Sunday, 24 July 2011

Making Turnshoes

So last night I started my newest leather project, making my first set of period turnshoes. I'm following the instructions from The Complete Anachronist issue 140 (The Basic Craft of Turnshoes). To be honest I'm finding that the instructions aren't terribly clear, but I don't know if that's just me because I don't know the terminology he's using. I may have to go a different route if I can't figure out what he's telling me to do.

Anyway, last night I started making my shoe pattern. To do this, I'm supposed to put on a double sock and then tape my foot (he's very specific to use masking tape, as other types of tape will stretch and change the shape of your pattern). I then mark specific points of my foot before cutting the top sock layer off with the tape attached.

I got myself all taped up and all, but the marking instructions were confusing, so there were some steps where I was just guessing what he meant. Eventually I got it all cut off and when I took it off and stuck it to a piece of construction paper, it looked something like a shoe pattern, but it's not the same shape as the picture in the book. (It may be because I couldn't understand some of his instructions, not sure). I'm not sure how this is going to affect the final shoe.

I expect this is one of those things that I'll just need to work on until I figure out a technique that works. Once I know what I'm doing, I'll be able to make the pattern pretty easily. The other thing I figured out is that this method of making a pattern is really hard to do on yourself, at least without help. I may need Avelyn to help with the next one.

Unfortunately, the other pattern making method he suggests is carving a last out of wood that is shaped like your foot. I think that's a bit advanced for me, not to mention time consuming.

Next step appears to be transferring the pattern to fabric, and adjusting it to reflect the particulars of the shoe being made (ie a pointed toe rather than just the shape of your foot). I'm not sure if I'll move on or see if I can fix the tape shape.

Monday, 18 July 2011

My Library

I've started gathering a number of leatherworking books to hopefully help me with my projects. Some of them are SCA specific (Complete Anachronist issues on specific types of projects) but a number of them are historical research books, or just general leatherworking titles.

Here's some of the titles:

Museum of London Highlights (pics of leather artifacts in the collection)
Coloring Leather by Al Strohlman
Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz (drool-worthy book on historical shoes, with many illustrations)
Purses in Pieces by Olaf Goubitz (similar to Stepping through Time, but for purses and pouches from 16th century Neatherlands)
Shoes and Pattens by Francis Grew  and Margrethe de Neergaard
The Art and Craft of Leather by Maria Teresa Llado i Riba

Plus Complete Anachronists on making gloves and turnshoes, as well as two beginner leatherworking issues with objects like boxes, drinking vessels etc. (don't have the issues handy at the moment to list them).

We've started logging all of our SCA related books into a social media tool called LibraryThing. We're up to over 200 books so far. I've tagged leather related books with the tag leatherwork. You can see our library at

Sunday, 17 July 2011

My First Post!!!!

Well, here we go! I've resisted creating a blog for a while now but I thought this would be a good way to document my ongoing leatherworking projects as part of my hobby in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

To date I've been mostly doing simple leatherworking projects - pouches, belts etc. But I'm starting to look at getting into some more complex projects, so documenting what I'm doing and my research seemed like a good idea.

Having just gotten back from our trip the the UK, I've got a bunch of project ideas, most of which are well beyond my current skill level. We saw some awesome examples of period shoes, leather scabbards and knife sheaths, and even leather clothing. So, I've got lots of things to work on while I try to learn the skills to recreate some of those items and I'll try to chronicle my progress here.