Finally! Progress!

Hey Hey, after 2 days of solid work in the studio I’m back on track.
The desert boots are ready for a few hours of hand- stitching (at home in front of the TV), my workspace is now shoe reference image central (thanks to a new printer) and I managed to get most of two “first-attempt” prototype¬† shoes made… they’re more for the novelty of seeing a drawing come to life than they are for final details, but they make for great pictures!

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So rather than fill the front page up with loads of new images, I’m going to try my first “read more” divider… click through for lots of new photos.

Boots and Tools

Finally got a photo of the half-way-finished luxury lined desert boots.

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Nothing too exciting to say about them (in fact this whole post seems a little dry, I must have lost my jolly mojo tonight) – but I do have a picture to post of another hand-made tool that Dani and I knocked up the other day!

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I needed an oversized one of those stitch spacing wheel things that dressmakers use, and seeing as how we both have Industrial (product) Design degrees I like to make things instead of wasting time heading out looking around shops trying to find something perfect.

So, with a bit of maths, Dani on the mini hacksaw blade and me on drill and gaffa taping duty… BAM… new tool.

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In case you’re not quite understanding what I’m talking about, I need to make evenly spaced holes around the edge of my sole leather so that I can sew it by hand and not end up with crazy uneven stitches.
With this roller thingo I can trace around the edge of the shoe and get a nice set of even dots to punch holes through, to sew throught later on.

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A little complicated sounding when I try to type it, but in short it saves me lots of time and makes my sewing better. Win/Win.
Seems there are a whole lot of single use, wierd, antiquated shoemaker tools that this job needs, so I’ll post any other impromptu ones I come up with.

Anyhoot, I’m off to do something creative… not in the mood for a night of internet nerding tonight.

Got a wedding tomorrow, congrats to Chris and Sarah, so in their honour :

Listening to : Skyhooks – All my friends are getting married

iPhotos

Hey hey!

* I managed to charge up the camera and then leave it at home yesterday, so this week we’ll have to make do with iPhone photos (and no photo of the finished product).

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In an attempt to assess what sort of money this whole shoemaking biz can make for me I have been making another pair of desert boots with stopwatch running. So far I’m at about 4 or 5 hours solid work, and there is still a whole lot of stitching and sole attaching to go yet… so it’s beginning to make sense why proper, traditional, all the bells-and-whistles shoes cost 1000’s of dollars and take days and days of work.

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I’ve tried something different with these ones in that I’m lining them instead of making them with raw suede, it should make them more sturdy and a little more ‘luxurious’ than the other ones without adding much more time to the construction. Value adding! No use making half-assed and double-priced shoes…

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looking totally high fashion in a ‘deconstructed’ inside out way…

So this took me the afternoon to do, and I managed to get the maroon/burgundy upper stretched down and ready to sew the edges by 5pm… then I broke 2 needles trying to stitch through the fat sole material, and officially cracked the sh*ts for the day. Forgot to take one last photo before I trod off home a defeated man.

… then at about 1am I was lying in bed and realised I used thinner leather last time, hence the broken needles, but unfortunately is was too late to do anything about it.

Good news is I can get back on track next time I’m in there! Bad news is that I might not be back in for a week ūüôĀ

Oh, and check this rocket out… we took a photo of it on a lonely East Village street in NYC last year.
(Just found it again when I downloaded the phone pics.)

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Double chained up, getting no love, and with my name on it!
If only I was a little more evil I could have liberated it back here in my luggage, but I’m no theif.

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… maybe it will still be there when I go back… again…… one day…. dani? Ha ha.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the Pixies on Saturday if you’re an old fart fan like us.
I’ll be the guy in the crowd who looks like I came as a Frank Black lookalike. No costume required.

Listening to : Dead Meadow – Sleepy Silver Door

Dyeing to find out…

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Oh man, another pun! Headlines are too much fun.
Lets move on from the political rants that have filled our pages lately and get back to what matters… Shoes! Craft! Fashion!

In what may turn out to be an “every cloud has a silver lining” moment, I recently spoke to the staff at both Lefflers and NSW Leather about the possibility of choosing my own coloured leathers, rather than just having to pick through the ‘misc’ selections that they have in their shoemaking sections. Both places gave me the old “it’ll cost you too much, we just order in bits and pieces” answer, as they – probably rightly – think that the shoemaking industry is pretty much dead around here. Dead, but not Buried (cue pre-recorded laughter)…

Not being one to EVER take no for an answer when it comes to a technical challenge, I drove home rethinking my plans – no use designing shoes in full colour if I can only get brown, brown and light brown in reliable quantities – and decided I’d get proper crafty and research dyeing techniques.

