A pair of good shoes, like a good partner, is magic. Everyone has his/her own definition of what is ‘good’, and mine is a well combination of comfort and appearance. Good shoes support your whole body weight without any complaint, walk with you as far as they can and never make you feel tired, while at the same time get you envy eyes from people. It’s not easier to find shoes like that than finding a right partner. Some people may have never found THE right shoe in a life time.
I’m lucky that I can learn the crafts of shoemaking in London. I’ll start to post what I’ve learnt in the evening shoemaking class at Prescott & Mackay here. If you also want to learn about the crafting skills of handmade shoes, follow my shoe diaries from today!
我很幸運，能在伦敦学习传统的英国手工制鞋技艺。從這周開始我會把自己在Prescott & Mackay上晚間課程的學習心得記錄在這裡。如果你也想知道一雙純手工皮鞋是怎麼製作出來的，就來看我的制鞋日記吧！
The course started from the beginning of September. I always appreciate the small class size of P&M – five students altogether. In the first week (the first night) we were taught by Melissa (the principal of the school) and Morven (a young shoe designer and shoe maker). Don’t be misjudged by Morven’s young look – she makes shoes for those wax figures in Madame Tussauds London. Have you seen the yellow objects in the picture below? LAST is the name – they are the most important equipments for shoemaking because most operations are based on them. Your shoe will look basically in the same shape as your last. Melissa (pictured) explained to us how to match the height of heels with a last – a key factor for the comfort of a shoe. Can you tell from the picture that the height of the last and heel doesn’t match?
Match your heel with your last!
We all chose our preferred last shape, and the next step will be making shoe design and patterns. Making patterns has a very interesting preparation step: taping the last. Taping tightly against the last and the angle of putting tapes are significant to the correctness of shoe pattern, so make sure you pay enough attention to it. I gave this step a genius nickname: mummifying a last. 🙂
half-finished taping for the last
Week 2 was about the design. I’ve been expecting this course for quite a while and have already drawn my design in my mind for many times. Look at my design, can you imagine how the real shoe will look like? 😉
my shoe design drawn on the tape
When the design was finished, we cut the tape and carefully tore it off, then stick it onto pattern paper. The first version of the pattern was done!
the pre-pattern of my shoe design
Here came the second step: transforming the basic pattern to the Mean Forme. You will see only one piece of it but it actually relects both sides of a shoe: the inside and the outside. It took a lot of time to make the mean forme, but it will serve as the most correct reference whenever you want to trace your design back. So if we want to add tolerance or do any modifications, we need to make the third version of pattern. The picture below is my mean forme!
做完基本鞋樣，就要把它轉換為紙樣的“參照版”，用同一片紙板反映一隻鞋的內外兩面，術語是mean forme。做這個很耗精力，一旦修改了想改回去可不容易，因此做好了還不能輕易在上邊切割或者寫寫畫畫，而是要再度轉換、加子口變成紙樣的第三版。下圖即我的mean forme，各項指標都非常精細。我得到老師的讚揚，因為我做的鞋內面和鞋外面在接合處相差極小，即說明在之前的木乃伊操作中線條和切割都非常準確。
It didn’t end at the 3rd version though. A fourth effort was made in week 3 to make the real shoe pattern, reflecting the real look of the upper of a shoe, and transforming the one piece pattern back to two pieces: one for the outside and the other for the inside. Of course there are other considerations that I won’t use too many words to talk about here. You can see my finished upper pattern below: what an effort!
my finished shoe upper pattern
So far we have done 3/4 of the pattern making. Where is that 1/4? That’s what I have done this week ( week 4). A pair of shoes not only needs shoe upper, but also shoe lining! So we need to make the pattern for the lining here. According to different designs, the lining can look very similar to the upper, or not alike at all. The simpler the design is, the more the lining resembles the upper. Check my lining patter below, can you tell the difference from the upper?
my finished lining pattern and heel pattern
Now the pattern is finished, I can start to cut my leather! The leather I chose is cream ostrich with coral pore as the upper, and orange ostrich as the heel. Leather has directions and defects, so make sure you mark your pattern on the leather carefully before putting your knife on it.
I am cutting my ostrich leather
Let’s check the other students’ progress. The picture below is from my Danish classmate. Very complicated design, thus more difficult to make the pattern.
Sovaj's shoe pattern
These are what she’s going to use for her upper and heel. The turquoise material is fish skin which she brought from Denmark. The dark blue is very soft lamb skin. Very beautiful colour match – I can imagine how pretty the finish shoes would be!
fish skin and blue leather
See you next week! 那麼，就下周再見啦。^^
Makeing shoes in the evening – week 5 to 7
Making shoes in the evening – week 8-9
Making shoes in the evening – week 10