TwentyEleven – Week Four

Hello again! That’s one reasonably exhausting something-on-every-day-of-the-week month down, and 11 more to go. Whew.

In the last week I managed to complete my first prototyped pair of shoes, and have them tried on and modelled by some lovely ladies at a bbq on the weekend.

They pretty much ruined me in terms of late nights and hard work, and I managed to top it all off with ANOTHER deep cut on my finger – but now I’m used to it – a few band-aids do the trick, stitches are too much effort.

I have suggested sewing up my own wounds, but Dani thinks that is ridiculous and stupid.
If I start doing it, I wont tell her. Shh.

But that was all forgotten as Dani and I hosted another of what will hopefully become an annual event, the Jan/Feb bbq and (sort of)  Steve’s Birthday party festival! It was previously held at our old house in Ascot Vale, and has so far been a 35+ degree day both times. Nice.

We made up 8kg of spicy pork sausages on Wednesday, using Dani’s family recipe, and served them up with loads of salads and vegies. It’s food heaven I tell you, except for the poor sucker (me) who has to cook for 45 minutes at a super-hot bbq while the ambient temp reaches 40 degrees. For the record, yes, I suffered heat stroke and spent the rest of the day in a headache-y haze, rambling on to my friends about shoe shops and sausage recipes.

But I digress… here are some shots of the shoes in the making, following on from last week’s test lasting photos.

sewing, and final lasting

my first ever cork platforms, shaped from 20mm cork sheet. Fun, but dusty.

heels on, taking shape now

almost complete… just buckles, outer sole and the sock-liner to add here.
I’ll take some nicer shots of the finished product this week in our fancy all-white photo booth.

So that is deadline #1 met – prototype one designed, patterned, made and test worn by Jan 31st!
I hope to produce one prototype per week for the next few months, and then step it up to 2 pairs of saleable shoes a week by May, building up stock for actual sales in July-ish?
Harpers Bazaar, here I come…

I also have 3d printers to build, leather dye to work out (the stuff I ordered from Italy was a bit so-so, and I think my quantities are still to low for Aussie tanneries and merchants to offer me custom colours, boooo) , LOTS more designing to do, heel / buckle / fabric print collaborations to try and arrange as well as branding, boxes, etc etc etc etc. The list is immense.

Dani is hard at work on some samples for a Craft Vic liaised opportunity that seems like a very cool thing to be involved in, but we’ll let you know more about that if/when it goes ahead.

But it’s my real birthday this Friday, so this week will be low-key and a bit unproductive as I rest up and recharge my enthusiasm batteries
Thanks for reading all this crap I type, and thanks again for all your comments, email and high-fives. It really helps keep me going (and up all night typing more crap)

As a bit of a treat / multimedia test, here’s a bit of video I shot on our old camera of the Laser Cutter in action.
It’s a Flash Video file, so let me know if it causes any browser / plugin issues. If not, I’ll add more of them in the future.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Listening to : The air-conditioner whiiiirrrrrrrrring in the background.

It’s working!

It’s late again (after midnight) and I have to work tomorrow to make up for the ‘public holiday’ freelance lost wages situation, but we have liftoff!!!!

I managed to assemble, cover and attach my insole/heels and get my uppers pasted together for a rough, but very necessary for morale, ‘first pullover’.
These probably should be top secret still, but ah well, they look better in real life, so that is still a bonus for anyone coming over on the weekend… and if you’re a size 8, you can try them on ladies!

There is still lots of sewing to do, buckles to add, uppers to be lasted and a platform to make and cover with an outer sole, but that’s all details…. and seems like nothing now that they look like a pair of shoes

I must come clean and note that my leather dye job is proving to NOT be waterfast yet… a good soak in a bucket and it would be white again in a few days, but i’m assuming that is due to the leather being waterproofed. The dye has penetrated to the middle, but its not really hanging on to the fibres. Never fear though, I have been in touch with the Dharma Trading co. for their tips and help, and I have also been in contact with a few Australian leather merchants / tanneries to see if i can source nice colours here rather than shipping them in from Italy. But more on that as news develops.

For now I have ultra yellow suede that looks amazing, but might dye your feet in the rain… good enough for a prototype though.

Off to bed for me, and I’ll be back with more photos and more chatter later this week!

* we also made 8kg of homemade spicy sausages today for a bbq on the weekend, so i would have had more done if that wasn’t on the list. mmmm… sausages.

Listening to : 8 hours of solid iPod shuffling… so, you know, lots.

