Hey peeps, as you may have noticed I’ve been blogging on the fly lately with the ol’ iPhone app, but the last few days have seen me amass a bunch of photos that were better suited to one long(er) post instead of just popping up on your RSS feed every 20 minutes = Mega-post below.

(Plus, i’m running out of witty play on words style post headings… this makes it easier.)

I’m now about 9 days in to my break-from-paid-work sabbatical, and I must say, it has been successful. We’re getting a bit strapped for cash, and I do miss the lads at SquintOpera (and my lunch dates with the Pronto Productions crew) but having repeated days in the studio has meant I can go over the top with my OCD methodical planning habits, and write SO MANY LISTS that nothing slips through the net. Lists with everything crossed off are like heaven to me.

To anyone who has already designed a range of something, this might be old news, but I’ll explain my process for any budding designers out there who want the inside scoop.

I started the process with an intensive brainstorming session, a ‘mind map’ I think its called?
Whatever it is, it’s a bunch of words and drawings of “stuff I like”… with no limits placed on it, just pure ideas it resulted in things like “fog and trees”, “ink spills and colour bleeding”, “lomo photos”, “symmetry”.
This was added to a page of drawings of details from fashion that I’ve found I like (mostly McQueen), and things like black metal band logos, photos of Kate Moss, and lots of images from Tumblr that I printed out.


DESIGN DESK, DAY #2

Together they combined to make my official inspiration board for this range, or possibly all ranges from now on, who knows. I then combined these ideas into themes – like “car related”, “fabric manipulation” and “colour, paint, ink” etc.

That narrowed it down to 16 or so “themes” that I set out to draw actual shoes for…


DESIGN DESK, DAY #4 MAYBE?

… I referred back to a collection of favourite shapes, silhouettes and details from my previous sketching sessions quite regularly, and pretty soon a ‘look’ was developing.
This is where I hit a quandary, do I try to design all “new” shapes, or develop a signature design language?

I decided to stick to what I felt was right and go for signature shapes rather than a confused collection of greatest hits. I’m thinking this will make it easier for customers to understand my “style” rather than have them assume I make anything and everything… which will also help avoid the “can you make me a so-and-so” situations that I want to skip as quickly as possible. Seems I’ve chosen to be a shoe DESIGNER who happens to make shoes, not a shoe MAKER who does bespoke miscellany. Perhaps I’ll take over the shoe world next year, and get them all made in Italy – and you’ll be all “you know, he said he might do that”.

A few days (and lots of stencilled drawings) later I locked down a set of designs that will be my first offering to the world! I was happy, and showed them off to Dani, who nodded appreciatively.

…then I started colouring them in, and fuck, that killed me. There are SO MANY possibilities with colour alone, let alone colour + hardware + heel shape + heel height etc.
I decided to stop colouring and leave that for now.


DESIGN DESK + LEATHER SELECTIONS FOR IDEAS

Seems I sort of know now what I’ll be making for each one, but the reality of me making 3 or 4 colourways of each design in all  8 or 9 sizes that a ‘full size run’ requires will mean me making, hmm, 100+ pairs of shoes? hahahahah. yeahhh, um. no. So, for now I’ll make one colour of each, and see how I go with that.

Thus begins stage 2 (or whatever number we’re up to) of the design process -Pattern making and Prototyping!

This is a part I can show more images in, as it seems a little risky putting pages of sketches up on the innnernet, who knows who’ll use them and what for.

So, without further ado, here’s the rundown of the two (single) prototypes I’ve made over the last 48 hours.
These are studies for style / shape and proportion, once I’ve balanced out the heels and straps etc, I’ll make some wearable ones for Dani or Pennie to clomp around the studio in for comfort and wearability tests.


THE LAST I HAVE CHOSEN TO USE.
GRABLE? WHAT SORT OF NAME IS THAT? THEY HAVE A 90MM HEEL (4″).


