Group project day here on Pier 9! Our group of 4 happened to have a talented shoemaker and two participants willing to offer their feet and feedback on the fit / comfort of various prototypes. The rest of our group's skill set skewed towards the wood shop, so wood and leather became our materials! The goal of the project was to create two different prototypes - one a flat sandal with experimental chair bottom hardware under the forefoot, and the other a riff on a clog sandal
Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough
Step 1: Designing and Measuring
After a brief 'design consultation' the idea of making clogs and sandals was borne. We quickly identified two styles to work from- one clog style and one geta or Japanese style sandal.
Quick sketches gave us some direction before we all piled in to the workshop.
We used a pencil to draw around both left and right foot. We used these paper patterns to determine the size and shape of the footwear.
Step 2: Sculpt Wood Clog Platform
Starting with the paper cutout of our model's left foot, we began to trace and form find for the clog on 4x4 softwood blocks. We used a bandsaw for rough cutting, and both belt and disk sanders to refine the shape. After a few fittings with the left foot only, we settled on an angular cantilevered platform design with a full width heel. This softwood version was then used as a template for hardwood versions for both feet. We worked with masking tape to mock up different versions of the strap on our model's feet. The tape was just strong enough to allow our model to walk back and forth on the shop floor and allow us to fine tune the spring of each toe. Without a spring, or subtle curve at the front of the hard wooden sole, it is very difficult to walk comfortably!
Step 3: Cut Plywood Sole and Apply Leather Insole for Comfort
We used the bandsaw and sanders to cut down 1/4" plywood to the outline of our model's foot for the flat sandal. Our shoemaker then carefully cut leather insoles to be glued onto the plywood for added comfort, and we raised the heel with a second layer of 1/4" plywood + glue.
Step 4: Apply Straps and Vibram Rubber Sole
The idea of the geta style sandal also incorporated a machine leveling foot. This design took immediate inspiration from the workshop and in theory would allow the foot to always be level to the floor.
We drilled the toe area and mounted the threaded foot. A length of ribbon was glued under the leather, we would later cut this to the correct length.
For the clogg, once the sole was made we cut 20mm wide black leather straps. Whilst the model stood on the platform the leather was cut down to size and nailed into the wood on each side. We added a buckle to the leather at the ankle.
Step 5: Wear Testing/Catwalk
Here we can see two happy models rocking their latest designs...
After a quick trot around the workshop, we realized that the clog straps needed some adjustment so we shortened the ankle straps slightly so that the foot did not slide out.
For the geta sandal the model was slightly un-nerved by the ball joint support under her toe but didn't let it show as she proudly click-clacked around the wood shop!