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.

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.

Seasons Greetings!

Hello to all of you out there in Internet Land… Hope you all had a merry christmas and are all planning an action packed NYE.

I have been well and truly in holiday mode, so no shoe making pics to show this time. I did receive a niiiice piece of suede / nubuck from Sue for my work KK gift + a pair of laces, so I have to put pens to paper and come up with something to make from it that I can strut around the office in. (I work part-time at a mulitmedia studio, all this craft doesn’t pay the bills just yet!)

Dani has a window display coming up in January at Craft Vic, so she is busily making up new and exciting pieces for that, and I have been lazing on the couch watching the Wire, and listening to my christmas present vinyl on my newly rewired record player.  It’s a hard life.

So not much news for now, but things will be back in full swing next week.
I’ll leave you all with a photo of me SMASHING a few runs in the family Christmas cricket game.
I have finally outgrown my awkward teenager days and have moved in to the ‘uncle who shows all the kids how it’s done’ zone whereby I am required to simultaneously drink a beer and hit tennis balls over the neighbours’ fence.


There are photos around of Dani watching from the “grandstand” (a car seat leaning against a caravan) but posting them on the internet would do irreparable damage to her social status.

Listening to : The Rat Pack – Live at the Sands
The combination of booze and crooning is perfect for the festive season.


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.


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.


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.

New Section – Steve’s iPod Alphabet

I’ve added a new link over there to the right >>>>

Check back once a week for an update on my suggestions of bands old and new that you might not know about, and might be missing out on.
Life is too short to spend it listening to shit music.

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.

Blast from the (recent) past

Well, we’re almost a month in to the world of blogging and I have learned 2 important things :
1. Take your camera places, no photos = nothing to show off.
2. Its time to get a decent camera, bad photos are just as useless as no photos.

So, with that in mind here are some images of the other 2 pairs of shoes I have completed recently, and I’ll get back to you all with more photos of the current pairs when I remember to take a camera in.


Pair #2 to leave the workbench were these flats.
A variation on the first (brown) pair, with a twisty toe detail that Dani requested. They came out a little bulkier than planned, but not as much as the exaggerated camera angle shows them.
Not much to describe here, other than crossover designs are harder to sew than straight up flat pieces.


Pair #3 to come to life were a little more adventurous. Aiming to fill the brief of “summer sandals to wear all the time” these Zomp-inspired bad boys came in to existence.


I foolishly assumed that these would be a quick and easy departure from the last two pairs, but I was wrong. Sandals seem to involve 400 times the amount of sewing and at least 3 times the amount of brain power and fingers-crossed optimism than court shoes do.  Sewing 10 pieces of leather together and hoping they’ll all wrap up into a shoe is some anxious work.

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I added Velcro instead of a buckle, Topy covered the whole sole for long-lasting toughness, and have since made a few minor alterations to account for Dani’s orthotic supports that had a tendency to slip out the sides.

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That’s it for the back catalogue, I’ll show you all the finished brown breezy ones later in the week, and a new pair of T-Bar sandals, made with orthotic-side-falling-outering in mind.

This post is dedicated to the Yellow shears that you see in the sandal pic on the top right. They rule. They cut anything. They make my day so much easier. Good tools = happy times.
You may also notice my Ikea bracket + Bolt lasting pin. I like to make things, and thats what you get when you need something obscure made immediately.

Listening to : Whitesnake – Is This Love *

I recommend buying the entire album “1987”.
You would be hard pressed to find another album as awesome and ridiculous at the same time.
Every single song has joy, tears, fist clenching power lyrics and tassled jacketed big haired sexiness all through it.
Perfect for long drives, parties, and late night blog posting.

Inspiration List – Mi Ju

I just came across these images again in my My Pictures folder and thought they’d be great to share with the world.
They are the paintings of an artist called Mi Ju, she’s from Korea and exhibited these paintings in the Fecal Face gallery in San Fransisco earlier this year. I wasnt there, I just like her work.  Check out the whole article here
(Click the images to see them full size)

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Artwork like i’ve never seen before… the sort of thing I could look at all day and still find something to admire. I’m a frustrated artist at heart, so its always nice to see someone letting loose on a canvas.

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images originally from fecalface.com – photos by John Trippe (I think)

I could post about artists all day long, but I’ll leave that to the proper art sites out there, like these ones:





Listening to : Black Angels – Black Grease

Easy Breezy Cover Girl – Part 1.

Finally, a full day with no interruptions to get some quality shoe time… and with some nice results to show!
On a recent trip to Lefflers I bought some perforated leather with no real intentions for it, and have decided to use it on to make a pair of stylin’ cool-breeze catchin’ summer shoes for Dani.


