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
Dép lốp or “Ho Chi Min” Sandals
I was looking up a link for someone and rediscovered the video today showing how to make tough and durable sandals from discarded tires. This style is well-known in Southeast Asia, particularly in poorer areas. If you are interested in sandal-making, you can hardly go wrong with this design if you have access to old … Continue reading Dép lốp or “Ho Chi Min” Sandals
Simple but Ingenious
Tying your own shoes - Before looking at the ethnographic literature I experimented with tying up some simple sandals with mixed success. It turns out that it's not as simple as one might think. Now I'm a connoisseur and am always making mental notes when I see old depictions, or in the old world, images … Continue reading Simple but Ingenious
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!
Early Burras from Uruapan
Some very thick leather shoes. They would last a remarkably long time under the worst conditions.
I have posted about the traditional Mexican Burra Footwear already a couple of times on this blog and consider Burras another fascinating area of footwear research. These Burras I was lucky to photograph also at the Bata Museum in Toronto, their origins are from the 1950’s Uruapan area of Mexico. Although I have never seen a similar Burra design during my research in Mexico.
The Crafting of Traditional Vegetable Tanned Huarache Footwear Leather
I have raved about the Huarache Blog before. Here’s a re-run of the excellent post about how real leather is still made by hand in Mexico.
Unlike most mainstream footwear, Mexican Huarache footwear leather is still vegetable tanned using tree bark. Fewer tanneries in the world still offer vegetable tanned leathers because of the slower tanning process and higher costs of the natural raw materials used.
The natural benefits of vegetable tanned leather are:
1. The organic tanning process is non toxic and has a much lesser impact on the environment and the health of the tanners (chrome tannery workers have a 20%-50% higher chance of cancer risk).
2. The leather maintains some of its natural qualities to stretch and adapt to your foot shape.
A few months ago in a post titled “Taller De Curtiduria González – Vegetable Tanning the Best Huarache Leathers” I introduced Jesús and Antonio González the father and son tanners in Colima, Mexico who still practice this traditional and centuries old tanning method.
The González tannery offers a variety…
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Visit the Huarache Blog. A tradition I hope remains alive and vibrant.
Mid-Cut Huaraches From Tuxpan, Jalisco
These are beauties.
Tuxpan in Southern Jalisco is a small town well known for its Tacos “Tuxpenos” and less known for its unique Mid-Cut Huarache style.
That being nowadays said their is so little demand for the Tuxpan Huarache “Tejido con Talonera Alta” that it can only be made on to order by the only remaining Huarachero in Tuxpan, Armando Ortiz, whose other styles can also be seen in The Huarache Directory HERE
Nicolás Lizares Huarachero in Tapalpa, Jalisco
What a beautifully shot movie about 80 year old Huarachero Nicolás Lizares.
For more detailed photographs check out a previous post titled Nicolás Lizares – Maker of Fine Huaraches from Tapalpa, Jalisco
Ghillie Making at Winter Count 2014
One of the many things taught at Winter Count this year was shoe making in the form of carbatina or ghillies. These are relatively simple shoes notable for their one piece construction and generally involve very little sewing. I am interested in how things are learned and for me, the process is more important than … Continue reading Ghillie Making at Winter Count 2014
Taller De Curtiduria González – Vegetable Tanning the Best Huarache Leathers
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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Another Huarache Design
I like the closed, round toes on this one. From http://huaracheblog.wordpress.com/.
An interesting and excellent business idea. Maybe this will help keep the huaracheros’ tradition alive.
For the past 3 years Huarache Blog has been documenting and promoting the craft of Mexican Huarache footwear. This year I will also be developing a specialty e-trade business to offer more immediate support to the craft of Huaraches.
Introducing úkata, an online Huaracheria selling only the best Huaraches in Mexico. Rare designs crafted by the most talented Huaracheros. Timeless Huarache styles that have been made the same way by the artisan and his family for generations. Footwear with a low environmental impact, made with naturally processed and recycled materials.
Click back in February for a more detailed post on úkata and to visit the online store.
Durante los últimos 3 años Blog Huarache ha estado documentando y promoviendo la artesanía de los Huaraches Mexicanos. Este año voy iniciar un negocio de comercio internet para ofrecer un apoyo más inmediato a los Huaracheros y a la artesanía de los Huaraches Mexicanos.
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Slow Handmade Shoes in Brazil
Thanks Dave, for pointing this out to me. Great stuff!
Huaracheria Aquino in Yalalag, Oaxaca (reblogged)
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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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!