Here's some footage of me lasting a pair of shoes during the week.
So here's a peek into my studio, sharing with the motorcycles and pushbikes.
It's weird for me to see what I look like while I'm lasting, so let me explain some bits.
I use an old-school technique favoured by European shoemakers who are generally senior in years, where you keep all the shoemaking tacks in your mouth. It sounds completely gross, but there is a great reason why. The tacks we use to fix the uppers in place have to be grabbed by the head, then pushed and hammered into the leather. If you keep your tacks on the bench, like most young folk do, you have to fish around to get the head of any particular tack, and for me it feels like wasting time.
Remember that I have lining, stiffener and upper all sandwiched together, the stiffener is wet and is covered on either side with a slippery adhesive. This is so that while I'm lasting the shoe, the layers can slide over each other as I get them into place, but finally once the shoe is done, the adhesive will dry, cementing the layers together in a permanent bond. So to spend time fiddling around on the bench for the head of a tack is just too time consuming for me.
No, I'd rather risk tetanus by putting sharp 14ml metal tacks into my mouth, keeping them between my lower gum and lip, like I'm a Major League Baseball player with some chewing tobacco. All that ruminating you can see me doing in this footage, is me feeling with my tongue for the head of a tack, pushing it out and grabbing it with the pincers. Once or twice I may have pinched my lip, but it rarely happens now.
I totally understand why many shoemakers prefer not to do it this way, and I have tried going back to fishing around on the bench, but this tacks in the mouth system really does work for me. It's a bit of a relic, and I don't want to let it go!
Listening to: Mos Def, Talib Kweli & Common - Respiration
PS. Thanks to my anonymous stamp sender from SA!