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)

High Tea Exhibition

hi lovely readers…dani here. i’ve been busy getting some work together for an exhibition that just opened.

although i started the work ages ago, it was a long process of trial and error- so i was unsure if it would all come together.

IT DID!  major major sigh of relief.

i tried a new technique (for me) of applying decal images to porcelain. it was WAY easier than i anticipated…cut around image, soak it and the piece in warm water, separate image from backing, slide in place, let dry and fire in kiln!  AND you can custom print, so i think decals may feature in my jewellery and other work in the future.
now that i know this, i am surprised how much ceramic jewellery is out there with the same 5 blue japanese prints!  ah well, they are so missing out.  oh, and i almost forgot to mention…for this work, i wanted to match the rose print from my nan’s tea cup.  AMAZINGLY, we found the print and it looks almost identical (colour is a little off but you can’t really tell).

so, when asked to respond to the concept of taking tea- i was a bit worried.  i don’t ‘take tea’ EVER.  i drink tea like its going out of fashion, but the ritual of it is no longer around.  does anyone formally sit down and drink tea with cakes and napkins?

i started to think about madam brussels and the novelty of being proper and formal…because its SO far removed from how we live today.  in the end i decided to create fun and whimsical objects to emphasise that when we do these rituals now, its like we are kids again dressing up and playing pretend.

anyway, here’s the finished work and some ‘in the making’ shots. i guess now i’m an artist too! yay!

high tea on till feb 6 2011 at bundoora homestead

RepRap Build – Part 2

Well, another month has FLOWN by and it seems I’m not nearly as far a long with this printer buildup as I thought I would be… but fear not, there has been some progress.
I think having to wait a month or two for it to arrive took some of the motivation away from me as I kind of forgot about it until it turned up on the doorstep… and now it has become a hot summer buildup, not a wintery this-will-fill-in-a-few-evenings job like I planned.

Anyhoot, on with the pictures! Enough with the words!

When I last posted I had no idea what to do to begin building my Mendel (aka robot, aka printer) so I started on the print head.
That gave me a sense of fulfillment, but being a plastic part it didn’t really give me much insight into how the rest of the assembly would go.

So, I (finally) found the Laser Cut build images on the RepRap wiki and started from the top….

* note : the images on the wiki are kind of handy, as they show the finished product, but they’re in no way “instructions”.
I have been taking shots every 5 mins or so, with the intention of making a “how to” guide that is much more thorough when I’m done building mine.
If you’ve found your way here to learn how to build a Mendel, these images won’t be that helpful, they’re just me showing some eye-candy… check back here in a week or so and I will have uploaded all of my images to a proper Buildup page for you to scroll through and have a look at every bit in detail.

this is the general assembly of each of the bearing sections, using skateboard bearings to run on smooth steel rails.

This one of the the X-Axis (left to right movement) assemblies…

Some of the bolts and nuts on this thing required impossible angles… here’s me doing a level-47 Advanced Engineering double-nut-shifter move (which sounds like a delicious ice cream no?)

The X-Axis family = one evening’s work.

more bearings, this time with a stepper motor nearby… again, I apologise if you are reading this and going “so, what the hell, he isn’t describing a damn thing helpful!”… this is more for curious readers, the full How-To guide should be much more useful.

This is how it all moves, a belt running around gears and bearings in little washer-bound tracks. Nice and easy.

The Frog…aka print bed chassis.

… and before you know it, it’s standing up!
Well, after 2 or 3 more hours tightening and loosening nuts.

Some of these bits aren’t worth explaining out of context, but they make for nice photos…
(and yes, it is December 2010, not 1995 – I don’t have an iPhone, my ol’ Nokia does me just fine.)

Complicated as all #$%^ assembly of the lower part / print bed. This is what I did all day Sunday.

… but here she is!
The nuts are all loose, the wires aren’t connected and there is still a lot to do, but it looks like a Mendel!

So.. that’s where the printer is at as of today (Sunday) … Lets hope it can be up and running before christmas!

I have also been toying around with the David 3D LaserScanner software, and it seems I just need to get my hands on a laser pointer (i’m not that geeky, so I have never owned one) and BAM, I’ll be able to do low-resolution 3D scanning at home too!!!! Scanning + 3D software skills > Printer = replicating whatever I want…..

