In olden days, all one had to
do was glance down at the feet of passers-by to know what social
class they belonged to, as given away by the footwear they had on.
People of humble circumstances, for example, generally used
the footwear called "buskins" (boots reaching half way up
to the knee), while the better-off folk could put their feet into
more elaborate footwear, such as the "Castilian shoe".
It was Julián Rodríguez Navas who, in 1957,
brought this shoe back to life; ever since that time it's been
produced in the Taller ARTESANÍA DEL
CALZADO / FOOTWEAR
CRAFTSMANSHIP Workshop, and all the while it has spread
throughout Spain and also to France, England and Holland, where we
have some customers. This
shoe's comfortableness and quality, and the skill with which it has
been promoted, together with the certainty that it has been made
using the same materials and craft techniques as were used in the
olden days, give this product the best possible publicity.
This publicity is none other than the satisfaction of those
who try out this shoe; and this, in the end, is the best award for
Method of making the shoe
From the patterns the pieces
are cut by hand from semi-dressed calf leather. The grainy side of the leather skin – the shiny outer side
as opposed to the inner side, which is the meat side – will be
outermost on the shoes. Following
this, a very fine hole punch is used to perform the second step,
which is none other than the hand pricking of the leather pieces.
The process continues with joining the pieces together with
two very fine parallel rows of stitching, sewing on the leather
strips and putting in the goat skin lining.
This whole process is called "Trimming the shoeupper of
the Castilian Shoe".
Once the shoeuppers have been prepared, the inner soles
and heel reinforcements – which will always be of outsole leather
– are set on "low-waisted" lasts to be fitted to the
shoeuppers. It's then
that the "Welting" technique is employed, consisting of
stitching together the shoeupper of the shoe, the insole and the
welt with cord impregnated with pitch and virgin wax using one awl
and two needles, all three curved. This stitching is extremely laborious and difficult and calls
for a considerable effort; however, it's not only the most secure
form of stitching, it's also the only one which, performable only by
the master craftsmen of this workshop, preserves for posterity the
knowledge of this "Welting" technique handed down from
father to son since 1830.
The awling technique
Once the shoes have been
welted, the soles of the shoe are cut from 5 mm. pure outsole
slit 1 cm. wide and 2 mm. deep is opened around the outsole.
In between the inner and outer sole a layer of cork
insulation called a "core" is placed.
Later on, using a straight awl and two needles as tools, the
outer sole and welt will be stitched together with hemp cord, the
slit finally being sealed up to cover up the stitching.
The heels will be built up
heelplate by heelplate using outsole leather, to a height of 2.5 cm.
A line of stitching will also be done around the heels.
Now all that remains to be done, to complete the making
process, is to burnish and polish the sole and heel, after which the
shoe may be pronounced finished and ready for sale.