Sorry for my long absence without writing but over the weekend I was away in Kettering, England (near Northampton) working day and night on my 6th pair of shoes. As some of you may remember, I made my last pair (the red & white wingtips) while I was in Florence, Italy last March. There, my good friend and fellow shoemaker, Matteo gave me an upper — this beautiful beige monk strap — that was a piece created by J.M Weston. (For those that don’t know, J.M. Weston is a French shoe company that produces many beautiful ready-to-wear and made-to-order shoes) This last weekend presented itself as my opportunity to start putting together this daring and dashing monk strap, so of course I took full advantage and jumped into the thick of things. My friend Daniel, who works for a very prestigious firm here in England, agreed to host me for the weekend as well as show and teach me the British way of making shoes.
It’s amazing to think that there are so many unique ways of creating a shoe, even in the smallest details. Yet in the end, you really get the same final product, in the sense that shoemaking has it’s rules of how a shoe needs to come out. Obviously, I don’t mean that everybody’s shoemaking capabilities are the same, that would be ridiculous. There are some makers who are far better than others. But when it boils down to it, whether you go to England, Italy, France, Japan or wherever and you have your shoe made, it will be created using very different approaches to shoemaking with respect from one country to the next. That being, I learned the Italian way of making shoes and I needed to become savvy to the British way of making them, which is what I was learning over the weekend.
In my opinion the hardest thing about making shoes, is keeping them clean and unscratched!! In the beginning of the shoemaking process, you are working with the upper leather exposed. That means it is exposed to your dirty hands, your dirty apron, knives, pastes, dust etc. And when working with a light suede like the one that I am currently making, it becomes next to impossible to keep it free of blemishes. As you may be able to tell, the extra long tongue of my shoe, which is partly exposed, is a completely differently color from the rest of the shoe, almost now a tobacco color suede. Hopefully I will be able to clean this when the shoe is finalized. Keep your fingers crossed!! Unfortunately I did not get a chance to finish. I still need to add the heels and apply all of the finishing touches, such as smoothing out the soles, adding the heel liner and cleaning the suede. But as soon as it is done, I will display my final product for all of you to review!