Sandals in progress... If you have ever taken a class with me you might know that all the intimidating sewing isn't as bad as it looks. The sole is three layers thick but the use of a good, sharp awl makes the double needle sewing go quickly. A lot more work goes into these than … Continue reading Handmade Sandals
One of the better things about modern communication is the ability to meet and talk to people from nearly all parts of the globe. I have been in communication with Jacob from Botswana for years now and he has shared some photos of the beautiful backpack he made based on my earlier design. That one … Continue reading Jacob’s Beautiful Leather Backpack
Why do this? In my life-long quest for better designs and finer gear, I am constantly on some sort of hare-brained mission to make something new. Some readers may remember the earlier backpack I made and eventually traded off to a new owner. My friend Jacob, even made a fine copy for himself and it … Continue reading Leather Knapsack Prototype
Long, cold nights in the Midwest. Limited mobility due to injury. A need to create new things A desire to fund my trips later this year... This is a recipe for high productivity in the workshop. Fortunately, I have a fairly large stockpile of leather and supplies to see me through my projects as I … Continue reading Work from the Leather Shop
Here is a shop update on a couple of the many leatherworking projects undertaken lately. I decided to use up all the leather I have been storing and put it to good use. I have about 100 projects I'd like to make for myself but the Yule season is coming, gifts are expected in many … Continue reading A Leather Purse and Wallet
I try to live by the creed of learning and making something good every day. As we have been pondering the holiday season it seemed a good time to get a jump on some leatherworking projects I've had in mind the past few months. This morning, before getting to work on other chores, I decided … Continue reading Making a Minimalist Wallet
Many years ago, in Morocco, I was able to tour an ancient tannery and see some of the process of creating beautiful leather. I use leather for many projects and although I do some brain tanning myself, I purchase all of my truly "tanned" leathers from others. One very important lesson about tanning I learned … Continue reading Tanning Leather: Not a Lost Art
Here are some images from hide tanning workshops from Diderot's Encyclopedia, 1769 that I found interesting as a leather worker and occasional hide tanner. If you have done any hide tanning you'll recognize the tools of the trade. Not much changes for the small-time home tanner. I suspect this is some hot and smelly work … Continue reading Hide Tanning 1769
Several years ago, I made a shoulder bag that I still often carry today. It is the perfect size for a small field bag or hunting pouch. It was a lot fun looking at various designs, mostly from the 18th century to try and come up with something that would fit my needs. When I … Continue reading Making the Possibles Bag
I'm re-sharing an older post of some experimental turnshoes I made quite a few years ago. These were based on some Scandinavian examples from the archaeological record. They came out pretty good for a first try. My only modification would be to tighten the width through the arch and lengthen the toe area slightly. I … Continue reading Medieval Turnshoes
Here's a simple shoe design that was made by our ancestors before there were shoe shops or Zappos. Much of the Europe population, both male and female wore a variation of this for many millenia, right up into the early 20th century. They are commonly associated with their Celtic cousins in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland … Continue reading Ghillies (simple shoes) again
There are still Huaraches north of old Mexico. As I prepare to resole my huaraches I thought it might be good to look back on them as a very viable hand-made shoe. For a long time while searching for huarache construction techniques, I could only find the simplest tire sandals and many links to "barefoot" … Continue reading Huaraches!
Shop aprons are not as widely used as in the past. I believe this is related to our modern view on clothing and how it has changed over the past century. Not only are we training less in the trades, our clothes are ridiculously cheap in the modern world. Low prices and availability keeps our … Continue reading Make a Shop Apron
Or what we might call a messenger bag. I finally finished the commissioned bag from last month based on the beautifully proportioned Roman design. As far as I know, this design dates back to at least the First Century C.E. and judging by it's logic, probably much further. I think the true loculus (satchel) utilized … Continue reading Roman Loculus
A small toiletries bag made from a wax-impregnated leather. The design is essentially that of a very small 18th century portmanteau. Included here are some of the basic tools-of-the-trade for scale and perspective. I think leather work is appealing to me, in part, due to the honest simplicity and lack of power tools. Most projects … Continue reading Leather Dopp Kit
I needed a new laptop case and had some nice shoulder leather left over from other projects. It's a fairly minimalist design but serves to protect the little Mac. A small brass button closure is the only hardware. After giving this some thought, I realize that a leather case like this should last at least … Continue reading Leather Laptop Case
Maybe not the most exciting project to document but a vital one. My F-S knife needed a sheath and I've been too busy lazy to make one. Well, I finally got down to business and got it done. Part of the reason to procrastinate this was that I wasn't sure what style sheath to make. … Continue reading Knife Sheath
Father daughter leatherwork studio in Spain. http://vimeo.com/81747704 It's a video I want to rewatch again and again just to see the details of the shop. Kudos to those who Make!
