Here are some throwback photos from Ghillie shoe making classes from 2009 and 2011. The first pair is from a small class at the Bois d'Arc Rendezvous in southwest Missouri (note the lush green of late summer). Maybe not as sexy as the arrow-making class but it is a very real and useful skill. I … Continue reading Ghillie Shoe Class
These ratty old moccasins have spent a lot of time in the woods. These have been my winter moccasins for over two decades. I can't remember exactly when I made them but it was a quick and dirty sewing job. They have been re-soled at least twice and need it again. The uppers are an … Continue reading Moccasin upgrade time again
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
This post came from looking through a few class photos from Rabbitstick several years ago based on an inquiry. This is one of the years I taught my favorite sandal design, an ancient one though still cleverly marketed as a modern style. I call them saint sandals as they look like something you would see … Continue reading Sandals
A while ago I received a request to make a pair of carbatinae (ghillie shoes) for a reenactor. It was the first time I have done this long-distance without being able to measure the foot directly. Luckily, we had good communication and I had a shoe last in his size so with these factors and … Continue reading Ghillie Shoe Commission
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
"The first rule of Project Mayhem is that you do not ask questions..." this may be my new teaching mantra I am considering calling my custom footwear "Mayhem Shoes" (at least until Chuck Palahniuk's space monkey lawyers make me stop). I teach a couple classes about low-tech shoemaking a few times per year in the … Continue reading Mayhem Shoes for the Dystopian Survivor
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
One of the original boots found in the Oseberg Burial Mound dating back to 834 AD. (Photo: skinnblogg.blogspot.no)
A number of complete Viking Age shoes found in Scandinavia and England have the same characteristics. They are flexible, soft and mostly made of cattle hide, but also other kinds of leather was used.
There are complete shoes found in the Oseberg ship burial mound in Norway, Hedeby trading center in Denmark, and Coppergate (York, Viking Age Jorvik, Editor’s note) in England.
All three of these discoveries show a similar construction and form typical for the Middle Ages.
The shoes found in the Oseberg ship consists of two main parts, soles and uppers, and are so-called “turn shoes”.
Reconstructed boots found in the Oseberg burial mound, by Bjørn Henrik Johansen. (Photo: Bjørn Henrik Johansen/ skinnblogg.blogspot.no)
The shoemaker stitched the shoe together inside out, and then turned right side…
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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!
Visit the Huarache Blog. A tradition I hope remains alive and vibrant.
"The first rule of Project Mayhem is that you do not ask questions..." this may be my new teaching mantra I am considering calling my custom footwear "Mayhem Shoes" (at least until Chuck Palahniuk's space monkey lawyers make me stop). I teach a couple classes about low-tech shoemaking a few times per year in the … Continue reading Project: Mayhem Shoes
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
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
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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Prang's Aids For Object Teaching written by Norman Allison Calkins in 1877. From the Shoemaker's Shop, Colonial Williamsburg.
If you are interested in Huaraches, this blog is the end-all of huarache information.
Señor Alfaro is 70 years old and the last Huarachero in Sayula, Jalisco. Although his woven Huaraches have won him awards in regional craft competitions, today like may Huaracheros his business has become very difficult. Although Señor Alfaro has done very well to stay in a trade where many have quit, he melancholically tells me that Huarache making is a craft headed for extinction and that he has advised all his family not to get into it.
Sadly most towns in Mexico have at most one Huarachero left, whereas 30 years ago each town used to have many. Señor Alfaro told me that at one time 90% of Sayula locals wore Huaraches and 10% wore shoes, today that ratio is inverted and only 10% wear Huaraches.
But besides the reduced consumer base, there are 2 major difficulties facing skilled Huaracheros today, the rising costs of vegetable tanned leather and rubber tyres, and that…
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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!