The Construction…proposed

Using natural non wovens generally means sourcing sheet material. Mainly because it is very difficult to compress or tangle the non wovens into a uniform material without the use if industrial machines.  And since we are past the age of injection moulding and on the edge of a digital printable material, sheet material seems well, a bit “flat”. So in the design we need to express this “flatness” to our advantage. And “flat” material is used in conventional footwear so to use these natural materials as leather shoes are made seems inappropriate. So carrying on from the hollow heel/sole of the previous felt shoes in which the flat material becomes the structure seems right.

over lasted felt with hollow sole, the lasting is the structure photo: Panos Damaskinidis

As designers we often work intuitively and then later analyse why we have done something a certain way. I still can not clearly put into words why this hollow structure is intriguing. It has something to do do with the decorative upper becoming the structure of the heel. It is about simplicity maybe not in construction but to the eye and mind. And I guess that is what we do as designers.  We are the bridge between the engineering and people to hopefully make poetic artefacts.

So  evolving on there are some practical concerns about using various non wovens.  Some are rough next to the skin so came the idea of using a felt sock or bootie which is resined on the sole to form the insole structure. Then side walls are over lasted and wrapped around, undercut under the insole area to form a ledge that the bootie rest on.  The bootie is slipped in to this “over lasted shell”.

…explode view felt sock centre with resined sole and moulded sides with ledge that the resin sole sit on.

hemp sides, insert sock resined, sits on feather line ledge

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Experimenting with felt…

My initial thinking was to keep the felt on the inside next to the skin to add comfort and to allow the insole to be customized under the pressure and wear of the person’s foot, kind of like a nectarine in that the stone is the foot, the veg tan leather is the skin and the soft flesh of the fruit is the felt. So I played with wrapping the felt and leather around the last.

leather wrapped around sheet felt and last

initial felt wrapped in leather 1

internal "landscape" layered felt to add comfort to the insole

cutting away veg tan to make "opanke" insolestapling felt around last as to not damage

Felt top view with centre seam

Daimer Filz shade card, one of many!

felt upper pattern

felt inner footbed pattern

stitched felt footbed

felt sock on cork

back seam felt sock

There were issues with using a felt sheet which was thin, 30% wool 70% viscose as the fibers would not bind.  I got on the case and researched into industrial sheet felt.  By using the transforming materials library at LCF and CSM under the guidance of Jess Lertvilai I came across the company Diamer Filz in Germany.  They have a wonder felt product with great colours and varied thicknesses.  I contacted them, explained what I was doing and requested a small sponsorship.  I was delighted when they responded yes! It would take a couple weeks to receive the materials.

So I kept exploring with the sheet felt focusing on the layers of the insole…