An SCA heavy weapons fighter requested a heavy boot that would hold up for more than one season and that had good ankle support. We built this boot with a reinforced toe, adjustable strap for ankle support and a custom arch support to take the pounding he gives his boots. Since these were to be his only footwear, we found a heavy piece of suede that would wear well and blend with the leather the customer chose to give the boots a little more style. They are on their second season and though seriously scuffed are holding up very well.
Richard contacted us for a slipper to finish off his new costume and chose parts from several shoes that we had already made. We merged the parts and came up with this slipper. They go beautifully with the fantastic costume that Richard had made and we are thrilled to be part of his work.
We had an unusual request – a pair of Medieval styled yeoman boots that would be used to hike the mountains in Spain during a vacation. That means heavy soles and serious comfort. To make it possible to adjust the ankle if necessary we added a panel with a buckle and strap inspired by an illustration from a museum collection of actual footwear from the period. The leather is nubuck, so, very soft, a matte finish, and great wear ability. I think we scored on all points. The proof will be in a month or so after our customer gets back from his trip.
Two years ago we made a pair of whimsical purple and silver demi-boots for a young lady I met at the Great Western War. Last year her sister came with the same request, but for a pair of riding boots that she could wear for SCA events. We did a bi-color boot with a suede cuff and added a Medieval arrow as the detail around the cuff. She chose black and green for the boot, black suede for the cuff and we appliqued the arrows around the cuff in cream.
Our young customer was very pleased with the way her design turned out. I’m hoping to see her at May War in Potrero and get a picture.
We were asked for a middle class slipper for a Renaissance fair merchant that would be comfortable at the outdoor event that she worked. She wanted a modified Mary Jane with the tongue and high sides to keep the dirt out of her shoes. To keep the strap from working it’s way under the tongue as she walked, we threaded it through the tongue, added a little height to the heel to be more stylish and comfortable. We’ll know in a couple of weeks whether we met all the requirements when the fair starts.
These could even be made in a man’s size.
A very nice young lady stopped at my booth at the Great Western War last October and quizzed me about my footwear. We had a nice chat and she went on her way. Early in December, I received a call from her mother asking if I would make her daughter’s design. She had used one of my styles as the starting point and created her own vision. The sketch arrived, we had a conversation about some changes that would make the design more successful after it was made, and I sent her the revision for approval. She wanted a purple and silver creation and the right shade of purple proved to be the major challenge. We finally located a hide close to the color she was asking for and made them up. She’s very happy with them and wears them to school all the time. Her sister’s working on a design for herself. I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with.
We were given this sketch to use to create the military boots for the Old Globe’s summer season. To make them more versatile we were asked to design a way to add a tassel as needed for what ever production they might be used for in the future. We created a channel at the tip of the trim to allow that flexibility.
These are the finished boots. To keep them close to historically accurate, the toes were made without the stiff boxing giving them a soft front. They really finished off the red, gold and white uniforms. On stage they gleamed. If this is the year to treat yourself to a pair of historic or fantasy shoes, we can make you something wonderful. Check out the website.
We just finished a translation of the Bouchh boots for a customer who dresses as Princess Leia. Finding a good 360 degree view proved to be a challenge. We knew that the base boot was a popular boots worn at the time but the shin piece that was worn over it was harder to figure out. We put a zipper up the inside of the leg instead of what appeared to be velcro at the back to give it a cleaner look and guessed at the inner leg detail of the ankle strap. The client was very pleased with the end result and will be wearing it to a cancer fund raiser.
Finished. delivered and road tested. Or actually dance tested. The flapper dance slipper that we had commissioned late summer was finished and delivered in time for all the holiday parties. The challenge was to re-create the period heel and mold it. It took numerous tried to get just the right angle that would mesh with the current last, but finally came out with a good fit and a sturdy enough resin to take the PSI required. We referenced a designer from the period and then found a nice little detail in a reference book and the combination look wonderful. As you can imagine we held our breaths until after the first party. They made it through that one and several more with ease. I’m hoping for a picture of the entire costume. The next one I’d love to try is Victorian, now that the bugs have been worked out of the system.
The Old Globe Theater commissioned footwear from us for their summer Shakespeare Festival. They had imported a director from the Royal Shakespeare Company in England with his costume mistress for the shows which gave us a bad case of nerves. It was really interesting and a little intimidating. to get to work with someone who has all the reference samples in her backyard. The new style that we had not done before was the classic two color English riding boot. In case you’re wondering – George III was one of the plays. She was looking for something authentic looking and we accidentally stumbled on to it. The boots were made without the hard toe box for the fittings, which turned out to be exactly the look she was after. The job was completed on time for dress rehearsals and left us all as little breathless. The costume mistress was thrilled – not bad for the colonies. Now it’s time to get back to normal – until the next time.
Panatlone, one of the characters in Yale University’s spring production is middle eastern inspired. The shoe was to be a pointed slipper with a gentle upward swoop. Good in theory but not in execution. The result of adding the point to the front of a man’s shoe would have looked better coming out of a clown car than on stage. We had less that two days to redesign, produce the replacement, and get it from San Diego to Connecticut in time for the evening performance. Did it and they were very happy with the results. They will join the other six pairs we made in what I’m sure will be a successful show.
I’m always surprised when someone asks how to take care of their new boots and slippers. We use the same kind of materials that any good shoe manufacturer uses. So:
Polish with a good quality wax or cream polish and buff. If you have an unusual color, a neutral color wax will give the shoe protection.
If you will be wearing them in situations where water or snow will be an issue, spray on a waterproof protector.
To keep the insides nice, wear hose or socks if it fits your persona. If not consider a thin terry cloth or fabric covered insert that can be taken out and cleaned. When it gets nasty, toss and replace it. If you do a lot of off-roading in them, clean the dirt and grass out of them paying attention to the edges. The debris will work it’s way under the insole and break down the glue.
Use shoe and boot trees. The Container Store and Bed Bath and Beyond both carry an assortment. Boot trees are also called boot shapers. They adjust to keep the tops of your boots looking their best. If you have tall ones, you can stack two in the boot. Stack boot trees on top of a shoe tree at the bottom so the boot stands on it’s own. Some shapers come with a hanger so you can hang them on a closet pole.
If they need new soles, any good shoe repair shop can resole them.
Making the assumption that the footwear that has survived to become part of museum collections may be because it didn’t fit well, wasn’t a favorite pair, didn’t look like the wearer wanted, in short was a dog left sitting at the bottom of a closet, I feel that one could get creative about the detailing using the survivors as a starting point. This was also not a period of mass production and I would expect that there was a lot of individuality exercised. If you are inspired, go for it.