It’s December the 30th – had to check on my calendar, as the holidays have me floating in and out of days and nights on a blissful wave of sewing, reading, rummaging through my cherished shoe and design books and of course, dreaming up more shoes….hardly a day goes by without me contemplating one or another aspect of my favorite pastime. Can’t help to visualize different heel shapes or play around with the idea of asymmetry – something I tend to be drawn to for various reasons, one of them the tantalizing concept of ‘uniqueness’…

Ideal Husband GOYA lasted
Blurry photo of Ideal Husband GOYA lasted and awaiting platforms and heels….and in need of eradicating those design lines made with silver pen….

What started in 2010 with my idea of bringing well constructed, original and hand-made footwear to fellow aficionados, has certainly added a lot of complexity to my life. Obviously, working in a different country in itself is a big challenge negotiating business in a language not your own – add in all the other layers such as cultural differences and a COMPLETELY different way of conducting business – enough to keep you on your toes all the time! There have been many occasions when I found myself having another ‘calming’ mango lassi while working out my next steps in the minefield of ceremonies and particular Balinese or Javanese customs so avidly opposed to my ‘simple’ (?) idea of just finishing a sample shoe so we all can ‘just move on’ – which is such a Western concept with seemingly not much importance in Indonesia….aah, the joy, the joy….but then, miraculously, something good emerges, and all the pain is forgotten…which does sound a bit like giving birth, doesn’t it? And for me, it is – working on my dream, working the dream, while waking up to reality and daily obstacles. Nothing wrong with that, and my German pragmatism does come in handy, except at the times when it actually does NOT come in handy, as it leaves me utterly puzzled and unable to even start to begin to understand what is happening in front of me…I know this will sound familiar to some of the people I have met over the last two years!

The look of puzzlement - Blue Cat Carving in Kerobokan
The look of puzzlement – Blue Cat Carving in Kerobokan

So this is that. There is simply no such thing as a simple way of making Ideal Husbands. And what about the enormous issue of using LEATHER, since I have yet to come across a man-made material (or a natural!) which combines the strength, the longevity and the versatility of leather…fabric is not an option, as it is not as durable and very hard to keep clean – it certainly does not age beautifully, while you have a well made shoe in your life for years, if not decades, if it is properly looked after. PVC? NO, thanks….your feet need to breathe, and that’s not happening in plastic shoes….think sneakers, and the way they cause their very own pollution issues when people remove them after a day’s wear….gruesome, to put it mildly. Let’s have a visually pleasing photo inserted here to remove those ghastly sneaker impressions I’ve just evoked….

Non-shoe related carving in soothing blue...
Non-shoe related carving in soothing blue…

Back to the complex ‘using leather’ issue. I have stopped eating meat 18 months ago, put still eat fish…which gets a bit strange, too, and will cease to feature on my diet as well. It’s not the taste, but the concept.

I do have a cat, Bruno, who does not seem to me any more or less intelligent than your average human – an impression only reinforced after catching the news or having made the mistake of reading the paper. Come on! So what I am saying is that these days, it is not possible for me to eat fellow creatures. AND HERE I AM, USING THEIR SKIN TO MAKE SHOES!!!?? What kind of person does that make me? Most certainly, a torn one.

Bruno - who is oblivious to my struggles!
Bruno – who is oblivious to my struggles…although she does look a bit concerned in this picture.

As briefly outlined above, to date there is no substitute to leather re sustainability and value – I do know that leather shoes take a long time to disintegrate in a landfill (up to 40 years, if my information is correct), but in comparison to the extraordinary amount of time (if ever!) it takes to break down plastic and PVC and the like, it makes more sense to use the leather which is currently a by-product of the meat industry. Also, how long can you wear your average mass-produced fake leather concoction? In general, only a matter of months, and since most shoes these days are only meant to last a season or a ‘trend’, no one seems to expect longevity anymore.

Whenever I teach a new class of students in my shoe workshops, I look at my leather library and see those nameless animals who left their skin for our pleasure – and I do feel uncomfortable. I have accepted that as long as I pursue my love for shoes and my wish to keep the HANDMADE in that very industry, I have to face this conflict.

Which brings me back to my heartfelt belief: I want to be as resourceful and responsible re waste as I possibly can while living in the 21st century. Globally, humanity seems to be in a wild race destroying as much as we possibly can while losing the plot wasting our time with gadgets and other brain-destroying gimmicks (who is a grumpy old woman here???!). There are days when I truly feel an individual cannot achieve much in the face of global corporations and other criminals, but on the other hand, only individuals can start change. So my little contribution will aim to bring back the appreciation of shoe-making individuals and the timeless beauty of well-crafted objects of desire – which happen to be IDEAL HUSBANDS in my own case.

Working on Ideal Husband GOYA - December 2012
Working on Ideal Husband GOYA – December 2012

This blog has turned into something a bit on the bleaker side of things, but only reflects what is going on in my head all the time while I do what I do. Overall, I am most content with the way my life is working out – or not, on some days! – and I can only hope that most people feel as satisfied with their work as I do…quite fantastic, really! We’ve had some delays (surprise surprise…), but IDEAL HUSBAND will be launched in MARCH 2013….YES! What a journey….watch this space….

Back now to my “end of the year” sewing – need those outfits finished…and my best wishes to everyone reading my blog, and possibly sharing it.

See you all back next year, 2013…which should be a HUGE one…..looking forward…..

Not a shoe in sight....Happy New Year everyone!
Not a shoe in sight….Happy New Year everyone!
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