Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Exploring the Art of Paper Shoe Making...

"Now for good luck, cast an old shoe after me."
~Proverb~

For the past few days I have been about the business of a cordwainer exploring the art of shoe making. Some refer to this art form as cobbling, although historically, cobblers were those who repaired shoes, irregardless of the technical term you use, I have been making paper shoes.

In exploring the technical terms of shoe making I stumbled across some interesting tid bits of information. Did you know that there are patron saints of shoemakers? St. Crispin and Saint Crispinian, are the Christian patron saints of cobblers, tanners, and leather workers.

(Vintage Shoe Images from Karen's Whimsy)

Born to a noble Roman family, in the 3rd century AD, Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twin brothers, fled persecution for their faith, winding up in Soissions, where they preached Christianity to the Gauls and made shoes by night. Their success attracted the ire of Rictus Varus, the governor of Belqui Gaul, who had them tortured and beheaded c. 286. In the 6th century, a church was built in their honor in Soissions.
The history of footwear and shoe making is quite interesting. Centuries ago experimentation with various types of materials such as bark, leaves, and rawhide resulted in early forms of foot coverings such as sandals and moccasins. From there new materials and styles were introduced and continue to evolve, only to be limited by the imagination.
My imagination was sparked by a pair of little boy's shoes that I purchased in a flea market several months ago. The itch to experiment with various techniques, materials, and styles pushed itself to the forefront of my mind and so began my hands on journey in the art of art shoe making.

My chosen medium was paper. I sat studying the little leather shoe resting in the palm of my hand and was overcome with the urge to recreate it to the best of my artist ability. I have never made a paper shoe before, had no pattern, and yet I knew this shoe would come into being. First I had to sketch a pattern and then develop a technique that would make paper look like leather. One shoe and a few hours later I was hooked.

From heel to toe this shoe measures 5 in. long and is 3 in. high. A real little toddler foot could slip right in it.What I would change about this shoe is the stitching, I should have done it by hand with waxed twine and went one step further with the paper technique to get a more aged look.Next I search online for paper shoe patterns, after all, wouldn't it be better to at least have a pattern and instructions to follow? I came across this design by Ellen Huston, shoe template and lining template, a cute peep toe party favor shoe. I modified the pattern to suit my tastes, had an experience in major frustration as the vintage wallpaper I used did not want to glue, and after much effort gave birth to my version, the Lady Bird paper shoe...The Lady Bird shoe is 6 1/2 in. from heel to toe and stands 4 in. high at its tallest point.Then I found these adorable patterns for tiny doll size shoes. I made a few changes to the construction of these as well. The results were this adorable little doll shoe where I experimented with paper printing techniques...This wee little dolly shoe is a mere 3 in. long and 1 3/4 in. to the arch of its buckle.And this tiny baby boy oxford, where I wish I had used real stitching before assembling the shoe...This sweet little boy's shoe is 3 in. long and a fraction over 1 in. high. If you try this one, lace the shoe before you construct it. Trust me on this one.While I found following these patterns quite pleasurable, it did not compare to the process of designing and executing the shoe myself. So, I returned to the sketch pad and came up with a baby bootie pattern that is made from handmade duplex and vintage wrapping paper. I goofed on the toe of this one, turning the wrong side of the duplex out but, it was a happy accident. I ended up liking the two tone effect of the shoe.This over sized bootie is 5 in. long and 2 in. high.I then moved on to making a fanciful Autumn Fairy shoe, once again experimenting with paper printing techniques and adding natural materials as design features and embellishments.This sweet confection of nature is 3 in. long and 1 in. high.Dried naturals from the woods around the Quill adorn this shoe both inside and out. It came out better than I expected.Three more shoes are sketched, patterns are cut, materials chosen, and they await the hands on touch of the cordwainer.

Also on the work tables are four Fou~Fou Art Shoe Kits ready to be embellished and filled...
Stay tuned, the shoppe really is coming soon!

My shoes do not have the charm, grace, or elegance of Nancy's nor the magical quality of Dawn's but they were created with the same kindred artist spirit that makes one want to apply the hands on touch of an idea bringing it into being by the fingers. Cobbling is indeed noble profession and I am honored to work alongside other shoe makers and be inspired by this century old art form.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

25 comments:

Catherine Holman said...

Sandy,
You simply amaze me! What a sweet talented lady you are!
Hugs,
Cathie

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Miss Sandy,
I stumbled on your blog today and what a blessing you are to me. I have so enjoyed looking at your little shoes. I think I would love to try too. I have always wanted to have a small Christmas tree covered in little shoes. I could possibly make my own. You have shared so much information. I am so excited.

I did not see a follower button, so I won't know when you post again. Please pop over and sign up to follow my blog, so I will not lose your blog. I so want to follow your crafting with the little shoes.

Thank you so much for sharing today and blessing my heart. Country hugs, Sherry

Mildred said...

