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.

Back to my Journey

It’s time to get back to my journey and sharing it with you. I’ve had a very shoe- centric 3 months. It’s been exciting and exhilarating and best of all, I’ve carved a path forward with my business.

As many of you know, I had not been able to practice my shoe making skills. My full-time job and personal issues were keeping me very busy. Last summer, I  made a decision to make some big changes that would allow me to focus on shoe making. I’ve stepped down from my full-time teaching position as of August 31, 2016. I’ve beefed up my consultancy, ONO made in the 191.

I attended a Shoe Symposium in Ashland, Oregon and re-connected with my teacher Bill Shanor from Bonney & Wills. The biggest gain from this experience was a bunch of small quantity suppliers. These relationships have been critical in my path forward. I also made a connection with Iron Horse Boots who has a similar business model to me. I am hopeful we can collaborate and support each other as we move forward.

Since May, I’ve been working on making. I started with a recycled sandal and since have moved into 6 styles of women’s sandals. I’ll share each with  you in my next posts. The plan is to work on my craft, work through prototyping and have the prototypes tested. So far so good. I’m concentrating on cement construction just now.

Singer Post Bed
Vintage Singer Post Bed Machine on a Reading Table.

The next batch will include sewing with my fabulous new (to me) Singer Post Bed Machine. I’m partnering with screenprinter/bag maker, Tim Eads. His fabric, my designs to make a men’s loafer style deck shoe and women’s espradrilles. The bases have just arrived via Esty.

I’m back and ready to share my journey with you. Sit back and enjoy.

RIP Zaha Hadid

zaha hadid for united nude
Hadid/United Nude Launch

Architecture and shoe design lost a great one this past week – RIP Zaha Hadid. As we see somewhat often, architects understand how to make shoes. In 2013 Hadid and United Nude creative director, Rem Koolhaas produced a wonderfully sculptural, chromed collaboration dubbed the NOVA. Shown as the art pieces they are, the launch rightly presented them in museum exhibition mode, under glass.


Zaha Hadid for United Nude
Zaha Hadid for United Nude up close

According to the United Nude website, “the revolutionary design of the NOVA shoe combines innovative materialization and ergonomic considerations with the dynamism of [her] unmistakable architectural language to convey an inherent sense of movement…[she] has developed an innovative cantilevered system that allows the staggering 16cm (6.25 in) heel to appear completely unsupported.”


An innovator and futurist, she leaves the world a more interesting place.

Works of Art in Leather

Moreschi The Italian Art of Shoemaking Works of Art in Leather book coverEye candy – works of art in leather. It’s arrived. Thank you Amazon Prime. Welcome to my bookshelf – Moreschi The Italian Art of Shoemaking: Works of Art in Leather, edited by Cristina Morrozi, photographed by Giò Martorana and produced by Rizzoli.  This book traces the heritage of artisan culture & craft in Italian shoe production using the premiere brand, Moreschi as a model. Known for exacting standards and unique style, Moreschi produces every pair of shoes from design stage to retailer on-site. Breathtakingly beautiful for your coffee table. Instructive for the shoe purist.


Shoe the World March 15th

shoe the world dayToday, March 15th is National Shoe the World Day. 500 million people around the world don’t have reliable shoes! That’s outrageous when so many, including me, have a closet filled with more than we could ever wear out.

What can you do today and every day? Spread  awareness to everyone you know about the need. Shop for shoes that give back.  Check the archive for SOS-Save our Soles and Shoes that Grow. Or check out these buy one give one brands: Tom’s, Roma Boots, and Bob’s by Sketchers. Help locally by cleaning out your shoes and sending the ones you no longer need to a local shelter.

Today do something good to help get a pair of shoes to those in need. Thursday you can celebrate with a green beer.