Here's a recently finished commissioned work. It's an open-top carry-all in 8 oz. oak-tanned leather with nickel furniture. The bag as a snap closure on the top and a snap closing security pocket for wallet, phone, keys, etc. Overall dimensions are 16 x 12 x 5" (41 x 30 x 12.5 cm) for about 15 … Continue reading Leather Carry-All
It's time for new shoes. After a soon-to-be-finished commission for a leather satchel, I intend to dive into a brogue-making project in the style of 19th century Ireland. This basic design certainly dates back much further than this as shown by archaeological finds in bogs throughout Europe. Don't confuse these brogues with the more modern … Continue reading Irish Brogues and Other Simple Shoes
Over the weekend, I was able to design and nearly finish a new leather haversack. I've wanted to make one for a while but I'm always hesitant to start a big sewing project if I don't think I'll finish it in a short time... I hate lingering unfinished projects (not to say I don't have … Continue reading Haversack
Finished up the quiver. It's been unfinished for at least a year and this weekend finally saw some completion. It's a time for closure on unfinished projects.
Unlike almost all of mainstream footwear, Huarache leather is still vegetable tanned using wood. Few tanneries in the world still offer vegetable tanned leathers because of the slower tanning process and higher raw material costs.
Not only are the wood and organic matter used to tan the leather renewable, but the vegetable tanning solution doesn’t create toxic carcinogenic bi-products such as Chromium IV to which tannery workers and waterways can be exposed to.
The natural benefits of vegetable tanned leather are that the organic tanning process has a much lesser environmental impact and the leather maintains some of its natural quality to stretch and adapt to your foot shape.
Jesús and Antonio González the father and son tanners still practice this traditional and centuries old tanning method and unlike modern tanneries still tan by hand.
They are considered by many local Huaracheros to be the best vegetable tannery in the Mexican state of…
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I like the closed, round toes on this one. From http://huaracheblog.wordpress.com/.
18th century tools of the bootmaker's trade. Click for the source.
A real treat from the Sifting the Past blog. It is worth checking out if you are interested in researching the past through images of the period just prior to mass industrialization. The Townsend's have a couple excellent websites including an interesting 18th century cooking blog with videos. There is so much in this painting … Continue reading The Shoemaker
Some shoe solutions from the Bronze Age, North Africa. Sandal maker - New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty from Thebes ca. 1504–1425 B.C. Like a Diderot illustration this gives a good look at the workshop of an artisan with the essentials of his trade. There's the stool, which is useful in leatherwork as it gives a good lap … Continue reading Sandals of the New Kingdom, Egypt
This is a great series of photos of a surviving craft still producing their own leather. This maintains an economy (for them) that could have very little cash outflow, replacing the cost of raw materials with labor. I hope these industries survive.
Nestled into the Sierra Norte mountains of Oaxaca is the small town of Yalalag.
Yalalag is very precious town, not only for it’s strong Pre-Hispanic traditions, but also because like only a handful of other small towns in Mexico, most of the Yalalag population is still dedicated to the traditional craft of Huarache making.
Huaracheria Aquino is the largest ‘Taller’ workshop in Yalalag and they are well known for their high quality Zapotec Huaraches.
What also sets this family run business apart from most other Huarache makers in Mexico is that their crafting process begins at their in-house tannery, where they vegetable tan all their leathers to their precise specifications.
Huaracheria Aquino is famous for their traditional women’s Zapotec Yalalag sandals (the only existing traditional women’s leather sandal/huarache style in Mexico).
Photo of young Zapotec Woman in Mitla, by Guy Stresser-Péan, 1957
Their ‘Tejido’ Huarache also stands out for the…
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There are Huaraches north of old Mexico. As a craftsman of sorts, I understand that making a "one-off" of something does not imply expertise and replication builds a real understanding of the object being produced. However, this is certainly not my first leather working or shoemaking project but a major improvement on a theme. The … Continue reading Huaraches!