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Guide to Viking turnshoes.pdf


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Guide to making replica Viking turnshoes.
In my opinion the hardest part of making a turnshoe
is not the actual construction but adapting a pattern to
fit your own foot. Much of the cutting and fitting of
period shoes was done around wooden lasts, however if
we are to simplify construction to avoid such complex
methods our pattern making must be that much more
accurate. Period turnshoes would not have been as
close fitting or provide the same level of comfort as
modern shoes, and having no cushioned sole or heel
is going to take some getting used to on modern paved
surfaces. Nevertheless, if they were crippling to wear,
or so loose and sloppy they became a trip hazard our
Viking ancestors would not have worn them and so you
will need to decide for yourself what degree of fit and
comfort you are expecting or are willing to tolerate.
Undoubtedly the best way to make a pattern for cutting
a new pair of turnshoes is to start with an existing but
worn out pair of comfortable old turnshoes you can
unpick and open out flat. If you have this option I recommend making your first pair of shoes this way as a
means of learning a few techniques, or at least use it
for basic dimensions to ensure a good fit. However this
does pre-suppose you already have a well fitting pair of
old turnshoes and merely want to replace them. If you
don’t have a pair of existing shoes to work from you are
going to have to draw your own pattern from scratch.
This involves applying the measurements of your own
feet to a generic pattern.

Page 2.

You will need to stand barefoot (or wear period socks/
hose if these are part of your normal kit) upon some
newspaper or old wallpaper and get somebody to draw
around your own feet. When you have done this you
will need to draw a straight line from the middle of the
heel through the gap between your big toe and the adjacent toe so as to form the centre line of the sole. This
line dictates the position of the point of the toe of the
sole, and if desired the point of the triangular heel riser.
Smooth out the shape of your foot to create the shape
of the sole taking care to add a little length at the toe
which is often the tightest part of the shoe. If you like
to add modern cushioned insoles to your turn shoes add
another 2-3mm outside of the shape you have drawn. If
a heel riser is required, take care to make this at least as
wide as the heel otherwise the back seems will dig into
your feet as you walk.

Next take a long length of ribbon or string and tie a knot
at roughly it’s mid point. This will be used to measure
the dimensions of your foot at various places, these
dimensions are needed for marking out the shape of
the upper. Mark two lines at right angles to the centre
line of the sole. One line should be at the widest point
of the foot, usually the ball of the foot. The other line
should be at the highest point on the arch of the foot.
Lay your string across one of these lines with the knot
at the centre point where the lines cross. Hold this
string in place with masking tape or other low tack tape
at the edges of the sole leaving the free ends of the
string extending past the width of the sole. Stand back
on the paper pattern and string and then lift the free
ends of the string up to meet on top at the mid point of
your foot. Mark on the string where they meet, then lay
the string back flat along the line on the paper sole and
transfer these distances to the paper pattern to denote
the circumference of the foot at each point. It is important the knot remains stuck to the central line to ensure
we get the correct distance to either side of the foot. If
we don’t, although the upper will be big enough, it may
twist the shoe out of shape. All of this is complex to
describe but very straight forward to do, so I hope you
have followed my attempt to describe the process.

www.aidan-campbell.co.uk



Miniature artist, sculptor and traditional craftsman