Elf Shoes In The Appalachian Mountains

img_20170125_143347398I have a minor shoe addiction. This spring I’m sharing my love with our students at the Scrap Exchange. This is in large part due to the donation of leather sewing equipment to the studio this past year, which means we can do a killer moccasin for all my friends who are getting started in leatherworking. Moccasins are a great beginner shoe for custom shoemaking because they don’t require as much hand strength as heavier turned shoes.

We’re teaching a traditional shoe-making class at the Scrap Exchange, Saturday, May 6, from 12-3 pm. For those of you who don’t know, North Carolina has a proud tradition of eastern mountain crafted shoes, especially turned shoes. Some of the cobblers go back three or four generations, and it’s fascinating to hear them talk about things they learned from their parents or grandparents. I like to call these elf shoes and channel my inner Lord of the Rings wood elf when wearing mine. You can be whatever character you want to be. This heritage craft makes a really great gift for yourself, and all you need is a Saturday to learn this unique skill.

I love the creativity that working with leather and natural objects inspires. In the class, students will learn how to make traditional moccasins with leather, but using modern colors and their own designs. You see really beautiful custom shoes in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian culture, and you can copy these ideas for yourself. Students will learn how to measure their feet, create custom shoe patterns, sew their own pair, and embellish them with beading and applique. We’ll also cover what materials make good shoes (and where to find them in the Scrap Exchange), as well as how to use an industrial leather machine.

This class fulfills half of the Girl Scout Senior Craft Textile Artist Badge, the Leatherwork img_20170125_143558169Merit Badge for Boy Scouts, and can be used for YMCA (Y Guides) or Princess groups. Children 9 and up are welcome with parents. Adults are also welcome.


Note: If you would like to find out more about heritage shoemaking in the Carolinas, the John C. Campbell Folk School offers advanced shoemaking classes several times a year.  


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