We’re Obsessed With: This Woman Who Makes Her Own Shoes

by:   |   Feb 9 2015

naked shoes

“One day, I looked at my shoes and wondered what was inside them. So I tore a pair of shoes apart…”

We all know someone who sews. No doubt you have at least one friend who, when complimented upon her dirndl skirt or appliqued jean jacket, can be relied upon to casually-not-casually reply with “Oh, thanks, I made it myself.” (I KNOW THIS BECAUSE I AM THIS FRIEND, OK? WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT OF MAKING THINGS IF YOU ARE NOT COVERED IN ADMIRATION FOR DOING SO?)

But what sort of person (depraved of mind? Misshapen of foot? Possessing the ability to stop time and therefore having oodles of hours to devote to strange pastimes?) gets into making their own shoes? I’m not talking about smoking a bowl and painting a melted-looking Sailor Moon onto your Sperry Topsiders. I’m talking about floor-up, honest-to-god, MAKING your own shoe components and then Frankensteining them all together.

I’m Mary. And these are my feet babies.

Meet Mary Wales Loomis. Her 1992 book, the descriptively-titled-if-imperious Make Your Own Shoes (an up-to-date and more-focused version of her 1978 Make Your Own Shoes and Handbags) holds all the information an aspiring cobbler needs. (I’ve been saying nice things about elves and leaving Girl Scout Cookies and torn-out pages of footwear “suggestions” from Elle magazine on my coffee table every night—no dice with that approach.) Once you’ve gathered the mystical occult ingredients you’ll need (“buckram” sounds particularly Satanic), it looks like it’s an “easy” process from there—including making your own mold of your foot from Plaster of Paris. (Cast your boobs while you’re at it! Then you can create pasties that will match your shoes and fit your nipples to a T, like a real lady. I know I’ve had it with chafing, pinching pasties.)

This bag weighs 400 pounds but I make my own shoes and compared to that, benching this ain’t shit. Gaze upon me, mortals.

The “How” is easily answered, apparently. Mary’s book has very good reviews—“A super book!” raves Bruce, Amazon’s 25,541,222th-ranked reviewer. “Highly illustrated … just stock up on lots of Plaster of Paris, cooking oil and Vaseline” says Andy on Goodreads. But the question remains—WHY? Why make your own shoes?

Price? Surely whatever money is saved in making ones’ own shoes is quickly eaten up by the time spent dripping Plaster of Paris into a kitten-heel mold? Surely the money saved on Modcloth shipping prices quickly translates to an enormous cooking-oil-and-Vaseline budget? Unfortunately, Mary declined Grown Ass Lady’s request for an interview. (Mary! Was it the pubic hairstyles article? The Shaggin’ Wagon retrospective? We’re sorry we’re such rude-ass jerks clomping around in store-bought shoes.) So we can only theorize as to why one might want to spend hours in pursuit of the Cinderella-fit of the handcrafted shoe. (Perhaps a clue lies in the fact that fully half of the reviews of this book are from men who might NEED larger-sized dancing slippers.)

We will tell you one thing, though. If you want to make your own shoes, you should get Mary’s book directly from her, not from Amazon. And then for God’s sake, post pictures of whatever monstrosity you end up with after your first attempt. And Mary, if you reconsider talking to me, I’m all ears. Just let me finish sketching Sailor Mercury onto these boat shoes, ok?

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Julai Whipple
Follow Julai on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BathingMachine
  • Ona Luna

    Thank you for this post.