We believe that the pleasure of wearing a beautiful shoe lies mainly in the knowledge that it is the result of great skill combined with a great patience, all matched with taste, sense of proportion, knowledge of materials and colour sensitivity. Among the manufactured articles of clothing - suit, shirt, shoe - the construction of a shoe is the one that requires the greatest number of hours of processing: about thirty hours against the nine employed for a shirt. It has been calculated that there are about two hundred operations that are accomplished by the moment you choose the leather till the one in which the shoes are placed in a box, carefully wrapped in a sheet of paper. Impossible list all of them, but there are some "key points" of this production that would be worthwhile to know in order to better appreciate the result, the one we bring to the feet.
THE LASTThe history of the bespoke shoe on commission starts from foot measurements.- measures. Place the customer foot on a sheet of paper with the shoemaker that traces with pencil the outline and then marks the following things:- length & circumference, measured at the point of maximum width of the foot.- medium instep girth, the narrowest part of the foot, measured between the striking point and instep point;- instep girth, that is the highest part of the foot, corresponding to the circumference at the maximum point of arch foot.- heel breadth, starting with tape measure from the point in front of the ankle flexion passing around the base of the heel. In practice between the highest points where fastens the shoes (eyelets point ) until down to the center of the heel. In the case of a boot, it will also measure the ankle circumference. The Last Construction with a wood prototype. The craftsman is placed on the pattern and begins to mark the differences. Using pieces of leather, rasp and chisel, he produces revisions for the different shape of the foot with the applications and removals, if necessary, to get close to the exact measurements. With the help of a smooth sandpaper finishes until this becomes an exact copy of the customer's foot, including all imperfections. In the footwear industry this stage does not exist, since the treatment starts directly with an established prototype.
THE UPPER -The Paper model. About the measures of the custom shape, the Master Shoemaker prepare a paper's model of the upper: he will need to cut the leather (upper and lining). -The Cut of the leather. Using a special tool, a shoemaker's knife, and using the paper's model, he proceeds to the cutting stage of various upper parts and related linings. -The Jointing. It is a very delicate set of operations: assemble and sew the different parts of the upper. After skiving, which consists to thin the leather at the points where it will be performed the stitching to avoid the damage the foot with an excessive leather thickness , the craftsman assemble together the various pieces of the upper and sew them each one and together to the lining; then he proceed with the decorative stitching and finish the edges with a folded edge. -The Pre-assembling stage. The shoe is provisionally assembled and secured on the prototype with a series of tacks: this is the Master Shoemaker verification, a formal step before proceeding.
THE SOLEIt consists of the sole, insole, flattening, the thin layer of leather or cork between them interposed, the welt, the shank, the heel and the top lift.-The Preparation. The soles is cut from the rump, which is the best part of the animal whose thickness is of at least 4-5 mm, after being immersed for 12 hours in the water as to dilate the pores. Then left it to partially dry, must be beats with an hammer, long one and done with energy because they have to become more compact and softer. THE ASSEMBLING OPERATION At this stage starts the assembly of the upper with the sole.
-The Assembly. It’s the real settling of the upper on the last, where it has already been pointed and contoured the leather insole. These are inserted between the liner and upper reinforcement front (cap) and rear (buttress). The shoe is left like that for a few days, during which the scalp is pulled, tends, breathes and changes depending on the temperature and ambient humidity.The mounting take place by hundreds of tiny nails, the brads, distributed along the entire profile of the foot. Followed by the insertion of the shank in the narrowest part of the insole, from the heel to the sole (to give the necessary rigidity to the shoe and support the foot in this point), and the flattening from the tip to the shank, to equalize the difference created by the skiving and the stitching.
-The Seam welt. The welt is a strip of soft leather with a wide thickness of 2.5 mm and 15 mm. Its function is to join in one part the upper and insole and to the other the sole, ensuring a perfect waterproofing and the possibility of further resoling.With the help of an awl and a boar bristle which acts as a needle, the craftsman fixes the welt to the insole with a chain stitch performed with 4 or 6 strands of hemp twisted. As the work progresses, gradually eliminates the brads insert previously.While sewing, the Master Shoemaker slides the string in a "dumpling" pitch (85% ofrosin, 10% beeswax and 5% extra virgin olive oil mixed together, brought to a boil and amalgamated in cold water), with the dual purpose of facilitating the sliding and to bind and fix the wires previously twisted, creating around them a protection which makes them indestructible. To equalize the difference created by the application of the welt, the Master Shoemaker attach the insole to the lightweight layer of cork.
- The application of the sole.After insole's coating with a rubber glue along the outer edge, an area not larger than 1.5 cm in order not to clog the pores of the skin with adhesives, the Master Shoemaker applies to it the sole. He trim the edge of the sole and of the welt and, with the cobbler’s knife, he make an oblique incision where he will make a new stitching to assemble the sole with the welt. Once completed, he will close the incision to hide completely the hemp strand, then it will smooth and ready to be pressed.
- The construction of the heel.The heel is made of several leathers layers. One after the other are fixed at the rear of the sole, while with cobbler’s knife and rasp he shall be ready for the leather's groove to get the desired shape. The heel is completed by the application of a heeltaps always made by leather. In a classic shoe the heel should not exceed 2.5 cm. After these steps the surplus of the leather sole, welt and heel are eliminated with a shoemaker's knife. Then the bottom become completely smooth with rasp, glass and sandpaper; finally, with a damp sponge it goes over the leather bottom to remove any remaining dust. OPERATIONS "FINISHING"Are now following a series of finishing operations (or finishing, for the insiders), which are essential to give the shoe the first final appearance. -The Finish base. It starts by tinting the bottom, already prepared, with aniline colours and to let it dry for about an 'hour; then, with the aid of specific waxes, suitable only for this purpose, and the use of various tools, warmed on the stove, the Master Shoemaker shall proceed with the grinding and polishing of the fund. Always with a hot iron he will highlight the stitching executed on the welt.- The mold release. After ten days the shoe can be extracted from the wood last.- The polishing. And the final and conclusive operation. It consists in cleaning and manual polishing of the upper and bottom.