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Seeing as leather is pretty hardy, a natural fibre and available in white, I was sure it could be coloured with minimal stress.
After some obligatory screw ups (ie. cooking a batch by overheating it and turning it all into something resembling bacon, dyeing my fingers pink)  I have started to get some success!
The suede takes a looooong time to get any decent saturation, early tests were still white in the middle (see above), but eventually it becomes an awesome rich colour all the way through.

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white suede + dye    |    beige lining + dye    |    white sheep hide + dye

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beige lining + turquoise dye

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I only have a few hides in white or beige, so the other pieces are all non-glossy, but definitely came back to their original shine with a quick post-colouring buff.

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Next up is to look in to either dyeing some nice glossy kid skins and see how they react, and also to test some lacquer / wax / coatings to see how glossy I can get them.
I’m still planning on using off the shelf hides for plenty of shoes, but the designer in me isn’t satisfied with being limited to what I can get when i’ll be competing with all the colours available to even the cheapest non-bespoke brands.

So, I’m not going to divulge much more about what i’m using, and how i’m doing it, but if you’re really keen to find out send me an email when I’m done experimenting and we can talk.

On a more business-y note, Dani and I went to the Buffet Streetwear forums on the weekend and filled pages with info on how to start a shop, how to start a brand and how not to go broke in the process.
Next up is the Refinery fashion forecasting forum and then we get to work on a proper plan (and talk to the bank.. eek).

… and finally, congratulations to Tom and Jess, the best looking newlyweds in the whole damn town!
Their wedding was the most low key, relaxed and best-food-having wedding I’ve ever been to.
The fact that the waiting staff thought I was part of the (non existent) bridal party and treated me like a king didn’t hurt either.

Off to play some drums now, gotta fit as much in to each day as I can… carpe dium I think it is?

Listening to : Wiley – Wot do you call it? …make it in a studio, not in a garage. haha. classic beats.

Special Tom + Jess honeymoon tribute : Blackout Crew – Put A Donk On It

Golden Oldies

So many possible puns to make here… Golden Days, Golllllden Years (bop bop bop)… Old Gold?
I’ll stop there.

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Finally, a proper update on the life and times of the Dead and Buried crew! 2010 has officially begun!

On the news side of things, we have a new honorary member of the clan, Kate Rogers has now taken residency in our studio space, and will soon be joining us for many dusty glue fumed hours of cordwaining as she attempts to retreat from the world of graphic design one day at a time. She’s ingrained pretty deep where she works, so we don’t expect to see her too often for a start, but it’s a start, and that’s all that matters. Welcome Rogers!

Dani has finally found her rhythm and is madly scribbling down new ideas for her next range, and what might end up being a semi-range of new things that she wants to get out immediately. Seems our trip to NYC paid off (as if we needed justification for it!) as she found a whole lot of inspiration in the Met’s Egyptian artifact exhibition, so keep an eye out for Dani M’ed snakes, crowns, eyeballs, dudes walking sideways… you know the deal.
She is also participating in a few Craft Vic things coming up soon, but I’ll let her spill the beans on those later.

What about the shoes I hear you asking? What’s with all the jabbering about gold and old people?

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Here’s what i’m talking about… my gift-to-myself Golden Oxfords that I rocked at my 30th birthday. Bling!

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I was heading down the blue suede shoes track until I remembered the Gold leather I had on the shelf, and thought “why go half way, go all out!”

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So I started again and after more hurdles than I would have liked – the leather was Cow, not Sheep or Kid, so it was soooper thick, a few sewing wobbles, issues with my first attempt at dying the soles – they came together and luckily for me were so bright and extravagant that no one noticed the screw ups, they were too dazzled to focus for any length of time.

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I am also happy to announce that they were really quite comfortable, seems the addition of cork and suede to the sole makes for more cushioning than your off-the-shelf shoes I’ve worn in the past.

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I’m hoping to make something a little more sedate for a pair of weddings I have coming up, so these ones will sit in waiting until I find another occasion for them.
(ps. finding an outfit to wear to a pub, on a hot day, with gold shoes, is almost impossible. I went with black, black and black, and I realise I sound like a girl when I talk ‘outfits’. Sigh.)

