Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In the studio

Here's the latest on my sister's cute little court shoes,(also known as pumps but I really hate that term).
These strange-looking items are the heel stiffeners, pieces of leather that have been shaved down at the edges so that they are lovely and smooth between the upper and lining. Before lasting the shoes I spray the stiffeners with water to make them malleable, then paint on some water-based paste so that there is some slip between the layers.

This image is a little disorienting, but it shows the upper of the shoe upside down and opened up, with the stiffener in place at the heel. I then apply more paste to the inside of the stiffener and get hammering.
Setting up a shoe to be lasted still fills me with nerves, it's a bit of a wrestle, using lots of tiny metal tacks to attach the upper to the last in exact position. Of course you have to replicate this identically on the other shoe, so there's a lot of measuring and squinting, comparing, possible swearing, and finally sighing.
I apply some contact adhesive at this point, once that is tacky I am ready to start lasting - that is wrapping the upper over the last with no visible creases. I use lasting pincers and make lots of tiny little pleats on the underside of the last.

Here you can see the heel section lasted, it's always a great feeling to get to this point because I really enjoy lasting the toes.

This shot shows the toes which have had the lining lasted, then I've applied a thermoplastic (this means heat-activated) toe stiffener, which I then paste over, and quickly last the final layer.
Depending on the toe shape, lasting the toes is usually a dream, as you are doing it all in separate layers, and can therefore get a nice neat finish. Pointy toes can be tricky, as there is a lot of leather needing to cram into a little space, but I have persuasive ways! I also have a lovely pair of fine-nosed pincers, which one of my teachers used to call 'ladies' pincers, said in the voice of Emily Howard from Little Britain.

On another note I am so excited about the rain, I do love Autumn! For me it's all about cardigans, knee-high socks and big pots of minestrone, which is what I'm off to make now.

Listening to: The Mighty Boosh- Future Sailors (I love my little Vincey!)


pen said...

I especially love the way the leather goes around the heel
and the picture with the toes curled up!
(and the the word verification today is 'foxing' which is what your sister will be doing when she's wearing these shoes!)

Silver Bee said...

yeah! how bad is that term 'pumps'. makes me think of a lady doing step aerobics in a g-string leotard, not a nice pair of leather shoes

my word verification was mollest. oh dear.