>>> 3D mesh >>>
[ Click the shoe image to see the detail you can get from a webcam and a laserbeam!]

On a more traditional note, I have also started another pair of shoes.

These will be the prototypes for Lauren’s raffle winning shoes (I know, I know, that was 6 weeks ago… really, I know)

And in my never-ending quest for more tricks of the trade, I hacksawed a shoe in half to get a better idea of thicknesses and where the innersole components start and finish….

Nothing tricky in there… well, there is a a shank and screws in the very middle, but I cut around them to save on 20 mins of sawing through spring steel.

And finally we, well Dani, has also had another major task on the go (there’s always one or two on the go around here) which has used up a few of our evenings.
She has just installed her first, proper, real artworks in the Bundoora Homestead Gallery as part of their High Tea exhibition!
I’ll let her explain it all  in a post this week… but here’s a sneaky preview of one of the pieces.

nice huh?

Listening to : Ragga Twins – Ragga Twins Step Out

Happy Birthday to us!

Hey kids,

I’ve just noticed that it’s the 1 YEAR birthday for this here blog this week!
We missed the actual day by a few, but you know, it’s the thought that counts…So shut the hell up and eat some cake.

In honour of this momentous occasion I commissioned a KICK ASS transformers cake that had BOTH bumblebee AND optimus prime together in one powerful pose that should easily strike fear in to the hearts of any bad dudes who were lurking nearby trying to get some of the fairy bread and cordial we had on offer.

Unfortunately the KICK ASS pose did not eventuate due to time restrictions, so the ESSENCE of the heroic stance was boiled down to its… um… essence and this is what you get. *

See that, transformers so powerfully disguised as a bad cake that you didn’t even notice the glittery logo on top? Whapppow!… glitter all in your face.

So, thanks for reading, stay tuned for a much more eventful year ahead as I get my robot online, make shitloads of genius shoes and Dani takes her jewellery to so many new levels we’ll need a ladder around here.

Listening to :  Me singing happy birthday to myself in the computer room.

* note that that was all rubbish, this is just a photo I found on the internet.

Cutting (well, printing) Edge Technology

Just so everyone else knows about it (and so I dont get 45 emails asking me ‘have you seen this?’) check out the link below if you’re here and are interested in both shoemaking AND 3D nerdery.


“…Marloes ten Bhömer, an experimental shoemaker who is using three-dimensional printing to reinvent the shoe—and the time it takes to make one. With the help of a mechanical engineer, the Dutch designer (and shoe-industry veteran) built her “Rapidprototypedshoe” by using a hot laser to sinter layers of polymer into the shape of a foot.”

images from www.ecouterre.com

This isn’t really where I’m intending to go with my printer, but somewhere between embracing new technology and respecting the traditional methods of the masters is where I hope to land.

I’ll have a new robot building update tomorrow night – hopefully after a long (indoors escaping the 30+ degree heat) day of construction.

RepRap Build Day 1

Hey kids, I have finally digested as much RepRapWiki information as possible and begun to assemble the first part of my Mendel!

I started with the extruder (a printed version of  “Wade’s Geared Extruder” was provided with my kit) and it only took about 5 minutes to get me puzzled… Seems the ‘instructions’ for building one of these = one page of photos of a completed one on the RepRap website.

It’s actually not that complicated to make, but a step-by-step guide would have been quite handy and I’m still not 100% sure I’ve built it correctly – so if/when it works I will backtrack and do a comprehensive How To guide for building one of these in case my fellow shoemakers ever want to give it a go.

Here are a few more ‘in the making’ shots that I might compile into a slideshow / timelapse thing at the end.

PS. Dani and I went for a walk around our neighbourhood in Yarraville tonight and came across a building site (which is being strongly opposed by the locals) that listed its permit application as “removal of the roof and renovation of the existing SHOE FACTORY…”

… so naturally, we waited until it was darker, and went inside. Nothing like a smashed down fence to cancel out locked gates.
[insert evil laugh and/or Judas Priest “breakin’ the law” lyrics here]

Unfortunately we didn’t find much (anticlimax!) as it all seems to have been dere-leekt for quite a while, but I did find some old paperwork and some heel blocks, so I will do some nerdery in the coming week and see if I can find out what/who it was that worked there. I’ll keep you posted.

Listening to : Judas Priest – Breaking the Law