Next up to show you is my first attempt at a higher than 1″ heel, based on some new lasts I got from Bruce at Shoe Lasts Australia.
Bruce is a legend, and someone you’ll definitely end up talking to for an hour or more if you start making your own shoes.

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Excuse the god-awful colour of my “test run” leather (and its Blundstone look) and dont stare too long at the goofy handmade stacked leather wedge, but you get the idea yeah?

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If you’re not an imaginative type, you’re in luck! I’m a multimedia nerd! I can do the work for you!
Below are some photoshopped ideas of what I’m getting at.
Maybe I’ll scan in some of my sketches so you can see where I’m headed with my first designs.

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It seems there isn’t a fashion blog in the world who hasn’t done an RIP McQueen post, so we’ll skip it, but I will note that I was genuinely saddened when I heard the news, much like old Heathy Ledger and Kurt Cobain, seems I’ve become more fashion aware than I ever thought I would be (considering I grew up spending my weekends at the Thunderdome and riding a bmx). You’ll be missed Mr McQ.

We’re off to to the Buffet Tradeshow next weekend to learn from the greats about fashion retailing, so we’ll be one (major) step closer the Dead and Buried 2010 retail experience! woooo!

Anyhoot, that’s a lot of typing, I’m off to bash out some Zeppelin tunes on my sneaky silent electronic drums.

Listening to : Die Antwoord tear the electro world a new one. Hoax or not, they are genius.

MONARCH! tomorrow night at Ding Dong! wooo! i’ll be there, will you?

Emma the Vote-getter

Hey Kids,

Just wanted to note that the lovely Emma Shirgwin aka Emma the Shoemaker has sprung up (unexpectedly I hear) on the list for “Imelda’s Designer of the Year ’09”.

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Imelda’s blog (written by a dude from Sydney named Matthew) is one of the few Australian shoe industry / style blogs out there – and it’s pretty cool to see Emma getting the nod along side industry heavyweights like Nicholas Kirkwood and Alexander McQueen… who I’m pretty sure DONT clock up the hours at a bench cutting, hammering and gluing all of their wares together.

If you’re likin’ what Emma is makin’, head over and click her name. If she wins you can give someone a high five for helping the Aussie industry show people who’s the boss.

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Listening to : Sunn 0))) РBig Church (megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért)

Double Trouble

So shoe fans, what’s the only thing better than a handmade pair of shoes?

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That’s right… TWO pairs of handmade shoes!

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Seeing as the first pair of perforated oxfords were a little tight (and I was kind of keen to put them on the shelf as the ‘first nice pair’ of shoes I have made) I knocked up a second pair in a size larger, as blogged about last week.

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I am happy to report Dani is very impressed and is looking forward to ‘wearing them every day’… which is why they have a Topy sole and some slightly goofy laces that might get changed later on.

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Due to a convenient work scheduling last week I had 6 days in a row away from my computer, which meant I could almost experience a proper working week as a shoe maker, apart from the usual weekend family and booze related breaks from my desk.
I managed to complete these new ones, and get most of the way through the t-bar sandals.

I also did some studio-space negotiations that should result in me having another shoe maker in there with me in a few weeks time. woo! shared tools! More about that when it’s locked in.

These ones probably took the same amount of time as the last pair, but I am becoming aware of which parts are easy and which tasks take deceptively long.

  • Cutting and sewing – Pretty quick apart from some akward lining / tongue / upper intersections
  • Lasting – Getting faster, except I always forget to factor in the counter and toe puff, and the fact that they need to be wet, then let dry.
  • Sole + Heels – Forgeddaboutit. Always takes me 2 hours longer than I expect. I need to look around for pre-made bits instead of stacking heels all the time*
  • Finishing – Painful. Cleaning things up, driving to buy shoe laces, fussing over scratches… all time consuming.

* I dont use pre-made heels, I cut and stack up  3 or4 layers of leather to make a block, then shape it on the shoe.

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I’m off to bed as it’s back to computer-land for me tomorrow, but I hope to get back in to the studio asap and get to work on a little something for myself for once.

Listening to : nothing (its all silent at the moment after I cracked the sh*ts at my camera for not working earlier)

2010 is here!

So, it’s finally started… TwentyTen, the year when – if all goes to plan I will…
a. Shave my head to combat baldness and never again concern myself with a “hairstyle”
b. Turn 30
c. Sell my first handmade shoe
d. Open a super-cool-and-casual-and-enviable store with the one and only Dani M
e. Release at least one of my proposed ‘albums’ and start some sort of proper band
… I’m guessing in roughly that order too. It should be fun!