Oh, I can just imagine you searching the woods around the cottage for dried blooms to place on the little shoe. It takes my mind back to old storybooks with lovely illustrations. How very fascinating these little creations are.

Lady Farmer said...

Oh! Sandi~
I can just see Christmas trees decorated with these shoes! Wouldn't it be adorable to have a little tree in a nursery all trimmed in your tiny little baby shoes?! Precious!

LiLi M. said...

Miss Sandy I love your paper shoes! I especially love the todler shoe, you did a marvelous job there, the paper you have chosen is so leather like, it's gorgeous and I think you have a league of your own here (is this English, I hope that you understand what I mean) what I want to say is that you don't have to compare yourself with Nancy or Dawn who both have leagues of their own too. The other shoes are cute too, to say the least, but my favorite is definitely the second self made one; the todler shoe! Chapeau!

Coastal Sisters said...

Sandy, I am just in awe of your shoe creations! Gorgeous! I am so glad you posted about these and gave the link to the pattern because I have been wanting to try my hand at something like this. Thank you so much for posting about this.

LuLu~*xoxo

Ragamuffin Gal said...

Miss Sandy ~ These shoes are so dreamy ~ I wish my feet could fit into one. Lovely creations my dear! Blessings!

Queenmothermamaw said...

Wow I am impressed. My favorite is the fairy shoe. I have a beautiful riverbirch tree that sheds bookoos of back that I use for different crafts. Do you think the bark would need something done to get it to bend and shape? I guess I can just give it a try. I am so glad to see this as soon as the holiday work is done I am going to try.
QMM

The Feathered Nest said...

Oh my goodness Sandy!!!! You are amazing girl!!!! I just love each and every one ~ they are all simply beautiful to me ~ of course the fairy shoe is my very favorite but you would know that wouldn't you? You are so very talented Sandy, these should be published!!! hugs and love, Dawn

Lori said...

Miss Sandy!!! the shoes you made are the sweetest things...i just love them so much...esp the baby shoe and the sweet little doll shoes...beautiful work!!!

Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

Leave it to you to come up with such creative and charming shoes! It would never have occurred to me to make them out of paper. They are gorgeous!

KathyB. said...

There has got to be a market somewhere for your beautiful shoes.However, they would look lovely displayed in a glass case too.They really do look like aged leather and silk. Just beautiful!

Linda said...

Oh, Miss Sandy, who are you kidding? :-) Your shoes most certainly DO have all of the charm, grace and elegance -- your talent is humbling to me. There's no way I could ever create things as lovely as this. You are such a blessing!! ♥♥

Flower said...

O my!! I love what you have done!! Isn't is just amazing how God gives these urges to create and you follow them! I hope you have time to come over to my place...I've done a little nature gardening.
I appreciate each little detail you provide!

kathy said...

Sandy , How wonderful these are --
EAch speaks differently - but with one voice -- diminuitive creations made with nature -
I love little shoes and have several pair as well as little stockings -- and even a high top baby wooden shoe last' that I bought 20 years ago -- but the sweetest are my childrens booties -- and my Hubs that were made in the forties his little bronzed shoes -- which many were done back then and usually put on a standing picture frame with the baby's picture --These are too too
precious and need to be in a magazine , as Dawn mentioned -- such talent -- and made with your ♥-- kathy - ga

Caroline said...

What talent! Could this be a new carrier as a cobbler??

TinyBear said...

well Miss Sandy - all I can say is WOW. all those shoes are amazing. Love those tiny baby shoes.
You are SO talented, and I´m so looking forward to that shop ;D
~ Tina

Flossie Belle-Carilyn said...

OOH Miss Sandy, I just Adore all your Beautiful Shoes, Sooooo Gorgeous,
Carilyn.
http://flossiebellebags.blogspot.com/

BellaRosa said...

My stars, how gorgeous all your shoes turned out! I think my jaw dropped a lil more with each picture! The baby shoes are wonderful, then your creations just got more and more beautiful from there, I loved the fairy and doll shoes...wanna trade for some old tattered tiny bebe doll shoes :) Rose

p.s. Turtorials please :)

QueenBe said...

Sandy, thank you so much for visiting my blog, and I must say yours is amazing. I am a new follower now, and YES I would love it if you would link back to my grunge tag turorial. Thanks for asking! See you in the blogs!

Fete et Fleur said...

Lovely! Miss Sandy you have the way of the elves in your hands. Wonderful creations!!

Hugs!
Nancy

Sandy said...

I am up before dawn again. I love to seek out new blogs in the quite of the morning before all the hubbub starts. Today I found your wonderful blog. While all of your shoes are stunning, I am partial to the baby shoes. So sweet and delicate.

Bonita said...

Those are the cutest baby shoes! Lvoe them all! I'm so stunned that any one woman can be so creative.

Eileen@Star'sFault said...

Oh Sandy ~ The baby shoes are simply the BEST. Love the little Mary Janes....

Blessings ~ Eileen @ Star's Fault

kate said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Lucy

http://toddlergirls.net

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