At the Foot of the Handmade Mountain

Tire SandalsIndie fashion offers an abundance of options from head to toe… almost! Cobbling , the art of making shoes, is not necessarily mainstream. Yet, I see no one walking around barefoot in public. I say, throw those misconceptions out the door about the difficulty of creating footwear. We can do better than plastic daisies hot glued to foam flip-flops.

Tire sandals are a bohemian tradition, and remain popular in the Far East. Next time you get a flat, look on the bright side, you’re going to get a new pair of shoes out of the deal! Simply follow one of these tutorials on or eHow.

Looking for something a little softer? This project on Cut Out + Keep shows you how to make a pair of fuzzy slippers from an old towel. On the same website, I fell head over heels for these adorable made-over vintage mary janes.

If none of this is DIY enough for you, and you have a sushi habit, why not put those eel skins to good use for a nifty pair of moccasins? Those who lack iron stomachs could opt for wool felt or reclaimed leather with this pattern instead. Speaking of leather, opinions vary as to the humaneness of it’s use, but the tanning industry gets props for leading the way in eco-friendly garment production.

As always, handmade is great whether of your own doing or that of others. Here are some amazing indie shoe shops I’ve come across recently:

If you know of any others, please leave them in comments!

Photo Credit: Thomas J. Elpel

Written by Autumn Wiggins

This 2008 interview pretty much sums it up:

1. How would you describe yourself?
An oddly situated performer of thought experiments

2. Do you have any anecdotes about your work (how you got started, frustrating moments, or funny stories)?
At this year's Maker Faire in San Mateo, I gave a presentation on how the trend of green crafting can ultimately address the problem of consumption and waste. Dale Dougherty,the publisher of Make and Craft, later had a gift delivered to me, a staple bound book of poetry: Music Like Dirt by Frank Bidart. This is the last thing one would expect to take home from an event so focused on renegade technology. To my surprise, it was an existential reflection on the human need to make things that I now find myself going back to whenever I need some inspiration to look beyond the materials and processes of crafting.

3. What kinds of things do you do for fun?
In my spare time I enjoy amateur astronomy, outdoor adventures, collecting domain names, and hanging out at coffee shops.

4. What interesting projects are you working on right now?
I'm working to organize community involvement in upcycling, and have a few top-secret website projects up my sleeves!

5. Where do you live? Kids, pets, spouse, occupation?
O'Fallon, IL, a suburb (and I mean a totally typical suburb) of St. Louis, MO. Rather than moving to the more culture friendly urban environment, I am staying put and annoying the heck out of Wal-Mart by throwing a massive indie craft show(Strange Folk) in their backyard. I have a husband, Doug, and two sons: a 7 year old mad scientist named Jack, and 6 year old Max, who we think is an aspiring tattoo artist since he's so fond of drawing all over himself with markers. To pay the bills, I do freelance writing, mural painting, and website design, sell my handmade crafts, teach art classes for kids, and work part -time at a local coffee shop.

6. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently?
The concept known as "Cradle-to-Cradle" is a blueprint for sustainability that states everything we manufacture should be either biodegrable, infinitely recyclable, or intended to be upcycled. This is the basis for many of my ideas of how the crafting community can be more widely involved in solving the environmental crisis.

7. What is your favorite food/color/tool?
granola/green/sewing machine!


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