Posts Tagged ‘footwear’

Baby’s got sole

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

We think these handcrafted baby hightop boxing boots by Finnbear are pretty gosh-darned cute. Soft, flexible, and colourful, they’re perfect for little growing feet while looking super cute at the same time!

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“My work is slow. Leather does not invite speed.” The contemplative craft of Honey Bird Leathercraft

Monday, February 13th, 2017


Max Jones of Honey Bird Leathercraft has a way with words as well as leather:

“Perhaps every man comes to a point in his life when he looks around at what he has created for himself and is thus afforded an opportunity to really consider the authenticity of it all. It seems we can so easily fall into roles and jobs that are not necessarily aligned with our true authentic selves. This was revealed to me a couple of years ago and there was no denying the truth of it.

I accepted my fate, and the challenge of following my destiny. Playing the Fool card, I leapt off the proverbial cliff into the relative unknown of becoming a leatherworker. I have not looked back since then. It has been such a fulfilling journey. And yes, it feels authentic; a true and inherent expression of who I am and what I “really” came here to do.

My love for the smell of leather, the sound it makes when being cut, the “ping” of a solid brass rivet being hammered upon an anvil, the energetic weight of a hand tool forged 135 years ago and the smiles on people’s faces who appreciate the quality they hold in their hands and wear on their feet, are a few of the ways that I measure the authenticity of it all.”



honeybirdchaser matariki

What do you make?
I make things from vegetable tanned leather. At the moment, I am focusing on sandals, belts, and bracelets.

How did you get into your craft?
I needed a new lease on life. I really wanted to do something with my hands. Something noble. One day last winter, while I was polishing up a pair of old Italian leather boots, the idea came to me that I would like to work with leather. That was it! My “A-ha” moment. I just knew it was right. I just went for it! That’s my style. That’s how I roll.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have had no formal training. I am mostly self-taught. I did have the honour of spending five days with one of New Zealand’s oldest shoe makers. He taught me how to make a particular style of sandal, what we now call the WayFinder. Before this I had, as most people, only worn leather.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite material is the vegetable tanned leather that I use for my work. Prior to becoming a leatherworker, I was unaware that there were different ways to tan leather. In fact, 95% of the leather products on the market today are made from leather tanned using Chromium Sulfate. This is a rather “dirty” i.e. toxic way to go about it. I don’t want my children, or my customers, absorbing this “salt” into their bloodstreams by wearing my sandals. For this, and other reasons, I use veg-tanned leather exclusively.

My most prized tool is a Joseph Dixon Plough Gauge made in 1884. It allows me to cut straps up to 6” wide. I love just looking at this ancient piece of art.

One of my favourite processes is burnishing the edges of the leather. It gives a nice slick effect to my sandals.



Tell us about the techniques involved in producing a pair of your sandals
I start with 10 ounce veg tanned leather. The upper is cut from this. I use a 7 ounce leather for the straps which I cut with my beloved plough gauge. These are saddle soaped and conditioned with a beeswax polish to replace some of the fats and liquors which are removed during the tanning process.

Then there is bevelling and burnishing before the dyeing takes place. The holes are punched in the soles for the straps to pass through. These are fixed to the uppers using solid brass rivets.

I use wooden shoe lasts to build the sandals around to give me a three dimensional form to work with.

I use a non-toxic, water based glue to adhere the uppers to the soles. I nail the leather soles on using brass clinching nails and for the rubber soles we sew them on with our antique sewing machine. The edges are hand burnished and everything receives one more lick of beeswax conditioner before they are ready for their adventure.



What inspires you?
I am inspired by so many things. My wife’s incredible artistic abilities. My children’s enthusiasm and zest for life. The smell of leather. The way water always finds the path of least resistance. The vocal range of the Tui. The timelessness of the mighty Totara. The flight of the kereru. Silence.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My work is slow. Leather does not invite speed. It demands that you are attentive and calculated with your movements. It’s a good teacher that way. It affords me a lot of time to contemplate the fact that life has gotten too fast for most of us. My intention with everything that I make, is that it enables the person who buys it to slow down; to be more attentive and connected to the Earth and their fellow humans, animals, and plants.

I don’t look for short cuts along the way. It’s those little, and often time consuming details, that make such a difference in the end.

Describe your creative process:
My creative process begins in the realm of The Visual. I “see” the finished piece and then work backwards. I don’t look for short cuts along the way. It’s those little, and often time consuming details, that make such a difference in the end. I enjoy the work. I am not rushed by the world around me. I am now in the realm of The Creator.

Describe your workspace:
My workshop is located on the Motueka River in the lovely wee hamlet of Ngatimoti. It’s in an old shed that was once used to make wind chimes. It’s got good vibes. I have old photos of my ancestors on the walls. They help me do the “mahi”.

There’s a huge table in the center that I can lay out a hide on. Some of these skins are over 2.5m long so its really nice to be able to accommodate them completely. My beloved outsole-stitching machine has a nice home here. His name is the Chief. He was born in Czechoslovakia in 1940. He’s a bit fat, weighing in at 450kg, but we love him just the same.

