19 January 2012

An Act of Destruction

What do most masters have in common with all of us? They started from somewhere. Michelangelo, one of the great painting masters, for example, started to copy liturgical (church) masterpieces at the tender age of 13. (Thanks Wikipedia). More relevantly, Marquis Mills Converse opened Converse Rubber Shoe Company only after working at another shoe company first. (Again Wikipedia). 

Anyways, the point is, everyone has to start somewhere, it it is not uncommon to look at what has come before and refer to the masters of the field for guidance and direction. This careful observance (or sometimes copying) can lead to a greater mastery of the subject for future creations.  In essence, one must first break down the elements of the object under study to fully understand and appreciate them before a person can truly make a masterpiece. Or, put more eloquently by personal favorite Pablo Picasso, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”

So when I took another look at my 3 year old Nike's rips and stains, I thought, what a perfect place to find out what makes a great pair of shoes. Since these are very nearly ripped through at the heel anyways, I boldly and excitedly got to work with the scissors to see what was keeping my feet still in there and comfy. Here is what I found. 

The majority is covered with a squishy foam and breathable athletic material and bits of leather here and there. The uppers are connected to a thin felt-like material which is glued VERY TIGHTLY to the rubber bottoms. The tongue is attached to the shoe with a few stitches back and forth on a sewing machine, and the majority of non visible bits are not even finished with a simple straight stitch attaching them together. The shoelace holes have a thick interfacing in addition to the other materials to give it a bit more strength.

Most of my curiosity was about the heel of the shoe, since it has to be very hard to hold the foot in place, and it managed not to break during three hard years of abuse. Along with the foam and leather and fabric, there is a mysterious substance i can only assume to be a type of plastic, although I could imagine rawhide could also serve the purpose fairly well in an all leather shoe.  
As a side note, I did get another Nike owned product line (Converse) to replace the destroyed ones. I made custom designed shoes as a treat for my birthday (sponsored by my parents' pocketbook) and am very pleased with the results :) it was great fun, and the link to their website is HERE for any interested.
Anyways, I've ranted enough for today. If anyone has an idea what the heel material I talked about is specifically, I am still insanely curious and would love to hear from a fellow kindred spirit and/or informed observer. Thanks :)

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