As you can see, the perforated colour matched up nicely with a glossy kid hide that I had, so these ones pretty much designed themselves.
After some pattern making, trial fitting and a few mistakes yesterday, I started today with a clear plan and managed to (slowly) get a lot done.


Here’s the major pieces during assembly – this is the first time I have attempted a full lining/upper construction, but I got my head around it eventually.

Pictured also is the trusty Pfaff 30 workhorse that actually belongs to my pal Tom. He bought it, I borrowed it, and have been using it ever since. I should get my own, but I’m going to wait until I come across a post arm shoemaking one, so for now its lo-fi all the way for me.
I’ve learned that turning the wheel by hand = infinitely better sewing, so I’m also being kind to the environment by not plugging it in any more.
The ashtray is for bent nails. I dont smoke at my desk. Hi mum.

The aformentioned sewing. Hermes eat your heart out!

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Seeing as fitting a fat leather lining would cancel out the cool-breeze perforations to some extent, I went for a 100% cotton lining in the front, which is an idea I stole off James, who got it from a vintage pair of shoes he cut open.

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I finished off my afternoon with the uppers all sewn up, ready for lace holes + lasting tomorrow night if i get a chance.
… although I couldn’t resist the chance to do a quick masking taped mockup to see how it all looks…

(Just use your imagination to see them with laces and a sole)

I have already warned Dani that these are going well and may turn out so nice that they will be Sunday best shoes, no kicking around the studio in these ones.

Thanks for reading, and to answer the most commonly asked question I get these days :
It will be a while before I ‘open for business’. Once I think my work is perfect, then I’ll let people know.
I have no need to rush into a new career, so I’ll only jump ship when I think I’m better at shoe making than I am at being a computer nerd.

Listening to : Tame Impala – Sundown Syndrome
These dudes are killing me with how good their songs are.

Quick one

After an action packed weekend where I waited 8 hours for a tradie to NOT show up, we made it back in to the studio today to get crafty.

I modified a pair of sandals that I’ve been making for Dani, made her brother a leather holder for his chisels and then got to work on a new pair of Oxfords.
After mocking them up in cadbury-brown leather (eww), test fitting, adjusting, test fitting, adjusting and test fitting, I’m ready to go with the real leather tomorrow.
They will have some perforated sections for maximum summer breezy-ness, i’ll show some pics soon (forgot the camera today).

Tonight is drum practice time, then on to some late night nerding – I have some design ideas in mind that need 3D modelling to resolve.
No rest for the wicked!

Listening to : Dead Meadow – Between Me And The Ground

^ Check out that monster kick drum! I’m on the hunt for a 26″ bass drum, anyone have a Bonham one they want to offload?

Back to the start

Well, seeing as everyone liked checking out the Desert Boots I made, I’ll starting posting up the other 3 pairs of shoes I’ve made so far so you can all see that I’m not just a one-trick-pony.


These are the first pair that I completed, there were some other prototypes, but these ones are the first official, wearable Steve Phillips shoes. Woo!

The process begins by taping up the last (wrapping it in masking tape) to develop a pattern.
This is then removed, flattened out and used to cut the leather pieces.
Once you’ve done all the tracing and maths involved, you can sew and assemble the ‘upper’ and attach the insole to the lasts.


There are plenty of variations on the ‘lasting’ technique, but I’m following Tim Skyrme’s book, and therefor I use tacks/nails, lasting pliers, hard work, sweat and eventually glue.

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Once the upper is firmly attached to the insole, the shank is fitted (if you’re adding one) a whole lot of other trimming and tidying goes on, and then the sole is fitted / built.
I’m trying to keep things as traditional as possible for now, so I am hand making my soles and heels, from veg tanned leather. This takes a long time, but is very satisfying when its complete.

That’s 5 layers of leather all stacked up, nailed and carved to a lovely little cuban-ish heel.

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If you have done your measurements correctly, you can remove the last and begin wearing them.
I said IF…
I did not measure things properly, and decided in my infinite wisdom to lower the ‘throat’ of the shoe – where the opening turns around near your toes – for a nicer look, and found that lower = looser = falls off when Dani walks in them. Sigh.

Not to be discouraged, I added in a tongue and a nice little bow sort of detail and whammo, they fit fine.


That’s the abridged story of Pair #1. Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you hours of info if you’re reeeally interested!

The toe shape, height and fit of my shoes are all similar so far, due to the fact that I only have one complete set of lasts in the same design.
The Harold Boot Company in Abbotsford downsized about a year ago and I spent the afternoon sifting through crates of obsolete lasts with April Phillips (our surnames are a coincidence, no relation as far as I know!) who has what is known as the “Last Library” where she rents out her extensive collection of lasts. Anyhoot, we both managed to find a left and right of each size of their lasts, and they’re what i’m using for now until I get off my ass and buy / rent some more.

Listening to : Dungen – Ta Det Lugnt