Shoe Makers

January 10, 2018 2 Comments

I might not be a minor god, but I’m a miniature Imelda, with a conscience. Remember her, the Philipine’s Marcos/monster’s wife, she of the 1060 pairs of shoes? I share the affinity to footwork, but not the urge to consume or collect in her dimensions.

Nor do I share the style – I have never in my life owned or worn a pair of heels,

not even kitten heels. They’re in the way if you have places to explore….

This is more my style:

or this:  not exactly hand made, though.

Reading up a bit on the history of shoemaking, I learned that ancient hunters wrapped their cold feet in skin, and it was an accidental discovery that ashes tanned the skins to leather. It is also claimed (below) that when the lady of the cave asked for yellow, fashion was born…. medieval cottage industries required some extra skills from those involved in cobbling: they needed literacy to keep the books for ordered work and precise measurements so that the shoes fit. War brought an end to that: starting with the napoleonic wars so many boots were needed that shoemaking became mass production. Soon the skill of sewing top to insole was replaced by cheaper gluing methods.

History of Shoemaking

I think shoe designers are creative bordering on artists. Sadly, much of the more visible creativity is now expanded towards poor little rich girls. Since these only have two wrists, two ears, one neck to display their wealth of jewelry, shoes have to be the next platform. For a mere $1675 a Chanel boot provides extra glitter. (The folks at Nordstrom looked at me suspiciously when I photographed them – they seem to have a nose for who would never buy….)

And slippers with a hint of mink guarantee that no PETA eyes will ever fall on them:

Here is a short video that shows the process of boots being handmade, with the assurance that if you use elephant leather they will last 100 years. Reassuring for a woman getting on in age, don’t you agree? It’s fun to watch, though, if only for the alligator skins displayed on racks.

My fall back option: 

Work needs to get done!  (These boots, by the way, are worn by Rena, the owner of the funkiest shoe store in town: Switch Shoes in Multnomah Village. They have a fabulous comfort/look/price ratio. Hold on to your wallets….)



January 9, 2018
January 11, 2018


  1. Reply

    Martha Ullman West

    January 10, 2018

    Love this post because I love shoes, not all shoes, not the extravagantly bejeweled and befurred footwear depicted in the post, most of them anyway, but shapely shoes, pretty shoes, shoes that provide an exclamation point to a woman’s pretty legs–heels (and I have worn them believe me) do that. Thanks Friderike, an amusing way to start the day, indeed.

  2. Reply

    Sara Lee

    January 10, 2018

    Fun! Thanks! [Loved the Nordstrom exchange!]