There’s always music. And yerba mate. Lots of yerba mate.



Five words that describe your mind:
Ancestral, connected, open, deep, precise.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Son, look at this. This is quality. This is going to last!”

What are you currently listening to?
Xavier Rudd.

Recommend an album:
Live at the Old Quarter by Townes Van Zandt.

What are you reading now?
The Wayfinders by Wade Davis. This is a great book about why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world. I’ve read it several times now. We named our first pair of sandals in honour of this book’s message.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My heroes and heroines are all those who have walked this path before me. My ancestors enrich and enliven me. Their stories inspire me. I endeavour to make them proud. I am forever making more space for them in my life.

A favourite quote:
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell. Don’t go back to sleep.” – Rumi.



If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I am Kitar Valentine. I am a World Bridger Extraordinaire. I journey to other dimensions, galaxies, and universes to seek out mystical nuggets, which I bring back to Earth in my Super Flash Time Capsule.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the beginning I wrote to people all over the world asking for advice with various things. Virtually everyone I have written to has responded. And quickly!

I found my mentor this way. He lives on a tiny island in British Columbia and has been making leather sandals for 55 years! He’s awesome.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I rescued a beautiful ceramic cup at an op-shop recently. It was on a table surrounded by heaps of mass produced coffee cups. I heard its cry for freedom. It was 50 cents!

What’s in store for 2017?
We will begin making wallets, journal covers, bags and camera straps. We will be saddle stitching these items together. We will refine our sandal making skills and be offering a few new designs. And we will enlist the help off others to achieve all this. We are building a website and will continue to offer our wares at local markets and festivals.


Baby’s got sole…

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

babysgotsole blog


Sweet shoes for tiny toes from Baby’s Got Sole »


Frocktober day 27: Delilah Mae

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Here’s a sweet frock for lovers of shabby chic elegance. This refashioned dress from Delilah Mae has a comfortable sleeveless blush pink knit top and a split vintage lace skirt with just a touch of fullness. The lace sits over a matching knit underskirt with a muslin frill. A wee fabric rose, hand-stitched to the waist, completes the look beautifully.


A denim jacket looks great with this dress, so we went looking for some other similar accessories. Delilah Mae has the very jacket from the image above listed in her shop, and we thought this gorgeous wee broach from 22 was a perfect match. And for indoors, some lovely light slippers from Houseshoes would be just the thing!

Our womenswear, jewellery and accessories pages are full of perfect matches for our Frocktober stars. Go on, have a browse!

Nothing says love like his and hers slippers

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

His and Her Crochet Slippers

The last thing any relationship needs is cold feet, and here’s the perfect solution: his and her crochet slippers. And just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Matching outfits may be pushing it, but you’ll get away with matching slippers – who’s going to know? This cute and cosy footwear is available in both men’s and women’s sizes, made to order by WhiteNoiseMaker.

Featured Seller: Spiro Creations

Monday, July 5th, 2010

A recent arrival in New Zealand from Winnipeg, Canada, Barbara Morton of Spirocreations now lives in a house bus in Whangaparaoa with her Kiwi husband Isaac. As Isaac completes a furniture making apprenticeship, Barbara is putting her self-taught leatherwork skills to use creating stunningly beautiful soft leather shoes almost entirely by hand.

What do you make?
I hand make a variety of soft moccasin inspired leather shoes, boots and accessories such as bags, belts, cuffs, earrings and more.

How did you get into your craft?
While living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, I ran an art programme for inner-city homeless and low income adults. Many of the individuals who used the programme claim First Nations (Native) descent so a large amount of the programme was focused on upholding traditional mediums which includes leatherwork and beadwork. Running this programme exploded my creativity and I began experimenting with embroidering and beading on canvas. I was also introduced to leather as a medium and literally fell in love at first sight (and touch)!

Isaac bought me a leather sewing awl for our first wedding anniversary which I used to awkwardly create a small leather pouch which I wore on a belt. From this point on I couldn’t stop creating with leather! I was hooked entirely….I molded leather onto canvasses, stitched bags and belts and attempted my first pair of lace up Moccasin boots without a pattern and all by hand. I later made myself winter Mukluks (lined with fur) and began avidly researching moccasin and footwear history. Over time, I increased my leather knowledge through 5 minute conversations with my First Nations friends, local cobblers and self study and trial. Every week at Art Programme, I would fiddle away designing a brand new style of footwear, asking the participants for their advice and suggestions. Friends began to ask for custom pairs, and very accidently Spirocreations was born.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Nope. My approach to leather craft is very much the Barb Morton method. I think a lot of my work has a unique look as I never really learned how to work with leather ‘properly’.
Clockwise from left: The first pair of moccasins Barb ever made; Barb and Isaac;
leather lace-up ballet high tops.

