Archive for January 28th, 2011


Periodically I look up from my easel or my computer at a set of shelves that are built into the stonework of the fireplace in my studio.  I have some books and a couple of  small older pieces of mine along with a few mementos.  The one that always catches my eye is an old shoe last (the forms a cobbler would use in making a shoe) that I found here when I moved in.  I was drawn to it from the moment I first saw it. 

It’s carved from what looks to be a fairly soft wood, a fir or poplar.  The weight is deceiving when you pick it up as there are heavy brass inserts on the heel.  On these inserts you can see where the shoemaker has nailled many heels over the years, leaving little pits in the brass.  It has several markings on it.  ITALIO is printed in block letters on one side and the size 8 1/2 D is stamped into the wood.  There is a date as well, Apr 6 1960 on one side.

There’s something very beautiful in the form of this object, a certain rhythm  in the smooth lines of the wood as it rolls up and over the instep.  The graceful nature of the object makes it seem more a work of sculpture than a utilitarian object and when I hold it, the weight of it and the coolness of the wood give it a  tactile quality that belies its true nature.

The forms used in making objects such as shoes or hats are often quite beautiful to my eye.  Seeing the form of the intended object in a material other than the leather of the shoe or the felt of the hat gives a much different impression.  It allows you to look past the object, which may not have even drawn the eye in its intended final state, and see the forms underneath.  The essence of the piece.

I found these hat molds at a site , Just Folk, that is offering them for sale.  Their site has a great opening page with funky music and a slideshow of some their unique objects.  These hat molds have a great look that I’m sure transcends the beauty of the original hats although these designs are very solid.  I wonder how many of these hats are still floating around, stored away in attic chests or propped up in the windows of a vintage clothing store?

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