Thursday, August 9, 2012

Greetings from Holland, Michigan!

        While this isn't a sewing related post, it is another project that I managed to finish in the last couple of months. As a reenactor, I am well aware of the wonders of wooden shoes, especially when you're tromping through a wet, muddy campsite. I have a pair of plain wooden sabot that I wear to events, sabot being the French versions that are more appropriate for the group we portray. However, some friends of ours passed this pair of Dutch clogs along to me a couple of years ago. They didn't fit anyone in their family and the more narrow cut of these shoes was perfect for my skinny little heels. Despite the fact that Dutch shoes (the much pointier toes indicate that they are Dutch and not French, which have a more rounded toe) are not appropriate for me at events, I really loved the shape of them and decided to just keep them they way they were. However, these shoes happen to be souvenirs from someone's trip to Holland, Michigan in 1974. There is a note on the bottom that says "From Holland Mich. From Mom and Dad July 16, '74". Their daughter had apparently decided that they needed some decoration and had started painting flowers and words like "Peace" and "Love" all over them. Most of her plans, however, didn't make it past the pencil stage on the shoes so they were only partially painted with some very seventies teenage cheese happening. So, I sanded the outside of the shoes down a bit to get the paint and the pencil marks off and then set myself to painting.

        I looked around at lots of painted dutch clogs before I settled on colors and designs, and finally decided that I really liked the look of the yellow ones. Digging around through my mom's acrylics I pulled out the perfect shade of bright yellow, and several other colors to do the decorative designs on the toes. I wanted to make sure that I used a traditional design, and found this amongst several Pennsylvania Dutch designs. I loved the combination of bird, floral and hearts, and the shape and size was just right for the tops of my shoes. I printed it off and transferred them on to the shoes using a very primitive pencil/rubbing method and then started deciding on colors for the various components. I finally threw a couple of coats of satin finish polyurethane on them last week so now all I need is something to pad the top edge so they don't rub on my feet. Come next spring these are going to become my garden shoes. It's going to take some work to get the yards in shape for planting, so I don't even want to attempt it yet, on top of trying to get the house in order, but as I said before, wooden shoes are great for dirty, wet lawns. The poly should really help make them easy to wipe off as well. I just need to make myself a pair of 1940s overalls to wear with them and my gardening ensemble will be complete. The neighbors are going to think I'm a complete nut.

(I've been playing around with Mr. S's fancy Canon the last couple of days. He works all the time, and has given me permission to use it whenever I want. Definitely more fun than my old point and click. Tee hee!)


  1. Very neat project! I'm from Michigan, and Holland is known for their "Tulip Festival" every spring. On the west side of the state, Holland has brilliant gardens containing thousands of tulips, and is quite a sight to see. Just so you know... ;)

  2. That's neat! I figured there was some stronger connection with the city's namesake, but I didn't know they also had a big Tulip festival. Might have to make a road trip sometime!

  3. Those are adorable! Nice work. This is a silly question, but - do you really find them comfortable? I just can't imagine wooden shoes feeling good.

  4. That is a question we often get at events, and yes they really are pretty comfortable as long as you've got padding on the top edge. We usually use pads of sheepskin but a thick felt would work too. You have to walk a little bit differently in them than you would regular shoes, a bit more of a glide than a normal step, but they really are nice. Especially when it is cold and wet out.


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