Thanks to the modern marvel that is eBay I am now the proud owner of this bad boy

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A Pfaff 493 for all those trainspotters out there, with the mechanism to attach a lining trimming ‘knife’ to the post,although it is not currently in action.

Even on “slow” it sews faster than anything I have ever used, so it will be hand-turned for a while until I get my nerve up. If anyone can see that I have threaded it wrong, please comment, as it’s 99% right, but has a few thread tension issues.

I have started the year by modifying a last for Dani’s orthotic-shod feet, as the shoes I’m making are all a little tight, so rather than go to town buying new lasts, I’m trying to build one up the old way.

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After a day dicking around with the new sewing machine I managed to tape / draw / cut / trace / create the pattern for another pair of Oxfords. These will be identical to the ‘breezy’ ones, with a second pair in Black to follow.

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And… seeing as I had to jam ANOTHER desk and piece of machinery into my corner of the studio space I decided to take a series of pictures and panorama them together (I should have just used a wide angle lens, but it’s all Blogging On A Budget ¬© around here) so my hordes of fans can see what a little Tetris style cube I work in.
Everything is at arms reach… and not by choice.

Click on it for maximum bigness and see in great detail my lack of quality tools.
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I have it here at super resolution –¬† if anyone wants to print it at 1:1 and pretend you’re really there.
Note the “Blue Suede Shoes” in the foreground that I’m making for myself…

That’s all for now, thanks for reading and here’s hoping for big busy and successful 2010 for all of us.

Listening to : Floor (their whole back catalogue)
These guys were awesome, the band is no more, key members are now in a band called Torche.
Downtuned madness. If someone wants to start a band like this, I’m keen.

Urgh.

Seriously? Who gets a head cold and enough flu symptoms to stay home from work in the middle of summer? Me, thats who.
So, this will only be a short post as it’s proving to be more effort than I thought it would be to be sitting up here tapping away.

I finished the Breezy brown shoes on Monday, and proudly delivered them to Dani for the first try on and walk-around.

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We agreed that they are a little tight around the laces section, and also found that her orthotic support pushes pretty hard on the instep perforated area, so the decision has been made for me to make ANOTHER pair in a size larger, and with more support around the lower sections of the shoe.

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Although it might seem like bad news, I’m actually looking forward to the challenge of making a second pair of equal (or better) quality. No use being able to make shoes without being able to make a matching pair for a second person. I’ll keep the posts about the new ones to a minimum as it will all look pretty much the same, but i’ll hopefully have a twin pair of them to show in a week or two.

I’ve also been fooling around with some bright blue suede I have… I think some Elvis style ‘blue suede shoes’ will be on the cards for myself in the near future.

Thats all for today… I’m off to bed with a bowl of soup and stack of dvds.

Listening to: Yello – Oh Yeah followed by Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy *

*sick Steve has no time for heavy metal, just nice songs that make me feel like i’m living in a mid-80s comedy.

Ventilators! Mount up.

Hey Kids, back with another quick update from the shoemaking bench.
I managed to get some more done on the ‘breezy’ oxfords last week – and as a side note I saw some pictures up on James’ wall of vintage shoe catalogues with these sort of things referred to as ‘Ventilated’. A classier and more accurate title, but too reminiscent of Reebok’s “Ventilator” name for me to use it regularly.¬† (Sneaker people like me have wierd OCD tendencies that include knowing the names of sneakers that came out 25 years ago and listing them to yourself as you see them being worn around town.)

Anyway, on with the pics:

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all lasted up and ready for a sole and heel. The kid leather I used on the front is a little too thin it seems, as you can see the overlap of the perforated layer, but I weighed that up against bulking the toe area up with more leather and decided to keep it thin for these ones.

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a nice detail shot, matching left and rights!, and a moody night shot.

Tomorrow will be sole fitting day, construction of stacked heels for these, and some lasting on another pair of T-Bar flats that are on the go.
I also hope to have my first coffee from Captains of Industry, so if you’re there, and I’m there, we’ll see each other.

Listening to : The Jesus Lizard – Puss
I cant believe I didn’t listen to these guys when I was a teenager . Sigh. I could have turned out much angrier. Big thanks to Tom for waking me up to them 10 years later.