Archive for the ‘Learned’ Category

Currying Leather Properly…Part I

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

It’s been a while since I posted something on the topic of actual shoemaking rather than just showing off finished products, and we’re long overdue. I’m going to talk a bit about currying leather.

It’s not what you think – I’m not going to the Indian market to pick up the proper spices. Nor am I performing a mathematical transformation of a function with multiple arguments into a chain of functions, each with a single argument. In fact, the verb “to curry” is actually much older, and comes from the 13th century, from the Middle English currayen, from Anglo-French cunreier or correier, which was to prepare, curry, from Vulgar Latin conredare. It means to dress tanned hides by soaking, scraping, beating, etc. in order to make them supple and resistant to water. So, how does one do this, exactly? First, a history lesson…


1780s Shoes – Teaser Pics

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

I’ve been hard at work on a pair of 1780s shoes – I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you, but I thought that you deserved a teaser pic, at least! I’m modeling these on an old sample shoe that I was incredibly fortunate to get from one of the shoemakers at Colonial Williamsburg. These teaser pictures show the inside and outside strap closing stitches, at a modest 10 stitches per inch, just about what the sample shoe was measured at. This has been, by far, the most challenging piece for me to date, and I’ve learned an incredible amount over the past couple of weeks. As always, you also find our exactly how far you have yet to go, but if one never starts the process, one never improves. I look forward to writing up the actual lessons!

Zig-Zag Punch of Awesome

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Every now and then, you find yourself put in a position where you simply have to purchase a tool, no matter what the price. I was fortunate enough to find a smith who was making pinking punches and chisels, and requested a zig-zag blade if that was possible. Not only did he make one, but he made one exactly according to my specifications, and that matches the period example that I was going for perfectly! Below, you can see a picture of the punch, and next to that, an image of the 1600s Ashmolean shoes that we know and love. I am so thrilled to finally be able to replicate these with a zig-zag punch, as was originally intended. If you are interested in pinking punches or chisels, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I will gladly put you in contact with the smith.

Rare Swag from the Internets…

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

As you might imagine, specialty tools used in shoemaking are getting harder and harder to come by. Although there are some makers out there who do sell the real deal, there is also a real price tag to go with it. As a result, every now and then you luck out and find a cache of awls or tools that turns out to be incredibly valuable. For example, last year, I was able to find a whole box of about 80 inseaming awls. Recently, I just discovered a box of about 40 square awls, which seem to be very suitable for outsoling, possibly even for 18th century ladies’ shoes, which require very fine stitching. If you have an old box of awls picking up dust in your basement or garage, drop us a note and let us at them!