TAPING UP THE LAST FOR PATTERNS


MULTI-TASKING. 3 PATTERNS ON ONE TAPE LAYER.


… THEN YOU SPLIT THE TAPE PATTERN DOWN THE MIDDLE AND PEEEEEL IT OFF.


AND WHACK IT DOWN ON SOME CARDBOARD.


WITH A BIT OF FANCY/TRICKY PINHOLE TRANSFERRING MOVES I HAVE 3 PATTERNS!


SO… NOW WE START MAKING TEST SHOE #1.
AT THE MOMENT I’M USING PRE-MADE INSOLES/MIDSOLES. I WANT TO MAKE MY OWN, BUT THEY TAKE SO LONG AND SO FAR HAVE ENDED UP BEING WEAKER AND WORSE THAN THE PRE-MADE ONES. I’M REALLY ONLY TRYING THESE AFTER GETTING A BAG OF THEM IN THE BULK BUY DEAL.


SKIVED AND TRIMMED EDGE (BAD PHOTO SORRY, PHONE IS A BIT SHIT, BUT ITS NEARBY)


WRAPPED AND LASTED SOLE. SO MUCH FASTER!


… SEEING AS MY DESIGNS ARE PRETTY ‘RUNWAY’ LOOKING, I NEED MASSIVE PLATFORMS…


FOR THIS PROTOTYPE I CARVED ONE OUT OF PINE ON THE DISC AND BELT SANDER.


A SLICED OFF FRONT… THIS PART WILL BE MADE FROM A DIFFERENT PLASTIC IN THE FINAL DESIGN.


BACK BIT, WHATEVER THAT IS CALLED. LOOKS LIKE GOLF CLUB NOW!
SO THATS AN EXTRA 30MM OR SO OF PLATFORM… WOOO.


SAME PROCESS WITH THE HEEL, BUT I FORGOT TO PHOTOGRAPH IT.


TEST ASSEMBLE FOR STRAP LENGTHS AND POSITIONING.


HARDWARE! BUCKLES, AND O-RINGS.


ALL JOINED UP BONDAGE STYLE…


UPPER ALL SEWN UP, I SKIPPED THE SEWING ON THE STRAPS AS I WAS SURE I’D BE ADJUSTING THEM ON THE GO…


LASTED, GLUED, TRIMMED AND HEEL AND PLATFORM ATTACHED.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS ABOUT 2 HOURS WORK, SO IT’S VEEEERRRRY ROUGH.
DONT GO THINKING I’LL BE MAKING SHITTY WORK LIKE THIS, THESE ARE JUST FOR TESTING!


5 INCHES BABY. YEP. SKY HIGH…
(THIS ONE IS A MEDIA RELEASE DESIGN, EXAGGERATED FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT, PRODUCTION ONES WILL BE A LITTLE LOWER)


BOTH BUCKLES WORK, AND ARE NEEDED TO STRAP YOU IN AT THOSE HEIGHTS.


FIRST TRY-ON! DANI MODELLING IT FOR ME.


DESIGN #2 ON THE WAY… I FORGOT TO PHOTOGRAPH THE INITIAL STAGES.


… BOTTOM BITS.


DESIGN #2 LASTED UP, SIMILAR TO MY OLDER YELLOW ONE, WITH SOME TWEAKS.


I AM GOING TO CAST MY OWN RESIN HEELS, SO THIS WAS A TEST OF RAW WHITE POLYESTER. LOOKS HOT.


DESIGNS #1 & #2 AS OF TONIGHT (THURSDAY)… 2 MORE TO MAKE TOMORROW!

Thanks for reading, hope that was a bit of fun for you all.
I have tomorrow to make another pair of prototypes, then we have a wedding on the weekend, so we’ll see how hung over I am on Sunday…

Listening to : James Iha – Let It Come Down
In case you didnt know about it, it’s the Smashing Pumpkins guitarists solo album, and its really, really good.