Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A new obsession

Yeah yeah yeah - beautiful weekend - gorgeous weather - sunshine, knitting, fun, cats, gardening... and my new obsession....

First: baby sunflowers
Busy Busy Bees

Columbine that has re-seeded itself all over the yard - much to my delight.
Neighbor dogs in front of the new sunflower patch. 

Jacques in front of the garlic, which should start sprouting scapes any day now!
Peonies that haven't bloomed for three years
And mustard greens.  I always forget how much I LOVE these. They turn the garlic purple!
I picked more than enough so I had left overs. Very happy left overs.  

And yes - as promised my new obsession... making my own shoes. I know, I know - I really don't need a new hobby but this one has me intrigued. It is as mysterious as book binding used to be. And after many hours scouring the internet, I have come to the conclusion that yes, making shoes - good shoes - nice looking shoes - healthy shoes - is every bit a mastered profession as book binding. This is not for the weekend hobbyist.
But that didn't stop me. 
How did this new obsession come about? Well, Penland School of Crafts is offering a shoe making class. Two weeks and $1200 (not including room and board) later you leave the class with a pair of beautiful shoes. Do I want to take this class? oh yeah. Can I afford it? snort. no. 
So talking with friends and wishing, leads to conversations and google searches and pretty soon things start to happen. 
First I found a link on how to cut up flip flops, cover them artfully with fabric, glue them together and voilá! cute sandals.  Cool!
I kept looking. 
Burda has a wonderful tutorial on how to cover your shoes with fabric. 
More searching helped me realize, I really need lasts for my own feet in order make nice looking shoes that fit.  And then I landed on this site belonging to Ms. Mary Wales Loomis.  Her idea is so simple - pour plaster into a cheap pair of pumps you like - use that as the last. Then using buckram (! - a book binding material) start to form the shoe, then cover with fabric! I love this lady. I started pulling out all of my shoes. But I had to keep searching for how to make my own lasts, because I don't own a pair of cheap pumps, never mind sacrificing my favorite shoes to plaster.  
I finally found a few sites that said to use an alginate mold. I've never heard of this stuff. But is it WAY cool. Unlike molds that you want to use again and again, this stuff is intended to be temporary. You can actually stick your whole foot in it and be able to wiggle it back out. When you pour plaster into it - well you have to rip the mold apart to get at it but - you know - that works. 
Sunday afternoon I decided - what the heck - I've got no other plans, let's dash off to AC Moore and pick up some of this stuff. Well....! 
Long story short - no one at these craft stores (Dick Blick either) was much help at this stuff. I finally bought plaster and plaster strips from AC Moore (with a 50% coupon I might add) and something called InstaMold from Dick Blick.  
I was still leery so I did a lot more internet searching before deciding to dive in.

First I built the box for the mold.  Using cardboard and waterproof tape, I made small enclosure so I wouldn't have to use so much liquid. 

Since I wasn't interested in tons of detail I put on an old nylon sock to hold my feet together. I think this proved to be a good idea as it was very helpful in releasing the mold later.  

It took two tries to get the formula correct. I had to sit still for almost 20 minutes until the stuff set. Thank goodness for solitaire on the iPad. 

I decided to wait a day before pouring plaster into the mold. Sadly, I am out of practice with the plaster and I mixed up way too much.

In the end I was rewarded with a very nice set of plaster casts of my feet.  

Can anyone spot the problem here? Plaster is fragile! Not a great material for cobbling.

I was mulling this over and decided I would try to do plan A and plan B at the same time.
I had an old pair of clogs with a rip in the toe that I will never wear again.

So I took them apart.  
Then I used the plaster strips to make molds of  my feet. My feet were resting on the wooden part of the clog so these lasts should (in theory) fit onto these clogs. 

In order to get my feet back out of the plaster I had to leave the backs open.  So tonight I made molds of my heels
and attached them to these.

I spent hours this afternoon at Dick Blick looking at the different casting compounds and finally settled on one which claims to be like plaster and paper mache - but won't chip. Hmmm. Stay tuned. I'll let you know how it goes.   


Melanie said...

This is truly a new obsession--and an interesting one at that. I can't wait to watch how this evolves...good luck!

tara said...

Interesting. Yes! Stay tuned....

renaissance1970 said...

I din;t know about shoes, but that looks like one heck of a spa treatment.