Sunday, September 4, 2011

Making Shoes (Poulaines): Step 1 - The Fake Foot

I found a German website (Kuhmaulschuhe [translated by Google]) recently that I wanted to mention, since it inspired me to attempt to make period shoes, at least in the size that would fit my daughter.  I'm bad about not always following directions exactly how they are given and I've suffered for it, but I tend to learn more by "doing" than by following everything exactly.  I make more mistakes that way, I grant you, but I also remember more that way too.  It's perhaps not the best process by which to follow, but it works for me.

In any case, I'm not a very 3D visual person.  So, though I could have skipped aspects of this first part, it helped me to visualize what I was doing.

Step 1...

I took one of my daughter's old socks.  It was pretty tight on her foot and left very little room to make wrinkles or gathers.  I slid it onto her foot, wrapped it up in duct tape (while her foot was relaxed), traced some basics onto the tape while she was standing upright (like her ankle bones, the center of her foot, her arch, where the sole should be, etc.) and cut it off her foot using a line down the back of her heel.

Then I proceeded to cut along the line I'd drawn for the sole, so I could see what the pattern for her foot would actually resemble.  I realized in this part of the process, that I needed to cut a little closer to the 'ground' so as to help the pattern lay more flat, but in any case, it worked well enough.  It was interesting determining what I needed to trim or remove to get it to actually lay flat.  I needed to remove the area above her ankle bones and from the indentation of her foot & leg and above.  This was going to be a pair of poulaines that would go just below her ankle.   I was envisioning something along these lines.

Poulaine of brown leather found along the Thames River, London (c1300-1450)
It appears simple enough (I hope) and they fit within the style that was available in the late 15th century to early 16th century Germany. What I find unique about this shoe is that it is not a typical turned shoe.  In fact, from everything I've read or observed, most shoes in period were supposedly turned shoes (basically the shoe is made inside out so that the seam thread would take less wear and tear while on the feet), therefore, this shoe is somewhat unique and should likely not be used as a standard.

Children of the Planets: Jupiter by Meister Hausbuch - Poulaine Detail (c1475-85)
Children of the Planets: Sun by Meister Hausbuch - Poulaine Folded Down (c1475-85)
This pair and the one following it appear to be down to the ankle...
Children of the Planets: Venus by Meister Hausbuch - Poulaine Detail (c1475-85)
Children of the Planets: Moon by Meister Hausbuch - Poulaine Detail (c1475-85)
Then there is an image from the Nuremberg Chronicles (c1493).

Now that I can mentally visualize what the pattern will actually resemble (a sole and a goofy-shaped U, well, at least how I cut it), I can recreate another duct tape foot and follow the German website's instructions to the best of my Google-translated ability. :D  Step 2 will be making a mockup in felt, just to see what it will do.  Eventually, I'd really like to make an actual last, but for now, I'm good with this.

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