I'm about to get technical and somewhat dirty, both Pip and Victoria have mentioned that they really enjoy these kind of posts. Any shoemakers out there who think I'm giving away trade secrets, in the words of my 4 year old, 'it's all for sharing'!
Often a pair of lasts need to be modified to get the right fit for a foot (ie accommodating a wide foot), or to get the right toe shape. In this case my very particular sister wants a pointed toe, but not an 80's scary point, she would like a kinda snub-nosed rounded point.
So these lasts had a scary pointed toe, and I am building them up, as we call it, with the use of car bog. I wish there was a better name for this product, maybe it's resin? Strips of leather could also be used here, but I like the crisp definition of aforementioned bog. Anyway it's really stinky, so I tend to use it outside and it can get rather messy. It's a two part product, so first scoop some grey resin out onto a mixing surface, then use the correct amount of hardener, I think it's 1/50th, and mix to make a lovely pink stinky goo.
Spread it onto the last where you need it and wait for it to dry completely (best overnight), then sand it back to the desired shape. Sometimes as it's drying I carve sections back with a knife, to resemble the shape I want, and then sand it the next day. In this case I had to do it in a few stages; it's too gooey and drippy to do all in one go.
And here they are, beautiful rounded snub-nosed points. It's important to make the last shape rather fine, a bit exaggeratedly so, because it will end up having two layers of leather and a toe stiffener covering it. If the shape is initially too vague, by the time the shoe is lasted it looks a bit blah, bulbous and just plain wrong.
Tedious pattern making ensues, a court shoe pattern is a bit of a dream for this sneaker obsessed gal, as there are so few pieces to cut! However, the rejoicing is overshadowed by getting the fit right, as there is nothing to hold a court shoe onto the foot except for a well fitted topline. I usually refer to some Italian pattern cutting methods called 'Lunati' when doing a court shoe, there are some nice, simple tricks to get the topline tight onto the last. (Are you bored yet?)
Here I'm checking my pattern in paper, always advised if it's the first time you've cut a certain style, or if the fit is tricky. In this case it's to see if the backseam needs any more or less, or if the whole thing needs re-jigging.
Listening to: Neneh Cherry - So here I come