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Shoe Design – 2 day workshop

drawn shoe draped last
Drawing and Draping

In addition to the 1-day sandal making workshop I took last summer, I also took a 2-day shoe design workshop at Prescott & Mackay, lead by Aki Choklat. I wanted to learn the process and pick up some more drawing tools. I hate drawing and I’m not that great at it. I much prefer to work things through in collage or 3 dimensions. It was enlightening and in the end I didn’t do so badly. My shoe is much like my mission “badass & beautiful” with a unique heel detail.

Caged shoe drawing
Badass & Beautiful

I’ve been working hard to set up my new shoe making studio and I’m nearly there. I hope to devote 30 minutes a day to drawing and I am sure I will see a great deal of improvement with practice.

I am also sure I will mostly design on a last in 3-D (otherwise knows as draping) as you can see in this image. I was working out how many straps there would be, where they would fall on the foot, how wide the center strap would be and where elastic would need to go to get the foot in and out of the shoe.

Outside view draping
Inside view draping showing elastic placement
Top view draping








personal printing and milling fabricator
personal printing and milling fabricator

I’m waiting for a 3D printer/milling machine from Fabtotum. I hope to try and make this heel and toe cap when that arrives.

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My First Pair: 1-Day Sandal Workshop

ankle tie sandals
6 hour sandals!

Last August I was thrilled to take my first shoe-making workshop, a one-day sandal making class offered by Prescott & Mackay in London. I arrived bright and early to the shop and joined 3 other women for the workshop. In 6 hours, I’d have a pair of sandals!

We started with a bit of an overview of the day and the process. We were shown some completed sandals that all in all were a bit disappointing, but I was not going to let that stop me. If making a boring sandal was what I had to do, that is what I would do. After all, I was there to learn how to MAKE the sandal, not DESIGN the sandal.

All components
All the parts about to come together.

We were shown our shoe components and then headed downstairs to the workshop. There we saw some pre-made straps and cords we could use. The straps require some preparation, so that part was completed for us. It would have been too much to do in the 6 hour time frame. There were straps of various widths that could go over the foot, around the heel and up the back. Colors were right up my alley, red, pewter metallic and black.

covered wedges
Half all black and half pewter and black with a zig-zag join. The pewter and black is the surprise inside.

Our first task was to find materials to cover our wedges. There was a big bin of left over leathers and the 4 of us dug through. This was a very interesting part of the process. Three of us took a bit of time and gave each other feedback as we made our choices. I really enjoyed this back and forth as it added a design element to the experience.

Shocking, I know – I settled for a black leather with pewter print. Of course I didn’t need another pair of black sandals, but I knew I’d wear black and pewter sandals and not the brown and ivory that I had also selected. We worked through the process step by step, cutting leather with a scalpel, gluing components, pressing the shoes. There were more design decisions to make along the way.

tack mistake
OOPS – I left the tacks in! My instructor got them out and says I should use it for my lable.

It was a great day and while the shoes are a bit large and I did make a few mistakes. I left the tacks in one of my sandals before pressing them. Luckily Melissa, my instructor, was able to pull them out through the insole. She says I should use the 2 dots as part of my brand.

three sandals
3 Women, 3 Sandals

I am proud of what I made and I wear them. It was also wonderful to see the breadth of shoes from three of the four of us. Each has a different aesthetic and every pair would work in a high end retailer.

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Shoes for your pocket – the foldable shoe

I’ve been working on a project with an inventor that requires a foldable shoe. If I tell you about it, I’ll have to kill you. It’s TOP SECRET – very hush, hush.

Mod silver foldable flat Circa 1960
Mod silver foldable flat Circa 1960

What can I share with you? It has prompted me to re-visit and research various options.  These are nothing new. I remember my mom having them as evening shoes when I was a child. These were not shoes for the pocket. They had a leather sole and 1/2″ heel. The heel folded into the toe and the shoes were in a clear plastic bag that was merchandised on a hanging rack in department stores. I remember a pair my mom had vividly as royal blue and gold brocade with a squared off pointed toe. Here’s similar style I found through a Google Image search.

My beat up "there's no place like home" sparkly, red snakeskin foldables from H&M.
My beat up “there’s no place like home” sparkly, red snakeskin foldables from H&M.

In recent years, the foldable ballet flat has been in vogue. These are available at various price points. CVS had a great, inexpensive rollable model that everyone I know loved. For some reason, they have discontinued the product. Dr. Scholl’s offers Fast Flats. AliExpress has lots of choices. H&M offered some styles several years ago and of course there is the Ballasox by Corso Como.

Ballasox weatherproof leopard by Corso Como
Ballasox weatherproof leopard by Corso Como


This is a versatile product and the styles offered are getting more varied and fashionable. Many are even weather proof – perfect for those April showers. Find your special pair now.

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Shoe Memory

I was talking with a friend the other day. It is bitterly cold in my neck of the woods just now and she’s wearing a pair of comfort sandals with thin cotton socks – Crazy! I’m in sheepskin boots or wool socks with sheepskin insoles. Aside from the fact that my friend likes sandals and hates socks, our conversation revealed something deeper. She  is on the 3rd generation of these sandals and has kept versions 1 and 2 even though they have seen better days. Why? Each pair of these shoes accompanied her on a journey – Thailand, Cambodia, and many more. The shoes have become a memory and connection to these travels and as she may keep photos or objects from the trips, so too does she keep the shoes.

Icelandic fish skin boots – wolf fish skin.

I thought about this in relation to my shoes. I often buy shoes when I travel, something unique to the country either through brand or materials. Each of those shoes also act as a reminder and fond memory of the place. These fish skin boots are the second pair of fish skin footwear I purchased in Reykjavik. They are show stoppers and get lots of admiration the world over, but the memories they hold for me are deeply personal.  I recently had an incident while wearing them that damaged them. I am so thankful that I have an excellent shoe repair person who returned them to beautiful. There are small traces of the damage that continues to give these boots character. And of course I now have another memory attached to the boots.

Perhaps this is all not so interesting after all. I am sure many women keep the shoes they wear to rekindle memories. Bridal shoes, in particular, come to mind.  Shoes are an intimate object – they provide protection, comfort, style and often play a role in our construction of our personal identity. Not so strange then that they act a prompt for fond memories.

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The Shoes of Salvation

Product DetailsI re-discovered a delightful little book filled with shoe wisdom this week, The Shoes of Salvation by Edward Monkton. My favorite shoe enabler gave me this book as a gift. It is worth remembering the lessons imparted in the tiny tome. Shoes do offer happiness, pleasure and ecstasy, although they often come at a cost and I’m not just talking about dollars and cents. The most beautiful shoes can pinch, hurt and cause pain. When you feel that agony, just remember it is the shoes reminding you of their presence! Grin and bear the agony knowing that a pair of fabulous shoes really can make you feel beautiful and complete. Find a seat, preferably where you can show them off;)