23 September 2015

A Moccasin Marathon Success and Leather Boiling Fail: Weekly Update

Hello everyone!

Is is possible that I let two weeks slip away just like that? Apparently it is! Anyhow, here's a recap of what I've been up to the last 14 or so days.

Moccasin Marathon Success

First, let's start with the success, which I managed just yesterday. I made a goal for myself to finish an entire pair of shoes start to finish including the pattern all in one day. I usually work on one project for a couple hours and then switch to another task for a while, but I thought it would be interesting to know exactly how long a pair of shoes takes to make. Now this certainly wasn't ideal circumstances by any means, as I encountered some problems along the way which slowed me down a bit, but altogether it worked out ok. I started around 9:40 AM, and completed them just after 12:30 AM. Don't worry, I took about an hour and a half break for lunch and a break for supper and rejuvenation at the bookstore, so in all, it took around 8 & 1/2 hours to complete one pair of moccasins.

Problems I ran into (in case you were curious) included needing to stop and sharpen my very dull skiving knife, it being difficult at times to see what I was doing since I was working with a very dark colored leather, and working with a cheap awl for some of the stitching.

I bent my nice awl last week and am waiting on the replacement still, so there wasn't much I could do about that. Thankfully my slicing blade awl was still working just fine, so I was able to stitch the soles on easy-peasey as ever. However, I didn't want too big of holes on any of the upper, and so used a crappy awl I picked up from Hobby Lobby's jewelry department. What you need an awl for when making jewelry, I don't know, but I wouldn't recommend the one Hobby Lobby keeps on hand unless you are not going to be poking a lot of holes in one sitting.

I also think I need a good lamp to help with the visibility issues, though it is a little crazy how much more difficult it is to see the darker the leather is. I notice this difference when I do my messenger bags as well.

Skiving Explained

I thought it might be worthwhile to make a little picture to show the skiving process. I skive the edges around the heel bit I add to the back of the shoes for added stiffness, durability and to give it a bit different look than a traditional moccasin style. It is an important step; if you don't do it, it can lead to discomfort while walking because of the ridge it can create where the edge of your foot presses down. It may seem like something so thin wouldn't matter, but believe me, it does! There are lots of other reasons you might skive leather, but this is the main reason I end up needing to do it in my day-to-day activities. So basically, you use a REALLY SHARP knife to taper the edge of the leather from its current thickness to as thin as possible along the edge, making the edge angled, rather than square. The knife has to be razor sharp or this process is a giant hassle, and dangerous too, as it is easy to slip with the knife and gouge your fingers or other nearest body part instead. Here is a picture which I hope sort of shows it visually in an easily understandable way.



 Leather Hardening

Another project I worked on a bit ago was to heat up some of my veg-tanned leather in an effort to toughen and harden it for soles. My husband and I worked on this project together, and used this tutorial. We only left the leather in for 30 seconds, but we must have done it wrong, because in the end the leather was very brittle and cracked when I tried to bend it. We kept it at or under 180 degrees, so the heat wasn't too high. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Other Projects

Here are some pics of other projects I worked on this week. I made some moccasin boots for a customer, and made a bunch of veg tanned animal cutouts. I also made another messenger bag like this one.

Well that's it for now! I will try to return to a doing weekly update instead of the elongated version, since I think I might have missed some things, and this ended up with a lot of random stuff jammed into it. Happy Wednesday!

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