Wanted – 1 x Time Machine, 20+ year travel ability.

Seems pretty much ALL of my shoe making problems (well, except for my non-finished RepRap) would be solved by being able to just zip back to the 70s / 80s / 90s when Melbourne had a thriving, or at least functioning, shoe component industry… so if anyone is working on a Time Machine, let me know.

Uncle Rico’s time machine. Sort of, but not really, what I’m looking for.

Click here to see it in action

After another morning of  “ok, lets do this” enthusiasm I have returned home with a few more potential suppliers crossed off my list and added to the “doesn’t stock those things any more” list, which is now pretty long.

It seems the idea of making, and even worse HAND making, decent women’s high heel shoes is just not on in this country any more. Parts either cost the earth, or don’t exist, suppliers are either closed or take me through tours of their residual stock in the back corner, and I’ve spoken to quite a few people about how the whole industry was lost to offshore production / how Collingwood used to be a goldmine for components…. yadda yadda.

So, on top of having to make my own heels and platforms etc, I am now looking at having to make, or possibly re-invent my own insole units (which you may remember I attempted a year ago with plywood) so that I can make shoes in the dozens, rather than one at a time using odd scraps and makeshift solutions.

Hopefully this doesn’t bum anyone out too much, I’m just venting a little to what I assume is an audience that might face this same problem now or in the future. There is plenty of scope for making amazing shoes here in Australia, lots of passion in the marketplace and plenty of skillful designers and crafty people around, but fuck, it’s reeeeeally hard to get something off the ground when each thing you go to make/order/buy is no longer available or just not viable to buy or use.

empty factory image for added dramatic effect.

Looks like I’m headed towards a Haute Couture level of shoemaking now… where everything comes from my little ol’ hands and every component is customised to my specifications. I guess that’s the price you pay for not accepting mediocre or you-cant-have-that as an answer. It will of course allow me to make jaw dropping designs that aren’t just factory produced items, but it means I need to keep finding reserves of enthusiasm and motivation from a well that is admittedly pretty dry at the moment.

As they say, the night is darkest (or is it coldest?) right before the dawn, so this will hopefully be one of those posts I look back on and go “shit, you were a sook back then” when I get this one million point list all crossed off and some money in the bank  – which would be verrrrrrrry helpful about now.

Keep on at it folks, nothing good comes easy, and um, a watched pot never boils.
That last bit has nothing to do with anything, but why not throw in some more idioms for good measure?

Listening to : Eyehategod. Grrrrrrr.

Doing our part to keep things afloat

I recently found the article below via the Carreducker blog and thought it might be good to share with all our readers (and there are quite a few of you now!).


For those of you that don’t have time to read it, the basic premise is that high end luxury brands (Louis Vuitton etc) have been pulled up for representing their brands as ‘craft’ and ‘handmade’ while the truth is they’re just pumping out mass produced machine made goods – granted, they are using high quality materials – but not in the ‘little old Italian man sews them together by hand’ way they imply in their ads.

This has lead to a renewed interest in associating ACTUAL hand crafted goods and labels with bigger brands, so that they can retain their heritage values. Sort of absorbing real makers and craftsmen to keep their street-cred.

Anyhoot, the article tells the rest of the story, but this is quite topical for Dani and I at the moment as we are preparing a thorough business plan and looking at sourcing funding / grants to get this all off the ground

Seems we’re on the opposite side of this issue, plenty of skills, no money – so it is good to read that our concerns that we might be too tiny a fish in the big commercial world of luxury goods are perhaps not that big a worry… if we stick to our guns and MAKE what we sell, and also keep our integrated show-and-tell style workshop it will help us stand apart from the not-really-handmade luxury brands that are losing their credibility to real (not Nouveau Riche trashy luxury addicts) traditional luxury customers.

That said, what we personally have in hand craft skills we lack in crucial admin and business skills, so we are now weighing up the idea of getting a 3rd person on board who has some room in their brain to plan and run this business. If you’re interested, let us know, we will probably put out an official ‘expressions of interest’ thing in the coming weeks.



