More info

Shoe equipment deal is done, money to change hands next week! So damn awesome.

Studio Lease is locked in, signing the paperwork next week.
I have already recreated the whole new space in CAD and planned the entire layout. Neeeerd.

So it’s official, we will soon be returning to our old ‘hood, and setting up shop in the Nicholas Building, corner of Swanson St and Flinders Lane, above Alice Euphemia.

Stage 1 is to move in, set up the workshop, get some tenants. (July)
Stage 2 is branding, making some stock, getting suppliers and launching a super new online store. (Aug-Sept)
Stage 3 will be the whole physical retail fitour, and of course making a bajillion things to stock in there. (Sept-Nov)

All this and more to be done by Christmas, no more lazy weekends for us… save your pennies kids, and shop local!

Photos to come when we get the keys.

Mini updates for a few weeks

So much going, not enough time to prep big juicy blog posts!

us this morning, not sure who that guy on the left is, didn’t notice him being there when we took the photo.

Update for today :

1. Spoke to my shoemaker connection, agreed on a price to buy a lifetime of shoemaking equipment, lasts and knowledge (well, as much as I absorb in 6 months)

2. Heading in to the city now to meet the real estate agent, shake hands and measure up our new workshop.

3. Spoke to the bank, wheels in motion to secure a fat loan for a fitout and branding etc.

4. Had coffee with Dani, discussed speedily all the possible collaborations, hookups and fun ideas we can implement when we have a shop

5. Will begin some leather accessories today (iphone cases etc) to stock in the shop for people with a little less cash to spend.

Next up, web redesign, insurance, heaters, artworks, signage, find people to share the space.

We will be looking for 2 other craftspeople who are established and/or serious about their craft to work with us.
$150ish a week rent, we’ll provide desks and machinery. Comes with the oppurtunity to stock in the store if your product suits the vibe.
If you know of any shoemakers, milliners, jewellers, bag / scarf / sock / lingerie makers who might be suitable, or this sounds like you,  please email us at

Rare times

… I’m excited! (If you were to ask my wife or family, they’d tell you that’s a rare thing for old “nothing fazes me” Steve.)

Today has brought LOTS of promising developments, none of which are locked in as yet, but if it all goes as planned we could be in a FULLY EQUIPPED workshop, in the heart of the city, with enough shoe lasts to last me a lifetime in a matter of weeks. Shit yeah.

I wont jinx myself by blabbing on about the details, but when it’s locked down, you’ll be the first to know (or the second, depending on how often you read this blog).

Bring it on!

Nerida’s Spicy Wedges

Double posting madness – Part 2… 2 in one day!

Nope, this isn’t another recipe post for some sort of Potato dish… this one’s all about the shoes baby!

As mentioned earlier, I took on a commissioned job to make some ‘fashion forward’ shoes for a lovely gal by the name of Nerida King who is currently studying textile design at RMIT. Her semester’s project entailed her hand-weaving these awesome Guatemalan inspired fabrics and then justifying their usefulness in the modern world by applying them to a sale-able product (other than another satchel or tea towel).

Her idea was to make some shoes, and luckily for both of us she had a friend recommend this here “oh, I can make anything from anything” shoemaker with a penchant for woven fabrics and unusual shoes. A perfect match it  seems!
The second idea was to use a digitally scanned and printed example of her fabric to increase its commercial viability… no one is going to hand weave enough fabric to make a whole range of shoes in this day and age it seems, so why not embrace the new technologies on offer and merge the old and the new?

So, we met in a cafe, I (probably) overwhelmed her with enthusiasm, and we traded some emails, sketches and fabric scans until we came up with this design as chosen for prototype #1.

I acually made 2 rough and quick prototypes first, of 2 differing designs, but this one had the most appeal.

To make the deadline of a Sunday morning photoshoot I got to work on making these over a 2 day period and had them ready and waiting to dry out by Saturday lunchtime. Still a little slower than i’d like to be, but quick enough to make this whole handmade shoes idea profitable for me in the long run.

