More often than not products that are marketed as handmade just aren’t. Usually the manufacturers “public relations” (thank you Edward Bernays) team are using the consumers ignorance against him/her/themselves. One of the many characteristics in a handmade shoe that differs from the factory version are the materials used to structure the shoe. Most manufacturers use many different synthetics in the heel and toe stiffeners e.g. thermo-plastic, celastic, and resin coated paper/fibers. These materials are quick and easy to shape with the application of heat. The downside of them is they aren’t breathable and some break down very easily. The material I use for all stiffening is veg tanned leather, usually tanned with oak bark, and a paste based on flour emulsified with a starch. The leather comes thick and must be “skived” (skiving is the process in which leather is beveled and thinned with a blade or knife). This can take a bit of time at first but once the technique is mastered it is rather quick, satisfying, and fun.
This is the original thickness ( I had already began skiving the other side before I grabbed the camera)
Curved knife with a rounded tip for easier access towards the center.
Straight knife with pointed tip for fine detail skive on the edge. Less than 1mm thick on that edge!
Skiving finished. Then attach between lining and upper like so…
This is just a test fit shoe so I skipped corners on making the uppers… And depending on the customers opinion I will adjust the toe shape of the last a bit.
Finally this week saw the finishing of the Norwegian stitched Adelaide Oxford. Here is a final product:
As you can see it was a beautiful spring day in Portland equipped with sun, cotton candy clouds, rainbows, and more colors in the sky than a painters palette. Thanks for reading!