These shoes that I had gotten from Etsy were pretty worn out when I first received them, but after a good 3-4 months of wearing them nearly every other day, straps finally slipped loose from the base and the shoes were rendered un-walkable. It happened to me on the street and after that night for two weeks I wondered if I should throw them away, sitting in my room they looked so sad! One of the platforms was missing two of it’s straps, and the sole fell apart. It was time to turn a disaster into something positive.
Now I recently started looking at a million shoes both online and offline. Maybe that is the reason for my most recent collage of shoes. It is just all those hours of looking for a perfect pair that I could wear everyday, but I didn’t feel compelled to buy. These etsy shoes were comfortable, the height was good, and the incline made my walks quite pleasant even at it’ 5.5″ height. I knew this was a rare occurrence because I’ve owned millions of high heels/wedges before that caused me much pain. Money is really not the point! But it was nearly impossible to find something I’d like as much as these Etsy platforms- and it doesn’t make sense really, because there are many beautiful shoes out there. But comfort + height in one shoe still remains elusive.
Of course there were aesthetic issues which were in discordance with my tastes. I didn’t like the brown and black combo, and I hated the fact that they were slip ones. Even though they were comfortable, slip ons always make me feel a little insecure, but I went with them anyway because I liked the cut out wedge and the comfort factor so much. Well, instead of throwing these away, I decided to redesign and repair the shoe.. taking all the negative aspects of the shoe and re-thinking how it could be better through design…At the moment I have like, no time to do this, but since these were shoes I walked in nearly everyday I knew it was urgent because for two weeks I’ve been feeling shoe less. You know it’s like that one shoe you depend on in your closet, the go to shoe. It took me a whole two days to fix this (About 20 hours total) but I think it was worth it for me. Below an image of my strap that totallly fell off. The sole is detached as well.
I dismantled both shoes, and I placed the soles under a special lamp/oven designed for shoe production. Mine is the small version. This oven dries and softens glue so that layers can be separated, or bonded again. Without this oven the glue used for this kind of thing is useless, as the glue cannot be bonded as well without the oven. And of course the glue used is not Elmers…Highly toxic stuff. I separated all the layers carefully, because I need them for the refurbished version. One of the luxuries of having all these industrial, professional machines in my studio is that I can randomly decide to repair a shoe. But it’s a lot of work.
Yes, looking at the anatomy of a shoe, this is what it looks like. Quite gritty and ugly, on the outside it all looks so pretty.
After I separated the soles, I decided that this was the time I could improve all the things I didn’t initially like about this shoe. One of them was it’s slightly square-ish toe. It was time to change it to a round toe.
These need to be sanded down even further, because you can tell it is not completely round and smooth.
This is a different sander built especially for burnishing or shoes too..but it has a finer grade, and the leather strap in the middle is just for polishing. The one all the way to the right is for buffering and smoothing out, and the one to the left is for fine grinding. The wedge had to be polished even more because it was still rough cut.
And now it is completely smooth.
….Which means I’m ready to paint this raw wood so it blends into the black.
The base is done, ready to go, but now it was time to tackle the top. I told you before that I had to keep all the sole layers, like the leather pattern base. I had to place this on top of the newly round toe platform, and cut this leather pattern so that it matched the platform base. Otherwise you’d have a square toe sole and a round toe platform, which is like, not a design choice..just an ugly mistake.
And, because even my repair projects need to get meticulous treatment I asked myself what else I could add to this shoe to make it better than the initial one I bought from Etsy? I had to incorporate some gel insoles for my shoe too, but it would be hidden inside the sole so that it wouldn’t be peeking out of my toes like I am some dork.
Back to the lamps, with my new pattern piece ready to become one with the gel insole and the cushion pad that was part of the initial shoe.
..Oh but we still have a long ways to go. Now I’ve just added the top strap. It’s the same pattern but I just fleshed it in to make it thicker because the first design was too slippery. I also tightened the pattern so that my toes didn’t feel like they were going to fall out. Leather also stretches so I had to account for that by making the pattern for the strap smaller.. One of the things that really bothered me about the first design was that my toes felt like they were going to fall out of the shoe. Another reason why the strap had to be tight was that this shoe is actually half a size bigger than my feet.
Around the edge of the sole, I strategically hammered in nails with flat heads, it adds to the shoe visually but it’s mostly for permanence. The reason why the sole detached from the shoe was because it wasn’t 100% secured when it was first produced, but now it will be nearly impossible for this sole to come off. I just had to make sure these wouldn’t break again.
Before and After.. It’s like flipping a house.
Shot of this shoe mid process- I almost like the flat version just as much, or even better, of course it’s not really a flat because the sole had already been sculpted for a heel, but you can easily imagine it as a flat. You know it’s so satisfying to do this, because in life there are problems that you can’t control or fix…
Thanks for reading, more soon.