Virtual Shoemaking

Well, I’ve always insisted I wasn’t going to do it, but the time has come to give in to the lure of the 3D modelling virtual shoe world.

The only reason I was trying NOT to get too nerdy with this stuff was a fear that I’d spend 57 hours a week in my spare room on a computer, and somehow classify that as a craft. As a bit of justification for the jump back in to the digital realm (not that I need to justify anything, but I may as well) … a few conversations lately have lead to me decide that if I’m going to release a range of shoes that are worthy of a high price point and a super level of exclusivity – dictated by my personal involvement in their construction, and thus high labour costs – they may as well have all the bells and whistles I can possibly muster up.

So this week I am looking in to custom digitally printed fabrics to integrate with the leather uppers, and it was pretty obvious that ‘guessing’ what pattern goes where, and what scale / orientation / colour to use would be a never ending task if using actual fabric samples. I have modelled up my chosen last in 3D, knocked up some quick indicative geometry for the rest of the components and now I can get to work on laying out patterns and colour combos much faster than using the ol’ textas.

I will also be pushing the limits a bit with my heel and platform shapes, so having 3D digital models = direct rapid prototype prints = much better results than my hand carved ones.

Things can get pretty crazy in a short amount of time….

With that mini milestone under my belt I’m off in to the city to meet another new shoemaker in the making to see what she is planning on doing. Exciting.

Enjoy the sunshine today if you’re in Melbourne (and I assume the snow if you’re in the northern hemisphere) and Happy Valentines Day.

Rhino Time-o

(you know, sometimes I wish this website DIDN’T have a “title” box, so I’d feel less inclined to make a pun about pretty much every post I make. Sigh.)

Anyhoot, the future is (sort of) here! I’ve just modelled up my first object in Rhino 4.0, which means I’m one step closer to being able to make brain-meltingly complicated heels, platforms and fittings for my shoes! Combined with my 3D printer and some resin casting skillz, there will be no end to the craziness that I can hang under a nicely sewn and lasted upper. All those hours of nerding really do come in handy at times.

So, here’s a screengrab of a ring design Dani has been tinkering with that she is going to try getting 3D printed and cast in silver this week. Awesome.

This post will probably also interest our studio crew (we need to come up with a name for our gang that isn’t naff, something like the DBC, or DBK if we use Krew? I will have to raise it at the next AGM) as both Katia and Amber were recently discussing 3D printing as a path they would like to take, so look out for more studio R & D over the next few months, especially once I get the RepRap in the room.

For a more traditional spin on replicating, I also made my first Urethane castings of a FAT 5″ heel this week so that I can start making prototypes that all look the same!

Lots more to do in terms of stregth and weight saving (they’re heavyyyyy) but it was pretty exciting to start to see custom made components appear each hour with the magic of Chemistry.

What else is there to talk about? We’re working a mega business plan and budget in the hope of getting some grants or funding for Stage 2 of the plan this year… so much typing!

Oh, and we heard today that the super cool and funky pants’ed studio buddy we were holding our breath for is moving in in March! Wooooop! So we’ll have a full house, jeweller gals all over the place, robots and fashion mags stacked to the ceiling. It’ll be like a little slice of heaven (note to self – book Dave Dobbin for the opening party to perform Slice of Heaven)

After a bit of a lull this weekend just gone, I’m feeling inspired again… and god help up us when I get my new Volkswagen next weekend, I’ll be like a kid in a big rusty candy shop!

Listening to : Die Antwoord’s new one TEN$ION. Its fuckin’ awesome.

Oh, and on top of our regular Tumblr account > http://deadburied.tumblr.com/ < I have started another personal one, but I’ll reveal all when it’s filled with funny.

Return of the ROBOT

Just a quick post to announce that a year or so after my enthusiasm waned for building my RepRap, the project is back on the table. Literally.


Plugged it in, made it move back and forth, up and down, grinned like an idiot after forgetting how cool it is to see your home made robot whirring to life.


Next stage is to swap the electronics for a RAMPS kit I purchased, and hopefully get some prints out in the near future.

Listening to : OFWGKTA playlists