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William de Wyke

Buy This Book No. 4: Archae­olo­gic­al Foot­wear: Devel­op­ment of Shoe Pat­terns and Styles from Pre­his­tory til the 1600’s

Mar­quita Volken is the shoe­maker shown in this video mak­ing waxed ends. She and her hus­band Serge run the Gentle Craft Shoe Museum in Lausanne, Switzer­land. They are first-rate aca­dem­ics as well as highly skilled cord­wain­ers, and are among the world’s top experts on European his­tor­ic foot­wear. All this makes …

A mis­tress of the craft mak­ing waxed ends

The mak­ing of waxed ends is, in my opin­ion, the single most import­ant core skill for a shoe­maker after pat­tern­ing. I believe it is more import­ant even than being able to sharpen a knife. This video of Mar­quita Volken’s pro­cess for mak­ing up a waxed end is worth of many repeat watch­ings. Of par­tic­u­lar …

Iron Black Dyes

The easi­est col­ours to dye leath­er in medi­ev­al times were brown and black. Those are by far the most com­mon col­ours for shoes in art­work I have looked at, but I haven’t done a numer­ic ana­lys­is of foot­wear col­our by art and peri­od yet. Leath­er tanned by the medi­ev­al pro­cess in pits of …

Buy This Book No.3: Shoes and Pat­tens

This is anoth­er must-have book for the medi­ev­al reen­act­or and his­tor­ic shoe­maker. Shoes and Pat­tens is the sem­in­al work on medi­ev­al foot­wear in Eng­lish. Pub­lished in the 1980s some of the research has been super­seded by sub­sequent pub­lic­a­tions such as Step­ping Through Time, but it remains an immensely use­ful and access­ible …

Buy This Book No.2: Step­ping Through Time

In my opin­ion this is the most sig­ni­fic­ant Eng­l­ish-lan­guage book on his­tor­ic foot­wear to be pub­lished in the 20th cen­tury. The bulk of the book is by Olaf Goubitz who lit­er­ally inven­ted the sys­tem of record­ing archae­olo­gic­al leath­er and foot­wear used today. Every­one with an interest in his­tor­ic foot­wear and …

Picture of two skiving knives lying on a piece of leather

Skiv­ing Knives

I recently bought a couple of skiv­ing knives from Lisa Sor­rell, and I’ll start this by say­ing this: Run, do not walk, to Lisa’s web­site and buy one. One of each if you can afford it, but the big one if not. If you can’t afford a US$45 knife, that’s Ok, but …

Picture of the book 'Art of The Shoemaker'

Buy This Book No.1: The Art of The Shoe­maker

Any­one inter­ested in mak­ing late peri­od shoes needs a copy of this book. It is Al Saguto’s trans­la­tion of Garsault’s 1767 Art du Cor­don­ni­er includ­ing extens­ive notes. It is THE book on 18th cen­tury shoe­mak­ing and the tech­niques it describes are use­ful back to 16th cen­tury shoe­mak­ing as well. As the page …

Where to get single strand thread

A ques­tion I get asked fairly fre­quently is where to find single-strand thread for mak­ing tapered waxed ends for sew­ing. It’s hard to get really good stuff these days because there isn’t really any­where doing prop­er long-staple lin­en any­more but you can still get work­able stuff. The stuff you want is …

An amaz­ing dis­play of peri­od shoe­mak­ing tools

This is a pho­to­graph from Serge and Mar­quita Volken’s shoe­mak­ing museum which you can read about at http://www.shoemuseum.ch/. I have pos­ted it here with their per­mis­sion after they pos­ted it on their face­book page. They said, about the dis­play: “Our new dis­play: Shoe makers tool boards: from left to right: Neo­lith­ic, Roman, Medi­ev­al, …

Words From a Mas­ter Crafts­man

Ford Hal­lam is an extraordin­ar­ily tal­en­ted met­al smith trained in the Japan­ese tra­di­tion. A short film was made about his work, Utsushi — in Search of Katsushira’s Tiger which I think every­one should watch. I have watched it many many times and I take great joy in it each time. Oppor­tun­it­ies to watch a mas­ter …

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