As a former grade school and dance teacher, I think I was cut out for motivating people to recognize their strengths. And as a carver who lives on his own creations, I have had to motivate and challenge myself on a daily basis. Over the years, I have developed my skills by recreating everyday objects – in my case, shoes. Shoes and boots of every kind – skates, cowboy boots, winter boots, running shoes…and the list goes on. (in real life I also have a shoe fetish.) I carved every shoe I ever wanted as a child or attached to certain sports that I always wished I could’ve played.
It was twenty years ago that I sent Dremel, this shoe and sock. In return, they sent me their latest Dremel model, which I have and running to this very day.
I have been asked by some ambitious and courageous LJ’s to start a follow-along shoe challenge blog, which I will begin on October 1st. As I am having to film my carving techniques for Dremel, I thought I might as well work on a little shoe for that project as well. Here are the details.
Believe it or not, participation does not require talent or skill. It does, however, require the power of observation! As much as I think I observe life at it’s utmost, it is now apparent as I start painting pictures, how much is before me that I still do not see. If you are a carver or a budding carver or just someone who likes to do different things in wood, I believe your ability to perfect things afterwards will be better.
My world is power. To make things easier for you, you should have a power rotary tool and flexible hand shaft. I use a Dremel but not the top of the line model – I use the 100. They all go around 25,000 rpm’s anyways so the basic difference between them is the variable speeds. Since you want the full speed all the time while carving, I’d say that the basic model is quite adequate. You can spend more, it’s up to you in that department.
I’m showing the bits that will help you get the job done the fastest. Three are (well worn) rough carbide bits and one is just a sanding mandrel. They are all available at Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Rona – stores similar. I picked up the diamond set from Rocklers for a very cheap price. I actually bought the four sets with different grades of diamonds but the coarse one is great all round.
Some type of shape cutter, whether it’s a bandsaw or scroll saw (or a friend’s as you won’t have to use it for long.)
The size of shoe we will be doing is a 1/2 scale of one of your own shoes, so a block of basswood or tupelo measured at just a little the half size of your shoe of choice is necessary (length and width). I doubt that any of the harder woods would be quick enough for you to get through.
Anyone can do this and on their own time. I will post pictures, instructions and periodically some video to help you along. I could very well set out a shoe for all of you to copy but the power of observation is not taught – it is discovered on your own and I think the fun and rewards of this will be for everyone to see what THEY can do if they are encouraged , not fed paint-by-number instructions.
I will answer any and all questions on specific shoe problems directly from the numbered blog series or you can PM me or send emails with images to my personal email address. It’s best not to show your shoe on the blogs until you are finished and ready for show and tell.
I will be working on this shoe which is a basic running shoe that can be manipulated into almost every style as the concept of carving it is the same for every section. Your own shoe will help you to determine details and sizes of details and having it in front of you will help you to accurately measure.
Personally, I hope that the reward for all of you will be the good feeling that will come inside when you finish your shoe and add it to the LJ projects pages. I was not a competitive dance teacher because I always felt that each child had a strength that couldn’t be measured against another child who worked just as hard. So there will not be a winner, per se. However, each participant who finishes their shoe without mechanical means (ie CNC routers etc.) will recieve a special Jordan Straker original gift prize.
So, good luck, take a deep breath and get ready for October 1st and The Great LJ’s Shoe Challenge!!!!