What inspires you?
I am a history nerd and so I find a huge amount of inspiration from the past and natural world. I am an ocean and forest junkie! I love the creativity and kindness of people I meet day to day. I am a very spiritual person and my beliefs are often a starting point for all my creativity. ‘Spiro’, is actually a Latin word (pronounced ‘spearo’) and means: to live, to breathe or to be inspired. Isaac and I felt this idea summed up our creative process, as creativity brings life and is as important to our well-being as breathing. In ancient times, ‘inspiration’ was thought to occur from God breathing (or whispering) ideas into our minds from which we would become inspired to live and create. We too feel that through the process of creating we are connected to something greater than ourselves as well as reconnecting us to the earth, its inhabitants, its past, present and future.

Indigenous peoples also are a huge influence for me as I deeply respect their resourcefulness, wisdom, creativity, artisanship and balance with the Earth. Fantasy, folk lore, fairytales and mysticism also influences my work as I have always wanted to disappear into the stories I read.

Music always gets my blood pumping and the ideas pouring.

A favourite quote: “Be the change you long to see in the world.” – Ghandi

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love working with all kinds of leather but I have a special soft spot for deer hide. I also like to work with natural and found items such as wood, shell, feathers and vintage pieces. I work almost entirely with hand tools including a leather awl, needles, waxed thread, shears and a lighter. I have an old industrial sewing machine to help with some of the basic assembly but most everything is finished with hand tools. I’d be lost without my measuring tape and leather awl…these are most precious to me.

A lot of my process involves trial and error. When creating, I usually do not start with a fixed idea as most often the creation presents itself in the leather pieces in front of me. I really like to take my time and to allow the pieces to evolve naturally. I love designing and will work crazy hours in a focused non-stop state once I get excited about something. Thank goodness for a husband that will come in and feed me every so often!

Recycling is also really important to me. I do not like to waste any leather and so try to design pieces or accents which utilise even the smallest offcuts.

Five words that describe your mind: Imaginative, idealistic, worried, non-stop, contemplative

Describe your workspace:
Ever changing! Since moving from Winnipeg my workspace has been the site of various kitchen tables, bedrooms and even the house bus we are currently living in. At the moment I am working out of a friend’s old bedroom which luckily has huge windows and lots of sunlight. I look forward to actually having a workspace to call my own!

What are you currently listening to?
I am all over the place with music…currently a lot of ’70s rock, old skool hip hop, ’50s Cuban jazz, ’60s Mod rock, Euro trance and ’90s grunge rock.

Recommend an album: Black on Both Sides – Mos Def

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
At the time that I began working with leather, I was reading up on pre-historic life. It fascinated me to consider how disconnected I am from this lifestyle and how deeply I yearned to regain and preserve this knowledge. It blew my mind to think that for thousands of years our ancestors utilised only what the earth could offer for survival. They lived in an intricate balance with the natural world, ever having to be resourceful and united as a community. I was sickened by how wasteful and disrespectful our current society has become. I greatly desired to live in such a way that I could better understand the Earth and respect its resources.

Engaging with leather enabled me to reconnect to a rich cultural history which is well exemplified in the First Nation’s People of Canada. I was honoured with the quiet wisdom of my First Nations friends who stay connected to the earth and intimately respect its resources and character. Many of these individuals have been my teachers and inspiration for creating. I am honoured to create through relationship and am grateful to be connected to their lives and to their stories.

I was very moved, by the amount of skill, time and love that went into fashioning a traditional pair of moccasins, wraps, or kamiks (Inuit seal boots). One pair of shoes required the entire community to work together. This left a deep impression on me. I longed to use craft to create community and as a tool for reconnecting individuals to the Earth, its past and resources. As a part of this journey, I arranged a meeting with a local First Nation’s elder, to ensure that the pieces I created were not in any way disrespectful to the culture and that in all ways, I was embarking into leather work respectfully. This meeting was uplifting and inspiring. I gained a greater appreciation for the medium I was working with and felt I could move forward.

I also spent a lot of time studying the history of the Arts and Craft Movement focusing on William Morris and later John Ruskin’s influence on the Industrial Revolution. This study got me thinking about how drastically the world has changed since the 18th Century, particularly the change from Craft Guilds to Factory production. In the face of Industrial society…handcraft (which was mere survival for centuries) has become in present day somewhat revolutionary. In this, I began to examine the resurgence of handcraft since the 1800s and found that many of its champions fought for principles that I desire to reflect in my life (sustainability, respect, equality, just distribution of wealth). I began to realise that the simple act of hand making shoes was my way to combat a ‘profit before people’ focused society.

I strongly desire to preserve past artisanship, wisdom and respect in all my work.  I hope that Spirocreations can be a connecting point between the public and the past as well as inspiring respect for the Earth and its resources, encouraging creative community and the support of hand craft over factory production.

Your hero/heroine: William Morris

Your favourite childhood book? Alice in Wonderland and Grimm’s Fairytales

What are you reading now?
I am burning through all of Juliet Marrillier’s books. Wolfskin and Daughter of the Forest were amazing!

Do you have any pets?
No…but someday I will own a very big dog.  Someday Isaac, someday!

If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
I would be one of those combination color crayons as I am all over the place with fingers in too many pots. I doubt I would be in one piece.

Keep checking back as Barbara adds new designs to her Felt shop, Spirocreations, over the next few weeks, and look out for her gorgeous footwear at future craft events in Auckland and surrounds.