Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Saturday, 14 April 2018

London Craft Week - a packed itinerary

London Craft Week returns to the city next month for its third year and we're excited to be taking part in three events during what's proving to be a busy week. 

Wednesday 9th May, Makers' Stories Live 10.30am - 1pm

Leathersellers' Hall, 7 St. Helen's Place, London EC3A 6AB

Image result for leathersellers hall
Image copyright: Riba

We're kicking off with an event hosted by curator Brian Kennedy and Head of Business Incubation at Cockpit Arts, David Crump.
This in-conversation morning at Leathersellers' Hall will shine a spotlight on the support provided by Cockpit Arts, its associates and the London Creative Network Programme to help makers succeed and the craft economy grow.
James and I will be discussing our creative journey with Bill Amberg; artist in wood, Eleanor Lakelin will be talking with gallerist Sarah Myerscough; ceramic artist, David Marques will be chatting to writer Corinne Julius; and ceramicist, Leah Jensen will be in conversation with gallerist Natalie Melton.
The event is free, but tickets are limited so book now!

Thursday, 10 May, Shoe Making Demonstrations 11am, 3pm, 6pm 
James Purdey and Sons, South Audley Street

Showcasing our bespoke shoe service at Purdey, visitors can chat to us as we work about the centuries-old techniques and natural veg. tanned leathers that make our bespoke walking, stalking and hunting footwear amongst the finest in the world.

Friday, 11 May, Shoe Making School Open Day 11am - 5pm
Evening Private View 6pm - 9pm
Unit 50, Chocolate Studios, Shepherdess Place, London N1 7LJ

We're proud to be opening the doors to our new shoe making school in trendy Shoreditch (or Hoxton, depending on which you think is hipper), for the very first time. It's just off City Road and moments from Old Street (silicon roundabout).

We're looking forward to showing off the studio space we've created, our students' work and stylish examples from the new shoe making and leather work courses we will be running in the coming year. (If they're not too shy, we also hope to introduce you to some of our wonderful tutors). 

Please email us if you are planning to pop in during the day or would like to be put on the guest list for the evening...just so that we can order in enough bubbly!

That's all for now. We're off to plan our own studio and demonstration visits for London Craft Week - there's so much to see - so until next week happy shoe making!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Chocolate Studios Open Day

Welcome back good shoe folk...the Easter eggs have been consumed and now it's time to embrace spring with a full on spring clean. 

Luckily our new work space is fast taking shape, so we will soon be able to move over some of our tools and equipment, finally freeing up space in W9!

Here's what we got up to this you can see it's been all about the peg board wall.

Marking up the wall

...very carefully

Spacing the vertical batons

Now, is that straight...testing the shoe maker's expert eye

Horizontal baton ready

Boards going up


With help

Securing the bottom struts

Securing the top struts

All set and ready for tools to be added
A new space has also meant a little bit of shopping. Our first item of furniture arrived this week a beautiful, tambour-fronted cupboard for evening students' work boxes to be stored column for each of our three classes.   

As always someone found the packaging more interesting than the contents

Lighting gets an overhaul next's one of three sets of bright work lights going in (Kelly this one's for you)

...soon to be followed by vintage chairs and a spectacular new work table from Sheffield. (The table is going to be a thing of beauty and we can't wait to show you). 

We'll be hosting an Open Day during London Craft Week from 11am - 6pm on Friday, May 11th so if you're in town let us know and we'll put a glass of bubbly on ice to welcome you to 50 Chocolate Studios.

Until next week, happy shoe making and we leave you with a glimpse of the studio's new neighbourhood a mix of wonderful old housing, warehouses and new glass high rises... 

Friday, 30 March 2018

Easter treats - new Tool Shed uppers

Welcome back good shoe folk of the world, after a week of sourcing furniture and fittings for the new premises we are enjoying an extra-long weekend break over Easter.

Alongside the new premises we are offering more courses, including shorter shoe making courses, as well as making improvements to the e-commerce side of the website. We've always offered a choice of uppers online on the Tool Shed, but from next month you will be able to see exactly what you are ordering and the colours available. Here are the sample uppers we've made pulled over the 0743 so you can see the detail and proportions. 

Semi-brogue Derby with a straight toecap and counter in deep burgundy

Semi-brogue Oxford with a straight toe cap in conker  brown

Full Brogue Oxford with gimped toecap, vamp and counter in acorn

Plain Oxford in conker brown

Back seam

Plain Derby in black calf

Please note eyelets will only be available on request. All eyelets will be 'blind' (visible only on the inside only) as standard.

We'll let you know when these go live on the website but for now, until next week we wish you a happy Easter break and happy shoe making!  

Friday, 23 March 2018

Northampton part 2: Adele Williamson and R.E.Tricker

Master and apprentice - proud craftswomen both
Welcome good shoe folk of the world. As promised here's the second part from our Northampton trip a couple of weeks ago when we met up with Adele Williamson, Trickers first female apprentice and a fellow QEST scholar.  

Breaking new ground is nothing unusual for Trickers. I personally owe them much. Not only did they generously sponsored my degree footwear collection - they allowed me to work alongside their then head pattern cutter, Barry Jones, to bring my designs to life. (Here's a snapshot of the footwear in question).
Atelier Carre Equus thigh boots

Atelier Carre Equus knee boots 

In Vogue Homme International

Vogue Homme

Most importantly, it was seeing their in-house shoe maker crafting these boots that made me fall in love with hand sewn shoe making...head and hands working together to create beautiful, three-dimensional sculptures.

So it was a joy to see Barry again and to meet Adele, who is one of three bespoke shoe making trainees at the factory...a good sign to see the traditional craft once again making its way back into mainstream manufacturing. 

Talking tools and techniques

The factory is much-improved since my day there; newly streamlined, reorganised and brightened up but without losing any sense of the building's charm and history and it was great to see the bespoke team so busy.

Carreducker Half-Cut uppers
We also revisited a Carreducker signature design - the Half-Cut...and met Scott, the man who now heads up the Bespoke team but who, back then, had the joy of getting our coloured lines straight!  We were delighted to see them on display...prompting the thought (much to Scott's dismay) that perhaps we should revisit the design.... 

Carreducker Half-Cut in Espresso and ice blue flash

Carreducker Half-Cut in Espresso and golden yellow flash

A well-used strop

Picking up some ideas for tools for the workshop - a toe laster - why not?

A busy work bench 

Ready for some Norwegian welt practise - since finished and looking very fine
That's all for this week, so until next week happy shoe making!