The Textile Arts Center has asked me to teach a new workshop for them in the Spring. Called the North American Footwear Workshop, it should be a grand exploration of traditional leather foot wear designs from Native American culture.
The footwear we call a moccasin has become defined by any footwear by all the Native American tribes of North and Central America. Usually known to be a soft-soled leather shoe, the variety and form of this object is far greater than the open leisure shoe we know and wear during summer months. What works in a tidewater lowland fails miserably on the Plains and would never serve the needs of Artic Circle residents.
We will explore over seventeen different solutions handed down from Native American artisans, each honed over millenia to be the best foot covering for a particular region, climate and geography of North America. In this four-session workshop, participants will choose a style, make their own personal pattern, learn the craft of hand sewing leather, fit a sample, cut their patterns, construct and wear their own hand-made, but not home-made, leather footwear.
Tools and materials will be discussed at the first session, as well as design choices, degree of difficulty and options for the finished footwear. The second session will have patterns for selected styles drawn, transferred to pattern paper, and prepared for individual fitting. Third session will include skills training to cut leather, pierce for stitching, hand stitching and fine-tuning patterns for fit with a felt mock-up. Fourth session will be cutting of leather hides, marking and stitching leather and wearing the finished product. We shall discuss the nature of leather, how to place patterns for best part of a hide and what additional resources are available for the budding leather artisan.