TwentyEleven – week Three

Not much text today… it’s late and i’m exhausted.
But for anyone wondering how the last week has gone, here’s a quick summary:

1. Designs > workshop.
2. Tape + Designs on lasts.
3. Batch production of insoles + modified lasts.
4. Tape patterns > cardboard patterns with sewing/lasting allowances.
5. Home Vat dyeing experiments (medium success, but some major letdowns, more on this later)
6. Vat/Saucepan dyed suede.
7. LASER CUTTING of prototype heel shapes = awesome. Like living in the future.
8. Assembled heel, pre-sanding.
9. Mockup of new heel + 20mm platform allowance = cool.

That’s all for today, more talking and more photos when I get a chance. Deadline is looming and I still have 2 or 3 pairs of shoes to construct yet…
Not bad for a week’s work that included 3 days at my real job!

When someone’s passion knocks your socks off

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now…and I think you’ll dig it.

At Craft Victoria, we (back when i was part of ‘we’) donate money to a charity and make our own k.k gifts.  My first was ‘make something from nothing’ and my second was ‘bake’ your gift.

I was super busy and baked my favourite shortbread and dumped it into a box (sorry pip)…I however, was the recipient of possibly one of the most labour intensive gifts, and although I felt a little guilty, I was WAY to excited to give guilt a second thought.

Eric, the Craft Vic exhibition guru, loves makin’ stuff from wood.  When a mini crete with packing straps landed on my plate- I knew it was Eric’s handy work.  And inside…planks of gingerbread wood of course.  Eric is one super awesome dude with a great talent…and I LOVE seeing someone use their creativity and skill any which way they can.

It was an honour to receive something made with such passion and joy.  Thanks Eric x

Pandora’s Box

Ah, this whole “if I need it i’ll just make/learn/attempt it myself” tendency leads me down some tricky paths… Seems the missing part of my shoemaking toolbox isn’t a rasp, knife or hammer at the moment, it’s advanced 3D CAD modelling skills. Obviously.

No use having a geeky 3D printer half built on my desk, and no real way to make the 3D data it needs to print is there?

So, when there’s nothing much on TV on a Monday night why not throw on some tunes and LEARN how to use SolidWorks?
… and that’s where we are right now. 10.30pm and well into a bunch of tutorials that should have me modeling my own lasts/heels/buckles/Travis Bean castings** in no time.
It’s painfully nerdy, but (ehem) parametric modeling is a beautiful thing to behold on screen. Change a number and BAM, all your other dimensions are adjusted. It’s nuts.

SolidWorks –  this one’s not my model, but you get the idea.

**Travis Bean = Aluminium necked guitar (on the ‘one day i’ll make myself one’ list for my retirement)

There are also photos of my prototype shoe patterns to show, but they’re on the camera, and it’s out in the shed. Maybe tomorrow.

Day 2 of the designerizering went well – for those who asked – and I headed out to the shed on the weekend to tape / draw / trim and transfer the patterns for 2 of the 3 prototypes I hope to have ready for our housewarming/bbq in 2 weeks time! I have to source some vivid coloured leathers on Thursday to use, learn how to crochet/weave or something to make a patterned inlay for one of my designs, and then Friday I’m off to meet an old pal Chris Peters who has a Laser Cutting machine! AWESOME.

Rather than print / handmake the heels for my prototypes I’ll be getting Chris to cut up a whole lot of discs that I’ll stack up and shape into my exact specifications. They will be slightly heavier than if they’re made from plastic (I’m using MDF) but they’ll look the part until I get my plastic printer online. SO MUCH TO DO!!

Anyhoot, I’ll be back with photos and documentation later this week… because I love to talk, and you people are the perfect audience…. better than rattling on to strangers on the train.

Listening to : Prince – Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic


Top Secret  and all that – but I am a bit excited, so fuck it..

The design process is working! It’s been a lonnnnng time since I designed stuff for real, with research and pens and markers, but it all came back to me, just like riding a bike.

So these are just the VERY EARLY preliminary small sketches I’ve been working on, plenty of refinement and style ‘signatures’ to be developed yet.
(OCD alert – I printed out pages and pages of very feint lined outlines of my lasts so my proportions would be just right, I’m no Manolo and I’m not a big fan of ‘designs’ that are more gestural than accurate. Once I’m done I might put up a PDF so you can all have fun drawing your own shoes?)

* apologies for the paranoid watermarking, dont want these to end up in someone else’s ‘folio’ *

Anyhoo, today is part 2 of design-fest 2011. I’ll be back with some more images + some prototypes as soon as possible! Woo!

