The Leather Ripped🤬

“Oh poot!”…well I think that is what I said…

Turning the shoe the right way round is always a nightmare, but this time using leather that was old and weary probably wasn’t clever. This stuff had been in a damp shed that froze every winter. I oiled,it hence the dark colour, to try and get it back to a useable quality. The leather, when I started was nearer the colour of the table top.

Luckily I have a half hide of better quality leather that has stayed in my attic. I shall start again tonight.

This time I think I will do a front seam, that should stop it tearing, and make it easier to turn. It will be a shoe similar to these.

I have a shoe….

Only nine more to go!

Well I eventually managed to finish sewing on first shoe. The fun bit is going to be turning it the right way round. Now if I had been sensible I would have started with the biggest, then things would get quicker as they got progressively smaller.

I also managed to get shoe maker finger, caused by pulling the linen thread tight. Sliced right into the little finger on both hands.

This thing has driven me demented. I really am out of practice.

To begin with I put the sole on upside down, then part way around I realised that the upper was to big for the sole. A bit of remedial cutting was required to get it to fit.

It is too big for my youngest but as it is inside out, it will shrink a bit as it is turned.

back to the sewing I go!

Once they are both done I will shove them into a bucket of water for a good while to soften the leather and then get them turned the right way out. This usually involves a great deal of swearing and funny grunting noises. So if you hear a lot of expletives in a Geordie accent carried on the wind you will know who it is.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I have taken a break from painting to making…


After years of re-enactment and then a hiatus of 12 years. I am getting back into again with a new-old period.

Since moving to Shetland I have been going into schools dressed up as a Viking. Partly to do my bit to show what Vikings look like as opposed to the Up Helly Ah version of vikings. Look it up, it does look impressive… they are what Victorian’s thought Vikings looked like🙄

So after starting first Century AD Romans a long, long time ago.

Then moving up though the centuries (years not cohorts). I moved to 3rd century Roman, 15th century and then Napoleonic infantry and then cavalry. Ending as a Polish Lancer.

The photo above is me in Poland.

I loved the Lancers, but there isn’t much call on Shetland for a Polish Lancer and as getting off the island costs hundreds I had to call it a day. On the up side, my stable kit still fits. Sadly my full Uniform went to the group as I had no use for it.

I also sometimes get the chance to play silly Buggers as a knight or a gladiator.

Me as a knight in a castle, sadly a very early 17th century castle but I allowed this inaccuracy to slip past me to support one of my favourite school’s activity day.

Anyway back to the Vikings…my new group is to be Viking. A couple moved up here who are well into their Viking Living history. So we are going to make a go of it. Well Unst does have a reconstructed long house and longship.

My soft kit needed replacing anyway, but instead of just me, we have to kit out five. I am starting with the youngest’s shoes as they are the smallest and easiest.

I made a test shoe out of spare white felt.

The leather was rather brittle so before sewing I had to soak everything in oil to try and make it more supple. Well 12 years in a shed probably wasn’t the best place and conditions for it.

Wish me luck as it is around 18 years since I made turn shoes.