I got a cry for help in my mailbox yesterday from reader Dawn:
Can you recommend a site/book/ anything for making shoes?Help?????
Well, Dawn, I didn’t yesterday, but I’ve been researching the question and I think I’ve got a couple sources for you. Of course, it’s always easier to find the right thing when you’ve got a few more parameters, but at least one of these should set you on the right track.
Etsy store simpleshoemaking sells books on basic techniques of shoe and sandal making. The books are self-published and available in both hard copy and pdf format ranging from about $30.00 to $45.00. The books recommend recycled soles, and the shoes look pretty crunchy granola, Berkeley in the seventies. Still, the techniques are for shoes created with few or no specialized tools, and the books are budget friendly. This could be a good place to start, especially if you don’t plan to get too exotic with styling.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive source emphasizing a more elegant approach and much more complex work… at a correspondingly higher price, you might want to check out Bespoke Shoemaking Book. This is for the person seriously interested in making a lot of custom shoes. The basic book runs $140.00AUD, plus shipping. And then there’s the sandal book, the sandal kit, and the instructions for making a professional grade sole press.
Amazon has several pages of books on shoes and shoemaking available. These range from reprints of historical manuals (often meant for professionals) to books on embellishing shoes you buy commercially to more general books on leatherwork that happen to include a pattern for a sandal or two to books that show what sorts of shoes were worn when and where. It’s a little scattershot, but you might find a good book there.
All of these sites have their advantages, but I think the best source I found had to be Walrus Shoe. In addition to books on how to make shoes, they carry lasts, a book on making your own lasts, cobbling-themed jewelry, and say they will soon carry tools, findings, and machines to help your shoe making dreams come true. I’ll be keeping my eyes on this one! Again, these books and tools are meant for the professional or the very serious hobbyist. They don’t come cheap, but they result in pretty footwear. Then again, if you’re going to make shoes… why not go for the gusto?
And if you’re just looking for a bit of fun inspiration, why not check out the Bata Shoe Museum? You may just find a good reason to buy one or two of those books so you can reproduce something special.
I hope that helped you, Dawn! Best of luck with your shoemaking endeavors, and be sure to let us know how it goes.