I have had the good fortune to collaborate with Renee Canady – an accomplished leather worker – on making a pair of sandals, to show what can be done with carving and tooling on footwear – that isn’t a pair of cowboy boots! She did the carving, tooling, painting and dyeing, and I assembled the sandal.
Aren’t they gorgeous! I hope you’re getting plenty of opportunity to show off your amazing works of art, Renee, now that lilies and daffodils are actually blooming.
Questions for Renee:
Am I right that you first carved the band, then tooled it, then coated the sandal completely with neets foot oil and let it dry over night.
Yes, that was my process.
How did you make such a beautiful edge on the leather sole and band?
This is an edge beveler http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/search/searchresults/8076-296.aspx that you run down the edges on top and then on the bottom, then dampen the leather, not soaking wet just damp, then you use http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/search/searchresults/8122-00.aspx which is a slicker and they come in different types. There is a wooden one that has multiple sizes in one tool that I like a lot. With the slicker you just rub it back and forth on the damp edges until it kinda smooths the leather together. People also rub beeswax across the finished edge, but if you choose that path be sure your dying is complete because additional dye WILL NOT stick to the beeswax.
If I were making the entire sandal myself I would stitch the sole and upper together, bevel the top edge (which is now the top of the strap) and the bottom of the sole, wet, and use the slicker so both pieces would now look blended as one. I would then cement it to the rubber sole.
On this project I could treat the edges after carving because it wouldn’t matter when I did it, since each piece was being used as a separate piece of leather.
What was the weight of the leather for the soling and the band?
The weight of the sole was 8-9 ounce and the strap is 4-5 ounce. I usually purchase my vegetable-tanned leather from Tandy Leather Factory. I dyed the edges with a product called Edge Kote.
Did you finish the edges with hand tools?
Yes, the beveler and slicker are both done by hand. On the Tandy Leathercraft site there are a few free videos, one of which is the use of an edge beveler. I used a #4 beveler for the sole and a #2 for the strap. The thicker the leather the higher in number you want. The wooden edge slicker is better because it is for many weights of leather. The plastic one will work but since it is only like a $2 difference I would go with the wooden one. It kind of looks like a bobbin from an old spin wheel.
If you use two layers of leather, be sure not to bevel their edges until you have cemented them together. You don’t want to cement two finished edges against each other or you may have a small gap on the very edge. When you use two thicknesses of leather and bevel one side of each, then slick them, you won’t be able to tell there are two leathers there, it will just blend them into one.
What paint did you use on your carving?
I used Fiebing’s acrylic dye which is the colored paint you see. A cheap secret to that acrylic paint from the craft store that are $0.88 will also work. For the sandals I used the Fiebing’s acrylic dye though. So, you paint the colored areas first, let dry completely, then use a resist of some sort over the color like Super Sheen or Resolene. I let it dry for about 30 mins or so and then recoat with the Super Sheen/Resolene. This time dry over night. These products will resist any other dye you use after they have dried well.
How did you dye the leather?
I used a product called medium brown antique gel. I used it as my dye because I love that color of brown. I put a generous amount on sheep’s wool scraps, “mushed” it in a bit and then just went to town with it, covering the entire sandal. You will see areas that are a bit darker/lighter but you can always add more gel to make areas darker or use a soft cloth with a TOUCH of water to blend in the areas that are too dark, it will lift some dye out.
Next, use a soft cloth to buff the sandal. You will notice where you resisted the dye it will look like some is on the colored areas but it will buff off, but will dull your color a tad also.
Now you may or may not want to use another finish on it like a spray finish from Tandy.
Then I used the Edge Kote on the edges. Next I used Aussie conditioner from Tandy and mush it all in there. The leather will absorb what it wants and kind of reject what it doesn’t need. Then next day if it appears greasy-looking just wipe the rest off that the leather has rejected.
Lucky me, I’ve been accepted into BUST magazine’s Craftacular in DUMBO section of Brooklyn NY this weekend! I look forward to something significant happening; I don’t know what, but it seems I’ll be in the “right” place with the “right” people for SOMETHING to happen! Something that will bring the realization to more people that they can make their own footwear. I’ll be leading a children’s shoemaking workshop, which I bought some tools for, to make little shoemaking kits: they’ll have Tandy’s 00 hole punch and least-expensive leather scissors, and a couple of tapestry needles. With these tools the pattern pieces can be cut out, holes can be punched along the edges – then with the tapestry needles and stitching-awl thread the little “First Walkers” can be stitched together. I am realizing that this kit could be used by a group wanting to make shoes for “grown-ups” as well. I hope you have your own shoemaking kit!
If you’re in the area, please stop by, I’m right next to the Food Court, booth 106, and according to pre-show lists, each food vendor is making something I want to eat! Maybe the significant happening will be that I will meet you!
A few cold months ago, I had the pleasure of teaching a one-day shoemaking workshop to Rhode Island School of Design students who had just the previous day returned from a shoe-design trip to Italy. Kathleen Grevers, Senior Critic, Apparel Design, and Khipra Nichols, Associate Professor, Industrial Design, shepherded twenty design students from a variety of media on the shoe-design trip. They each created a shoe as a culmination of all they had learned.
I was so eager to see their creations, but unfortunately on the day of the showing New England had a major snowstorm. All was cancelled. So,I had not seen the student creations until a DVD of photos recently was sent to me.
What a delightful collection! I especially appreciated so many media being represented – you can guess who came from an apparel, metal-work, or industrial design background.
The album of shoes can be seen on my Simple Shoemaking facebook page:
So, which is your favorite, and why?
Which would you actually like to wear? (apparently wearability wasn’t a requirement!)
There was a recent request on a forum I’m on for prom dresses for girls who need them, and my mind went to the “T-shirt wedding dress” I had seen in a book I frequently consult, “Generation T – 108 ways to transform a T-shirt”. Making things from T-shirts is my second most-favorite thing to do. When working with T-shirts I like to incorporate stitching techniques that I learned from the books of http://www.alabamachanin.com.
Visiting the facebook page of the author, Megan Nicolay, http://www.generation-t.com, inspired me to make a T-shirt baby shoe that I could post on her site. I had not made any “T-shirt baby shoes”, so, using the tutorial for the “First Walker” baby shoes that was recently posted on my blog, I tackled this assignment and was pleased with the results, seen here.
Using Natalie Chanin’s stitching technique, the threads are knotted on the outside, and the running stitch is used by the miles.
I used three layers of T-shirts, from scraps left over from a dress I am making for my 4-month-old granddaughter Millie. Now she’ll be “matchy-matchy”! If I had some double-sided sticky interfacing I would have used it to give the shoe a little more “body”.
Here’s my creation! As usual with shoemakers, now I have to make another one. (And yes, those are spring bulbs breaking through the earth under the shoe – yay!)
Do you want shoelaces? A horse-hair shoe polish applicator? A solid-stick wart remover? Use the above url for these products and hundreds more; it’s an ebay store that has 17 pages of shoe repair shop supplies for sale; however, many of the products are useful for shoemaking as well. There are many types of petroleum-based rubber soles available; I stopped looking at the store’s offering after about 8 pages, but the list goes on and on. The gumlite soling shown above is a type that I used to use, it has a nice light weight with good grip. I cut it with a bandsaw after cementing it to the shoe. This type of sole can only be adhered by using Barge or other potentially-toxic shoe cements.
Now that I have a grandchild, I will be learning a lot more about what size of shoe a child wears at a certain age, and what fits and what doesn’t – here’s Millie in the smallest-size shoe from How to Make SimpleShoes for Children with your own two hands!, which is for a 3 1/2″ foot. She’s four months old. Of course she’s not walking, so the shoes are not functional, although they may be helping to keep her feet warm. I used the pattern from said book, which is similar to the First Walkers pattern featured in my most recent tutorial.
In fact, the folded-over part of the First Walkers pattern can be eliminated, and holes for a thong or elastic to pass through can be punched along the top edge, as is shown here. Most all the patterns I make can be adapted in many ways.
I am gratified by the number of comments I have received about the tutorial; I belatedly realized that when I copied the tutorial I had written for Living Crafts, I also copied the note about, “free pdfs of the children’s shoemaking book will be sent to five of the readers who comment on the article before sunday midnight”. Oh well, I’m happy to send them to the commenters here, and I learned the value of offering freebies! I’ll do it again soon. In fact, I’ll do it right now..
I WILL SEND OUT FREE PDFS OF THE CHILDREN’S SHOEMAKING BOOK TO ANYONE WHO SENDS ME A PHOTO OF THE FIRST WALKERS THEY MAKE BEFORE MIDNIGHT THURSDAY 3/28!
I consider those who respond to be my experimental team – I want to know what worked for you with regard to the pattern, and what might not have, what kinds of material you used and how it was to work with, and any tips or comments you’d like to share.