Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Last at Last!

First thing this morning (OK, 10 AM) I couldn't wait to see if my first last had lasted!
Its a foot! And an Ankle! Its kind of bumpy, but I don't blame it.
Its also really heavy. I hope that doesn't make it hard to work with. JD asked my why I didn't put a pole down the middle for a handle, kind of like a foot-sicle. I didn't even think of it.

This whole duct tape thing really is doing things the hard way, but taking the form of another shoe wasn't something that I wanted to do, neither was taking an impression directly from my foot (how do you get you foot back).

Now I have to figure out the left foot... The reasons that I haven't just forged ahead are: 1. Some of the tape has gotten loose (perhaps I used to much oil on the inside), 2. Yeah, I kind of ruined my plaster mixing bowl. When I had poured all of the plaster into the form last time, I couldn't put it down or it would collapse with the weight of the plaster. So, by the time the plaster in the form was hard the plaster in the bowl was hard too.

Hey, even though my lasts aren't boot length I may still be able to pull off boots because I took the duct tape and I'm going to use them for a pattern.

Now I have 2 patterns, the ones that I took from the dis-assembled shoes with 1 3/4" heels, and the one from the duct tape.

So pattern makers, how would the pattern for a shoe upper change with the heel height?

Hmmm, stay tuned. I'm going to compare the two and explore the mechanics of shoe pattern making.

Friday, October 29, 2010

An evening of fun with duct tape, olive oil and plaster of paris

I got the plaster poured in one duct tape cast tonight!
I have spent most of my free time this week staring at those silver things wondering if this had any chance of working.
Of course, you can do anything with duct tape!
Actually, it doesn't hold water very well, especially around the toes and heels.
It also doesn't hold its shape very well after you goop all that plaster into it.
The first part of cast making involves about a half a cup of olive oil to coat the inside of the duct tape. This immediately turned the sticky underside of the tape to goop.
So, I was sitting on the back porch, on a tarp so I didn't have to clean any of the nasty things out of the house tonight. I had my bowl of 4 cups of water, and my 15 lbs of plaster. Its kind of like making gravy, only you stir it with you hand.
I got the 8 cups of plaster mixed in and I had to use my hands to smooth out the lumps get everything stirred in.
Then I held the right form in one hand and poured it out of the pan into the form. I ran out of plaster about 8" from the top, but that was actually OK. This was suprisingly heavy! Then I realized that if I tried to set them down they would collapse. So had to sit the and hold them for 30 minutes. Then it occured to me, am I cementing myself to this? Thank goodness the olive oil that I rubbed in had soaked through and I was fine.
Tomorrow I will start on the left one and see if the right one can still stand.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shoemaking, Step 2

Finding a pattern!

As per Mary Wales Loomis's suggestion, I decided to take apart a pair of old shoes for a pattern. This was a challenges since I don't cling to crappy or worn out shoes. I also just purged my closet during my bout with unemployment.
I did manage to dig up a crappy pair of Naturalizers that were an un-natural, wierd green. They are 9 1/2 AA and I normally order a 9 1/2, so they must have been on sale. They are man made uppers (not leather) with leather soles, but I thought I would give them a shot anyways.
Mary was right, this glue that they use isn't meant to come apart, and those little nails are insidious!

But, I have parts!
The weird green shape on the right is the shoe upper that I am using for the pattern. I have sprayed it with water to see if I can flatten it any with a book. I always knew that Principals of Auditing would come in handy.
You will notice that you see a white woven piece that is fused from about mid-arch to the heel. This is the part that is stiffened buckram.

The little U shaped pieces on the right side are called counters and are used to add extra stiffness to the heel area.

Here are more parts:
The far right is the inner sole with a futile attempt at padding, both inside and outside.
Next is the middle sole piece which is like thick oak tag in the heel area and heavy felt towards the toe (the heel is nailed to this).
The next piece is the outer sole. The green crud around the edges show that this is the side that gets cemented to the bottom of upper shoe. The reverse side is what hits the floor when you walk.
On the left is the plastic heel and the metal shanks. The shanks are what hold the angle of the shoe. One end goes on top of the heel and the other extends to the ball of the foot.

I already have quite a few ideas for fabulous shoes.

Of course leather is my first choice so I want over to G H Leather (I 10 and Shepherd in Houston) where they have the most fabulous lamb skin!
The lighter brown (cognac) at the top matches my DB leather trench from last year. I needed more for a belt anyway.
I also got some chocolate (Pantone 19-0912) to make a skirt, and hopefully some shoes. It just happens to match a cobra skin that I picked up at the Tandy Leather Store several years ago.

I also got some black. You can always use more black leather!

As for my first shoe design... In the book she suggests using fabric, esp. for your first pair.

But, I have never been one for the shallow end of the pool. Hey, I have worked with leather before and I think that it will shape and mold better!

Or, I could play it safe and make something like this:
In a gark gray pinstripe that might look really cool, and that twist thing is really in style.
But for now, I am off to find mold soap so that I can pour in my plaster and finish my lasts!

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