Falling In Love Again

Sharing My Passions At The Village Continuum 2015

Forest Boots

{The first pair of shoes I made, off to the inaugural Australian Do Lectures.}

I love making shoes.  For me, it's the last frontier of making for yourself.  Loads of people make their own clothes, beauty products, preserves, herbal remedies and so on but very few people know how to make their own shoes.  It's an item that we think we need to buy from a shop or a cobbler.  

Shoe making uses lots of specialist tools.  A hundred years ago, every family had a shoe last so that when the cobbler came visiting, they could make them a pair of shoes.  For those of you not familiar with a shoe last, it is a solid object in the shape of a foot.  Every pair of shoes you buy in a shop has been made using a last.  That's a lot of lasts!  These days if you're lucky you'll find the old cast iron lasts in op shops or being used as a door stop in someone's house.

But as always when it comes to making, there is a work around.  In this case, it's the shoe itself.  It's true that modern shoes need to be made using a last.  But the soft soled moccasins worn by the first peoples of North America were made with just a single piece of leather. Usually deer, moose or elk.  And it's these shoes that I have been making for the last couple of years.

I love being able to make my shoes exactly how I want them.  I've got free reign on expressing my creativity when it comes to choices such as colours (brown, orange, black), design (Mary-Jane, sneaker style, boot), lacing (kangaroo thronging or ribbon) and fastenings (buttons or ties).  Over the last couple of years I have made for myself two pairs of boots and a pair of shoes.  I'm currently working on a pair of knee-high, brown, deerskin boots with foraged native timber buttons.


{Stunning Hollyburton organic farm}

Over the last couple of months I have been running shoe making workshops around Melbourne.  Teaching is a new thing for me and I love it!  Being able to share my passion and knowledge with interested people is a gift.  There's something incredible and magical that happens when a group of people come together to make something for themselves.  It's one of the reasons I have attended so many workshops over the years.  I feel really blessed that I am now teaching other people what I know and sharing my passion for making the things I need.  

The first workshop I ran was held in Gembrook and I ran the second one a couple of weekends ago at the Village Continuum. The Village Continuum is a three day, fully catered, family friendly, camping event held each year at organic Hollyburton farm, north of Melbourne.  Piglets run underfoot, chickens cluck in pens and you have the chance to milk cows and goats while camping under the starry night sky.

TVC Shoes

{L-R: shoes made by Sue, Jessie, Annie, Kylie and Mel at the Village Continuum}

I was so honoured to work with an incredible group of women over two days.  Sue, Annie, Jessie, Kylie and Mel each brought their own unique talents and experience to the workshop.  It was wonderful seeing them making their own shoes, working together, cheering each other on, sharing ideas and creating their own unique designs.  I feel really lucky to have been the facilitator at such an inspiring  event.  It was inspiring for me watching my students as they brought their shoes to life.  And I felt like a proud mother hen when they all danced around at the end of the two days, wearing their shoes!  To see more pictures of the shoes, check out my Pinterest board.

You can make your own shoes too!  I had so much fun that I'll definitely be doing more shoe workshops next year.  Check out the workshops page for details as they happen.  At this stage there'll be another workshop in February in Blackburn (details to be confirmed).  If you'd like to see a course in your area, email me - [email protected].

IP - Studio Truck

{A studio truck in progress.}

As well as sharing my passion with my shoe making students I also got to share the passions of my fellow facilitators.  I went on the tiny house tour with Rob from Studio Trucks (he's super talented and is also the owner of Hollyburton farm).  He's always loved cubby houses and now he turns trailers and old Bedford trucks into what he calls hard tents.  I fell in love completely and want to do a workshop and learn how to make one!  

IP - Speedy

{Speedy chipping off flint with a deer horn.}

Speedy the blacksmith was also there showing everyone how to light a fire using a flint and steel.  He used a fallow deer horn to chip off bits of flint from a huge block.  He'd made some steels from old files and when they were scraped along the flint they made a spark to start a fire.  In the five years he's been using his forge, he's always lit it with his flint and steel.  

IP - natural movement

{Simon's early morning natural movement class.}

I also got up early one morning to attend Simon's Natural Movement workshop.  Simon spoke about turning the impossible into the possible.  The difficult into the easy.  And the easy into the pleasurable.  When you master a skill, focus on making it pleasurable instead of rushing off to the next challenge. 

IP - Nicole weed pesto

{Nicole and her foraged weeds pesto}

There were so many more workshops on offer.  Long bow making with Lars.  Arrow making with Josh and Sunny.  Natural dyeing with Heather.  Herbalism with Mary-Louise.  Next year I'm hoping to find the time in between shoe making to do basket weaving with Janet, a foraging walk with Nicole (I did get to try the foraged weeds pesto which was divine!) and the sit spot with Mel.  For more pictues from The Village Continuum, check out my Instagram feed.

If you were thinking of going to The Village Continuum this year but couldn't make it, put it on your list for next year, it's well worth it!  And remember to check out my workshops page for upcoming shoe making workshops!