Marlene Kranz working in shoe studio Darwin
So many choices when working with leather - Marlene at work

Where to begin? Always the question in the design world full of weird and wonderful inspirations…leading you from almost easy choices of colour into the forest of choices of shapes towards the sea of choices of additional design features such as buckles, decorative stitching, extra layers with punch details or engravings or buttons or this or that and all those other possibilities…the mind boggles while your initial ideas take on shape and form only seconds before collapsing into a heap….as you contemplate something completely different maybe inspired by…all sorts of things!

Lastmaker in Denpasar, Bali
Carving lasts in Denpasar

It all starts VERY IMPORTANTLY with choosing the right LAST.

A last gives you the shape to work on when designing your shoe – toes, height, width and the overall “feel” of it. Want to make a delicate fluffy strappy sandal using a boot last? Maybe, if the client is a person employed by the circus and in need of Elephant footwear. This might also apply to the African person in charge of Hippopotamus Theatralis – which will most certainly add the extra challenge of incorporating waterproof materials for those delightful animals mostly seen in wet surroundings. Don’t get me started! Back to the more conservative world of footwear for humans: you will have to choose a last which reflects your very individual feet!

Where to get lasts?

If you are lucky enough to live in Melbourne/ Australia (although wheatherwise I would consider you very UNLUCKY indeed when remembering those HORRIFIC endless drizzle of rain – shudder!), make your way to Bruce Miller, the director and last maker of “Shoe Lasts Australia (SLA)”  located in not-so-sunny Thomastown – phone +61 (0)3 9462 5488 – email He is one of a kind, and more or less single handedly (with the help of some very skillful people in his factory!) produces lasts for Australian and international shoe manufacturers who rely on professional lasts. Check out his upper floor where you find lots of dust and lots of second hand lasts for a very good price – he will help you finding a last which will suit your feet. The of course there is the wonderful world of ebay where you will find lasts as well – but apart from nice bargains you will find lots of old wooden lasts now posted as “vintage” and considered antiques – and some of those prices are simply ridiculous. But then, it all depends on the person looking at it – and in comparison they are the cheaper option if your aim is to grace your abode with an antique – beats the price of a Bauhaus vintage designer sideboard anytime, let alone those old brown Victorian pieces….all of a sudden you have found yourself a bargain!! But I digress.

Last making in Thomastown - Bruce Miller
last making in Thomastown

So this is it for today – as I have to venture down to the shoe studio to prepare for tonight’s class of Australia’s next shoe designers. It is early days, everyone has chosen their lasts and is now into designing their very first pair of shoes – a slip-on/ Mule as I want everyone to experience the “agony” of lasting around the toe part of a last – and to experience the bliss of your first toe shape smiling back at you! And then there is fellow shoe maker Fiona  about to design another delightful and rather colorful pair of shoes – once those delectable sky blue butterfly shoes have been finally finished…All this and much more happens in the studio located on the grounds of Territory Craft. Check it out!

Blue butterfly shoes made in Darwin/ Territory Craft
Fiona's sky blue butterfly shoes




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