The juxtaposition of overt protest vs covert personal pleasure; stated opposition vs implied reverence, both united in their appreciation for the written and spoken word with the subtle references to the importance of education via the use of calligraphy and bookbinding materials.
I used alum tawed leather - known for its archival qualities - for both these projects. This leather is produced using natural, traditional methods to preserve skins and prevent degradation. As early as the 12th century it was used for bookbinding. The treatment of the skins with a paste of natural aluminium salts, egg yolk, flour and salt then drying for weeks stabilises the leather, making it more resistant to atmospheric pollution than tanned skins.
... was the original shoe featuring calligraphy, and is a project that resonated with me, not just given the political climate in the US at the time and the personal opinions expressed by the client, but as a reflection of my own personal experiences, a reminder to rise above what was going on around me and press on. Truth on the uppers for the world to see, vs. Falsehood on the soles trodden down.
... is a reference to the poetry of Keats. The client, a true connoisseur and collector of art and poetry, is someone I frequently consult for her insight and immaculate taste. She sent me a series of her favourite lines and specified the alum-tawed leather with sepia calligraphy inspired by They Go Low.
I came up with the treatment of the point of the bellows tongue, reminiscent of the folded pages of a book or personal journal, where one might gather special items and bind them together by wrapping with a length of leather, eventually deciding on the button feature. The edging material was a silk headband, also a specially selected bookbinding material, instead of my signature grosgrain.
In both shoes, the chosen texts were calligraphed directly onto the leather - beautiful words from the past preserved in the most natural and ancient of methods, connecting the voices of two special women.
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