Not much news so far this week, my animation job has been keeping me super busy (and a trip to the snow last weekend ruled out any weekend shoemaking)… but I have been keeping on the ball by reading other shoemaker’s blogs.

I just found this quote on Bespoke Shoes Unlaced, and thought it was pretty apt for this week’s post:

“How many shoemakers does it take to change a light bulb? Only 1, but it takes 6 months.”

I’ll be back next with with something more informative.

Listening to : Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Heel and (peep) Toe

Ok, I’m a week behind in posting this, but I typed it up last week when we had no internet access, so I’m just going to cut+paste it in. No new news for this week, I’ve been working on some uber high-end 3D animations for the Venice Architecture Biennale at my day job – which means working weekends.  For the nerds out there, we’re doing 10 minutes + of Full HD (1920) Stereoscopic (double frames) photoreal 3d animation. It is taking a bazillion hours to do, and 3 bazillion hours to render. FYI I’ve been a 3D dude at Floodslicer for 4 years now, eek!

Tuesday started off pretty crapola (special thanks to Dani for being patient with me sooking up all morning when nothing was going right) but somehow the cloud over my head cleared in the afternoon and I managed to start and finish a new shoe that is probably my favourite one to date. Strange how these things come about.

my new, one of a kind, left foot only, finally-i’m-making-heels, Chloe inspired shoe…

I bought a few second hand heels from the Salvos on the weekend (yep, they probably assumed I’m a drag queen) and pulled them apart in the quest for knowledge.
I’ve found it’s MUCH easier to see what’s inside a shoe that way than to read books telling me what SHOULD be in there.
Armed with a new set of measurements and the motivation to get started on some heels rather than another desert boot, I constructed a sole assembly as per the one I pulled apart :

forming veg tanned insole leather to the last…

adding a second layer of insole, with a shank imbedded / cutout…

final inner sole assembly with heel height…

The only problem with ‘research’ shoe making is that I often get stuck wondering what pattern, style and colour to use… do I go cheap and ugly (like my poo brown ankle boot) or make something that might look nicer in the end and deal with the extra time and cost it takes?
The answer this time was to make it nice… ugly shoes aren’t motivational (or good for blog posts).

so, on with a nice coloured wrap + some felt / wool stuff for padding.

Rather than spend the day trying to design something awesome, I got to work on loosely copying a gnarly pair of Chloe wedges I have on my wall, using whatever I had that was similar enough in colour, and changing the wedge to a heel because I need practice using screws and nails to attach wearable heels….


Salami Making

** apologies in advance to any vegan / vegetarian / meat afraid readers out there **

Finally, last Sunday was SALAMI DAY!
Dani’s family are Italian and pride themselves on making a mean homestyle salami that has been the family recipe for god knows how many years.
We have got our hands dirty for the last few years at her uncle Nick’s house on a cold night in June / July, but this year with the ever expanding family we decided to branch off an host a Maugeri / Phillips salami day so that we don’t keep on crowding more friends and family into Nick and Rosa’s basement.

Most of the gang getting rrrready to rrrrumble.

This year we had to keep the numbers a little low as we weren’t 100% sure we knew what we were doing or how many people would fit in our kitchen, but now that we’ve done it once we want to do a big communal batch next winter, and you’re all invited (just RSVP before May 2011).

The whole process begins with the peppers… 4kg of capsicums that get cooked down to a kilogram or so of intense puree a few days before the meat arrives.
No photos of this bit, but you can imagine…. It’s very red and smells like capsicum.

Click through for all the meaty goodness, or scroll past if you’re just here for the shoes and jewels…

doré casque en papier mâché

Here begins a long-assed bunch of posts covering the last week of our lives which seems to have been a goldmine for blog-worthy events!
If you are reading this somewhere other than the top of the front page, then the ‘bunch’ of posts i’m talking about are ABOVE this one… get it?

First up is the helmet that I made for our pal Kate’s 30th birthday on the weekend.
As I mentioned earlier, my partner in crime was Troy, who previously knocked up a whole Transformers costume in a few evenings – and when that sort of precedent is coupled with our long term design/sketching/star wars knowledge rivalry I had to pull out all the stops to not look like the lame one of team…DAFT PUNK.

If you have no idea who Daft Punk are, or what their helmets are all about then this post will be much less exciting than if you’re in the know. They’re a French electronic music act… check this out for some education.
On that note, this post is dedicated to Dan Bronsema, who can borrow the finished helmet to when he gets back from the USA if he wants it… I’m sure he’ll find many reasons to wear it. Hi Brons!

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real^…… home made >

Rather than talk you through the whole process (as it won’t be very useful unless you are about make one yourself) here are some craft-o-rama pics for you to check out.

Boots, Benches and Big Talkin’

Hi there!
First up, let me say that this new-house-got-no-broadband-connection situation is starting to wear a little thin… to access that mystical domain that is the internet at the moment I have to:
Borrow Dani’s laptop, bring it to the spare room, turn it on, connect her USB modem, plug it in to the router and wait – usually for 4 spam emails and my daily eBay saved searches – and THEN i get to go online. What a pain, but it’s only for one more week….

So, after just doing all of that AND cleaning up the spare room, here I am with another weekly ‘what has he been up to now’ update.

This week I’ve had 3 projects on the go, and haven’t managed to finish any of them.
At least I’m consistent.

Project 1 is the elastic sided boots to replace Dani’s trashed favourite pair :

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Stage 1 : Transferring (aka copying) the existing design on to a pattern from my chosen lasts (the yellow ones)

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Stage 2 : Change pattern so as not to copy the existing design, make a mockup (from vinyl because its cheaper) and test out the results.

