At today’s incubator meeting, we had a large group of participants. We began our meeting with brief introductions, sharing our names and our favorite colors and their significance to us. Sharon, our guest speaker shared her favorite color and her story with us. Her favorite color, jade green, speaks to her peaceful and calming presence as she began explaining why she came to work with us today. Twenty five years ago, in a commune in the UK, Sharon was inspired by the handmade shoes the local residents wore. She realized she could make shoes by hand as well and she discovered her passion for shoemaking. Years later, she has worked in craft centers, she has taught shoemaking workshops, and she has published several tutorial books on how to make shoes by hand.
Today, she came to ACC to teach us all how to make baby shoes, or “First Footstep” shoes. These first walking shoes are made out of ecological materials, meaning Sharon avoids toxic shoe cements and new petroleum-based soling. She came prepared with materials for each participant and taught us step by step how to make baby shoes soles made from the inner tubing of bicycles, colorful scraps of leather material, and tapestry needles with nylon thread. As shown in the pictures below (Click through the slideshow below), the scraps of materials were previously cut and hole-punched, ready to be assembled. Sharon came to share her skills with ACC in order to inspire others to make their own baby shoes and to sell them as a way to make money in a local business.
Though the process proved to be more complicated than expected, Sharon is a great teacher and she went around the room, eagerly helping each participant create their own pair of baby shoes. Sharon created a very open and supportive environment. As a result, the participants were up for the challenge and were even helping each other with the step by step process. Unfortunately, we did run out of time before we could finish a shoe, but participants were hooked and asked Sharon to return again next month. She agreed, and asked for volunteers to help her prepare her shoemaking materials in the meantime. Because her passion for shoemaking is contagious, participants were eager to volunteer. Several participants exchanged contact information with Sharon and will be helping her cut and hole-punch her materials in the future, learning more about the whole process.
Sharon noted that her baby shoe business should not be called “First Steps”, but instead “Trial and Error”. She said, “I take out more stitches than I put in. I am always pulling stitches out and trying new ways to do things”. I think this message spoke to participants almost as much as her craft. We cannot wait for Sharon to return in August to help us finish our shoes and to inspire us once more to enjoy the process, rather than just the finished product.
Sharon will be returning to work with ACC on Wednesday August 30th at 10am and we would love it if you could join us for our second meeting with her!
By: Emma Sander