Here’s the pics (there’s a lot, so they’re small, click em for maximum big-ness) :

patterns and pieces…

insole shaping and wrapping

digital printed cotton (turned out not as black as she planned, but it was fine for this task)

fabric and cotton pieces ‘laminted’ to a leather backing, and wrapped / piped edges applied.

construction! what a mind bender this was… zips, compound curves, 6 layers of material! ouch.

…coming together now.

I decided to add a yellow collar to the design for some ‘pop’. Artistic license was taken.

assembled and lining added.

makin’ wedges.. Cut ’em out, stack ’em up, sand them down.

… and there you go. curvaceous wedges, a dusty half hour later.

wrap those babies up in suede. Very profesh looking. Then I lasted the uppers.

Lasted, taking shape, 11pm. Happy Steve.

adding the wedges… the design we chose has a fancy upper-wrapped-wedge feature.

…cut a channel for the leather to nest into. wrap and glue it.

Add in some ‘socks’ with my pre-logo logo on them (new official logo is almost done btw!)

All done! Looking fuckin’ ace.

detail shots… check the (intentionally) unmatched upper patterns. Beautiful huh?

Contrast CENTRAL. Smooth/Rough, New/Old, Plain/Patterned. We’ve got it all covered. 

The outsoles are a bit of a let down i must admit… but there were going straight to an outdoor photoshoot, so I decided against spending another hour sanding and lacquering them only to have it destroyed a day later.

All in all a TOTAL success. So, keep your ear out for Nerida’s name in the near future…
I think this will be the start of a few more collaborations over the coming years, not that i’ve discussed that with her! Nerida? Is that ok?


Double posting madness, Part 1…

As you may remember me mentioning a few weeks ago (he says, confidently assuming people read AND remember everything he types on here) we went to my relative’s farm in rural NSW for the weekend. This provided us with many ‘firsts’, most notably being Dani’s first chance to pick up and hold a week old lamb in a paddock, after jumping from the back of a ute to open a gate. So very chic.

The second ‘first’ of the weekend was the chance for us to get our hands on a few kilos of freshly picked Kalamata olives, straight from the tree, for free! There are a wide variety of trees on my uncle’s land, and it just so happens that he planted a few olive trees back in the day for shade… and now they’re bearing fruit in large amounts.

So, Dani being the true italo-australian she is, grabbed a bag and spent half an hour stripping the tree bear of every juicy olive on there.

I’m aware that some of these are green/black/not kalamata…
there was a second tree that we grabbed some from for a sample of what they’ll taste like

We brought them home and decided to f0llow the pickling recipe that we picked up from the “Rose Creek Estate” – a small traditional Italian farm, that is suprisingly nestled in the heart of Keilor. Bizarre, I know, but they had some of the best olives i’ve ever tasted and were handing out the recipe to anyone who asked.

So,  following the recipe, we soaked the olives in fresh water, changing it each day, for 10 days.
This process seemed to leach most of the bitterness from the fruits (and boy were they bitter at the start), I’m guessing by replacing the water content that was provided by the tree, with fresh, less bitter water?

After that, we made a brine of 100g of salt to 1 litre of water, which is salty, i tasted it, it was salty.

Then its just a matter of popping all the olives in sterilised (boiling water rinsed) jars, with garlic, lemon slices, some oregano and chilli, and filling em up with brine.

Of course I underestimated how many jars we’d need, so now we have some odd sizes here and there, but you get the idea.

These now sit in a dark area for 6 – 8 weeks to get fully salt-ified, and then its just a matter of eating them all.

We are planning the annual salami making day this year to be in July, so by the time the olives are cured, the salami will be good to go, and August is looking like it will be antipasti central around here!

** We will be sending out invites to people who have expressed a genuine interest in learning the salami tricks over the last year for a special Sunday session where you make your own and pick them up later on, so if you are reading this and are all “damn, i wish i could make salami” then email us and we’ll invite you along! **

TwentyEleven – Week TwentyOne

Another week gone and more miscellany to post about.
There’ll be less typing this week as it’s cold and I have an episode of Masterchef to catch up on!

The last week saw the following things happen :

1. Dani FINALLY travelled with me to one of my favourite places in the world, my uncle and auntie’s farm in NSW.

It’s remote, and it’s a farm, so not really Dani’s cup of tea at all, but being the trooper she is she not only sucked up some potential agoraphobia, she also went with my crazy idea of catching the train so I didnt have to drive for once.

