I love finding out what others are doing to create shoes that are a bit more interesting, a bit more ‘them’.  Something that takes over the boredom and saminess of the majority of footwear that’s around.  Lets face it, with mass production you are only getting one of many.

I was delighted to see what’s happening here by Brave Strides, how much nicer than dying your shoes, painting them with such lovely detail.  I guess you need to consider how well they will stand up to wear and tear, but what fun.  I like that she isn’t caught up in the super hero and/or movie hero angle that quite a few others are working.


Today we’re looking at Mules, a specific term for a slip on, backless style of shoes.  I’d tell you all about it except that I had to look it up and found the Womens Shoe Advisory blog and it does it so well I thought I’d leave it to them to explain all, so click on the name above and you will get to have a look at what they say.

We are drawing them.  Although the blog I’ve just mentioned swears and declares that mules shouldn’t have a heel currently that’s the majority of the mule market.  I was going to be stubborn and find a flat mule, but when I encountered this I realised it actually is a mule even though it is stretching the boundaries, what do you think?


If you click on the image you will be transported to the photography site that took this great snap.  I was hoping it would be one of those 360 degree shots so I could rotate it and check it out from all angles but it’s a still.  I shall imagine the other angles I need to draw from the information in this shot.  I may well regret this in a minute – how am I meant to depict the crocodile (or similar) skin?  It would be interesting to know if it is a real crocodile or caiman hide or if it is a simulated effect.

Ha!  Found it, and there is a rotating 360 degree image too.  Click Here to check it out.  They are called black caiman but the devil is in the detail, it’s crocodile embossed leather.  I have felt a crocodile hide and that centre section that runs down the back is very thick and would be mighty difficult to work so I can understand not using the real stuff, but I’m still a little disappointed.

Why shoes?

To begin with (I had to correct my typo which had ‘toe begin with’ – very on topic!) we didn’t wear shoes, and there is something lovely about being in touch with the ground when it’s a nice temperature and the surface is pleasing to touch, but anyone who has experienced bindi-eyes or bindis (Soliva sessilis), or extreme temperatures can appreciate the necessity of a protective layer between you and the nasties.

Especially as some of the nasties are very nasty, parasites that embed themselves in your feet can ruin a good walk, and life itself.  I was going to find a link to embellish this point but it’s all very unattractive and I can’t bring myself to inflict this on you.  OK, I don’t want to inflict it on me.  It doesn’t matter as the point is that a foot covering can protect you from this.

So we began to wear shoes a very long time ago.

These are images of shoes made from Sagebrush bark that were found near Fort Rock, Oregon, USA, and believed to be from 10,500 to 9,300 years old, click here for more information.  It’s amazing to have these as usually they would have composted after use and so we don’t know how long this type of shoe had been in use for prior to this time.

The next step, using leather is at least as old as 5,500 years ago, with this wonderful discovery made within the last decade.


A single piece of leather that is stitched at the front and the rear.  This shoe is in amazing condition and it’s easy to see the construction – such a treat, click here for the full story.

I love that each of these examples are clearly recognisable as shoes.  There was no problem identifying their function.  There is an upper section and a sole and we usually think of that as what makes up a shoe, but what about shoes without soles?  Is that an oxymoron? Look at these bare bottom shoes (and click on the images for more information):

bb-crossed-feet bf_oceanus

So – are these shoes? To my mind the ones on the right are jewelry while the ones on the left could possibly be classified as shoes.  But then what about these????



Emphatically no.

Art – yes, shoes – no.

Maybe the description of shoe needs to embrace the functionality of walking.  These Charles Lamboutin shoes ain’t going no where.  Wear them yourself, sir. (Click on the image for more information.)

Designers of the 20th century

We are of course talking shoes here.  Shoe designers.  It’s really hard to find many shoe designers from the early 20th century, as media grew the influence of designers could reach out far wider than their own physical presence.

We covered designers today in class.  They were all men.  And some very fine designers, but what a shame to miss out on the wonderful Beth Levine – husband Herbert got mentioned, and got the credit for the stocking shoe:


This is an image from the Sydney Power House museum, click here or on the image to go to their site for more information.

Beth Levine worked as Herbert Devine (using her husband’s name) because shoe design was such a male dominated industry it was better to go under a nom de plume, so to speak, I guess that should that be her nom des chaussures.  Some other images of her designs can be seen on Pinterest – click here.

I love her sense of fun.

And Vivienne Westwood, why didn’t she get a mention? click here  Exceptional and audacious.

I’m also going to mention Trippen, because it’s 50% female design.  I love there work and have recently bought a pair of sandals – yay.  Angela Speith and Michael Ohler are doing wonderful things, especially with very thick hides. I love the chunkiness of the seems they create.  And what a great name.  click here

There are so many more.  It’s great to trawl and look, especially when it’s part of your studies and you are meant to, but then I get to that point when it’s all too much.  Like that time in Amsterdam when I was desterately trying to see all the museums and galleries, and found myself racing past a painting muttering to myself, “it’s just another Rembrandt” – Reality Check – time to stop and smell the roses, or sip a cuppa or just breath . . . .

drawn to shoes

So today we are drawing shoes.  We’re doing high heel court shoes.  I think I’ve still got a few of these at home which probably need to be moved on as I simply can’t wear them at all.  (In fact I destinctly remember a lethal pair of fake leopard skin stilettos that almost need a hazchem label.)

First goes are always pretty rough so there’s plenty of room for improvement.

We’re going to be drawing pretty much every type you can imagine so hopefully by the end it will be a cinch.


Ergonomics.  Doing computers right.  And with a shonky back like mine I really need to keep on top of all this.  It’s so easy to get absorbed in the thing I’m working on and suddenly I’m slouched and aching and 3 hours has gone by . . . . you know what I mean.

So I’d best be taking that break right now!


I do some of my best thinking when I’m moving around, and while I grabbed a cuppa I started thinking about the stand up desk, and this picture – from the www – shows how desks should work, or how you should work at desks:


I’ve heard there are adjustable desks so either position is easily available.  Current research reveals strong evidence of the health benefits of these.  I need one. With a nice anti-fatigue mat to stand on.

Day 4

We’re almost at the end of week one.  We haven’t made any shoes yet.  We’ve made a start and we’ve taped a last and made our pattern so hopefully later today we’ll be able to move to the next step.