Listening to – Ice T… and Jay Z … and NWA… and the rest of my 2000+ song Hip Hop playlist, psyche rock and metal is too distracting (I do too much air-drumming with my textas).

TwentyEleven – weeks One and Two

Hey Hey!

my sister rocking a christmas gift beach bag like a true champion.

The year is off to a flying start, with Dani and I printing out some MASSIVE calendars for each of our studio/rooms so that we can get to work on some serious time management and business planning. Being the stationary nerd that she is, Dani even bought us a new set of coloured Sharpies so that we can colour code our plans and lists. Bam. That’s how you get things done!

In an effort to not have another “as long as I do something shoe related each week it counts as shoemaking” year I have asked Dani to set me deadlines and enforce them with some sort of no internet or no drums/guitars punishment for slacking off. Goal #1 is to have a pair or more of shoes, that are actually / reminiscent of what I intend to sell, ready for a big birthday BBQ we have planned at the end of the month. So with 3 weeks to go I have lots to do! Designs, refinement, material choices… eeeek… then i have to make the damn things!

So, it’s late now and tonight isn’t going to yield much in the way of design genius, which means I may as well do this update and keep you all in the loop.

Weeks one and two of 2011 have so far produced the following : A new desk for shoe designing, a new ‘mood board’ for my inspiration, a test fitting of Lauren’s long-overdue raffle winning shoes and plenty of business lists and plans. I also managed to score some vintage shoe making tools from a local 2nd hand shop… rasps, edge shapers etc. I’ll post some photos next week.

| New Desk |

Q. How do you know if you have mild O.C.D?
A. You BUILD a desk  just to draw on, then photograph it in the making, then decorate it, then photograph it again, then post about it on your blog.

Seems my clippings gathering has lead me towards :
black/grey + red/yellow/orange + cyan/purple/turquoise + redhead girls + short haired girls +  more yellow + high, high, high heels.

So, that will be the style direction of my first range, and it will (at the moment) be aimed towards the archetypal Melbourne ShopGirl… ie. must be wearable for a few hours whilst working (with some exceptions for a few 100mm heeled showpiece shoes), must be able to be worn in Melbourne when it may rain at any moment, must work with black clothes, must kick major ass.

I’ll put up some sketches next week when i’m in the pattern making stages….

| Lauren’s Shoes|

I also have managed to knock up a test-fitting shoe for these, and have just found out it fits! yay! measurements = success.

test fit + pattern adjustments

…lasted, but with a bit of an error in my pattern – too loose around the throat.
Tightened it up with a cool little moccasin stitch, and will have to adjust the final pattern.

I put a few heels under it to see how much it changes the look (quite a lot apparently) and am still a little undecided on which one i’ll go for. I like the fat heel (bottom left) but it’s a bit too Louis Vuitton, and may not be right for Lauren. I’ll see.

This is what I have been thinking… in Patent Black, Mary Jane strap, silver heel, 10mm platform. Not sure about colour/details yet, but they’ll come to me when i’m making it.

| 3D printer |

… not too much on the go here. I am missing a part, and the next stage = electronics which is kinda blowing my mind…. so maybe more next week?

Lastly, we got a new camera for ourselves for Christmas – an Olympus EP-2 – which is beautiful to look at, heavy, stylish and takes much better photos than our old clunker. So look out for some nicer photos springing up this year, once we learn how to auto-focus, and deal with the no-inbuilt-flash situation.

Rock on kids, until next time……

Listening to :  Luomo [shout out to Tom + Jess]

happy new yeeee-ar.

This year is our year kids, plans are in place and wheels are in motion to get this show off the ground, a store opened and some long-planned and well earned success (and money) coming our way for the first time in years.

Keep watching this space as we plan to step things up ten-fold and really make the most of 2011…

See you in our shop later this year for a beer a high five and hopefully a purchase of the latest and greatest in shoes, jewels and fashion that Melbourne town has to offer.

Thanks for tuning in, we appreciate your support and comments (i’m looking at you Claire) and we’re looking forward to a lot more pics, a lot more rambling on and whole lot more local shout-outs this year.

Steve + Dani

no reason for this photo other than the fact that i’m a little obsessed with it and finally get what the big deal is with all the Kate Moss worship. She is beguiling and intriguing, and just, well, nice to look at. yeah?

… and how good are yellow dresses? 10 out of 1o I say…

As a new years gift to y’all, here’s my most clicked links in my bookmarks folder.
Check ’em, daily.

Let’s get this year under way!

listening to : Tame Impala – Expectation (on rage right now, in all of its 360 camera view glory)