Stage 3 : Find that the new design looks shit. Draw changes directly on shoe. Cut shoe apart and remake pattern. Repeat Stage 2 + 3 for a few days.


Stage 4 : Arrive at an uninspired but working design. Decide that a front seam is not cool…

* Insert Quick Summary Shoe Makin’ Lesson here *

As I was aware, but chose to ignore, boots pretty much all need some way to stretch in 2 directions at once, or they pucker up like one of those shar pei dogs. The leather can’t be pulled over the top of the last/foot (ie from ankle to ankle) AND also make that nice sloping curve you see going from the top of the boot to the toe without some help.

The proper way to do it is to BLOCK the leather, which is a tricky process in which you essentially pre-stretch the sloping curve in to the leather by pulling it over a rounded bit of wood and nailing it.
The second way to achieve a compound curve (as they are called) is to add a seam to the middle = easy, but it looks, well, like it has a seam in it.
The 3rd way that I came across is to do an armadillo style split up of the section in to many half-moon shaped pieces, and that takes the pressure off, requiring the many little pieces to stretch just a little amount.
So I got out the ruler, did some crazy maths and ended up here……

Stage 5 : Make new pattern with no seam and no blocking required.

Pile of discarded patterns and mock ups.

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… you see what I mean? Curves baby, thankyou Mr Chircop and Mr Carland for the VCE maths.

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Stage 6 : Sew an upper from real leather, add in some sort of red elastic and get ready to assemble.

Stage 7 :  Add a sole and heel. Show Dani and get her to try it on. Ready to make the real thing!

Stage 8 : Make a pair of them, add heels, soles, lining etc etc. Tune in next week for that…

Project 2 is still TOP SECRET – I’m making a costume for a dress up party and it would be no fun to preview it here to all my friends before I get there and bust out the associated poses and dance moves!

Let’s just say it is a bit lame how much effort an ex-industrial design student can/will/does put in to a costume.
Our friend Troy built this for the last one we went to…. so he is setting the bar kind of high…

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Transformer Costume + beer = Hours of work destroyed in a matter of minutes after falling over.

Next week I will have some D.I.Y photos of my effort for you all to see.

Project 3 has been beginning the long road to designing my first ever range of shoes! Yeeeehaw.

I have decided that my skills are now past ‘super-amateur’ and are moving on to ‘capable’ and I’m thinking that just remaking whatever odds and ends my wife / family are after is not leading me in the right direction.

I’m pretty set on making Chloe / Chanel / Louis Vuitton style ladies shoes, so making another dozen Desert Boots is a bit of a weird way to get there no?
I will continue to cobble for the sake of it, but I think the time has come to get some designs down on paper, some new lasts and start prototyping my own designs. Exciting!

So far this ‘journey’ has consisted of 3+ hours of sitting with a scalpel and a stack of Vogue mags from the last 5 years and cutting out whatever rings my bell, so to speak.

The issue I have is that I’m not exactly designing “what I’d like to wear” as a lot of brand designers do, I am designing for all the well dressed ladies out there – so I will need to construct a character and demographic that I’m designing for BEFORE I draw up another page of directionless shoes.

I’m noticing a definite pattern start to appear in who I like, colours, trends etc, so that’s a start.
Next is to collage together some sort of “muse” and a big fuck off mood-board so that I can gather all my thoughts together.


The only other thing worth noting is that I added some SWEEEET assed drawers to my desk. These used to belong to Dani’s grandpa, and were salvaged in a big clean up recently. I think i’ll add some Dymo labels to them and try not to rub off the timeless descriptions on there like “cold chisels” and “knobs”… hehe… knobs.



Hopefully my old bits and pieces will have just as much charm and history when I retire in 40 or so years time, and by then these ones will have double charm as they’ll be 100+ years old and will have lived through 2 careers worth of crapola.

I’m done! Only took an HOUR with this banana internet connection… I hope you like the pretty pictures!

Listening to : Led Zeppelin.
160 tracks on random shuffle, its like one long never-ending album.
I think this is what they have playing in heaven, with some Faces and Tom Petty in the mix.


Cremaster is playing THIS WEEKEND at ACMI.

ok, so if the words Barney, Cycle and Cremaster mean anything to you – no need to explain.
If you have no idea what I mean, then you’re in for a steep learning curve.


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If the saying “a picture tells a thousand words” holds true, then “6 1/2 hours of non-linear, abstract, sculpture and metaphor laden video footage of the most beautiful characters and environments I have ever seen” probably warrants 12 million words… and I don’t have the time to write that out.

(in fact we have a 500 page book explaining the rough concepts behind The Cremaster Cycle, so trying to explain the films themselves is useless)

cremaster11yh2 CREMASTER 3 by Matthew Barney_1278039330498

The best I can offer are links and some images to whet your appetite, and the encouragement to come along to the screening on Saturday or Sunday and get your mind totally blown. You will either love it and be changed forever, or hate it* and be forever telling people you hated it… either way, it’ll be life changing.

Essentially it’s a video sculpture, with many themes, many characters, many settings and a crazy soundtrack.
If you like art, music, film, craft or aall 4, then you will probably love it.

We are very excited to be going (again) on Saturday night to see Cremaster 3, rather than the whole lot like last time.

See you there, if you dare.
Or if you are reading this in some far-away land, keep an eye out for local screenings.

*I should note that we took some friends to see another Barney work, Drawing Restraint 9, without explaining it first, and as it was not the hollywood-film-with-narrative experience they expected, they were completely unimpressed and still remind us of the ‘crazy’ movie we took them to see.
But my point is they still mention it… see? see what i’m getting at?