It was great, we have devonshire tea on the train, we saw foggy countryside, we ate, we ate more, we had a BONFIRE! oh yeah. We also saw fresh week old lambs, went fishing in the dam, I rode a motorbike around (like a boss) and picked olives from a rarely looked at and never before harvested Kalamata olive tree that was growing there. Score! All within 36 hours. Madness, but very fun. Thanks to the Richardson crew if anyone is reading this.

2. I found this native flower thing. It’s cool. I might use it for design inspiration.

3. I worked on some prototypes for Nerida, the textiles student I mentioned last week.

skethcing and transferring patterns

quick-fix insole and counter technique.

sewing and lasting

fat cork wedge BEFORE

fat cork wedge AFTER

Prototypes #1 and #2.

Prototype #1, with the handwoven fabric Nerida has made for me to use on the final pair. Nice!

4. I assembled my new bike. It is black.

Ignore the blue seat and lack of grips. They will be covered in LEATHER soon. (like a boss)

5. Dani made more bowls, and delivered more bowls.
Then we drank this Frenchy fancy Saison, and some wine.

nice bottle top detail. Bad use of camera white balance.

The bottles, in a rare unopened state that our kitchen rarely sees.

6. Dani and Coop took a well earned nap*

*Disclaimer : Coop did not earn his nap, and this wasn’t taken the same night as the wine was consumed.
I just used some editorial licence to make it look that way.

Thanks for reading kids, it’s been a blast.
Off to pass loungeroom criticisms on some amateur chefs and perhaps squeeze in one more episode of Project Runway.

Listening to : Dance music., still. Dani is concerned.

TwentyEleven – Week Twenty

Jeezus, how time flies huh? Week 20? That’s almost half way…

This week brought another flurry of activity, but not much in the way of photo worthy crafting. I hate to keep bringing you these non-event posts, but it seems admin and NGV bowls are all we’re cooking up lately. That said, I get bummed out when other bloggers just drop off the internet for months at a time, so hopefully this chatty banter is welcomed by some of you out there.

Dani delivered batch #1 of her bowl sets to the NGV but was struck down with a pretty bad case of ‘too much hunching over the workbench’ back ache and had to down tools before she finished the whole lot. They’ll be in the kiln this week and delivered asap! The final product looks fucking great if you ask me, facets, glossy insides and a sweet little co-branded logo make for a very ‘profesh’ looking product. We’ll shoot some photos soon.

What else, hmm, I painted my bike black in the few spots of sunshine, and it looks mean. 100% matt black. ooh yeah.

I also managed to get back to the shoemaking bench for a few hours here and there, and set myself the task of investigating plywood moulded midsoles. After a day of mad professor invention I have a formula that works, but am now questioning how far to take the “hand made” aspect of my range…… I fear that making EVERYTHING myself is perhaps setting me up for lots of unappreciated labour when products out there exist to do the job perfectly well, and are used by every other shoe label around it seems.

So here’s a bit of a peek at my latest mold + clamps + plywood setup for the craft lovers out there.

this setup resulted in a pretty good, even pressing. but its still not 100% flat.

… and for the “is this dickhead serious?” people out there, a comforting assurance that I will be talking to Bruce at Shoe Lasts Australia BEFORE I get too mental on this handmade thing, in case he can just hand me some sort of pre-made midsole that makes me go “ahhhhh…. that’s exactly what I was looking for, how much? 50 cents each? oh…”.

I’ve spoken to him about my first order of a few full size runs of high heeled lasts ($$$$, ouch) so when that goes ahead I’m in the business of shoemaking for real!

And in amongst all the tax returns, 3D work, house cleaning and car repairs I also popped in to the Melbourne RepRap Users Group meeting on the weekend!!

see? A working Mendel, a working Prusa and a bunch of dudes who know what they’re doing.

That’s right, a USERS GROUP!
ie. More than one person in the room who not only knows what a RepRap is, but who have working ones, advice to give and parts to sell. Woo hoo. So I am now the proud owner of a custom made set of electronics to replace my disgraced (and cooked) old ones, so Derek should be printing in a matter of weeks. Hot damn.

