Constructing Finnish boots and pitch thread
On top of the oven is a two-turn swivel blade Finnish boots made by shoemaker Vihtori Heikkinen in 1985. They are handmade from leather. The full-length, fold-over shaft has been regarded as a legacy of the Swedish Carolean Army’s riding boots. Such Finnish boots were made for use by coachmen and lumberjacks. They have been exhibited at exhibitions of the Cottage Industry Association around North Savo.
Constructing A Finnish boot
When a shoemaker begins to plan a pair of shoes for a customer, first, the measurements of the customer’s feet are taken. Then, the appropriate shoe last is selected. If the shoemaker does not have the appropriate shoe last readily available, such can also be elaborated out of wood. Shoemakers used to adapt readymade shoe lasts as well by attaching a temporary filling to them, such as leather, pasteboard or wood. Shoemaking is also custom work!
Before, untreated tanned leather was made at home or in a leather pot was used from raw skins to make the shoes. Today, Shoemakers mainly use industrial tanned leather. Traditionally, Lappish boots were sewn using waxed thread and boar bristle. Due to the difficult availability of boar bristle, some shoemakers shifted to the use of needles. A shoemaker’s pitch used to be sold also in packages, but every shoemaker also possessed their own personal pitch recipes. Formerly, tar has been used, but the pitch could also have been mixed with, for example, building pitch or paraffin. The pitch protects the thread from decay, and clogs the holes made by the stitching awl. Often, the glues employed were also self-made. Not until the wars did instant adhesives, or contact adhesives, come to the market.
Every individual shoemaker has their own style of doing their work; the same result can be achieved from a number of different ways. Sewing, winding waxed tapers to boar bristles, as well as leather thinning, all require their due amount of practice. For example, Finnish boots’ shafts are sewn dry, whereas the flanks (the sides of the shoe) and the vamp (the upper front part of the shoe) are, again, wetted. A skilled shoemaker is able to determine when leather has been made suitably damp to be sewn.
Constructing pitch thread:
Constructing a Finnish boot: