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Where Do We Learn?

It's hard to know where to go or what direction to take to get into Footwear making or designing. Americans are often disconnected with who makes our shoes. We don't have any clear path to gaining that education.

The Independent Industrial Shoemaking School in Lynn MA closed in 1975, today the building houses Girls Inc. and there are no more large established shoemaking schools in the United States.

How do I help heal that disconnect?

During the past few years of giving public talks and demonstrations I identified a gap in the demographics of who I was reaching with my message: teenagers.

A black paintbrush painting the word RAW

Thanks to a grant from the Lynn Cultural Council, I partnered with Raw Artworks in Lynn MA to offer a workshop for teens that gave a basic overview of shoe design and how to go about getting into footwear in different capacities.

RAW Artworks is a special place and its mission to ignite the desire to create and confidence to succeed in our youth was a good fit with mine.

During this one-time workshop I led at RAW, I introduced the students to the basic parts of a shoe, footwear construction types, how we design by drawing in 3-D on lasts, and told them about how I got to be where I am today as a footwear-maker. The students made some creative design mock-ups on sneaker and high heeled lasts to keep.

Pre-taped lasts with cardboard material for insole and soles in the mock-up exercise await the students

This public outreach might be instrumental in leading some of our youth today toward footwear making or designing - I hope to inspire and share my profound love for bootmaking with these creative people in hopes that one or two might seek that path now that they know it exists.

2024 will find me doing fewer public presentations of my program Ten Footer Shoe Shops - History and Living Traditions as I evolve into the next phase of outreach.

This journey for me is a fulfilling one, I am figuring out how to repair this gap in our different ways of transferring knowledge with my tools at hand.

Feel free to contact me if you have any good ideas too!



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