I claim a very special relationship to footwear. As a working shoemaker for the past 38 years I've made over 10,000 pairs of shoes. The challenge for me regarding this project was to step out of the familiar, practical approach to creating a boot.
Footwear has always spoken to me on many levels and I've channeled that into a business that I've built over the years making custom made shoes for people who can't always buy ready made shoes.
It took me longer than expected to think outside that familiar zone and make a piece of footwear that celebrated my expertise and also played with color and texture in a more artful way than I've done in awhile.
Once I found the materials in my shop that would go together to make this boot I felt the joy of creating kick in that has been the fuel I live for in my daily life. Creating a thing of beauty- that still has a practical application- is deeply satisfying for me. And the shoe didn't have to fit anybody! This project has brought me back to seeing my footwear in a new light one that shows what I'm capable of doing now. Though I still make ordinary shoes and boots for people every day while teaching shoemaking as a Master Cobbler, I know in my heart that I am an artist and given the space and time, can create a beautiful boot that tells my story. What better part of the boot to speak than the tongue?
Words on the Tongue of my Boot
I made my first pair of shoes when I was 23 years old. I was living a self-sufficient lifestyle at the time. This was back in the 70ís during the back to the land movement. I loved making things and looked for every opportunity to create something from scratch.
My baby daughter was 1 year old at the time and I wanted her to have soft comfortable shoes as much as I wanted them myself, so when my old shoes began to fall apart it felt natural to take them apart all the way to see how they were made. It was a revelation to see those pieces laid out on the table. From those, I made a pattern for my first pair of shoes.
Having such a vital profession over the years has brought me so much joy and satisfaction. I’ve been able to pack up my studio and move to many places around the country. I have lived in Minnesota, Indiana, New Mexico, Colorado and now Chicago. I have seen a lot of feet in my career so far and made over 10,000 pairs of shoes for people all over the world. I have clients from Japan, Germany, UK, Canada, Australia, Norway, The Netherlands, USA, Mexico, France and more.
I have made shoes for: really wide feet; really narrow feet; really short feet; really long feet; two different sized feet and two different length legs; and I have made shoes for people who just love my shoes.
Now I’m teaching shoemaking and sharing the knowledge Iíve learned over the years. It’s made me fall in love with shoemaking all over again. I am so grateful to pass this skill on so that others can have a unique experience and say (when people admire their shoes) “Thanks! I made them!”
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Last Updated November 1, 2012