Shoemaking: Still A Profession

The following is a guest post by Sharon Raymond of Simple Shoemaking.

Running ahead of oneself
photo credit: orangeacid

I was delighted, as a shoemaking instructor working out of my home, to see the statement in an article on www.treehugger.comthat “shoemaker” should be added to a list of occupations that would be in demand in the “new green economy”! To me it makes perfect sense. From a global perspective, the “post-peak oil” world may result in the costs for transporting a pair of shoes from afar outweighing the “benefits” of their cheap production. From a village perspective, there is a developing awareness that purchasing locally-grown and locally-made products is a way to support each other and build community.

Do you want to be one of those people working with your hands, making something practical, like a pair of shoes? All the materials needed to create infinite styles are accessible. If you want to make an ecologically-conscious product, that too is possible; I myself make several styles of shoes from recycled dungarees and old wool coats.

I teach the simple “stitch-down” process of shoemaking. After pulling the upper part of the shoe over the last (a foot-shaped mold), it turns OUT to be stitched to the soling. All my shoes are low-heeled and have lots of toe room. My website gives you an idea of the range of footwear that can be made using this method.

Perhaps there is a village (or “transition town”) that needs you for its shoemaker. My advice for aspiring shoemakers: specialize – focus your energy on footwear that fills a need you have noticed, perhaps for a certain sport or profession. Or create shoes with a unique design feature, perhaps they fasten in a clever way or have all their construction visible on the outside. Make shoes for newborn babies, or, learn shoemaking, then study pedorthics, which will give you knowledge of how to integrate orthotics and other inserts into the shoes you make.

Once you have decided on your product, make and market it for a period of time before considering the expansion of your line. Once the shoemaking process is learned, you may stay awake all night designing yet another variation, thereby supporting the expansion of your imagination but not necessarily the expansion of your business.

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