The Final Stages

My in-depth project has continued to progress at a very good pace. I have really begun to finalize ideas about my learning center and after gathering and preparing all the different parts of my shoes, I have finally come to one of the most important stages in shoe-making. Yet this specific step has been a source of great frustration for me.

For the past few weeks I have been learning how to and attempting to last my shoes. Lasting the shoes is when you stretch the material using a hammer and nails so it fits exactly to the form of the shoe last. This is really important because this is what gives the shoe its shape; sewing makes everything come together, but lasting is where all the real work is done. This stage is crucial to having good shoes because the overall quality of the shoe is mostly determined at this stage– it is very easy to see which shoes have been made without lasting, and the quality is significantly worse than if the shoes were lasted. Finishing also gives the shoe a unique look, but lasting is a very long and hard process which includes nailing tough leather into the shallow sole of the shoe over and over again until no folds are visible in the leather. The first week I was lasting the lining of my shoes, I was almost in tears because every time I would hammer a piece of leather down, another nail on the other side of the shoe would pop out. Ron did the first lasting of my shoe in about 5 minutes. The first time I lasted one shoe, it took me over an hour to get all the nail in place. I then repeated this process each week and as the leather began to take shape, lasting became easier. I have been working very hard to finish my shoes, but despite the time I put in, there is only so much I can to finish my shoes. I have to wait about a week between lasting so the leather has the chance to actually stretch and shape. I am beginning to last the visible materials of my shoe this week, but it will take at least 3 weeks to finish. I am worried at this point about finishing my shoes, but there is not too much I can do to speed up the process at this point. If I do not finish the shoes, I think I will continue to work on them until I do they are complete. I think that even if I do not reach my goal for in-depth, that I will still be happy with the work I have done and with all the things I have learned.

In-depth night is quickly approaching so I have begun to think about the big night and my learning center. I am very excited to see everyone’s projects displayed, but I am rather nervous about my own learning center. I will hopefully display my shoes, the bag I used to practice sewing leather on an industrial machine, and some of the tools that I used along the process. I would also like to display pictures of the shoes at various stages on poster board with captions explaining the different steps that each picture embodies, so people have a better idea of the journey I went through to create these shoes. I would like to include an interactive aspect to my learning center, and I was thinking of letting people make their own leather key-chains by skiving and a hole punching using the professional tools. However, I am afraid that it would make a big mess, and if the tools are used incorrectly they could easily be broken. These are all factors to consider, but I think that I will still try to incorporate an interactive aspect in someway. I am still brainstorming some of the details for my learning center, but have a very good idea of the layout and the basic materials I will need to show my learning process as I experimented with cobbling.

I am very excited for in-depth night where we will all see the hard work people put into their projects as well as their final products. Though the deadline is rather close, it only motivates me more to continue to work harder so that I can have a finished product to show at my learning center. I hope you all have good luck with achieving your goals for this project, I know I could use a little luck right now!

Learning Opportunities

This whole In-Depth project has been such a great learning experience. I have learned not just from my own project, but from everyone’s projects—which are all so diverse. I have also had many new learning opportunities that have exposed me to new learning. Opportunities provided to me by my very trying and patient mentor Ron, who agreed to guide and help me when no one else would. Ron has

This is the machine I use to stretch the shoes.

exposed me to the shoe making and repair environment, through the little tasks he asks me to do (like stretching the shoes or gluing and sanding heels) I learn more about the different parts of the shoe, and shoe maintenance. Learning the ins and outs of shoes is really helpful as I create my own pair because I can see what works with shoes and what doesn’t. It has also really helped to keep in mind practicality while designing. This problem-solving type of learning has really pushed me in the right direction and exposed me to this new environment in ways I wouldn’t have expected. To re-inforce the new learning that I do, I often read about the procedures I have completed (from Ron’s vast library) as well as ask Ron or other cobblers around about more efficient ways of doing these procedures. Reading and talking about some of the jobs that I do around helps cement what I have learned, and improve for the next time I have to do the task. I really have improved through these methods, when I first started to do my basic maintenance jobs, they took me over two hours to complete, and now they take me about one hour to finish, with even more precision now. To accelerate my learning, I have the opportunity to work in the shop more

This book has helped me through all the processes.

frequently, like I did over the break. I also have the opportunity to read about procedures before performing them to prepare and to practice my sewing at home on scrap leather before sewing my shoes (I sewed my inner lining and I found out that I am sewing is not my strong suit). Volunteering to work with machines I will need to use to make my shoes in the future has also accelerated my learning because I improve at using them, so when it comes time to make my shoes, I will do a better job. Ron has made an effort to find openings for me to get acquainted with some of the more heavy-duty machinery. Our mentoring relationship is still going very well and I think that our learning and teaching styles fit very well together. When we are together, we talk about shoes and my project, work in the shop, what we did over the week, other plans for the weekend, and our families. We are learning quite a bit about each other including things like our personal interests (especially music since we play it while we work), our vacation plans, and more about our family histories. Ron’s son works in the shop, so I hear many interesting stories about Tom as a child. I really like having that personal connection with my mentor, it makes it much easier to effectively communicate and makes the process smoother.


On my shoes, I have finished the forming and cutting the soles, cutting and sewing my inner liner, and cutting out my uppers along with the spare parts. It was a lot of work over these past few weeks, but my shoes are really coming together. Though the process is moving alblog imageong relatively fast, I am still scared that I might not finish in time. Shoe-making is a long process and I know that lasting the shoes will take me a long time. I will definitely finish making my shoes by the end of the year, but I don’t know if I will finish in time for In-depth night in May. However, I am really happy with the progress that I am making and understand that there is only so much I can do to finish in time. Either way, I am learning a lot that I can put to use in other projects later on in life.

I am very grateful that we had to do these blog posts asking certain questions of us. I wouldn’t have reflected and tried to improve upon my project had I not done these blogs. I definitely wouldn’t have focused so much on my relationship with my mentor if not for these posts, but I am so glad that I did. When we started these blog posts, I was anything but excited, but now I think I will miss doing them for the next four weeks. Though, I will have to admit I am a bit relieved I don’t have to worry about these posts anymore.  I think that I got myself on the right track with the first few posts and that I will hopefully continue on this path and continue to reflect upon and adjust my project accordingly.