Friday, May 17, 2013

This Shoemaker Needed an Elf

The Grimm fairy tale begins with a poor shoemaker who has given away his only pair of shoes to a woman needier than him.  He has only enough supplies to make one more pair of shoes and he leaves them out overnight in preparation for his next day's work.  While he sleeps, elves come to make his new pair of shoes which he sells for above his asking price the following day...

 

Unfortunately for me, no elves came the past few nights to help make my little shoes...and I really could have used their help as their fingers are much, much smaller than mine.

That being said, I did have help from a wonderful teacher named Diane Keeler. Diane is a figurative sculptor and dollmaker who taught an online class on shoemaking for dolls.  I took the class a few months ago knowing that one day I would be making a pair of shoes for Mrs. Rose.

The class was offered through Adele Sciortini's A for Artistic website.  Though most students taking the classes are dollmakers, I have found many of the courses translatable to my work.  Much thanks to Gerry Krueger who turned me onto Adele's site and her free quarterly newsletter.

I was able to use many of Diane's techniques and supplies with some modifications.  Even though her shoes were a few inches in length, my shoes for Mrs. Rose are about 2cm which required some trial and error to get it right.

Per Diane, I first sculpted a foot and ankle "last" around which I would build my shoes...



I had to make one full-size foot and one half-size foot since Mrs. Rose's back foot is attached to the canvas.  That means I would be making one full-size and one half-size shoe...



Once the lasts had cured in the oven, I used them as forms around which to mold wet muslin which I had sprayed with fabric stiffener...



This muslin became the pattern for my shoe.  I ended up not using this white muslin "pattern" since it added bulk to my tiny shoe.  In a later version, I made the shoe using this same method and a thin black muslin, skipping the step of making the pattern...


I used those tiny rubber bands kids use on their braces to hold my "shoes" tight to the form while they dried.

The bottom of the shoe was made from a piece of cardboard covered with a very thin black suede.  I tried using the black suede for the entire shoe but it was much too thick.

To sculpt the heels, Diane recommended using Apoxie Sculpt.  I'd never used it before and found that it served this purpose very well.  It's a two part epoxy which requires mixing and takes 24 hours to cure...

Those little heels are about 5mm wide.  Given that my finger is about 15mm wide, I did have a treacherous time trying to sculpt those little guys.

After letting those cure overnight, I was ready to fit Cinderella with her slipper...



It fit like a glove so I laced up her shoe using size 50 YLI silk twist...


And proceeded to give Mrs. Rose her final fitting and sew the half-shoe onto the attached foot...


I added some scuff marks and worn areas to the shoe with a colored pencil.



It might look a bit severe close-up with a macro lens, but from far away you can see how the shoe needs some shading to give it dimension...



Here's a pic with two of my reject shoes...



You can see that the ultrathin suede was too thick.

Mrs. Rose always wore those black old-lady lace-up shoes...
   

So I'm so grateful to Diane and Adele for offering the class.  I highly recommend taking her class when it is offered again.

Have a great weekend everyone.  This cobbler is off to rest her eyes from tiny details...

P.S.  Thanks for all the comments on Mrs. Rose's hose and specs!  And thanks to all the wire-workers and miniaturists who gave me advice on twisting wire.  I now know there are much better ways to accomplish that task!

33 comments:

Mary Tod said...

Wow! You always amaze with your perseverance, Susan!

Mary Ann said...

Double Wow!!!! They are perfect for her:)

cucki said...

Omg ...super duper sweet...
Magic ...
Big hugs cucki x

Createology said...

Mrs. Rose now has her proper shoes with just the perfect details of wear day after day. Susan you are truly amazing in your depth of research and attention to even the smallest of details. These shoes are priceless! Rest your eyes and fingers dear...

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Oh my gosh, this is just so amazing. I bet Mrs. Rose feels great having her new shoes. She looks like she ought to get up out of her chair and start walking or turn to you and start talking. She is coming to life.

Have a wonderful weekend ~ FlowerLady

Margaret said...

Speechless, looking at those shoes! What skills you have -- even without actual elves to help. Your hands are clearly blessed!

Corina said...

wow, those shoes are perfect! Great job!

char said...

There are no words.

Sheila Iskin said...

Wow!Wow!Wow! I am filled-with-wonder!

I just about had a heart attack when I saw the shoes in the second frame. (I thought you'd made them, size *miniscule*, and then I realized it was your reference photograph! And then further down, I saw the shoes you made. Call for the smelling salts! I've swooned!

Amazing job, Susan! Shoes are darn hard, and you're knocking all these difficult little doo-dads out of the park.

ps. I love your Phyllis Diller quote this morning. Great selection. Alligator shoes... Funny!

Have a great day! :)

Gerry Krueger said...

Your shoes are fabulous.. I knew you had shoes coming up and if my brain hadn't been so scattered, I would have sent you some VERY thin kid leather from antique gloves that I've collected just to make doll shoes and gloves... Sorry...

I'm so glad you took that class from Adele... Her site is worth the eye candy alone... Ger

Rachel said...

It is fascinating to see Mrs Rose developing, and I am really very impressed with her footwear!

Cath said...

Incredible detail! Those shoes look great.

FLOWER FRIEND said...

What can I say Susan? Such dedication to getting things so right.
A couple of slices of cucumber should help those weary eyes recover.

Cari said...

Oh my goodness Susan. Your work is simply amazing. I so love reading your blog. And in reading, I always learn something. I am so very glad I found you !! Hugs

Judy S. said...

Enjoy your weekend; you truly deserve a rest, and I know Mrs. R must think so, too. Your resume just continues to grow!

Annette said...

Just pure awesome what you do. I love it all. xoxoxo

tich said...

that is truly mind-boggling! Fantastic work!

Star of the East said...

Those are fabulous!

Suztats said...

Totally brilliant!

underatopazsky said...

Every element is so detailed and precise and it's a joy walking through the process of each different part of this figure with you. Thank you!

Momma Bear said...

Mrs. rose is wonderful!
I am always in aw of your persistence and patience (I have one or the other and never in tandem!)
Mrs. rose reminds me so, of the older ladies that have left us now.
some whom I miss terribly.

gracie said...

Just love her shoes...

Catherine said...

Another fabulous touch!

Nouli said...

You are the Master of Detail.....

Vicki W said...

Holy smokes! I just love your work and so appreciate all of the detail that share. Thank you!

katiemedarlin said...

I love your blog, truly. Your perseverance and attention to detail is inspiring. I have learned so very much and have found myself heading in directions I would have never gone alone. Thank you.

margaret said...

Mrs Rose must be over the moon with her new shoes and can now keep her feet warm. It is so hard to imagine them being so tiny and I so admire your amazing talent in the wonderful project

coral-seas said...

Who needs elves? Those shoes are amazing! I bet Miss Rose got up in the night and did a happy dance in those very shoes.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Those shoes are amazing! Your work is absolutely and totally wonderful.

Laurie said...

Your detail work is amazing!

NickiLee said...

Incredible! You cease to amaze me with your talents! Your fingers are like gold with all that they create!!

Chris Daly said...

Dear Susan, You amaze me. I love stopping by to see what you are up to. I hope life is bringing you Joy!

Ewelina said...

Amazing! Great job!

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