How to stand on your own two feet

Taking part in a shoemaking workshop in Dunedin yesterday are (from left) Luna Newby, of Tasmania...
Taking part in a shoemaking workshop in Dunedin yesterday are (from left) Luna Newby, of Tasmania, Fiona Gillespie, of Nelson, Robyn Buis, of Dunedin, Kate Anderson, of Dunedin, Louise Clifton, of Dunedin, and Leigh Olsen, of Dunedin. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Artisans from around New Zealand are in Dunedin this week to attend shoe school.

The shoe-making workshop is being held in the Albell Chambers by professional Tasmanian shoemaker Luna Newby, who has been crafting shoes and teaching shoemaking for more than 30 years.

''It's a lovely old craft and there's been a huge resurgence in it. People are very interested in handmade work and traditional skills,'' Ms Newby said yesterday.

''People do it for all sorts of reasons. Some people want something funky on their feet, while others have difficult-to-fit feet or are just sick of `Made in China' shoes.

''Some people want to learn how to make shoes as a business. People in New Zealand and Australia have a lot of craft skills. The skill level here is a lot higher than in England.''

The owner of bespoke Dunedin shoemaker Lou's Shoes, Louise Clifton, invited Ms Newby to hold the shoe school after attending one of her courses in Tasmania.

''It's a real niche thing and not many people are doing it any more. I love the handcrafted, tactile and that it's such an old craft,'' Ms Clifton said.

''Lots of people want bespoke, made-to-measure shoes with a bit more handiwork. It's no different to clothes and food.''

Among those who travelled from around New Zealand to attend the five-day course was Nelson tango dancer Fiona Gillespie. ''You can only get proper tango heels from Argentina, so I loved the idea of learning how to make my own.''

Ms Clifton said she hoped to hold further shoemaking courses in Dunedin if the demand was there.

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