A side project I have on the go (you can never have enough side projects) is helping a cool chick from the RMIT textiles course with her mid year assignment. I’m taking some hand woven fabric of hers and making it into a pair of fashionable wedges, which is exciting. More pics when it’s done, but for now here’s a sampler.

I know, you all like pictures, but its 11pm on a Sunday and I cant be bothered editing and uploading more 🙁

So, have a good one, and I’ll be back later in the week with more updates, more photos and more words. lots of words.

Listening to : A suprising amount of ‘dance’ music, ala Ministry of Sound Annuals.
Dunno why, I usually don’t. But it’s on the iPod this week non stop.

Dani is not impressed.


Have I already used that headline? Probably, oh well.

This weekend saw the first successful firing of Dani’s bowls (by first I mean batch #1 of about 10 firings…) so we are both a little happier now that that has happened.

She is still in molto riduculoso production mode, HAND SANDING every one of the 150 or so bowls, but that’s how you get results kids, hard work, no shortcuts. I tried to make her a drill accessory to make it ‘faster’… only proved to make it messier and less accurate. She was back to manual mode 20 minutes later. I admitted a (rare and crushing) defeat.

So, no pics yet of the final product, but here’s a few more in-the-making shots from the video documentary thingo.

I have been working like a nutbar, spent all weekend using 3D software to model blocks, buckets and bags of cheese… long story. I’ll explain later.

I also managed to fit in an hour of bike resto action, turning my $50 ebay bargain into a pile of bits and then sanding until I could sand no more.

Next up is to unload 4 cans of matte black onto it to make it the meanest, stealth-bomberest looking bike on my street.

Here’s a photo from the plywood shoe moulding session just as a tease. Its a bit ‘experimental’ at the moment, so i’m going to hold off on the full feature expose until I have something useful, otherwise I’m just wasting internets (that is the unit of internet time we measure things in around here) on something that may just embarrass me and lead others astray.

Rock on kids, and be sure to have a look / listen at this… the best thing I’ve heard and seen in weeks.
** “Brave yet sensible Dave” has pointed out that it is NSFW due to some  swearing… be warned **

Missing In Action

Hey peeps, another week has slipped by with very little crafting involved, but that’s no reason to skip a blog post is it?

In the last 7 days I’ve managed to :

– Research, purchase and test the idea of making plywood/veneer insoles for my high heeled shoes.
The last few pairs I’ve made from 100% leather + a shank seem to be a bit soft and have some twist to them that I don’t like. Dani vouched for this when she wore the black ones for a few hours, she found they moved a bit as she walked (from left to right) which is no good in a 4″ heel. More on this with pics on the weekend.

Buy a bmx off eBay
… and only THEN understand how far away Pakenham is when I had to pick it up. It may as well be in Tasmania.

– Help Dani drop 100 or so bowls off to Northcote Pottery for a large scale kiln firing.
In ‘borrowed’ bread crates. shhh.

– Purchase, pick up and move our Retail Fitout from the now closed Mac Pelican! Woo! Shelves!

– Oh, and FLY TO PERTH  for 2 days at last minute notice.
It was my second ever ‘work trip’ … an action packed visit to some site we’re producing a video about at Squint Opera.
Whilst there we shot hours of digital video (on cool 7D slr’s), walked about 10kms in laps around the cbd and soaked up the sun.
I’ll also do a little post on Perth and what I found there later this week for those interested.

So, a busy week, a tired Steve and so much more work to do.
Off to nerd it up again today and then head to this event tonight :

Stop flooding my record collection is a charity exhibition where artists have created new original covers for jazz records salvaged from the Brisbane floods.

Opening Night: 6pm, Friday May 6 and 10am-3pm May 7/8 at Smiley McSlidey – 124 Nicholson St, Brunswick East, Victoria.

All proceeds go to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal.


Oh yeah, I may as well use this time to publicly wish my wonderful wifey of (almost) 5 years a Happy Birthday!

She is working at Pieces of Eight today, but plans are afoot for a night of cocktails and karaoke with the Craft Victoria heart-breakers.
There will be no blogging or crafting tomorrow. Only hangovers.