As I mentioned in my earlier post, I took a sandal making class with Rachel Sees Snails Shoes. It was so fun, and my sandals are so cute, that Wyatt wanted to make a pair for himself. We used the notes and shopping list that Rachel provided to us in the workshop to make Wyatt's sandals.
We are not pros at making sandals. Not in the slightest. This fact will be obvious in so many ways to anyone who knows anything about making sandals and sees my photos. But we tried, we learned, and the project occupied a fair amount of time over spring break. Wyatt also has a pair of sandals that, while stiff to walk in, fit. So I'm calling this experiment a success.
If I made another pair, I'd choose a lighter weight sole, for sure. Or heavier leather for the straps. Except that the straps were from leather our shoemaking friends gave us, and honestly, their generosity should have driven the sole search (ha!) and purchase.
Also? I cannot overstate the importance of the saying, "The right tool for the right job." My goodness. If DIY projects have taught me anything, it's that specialization of individuals (or families) in different crafts was a good move for society. Tools and skill matter so much in craft, and I have a minimum of both when it comes to sandal making. I mean, I can cut thick leather with a utility knife, but the results are far from amazing.
We got many of our sandal making supplies from Baltor O & Sons, which is a 4th generation family owned business in South San Francisco. (See what I mean? Specialization!) It is an amazing warehouse that's full of everything you could ever need to make any kind of shoe. And nothing is labeled. Or priced in any way a customer like me can read. There are employees who can help you, but you're not why they came to work. They are there to do Other Things. That said, everyone there is extremely gracious when you speak up and ask for help, as we did at least 50 times. It served Wyatt and me well to be unfailingly polite while simultaneously owning our profound ignorance.
We got the rest of the supplies from our shoemaker friends. When you're making one pair of kids' sandals, you don't need a pound of shoe nails (assuming you could even figure out which type of nails in the Nails Aisle were the ones you needed to buy) or an entire hide of leather (outside of the scrap bin, leather is sold only by the hide).
Here's what we did.
We finished the sandals by going to our shoemaker friends who didn't judge us or our work even one time, and who evened out all my mistakes with their belt-sander-for-shoes. We paid them in jam, marmalade, and a modest Mitchell's ice cream celebration.