Monday, September 17, 2012

This is yet another portion of the overall project which is to create a Landsknecht outfit.  Getting close to crunch time and I’ve been putting this portion of the project off for a while as it seemed a bit daunting and I’ve never done anything like this before.  I wanted to make a pair of “Cow Mouth” shoes.  In my opinion shoes are the single biggest and most overlooked portion of costuming in the SCA.  I’m hoping that this project is a success and I will consider it so if I can inspire at least one other person to attempt to make a pair of period shoes.  With no further ado, here is what I’ve done so far.

Started by tracing my foot and then sketching what I thought would be about the size and shape of show that I’d like.  I added about an extra inch at the toes because I really want a well pronounced and obvious duck-like appearance.

Traced that rough shape onto a piece of 2X8 I had lying around.  I also added a small portion of ¾ inch plywood to the top to help shape the ankle.  Odd looking huh?  You might wonder why I chose to chop the base in two.  I am planning on leaving the last in three pieces which I can screw together.  The idea I’m going with is that I want a solid last to shape the shoe on, but when I’m done I’d really like to be able to remove the last from the shoe.  Due to the odd shape of the “cow mouth” the toe is much larger than the opening.  There would be no way for me to remove the last unless I chopped it up.  I cut it in such a way as to allow for easy removal and yet still have access to the long screws holding it together from the opening.

Here are the pieces assembled and as of yet, unshaped.

After a bit of soft rounding on a belt sander I ended up with following.  At this point I was rather pleased with the look I was getting, but was concerned that the width of the shoe wouldn’t fit right.  I decided to make a mockup using the old SCA stand-bye… duct tape.

I wrapped the last in storage plastic wrap to prevent the tape from sticking and destroying the last.

I then wrapped the last with tape as I anticipate the leather to look.  This would provide me with a good proof of concept as well.  I wanted to be sure that the segmented last would be able to be easily removed after it had been wrapped in leather.  Worked great!

Here is the finished mockup.  I was right, it was a bit wide at the base.  I decided to go back and tweak the sketched pattern.  I then used a chisel for a while to cut away some bigger chunks off the sides of the ankle.  I ended up taking about ½ inch of each side of the shoe.  I haven’t made a new mockup yet to test the new shape, but I’m fairly certain that it will work out well.   

At this point I proceeded to make chop and round out the second last to make a matched set.  I suppose I could have simply used the same last for both shoes.  I plan on them being straight shoes with no defined left/right.  Rather than using the same last for both, which would have ensured a matched set, I wanted to work on both at the same time.  Since a portion of the later steps will involve wetting leather and stretching it I figured I could work on both shoes at the same time and then let them both dry.  Hoping to speed up the next steps.  We’ll see how that works out later.
The result was a fairly evenly matched set.  I’m thinking that I’ll need a little more sanding but these are almost usable now.