewing machine, but I noticed that it's not reliable enough for my needs. But scarce as resources are, I'll maybe forced to use it.

As for the pause in posts I think there's just no excuse. I've chosen to have an ambitious hobby of making fine heels and keeping a blog about it, and that's only my choice: so I can't complain.

On with the business:
Last year my employer had promised to have bespoke shoes made by our shop to one of our employees. Well the project had been delayed for various reasons, until in may of this year someone approached me with it;

"Otso, could you make these shoes?"

So I started right off by taking measurements and ink prints of her feet and ordered the lasts from Minke, germany. Minke provides an excellent service wherein you can send an ink print of the feet and measurements and they pick a last for you that's closest to what you require. Neat. They reply to emails quickly and are prompt on shipments and answering questions. The lasts that they send were so fitting that I only changed the tip to my liking. Hooray!

The client's criteria for the shoes:
-some heel
-western boot theme shoes
- no laces
- some flashing detail

Now, from those I had a vision which is the drawing above. I was satisfied as it took only couple of minutes.
The red area is supposed to be somekind of a floral leather carving inlay.
A top sketching view.

The lasts with the tips redone to look more like western boots.

I tried a new approach to the tip by casting polyurethane foam hartz, which is durable enough for shoemaking.
Well the foam didn't work the best as there obviously was some moisture left on the wood and the foam reacted with it and became really soft and crumbly near the wood. That's why I patched it with some rubber cork sheets.

Minke also provided some nice fitting heels for the lasts, which made my work a lot easier. Again.
Here you can see the orthopedic insole sandwiched between the last and the lasting insole.

With the lasting insole, I used (again) an oak tanned leather base with thin sheets of carbon-fibre plating for stiffening. The steel shank has been laminated between two coats of carbon-fibre, and the reason why the sheet runs all the way to the tip is because it will hopefully prevent the tip from twisting upwards from use.

Some profile shaping of the insole. Notice how the thickness runs to almost zero after the heels front edge (marked with a pencil), and then goes back to full thickness on the ball, and shoots to zero towards the tip. I wanted to accent the aggressive shape starting from the ball.

Tuesday, June 26

Back from the dead -> Bootsie time!

Remember this?

Maybe not, but they're my first knee high boots, that are still under work. The one above is a model the client sent me. Well, not knowing where I'm poking my nose into I actually agreed to make them. Now that I'm in a final phase before making the actual shoes, I can really honestly say it's been one big headache - in a pain stakingly teaching way.
One would maybe think that it's just simple and easy to make a pair of knee high boots with only a zipper opening. One would maybe think that one just takes measurements and just make some basic patterns and cut some leathers and voilá! They're ready.

Well not quite.

It's hard enough for a shoemaker to make a fitting last, but to top that with another 40 cm worth of strange asymmetric curves. It's easy to make straight tubes with patterns, but as the leg is actually far from a straight tube, to transfer those shapes to the patterns... a headache. ;)
Let's take a look at my progress:

Attempt Nr.1:
I was very proud of myself to last these :) The front upper is one piece. They look great, but as you can see they fit less great. You can see from the picture on the left that the shaft is too much backwards tilted, hence at the fitting we saw those ugly wrinkles in the front.
Back to the drawing board.
At my studies in Sataedu, I tried to find a solution for this problem with the consultation of a great Master modeller.
But after a few days of trying, I found that this kind of a cut would require a technique too difficult for me to start trying now: crimping.

Attempt Nr.2:
So I had to change the model altogether: I had to make a seam all the way on the front to give absolute control  on the shapes and degrees of tilt. I chose to make a false "pump" cut to the lower portion, as this would give more elegance to the design, and would make the broad foot look smaller.
You'd think from the right picture that they fit quite nicely. Far from it: The zipper was so tight it didn't close all the way up, the bunions had painful seams going over them, the outer side of the ankle had a lot of wrinkles as did the zipper, and lastly the upper part of the heel was quite unfitting.

Attempt Nr.3:
With many fixes made to the last pattern, these came out quite good, only a few small things are left to fix. I think I'm quite happy :)

Thursday, May 31

A turquoise brogue sketch

And here's yet another sketch I recently did. There's something wrong with it, as I'm not fully pleased with it. Looks a bit... boring.

What do you think? Any suggestions how to make it better?

Actually, maybe we should have a contest in design? :D Something nice for the winner, of course.
I'll get back to that soon!

Tuesday, May 29

Sketching the rose and turguoise oxford

My blog life has obviously slowed down, but still, today's my blog's one year anniversary! :D
It's been a great year, though I expected more shoes. Oh well, such is life, and honestly working two shifts in a row isn't my cup of tea so I do my best.

I met with Ms. Minna Parikka last weekend, and for some reason I was very nervous of this sudden meet; a thing I hadn't expected. Being nervous that is. Well, meeting her either. Guess I'm some sort of an admirer of her work.
She did show some interest to my bespoke high heels as I left her my hand written contact, which was better, because in that instance I realized that the business cards I made for myself last year, well they look a bit too much like they're her's :) Seriously, I have to make new ones. See for your self: here.

Ms. Minna Parikka's pop up store in Kluuvi was pretty awesome, and some shoe models have become obvious classics as they were introduced in 20 different colours and materials.

I'm in the middle of a third mockup for those black knee high boots, and praying they'll fit a lot better than the recent two. I'll post later on that project. Another project is just on the first steps of deciding a model, and here's a peek at one of them:

I really love the square cut on the vamp on these oxfords. They're simple but festive, elegant but casual enough for less formal events. I don't know, I just like the style.
Btw, you can click the image because it's quite large and make A4 prints out of it :)
Have fun :)

Thursday, May 10

Tye Shoemaker - A Japanese craft of perfection

I'm speechless. When I came across Tye Shoemaker, a japanese company producing handmade shoes, I was silent, speechless, out of words. The elegancy of their designs and the precision and skill they've put into these shoes... Is just amazing. And when we're talking about handmade shoes, it means it in every sense of the word. Even the heels are built from leather pieces, and I've never seen that on high heels I can tell you.

Unfortunately I don't understand japanese, so I can't give you any background on the company, but what I'm seeing is actually something I'd like to venture to.
It was also interesting to see their prices:
Shoes: 2500€
Short boots: 3000€
Long boots: 3500€

I don't know, but I'm guessing that these prices are not for made to measure high heels. With this caliber of quality and leathers I'd imagine them to be even higher. But I could be wrong, so if anyone knows japanese could they translate their 'prices' section for me? I can't use any translator as the text is an image, I think.

Their website is beautiful, and definitely worth a visit to all you fancy high heel lovers out there: