Saturday, February 18, 2017

Shoemaking update

It has taken a lot of research to get this far, and I must say that it has really been quite an exploration.  Can you make shoes?  Yes.  Should you?  Well, that's still debatable.  Certainly not for the sake of having shoes... That is to say, it won't save you money or time, or anything. Making shoes by hand that you will immediately abuse is a questionable pursuit, too (this is especially true in New York City). But... the shoes you make will be one of a kind.  And only you will have THAT pair.

The best scenario - do it for the art of it.  When you need performance, you need engineering.  From my research, I would say, don't make athletic shoes unless  you're gonna assemble a workshop and proper tools.  I don't think you can play around at that level. For me, the answer for my first attempt is to add artistry to a well made foundation.  No, they will not last forever.  I can abuse them as life requires... whatever.  The shoes you make are a different animal.  Entirely.

My first try will be semi-homemade.  Much like Sandra Lee's cooking concept, I will use a beloved but bedraggled shoe as a base for re- creation.

My choice

Boy, the sole of these shoes was made to last, but the bandage-like top is not particularly feminine for the foot, and even less so when it gets dirty. What ends up happening?  I never wear them. Obviously made for neither the subway nor quick supermarket runs, they linger in my closet waiting for an opportunity to dangle over the side of a deck chair or give a bit of cheer to the entryway shoe pile at my "we don't wear shoes indoors here" friends' homes. I've worn them when impractical, but I sorta wince and bear it, especially when I need to do a lot of walking, because I have to work a bit to keep them on my feet.

I have separated the sole from the insole, and am now free to make whatever upper works, is visually appealing, while allowing flexibility of the foot, since these soles don't bend.  I have now entered the design phase.  The insole was wrapped in leather and adhered to the base with strong glue, and a layer of fabric between the two feels a bit like tailoring canvas.  I've cleaned away all of the red pieces of fabric, and discarded the tape (like a thin twill tape) perimeter. 

I will seek manufactured soles/heels as the foundation of my first pairs of shoes.  I find that you can easily get never-worn shoes for $1 from thrift stores. Because I haven't invested in a last or more sophisticated materials, I will keep my projects simpler for now. 

When I make flat shoes, I will fortify both the back (vertical) heel and toe cap with stiffer leather. I may figure out how to shape the sole to the insole. I will make sure the insole is contoured and supportive, but outsole must be hard enough to not feel the ground, rocks and glass and random hazards.

Follow my Pinterest page if you would like to join me on the journey!

More info as I progress...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Layers - creative wandering


What have I been up to lately? Lots, in my personal life,  but while I've been doing other things, my creative brain has been in overdrive!

Lately, intrigued by technique, history, hand skills, and the thought of using different fabrics and fibers together to create radically creative and sustainable works of art, I thought to myself, "If my great, great grandchild could one day wear a jacket/scarf/coat I made, or cuddle under a blanket I've stitched, why wouldn't I create them?" 

Inspired by my daughter's experiences at an international summer camp right now, I am thinking more globally, and feeling more curious.

Enter the following thoughts/techniques/philosophies/ideas... (supplies for which can be found in the garment district) Don't worry about the languages, if you don't speak them.

TOHOKU STANDARD 02 KOGIN-ZASHI, Aomori Prefecture from 東北STANDARD on Vimeo.

Below, you need not speak the language to appreciate the beauty of what she has created using a technique called "Nuno felting".  Search the term on Pinterest, and you will be amazed at the beauty of what you will find!  Check out the video below, and don't worry about the language.  The visual is enough to inspire!

Where would one go to find the kids of supplies needed to attempt to create these beautiful things? 

Dyes: Manhattan Wardrobe Supply
Roving: School Products (note the recent move)
Silks: Lots of places (the maps will give you many suggestions)

If you are feeling the way I am, and your creativity is on fire, follow my lead, and start creating. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ON the beaten path...

This past Saturday, I peacefully wandered in and whispered to myself, "Where have you been all my life?"

And the answer was "Right here", apparently.

The brochure made me curious...
If you've ever been to/near Bryant Park, you've been very close.  At 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, a place all New Yorkers scurry past... but rarely enter (at least, not the ones I know)... stands the New York Public Library.

Primarily a research library, this place is an intimidating structure. Architecturally, and procedurally, you may feel out of place if you aren't there for a specific reason.

Exhibits on subjects less familiar to the layperson, research librarians ready to answer sophisticated questions (if only you could think of one), quiet meeting rooms where important things are certainly being discussed, and ceilings that will make you gasp with delight... so, why are we here?

I stopped to ask a man at the info desk who the likely visitor is, apologized for my "silly" questions, and he instantly made me feel at ease, explaining why this is such an important library, from A-Z.

That would take quite some time to re-explain, but the biggest takeaway of that encounter was... you can visit the website, do a detailed search for what you seek (you have to get really specific, or be exploring such a niche that you hone in on what you are seeking precisely, or it will not yield anything useful), wait about 48 hours for the book train to retrieve it from under Bryant Park (yes, seriously), come to the library, get the publication, sit at one of the big, fancy tables in one of  the glorious reading rooms, use the publication while in the library, and then forever be enriched by whatever that is for you.

Why am I telling you this, my dear garment district lovers?

Because, if you love to research things to DEATH when beginning a new venture, and you happen upon something like this...

 or this... 

You know you need to know more...