Eastbourne, UK 👣
By, Keiko Hirosue
When you’re passionate about what you do, you never pass up an opportunity to learn—that’s why I spent this past week in Eastbourne learning how to make lasts with Dominic, the Lefthanded Shoemaker and Steven of Crispinians at Steve’s workshop turned classroom space at the Last Maker House! ✌🏽🙌🏽
It was incredible being able to use similar concepts, yet entirely different ways of measuring feet. This most recent lesson made clear all of the reasons behind so many practices I’ve learned from different makers over years of shoemaking and measuring tons of students’ and clients’ feet. This whole experience has also made me see what I can change and improve in my methods as well.
Below is a journaling recap of my lessons!
On the morning of day one, we took our time measuring our feet the way Steve and Dominic do—the “East End” way. We measured sitting down so that our measurements wouldn’t be too wide. In our Intro to Shoemaking class in Brooklyn, we measure our feet standing up. We say when we measure the girth of the lasts that we can go down a few centimeters to find the last that fits you from the library we have. We also like putting in thicker foam insole at the end so the last accommodates for that. It makes sense how we interpreted feet to existing lasts in our shoe space.
At Brooklyn Shoe Space, we don’t currently have the luxury of starting a last from scratch and building it to completion in one quick class. However, I’ll make sure to bring back the knowledge from the last making class to our intensive classes back home!
Afternoon of day 1, we started carving the back heel and started shaping the arch length, side walls of the lasts. Slowly and steadily, almost timidly since it’s our first time, not knowing how much to shave off.
“This whole experience has made me see what I can change and improve in my methods as well.”
Day 2, we finished mostly finalizing the ball of foot to the back, and started working on the toes. Then the cone and instep/high instep area of the last. It basically took one entire day.
We got a beautiful sunset drive through the national park to Lewes, had a beautiful stroll in town, and some amazing vegan burgers and local beer with great company. Such a treat!
“Know when the lasts are done. Walk away, and come back another time.”
Day 3, we started our other foot’s last. I personally hacked away at it, almost finishing the entire process in one full day. Leaving just the finessing of the toes for the final day. We even had energy to go out to a local pub built in the 1100’s, and danced to a local skatoons band. Such fun!
Day 4, our last day, a bit a hang-over for a light weight, fine tuned with finer rasp, and hand sanded the bumps to a final shape, matching the toe shapes and volume to each foot as well as our feet measurements. It took another half day to almost a whole day for some, as we got ready. “Know when the lasts are done. Walk away, and come back another time.”
I’ll make a pair of fitters on them to see how they fit!
Am excited to use old wooden men’s lasts that were damaged or mismatched for new last making project to practice!
We want to invite Steve and Dominic to Brooklyn too if logistics work out :) never say never- where there’s a will there’s a way!