Recycling experiment = New Shoes

Recycling experiment: What would I get if I took apart a shoe I didn’t like so much and a Betsey Johnson hand bag that didn’t cut it and created a new shoe? This is the question I asked myself in June as the Shoe Symposium grew closer. I hadn’t made any shoes in over year and I was determined to make something so I could get back into making and get some feedback as well.

sandal components
Sandal Components
Betsey Johnson Handbag
Betsey Johnson Handbag

I started by breaking down a very inexpensive pair of sandals. The wedge fit well, but I never liked the upper. No problem. I had a Betsey Johnson hand bag that had great leather and hardware, but I hated the style. So I broke that down as well.

Insole and cork glued up
Insole and cork glued up
Insole covered with Cork
Insole covered with Cork

I knew I wanted to use cork for the insole. I like a slightly textured insole so my feet don’t slip. I used cement to cover the insoles and some clamps to help keep them tight while they dried.

 

 

Next, I prepared straps. Some went through vintage buckles. Others had hardware. I explored the potential on forms:

Design Development 1
Design  1
Design Development 2
Design  2
Design Development 3
Design  3
Design Development 4
Design  4
Design Development 5
Design  5

 

 

 

 

And on feet:

Design on Foot 3
Design on Foot 3
Design on Foot 2
Design on Foot 2
Design on Foot 1
Design on Foot 1

 

 

 

 

I made my final choice and put it all together:

Completed recycled sandal
Completed recycled sandal

These were entered into competition at the Shoe symposium primarily for feed back. I knew there were quite a few mistakes, but I wanted to pros to tell me what they saw, both good and bad. The critics did NOT know these were recycled.

As with all design critique, I got quite a range. On the craft side, I needed to work on my insole and outsole alignment and getting my straps symmetrical on both feet.  Other comments included a discussion of leather to hardware weight and I had worn them too much for competition (these were recycled soles).

finished recycled sandal
Finished recycled sandal

The critics were split on the cork insole cover. (I used this because I wanted to work with cork.) One critic loved the juxtaposition of cork with the metallic. One critic said the cork was too casual with the metallic. One critic did not comment.

I am thankful for the feedback and continue to work to correct the craft issues with each pair I make. I’m proudof the aesthetics and I’m happy to wear them. This recycling experiment makes me happy. I have the style shoe I like with the leather and hardware that suits me. These are truly greater than the sum of their parts.

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