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What is traditional shoe making?

The industrial revolution produced machines which made the labor intensive making of shoes a lot easier. The traditional shoemaker today makes "handmade" shoes, with the help of machines. The pure craft has disappeared, although making customised shoes still requires a lot of handwork.

The machines are great tools. Every shoemaker can choose how much he wants to make use of machinery. But only very few work without it.
How is a wonderboot made by hand?

The last
After a series of measurements a copy of the foot is made the last. Lasts usually come from the lastmanufacturer lastmaking is a special craft. The last is a wooden or plastic copy of the foot, which can be adapted. If someone has a high instep, the last is incremented. In addition, the last can be adapted to a person's taste in fashion. Material from the last is sanded or added, which gives the last another shape.

Drawing and design patterns
Then the last is reduced to a two-dimensional image, which is needed for the technical drawing. This drawing consists of many lines and mathematical calculations originated from fixed measurement points. A boot has more of these than a low shoe. It encloses the leg, and every leg has its own shape. Anklesize, calfsize, kneeheight and thighvolume belong to the measurement data to make a boot. Each type requires a different boot pattern drawing. For example there are laceboots, zipperboots or boardingboots, which differ in the way they are put together. Finally the patterns are cut out and placed onto the leather.

After the stretch of the leather is determined, the leather is cut. The leather should stretch to the opposite of the foot movement, otherwise the shoe will loose its shape. The skins come from the leather tanning; the place where raw skins are treated to usable sheets, including painting them in a certain color. The cut leather patterns are prepared by folding (turned edge), edging (decorative edges) or jagged. The leather is also skived, this is slenderize the leather at some places and is necessary there where the leather comes together. Then the different parts are sowed together. A shaft consists of lining-leather and upper-leather. These two are sowed separately from each other, then the lining-shaft is sowed in the upper-shaft the shaft is obtained.

Now the shaft pulled over the last and hereby the so called underwork-making starts. This is done using nails, wooden pens, staples and various types of glue. First, an insole is fixed onto the last. The shaft is then stretched over the last and the insole (pegging the shaft with the ductility tang), and folded at the bottom. At the nose and the heel extra reinforcements are placed (plastic or leather). The waist (middle area of the foot) is also reinforced with a steel spring (shank) and a firming board. In between, the shoemakers-hammer is used to knock and stroke the leather. Leather is a living material and can be modelled. Filing and sanding are used to smoothen all irregularities.

The boot gets a mid-sole and for example sole sewing or stitching the outsole, are some possibilities of finishing the underwork. Hights, such as plateaus, are constructed of, for example, cork or porro. The over-soles can have a profile, made of leather, plastic, wood or cork, and also for the heel, there are many possibilities. It is essential that the heel is flat on the ground in relation to the foot. Finally, the lasts are pulled from the boots, the boots are polished and get an inlay. The result a Wonderboot!

Materials, tools and machinery

Materials used in a boot, are various types of leather, cork, iron and thermo plastic material. Charcoal, felt, wood and rubber and all kinds of unusual materials may also be used at request. For various applications there are tufta, ironing linen, gypsum, solvent, talcum powder, paint, wax and pitch. A range of adhesives are used, including synthetic glue, rubber glue, gelatine, black gum and atomic glue.

A shoemaker without a knife is like a blacksmith without a fire. With a specially cut shoemakersknife numerous things can be done. The blade is always kept sharp. A blunt knife is harder to control and is therefore dangerous. A piece of glass for rasping, is also standard equipment. Other common tools of the shoemaker are: hammer with convex head, the ductility tang, the curved scissors, the awl and brittle, the rasp, the pliars, the roughmaker, the polishing stick, the tackswipper and holpipes. Next to these there are many tools that may come in handy.

Machines supporting the production of handmade shoes include the sander, with coarse and fine bands, various schrooimessen, the bims and cleaning brushes. Then there are the high press, various non guns, ovens, the pillar sticker, shelf sticker and repair machine, the doornaaier, aflapper and the clicking machine.

Work in progress...