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Shoe Care

Posted: Wed May 20, 2009 2:07 pm
by Mordengaard
My wife has recently purchased a fine pair of medieval boots from His Grace Duke Henry, and wanted to know how best to care for them (ideally using authentic methods & materials, but any advice is welcome)!
Not being a shoe person as a rule, I thought to pass the request on here.

Posted: Wed May 20, 2009 6:13 pm
by Simon Atford
Dubbin.

Either the bourght stuff or it is possible to make your own although admitidly I've never actually tried this.

They used a good recipe on the Victorian Farm which by a bit of a stretch may be suitable for the medieval period. It involved beeswax amongst other things.

Posted: Wed May 20, 2009 6:42 pm
by steve stanley
A beeswax/olive oil mix works well......

Posted: Wed May 20, 2009 9:56 pm
by Sir_John_Thomas
Yep a good dubbin works best, you get what you pay for with dubbin, don't buy the cheap stuff, its ok, but it don't do the same job

if you look after them, they will last you years, keep em clean, keep em dry, and keep em fed

Posted: Thu May 21, 2009 9:12 am
by Alice the Huswyf
NEVER put your soles up to the fire to warm your feet , or dry / warm your boots on a heat source like a radiator - you will crack the sole leather.

If they get wet, let them air-dry naturally - stuffed with newspaper if really wet to absorb moisture and let them dry in shape.

Don't walk on gravel if you can walk on a smooth surface. Walk on grass if you can - this preserves the life of the soles.

Over-sole them if you can while new. Worth it!

Find someone who can re-sole / re-heel for you. We all walk to one side or the other and will wear away the side of the heel (and in my case the spot under my big toe). Keep an eye on your soles and don't penny-pinch by having them sorted when they are very worn - this is often too late or expensive as you are looking at having a new sole put in from scratch on thin-soled boots, rather than a protective layer added!

Beeswax and olive oil work well as a dubbin cheap, easy to make and period correct - and make yer hands lovely and soft too. Heat the wax, stir in the oil, leave to cool in a small pot, apply with your hands which will warm the wax for penetration and worm it into the small creases.

Everyone thinks to feed the top of the boot - do it often. People often forget to do the sole which it the most important part! When dry, paint the soles with olive oil after events as well as the tops. The dryest parts will go dull immediately as they are thirsty. Re-coat until there are not obviously dry parts among the shiny ones. Leave the whole boot to stand overnight, then lightly buff with a soft cotton or linen cloth. Messy job. Do it on a tray!

I was given most of this advice when I bought my first (and only) shoes 9 years ago. Apart from sole repairs, I have only had to have a snapped shoe strap replaced and they are still good , smart shoes that keep my feet snug.

WORD TO THE WISE: Modern women's shoes have grips on the soles, or a textured non slip sole. This is a fairly recent developement which we all no take for granted. If you have smooth-soled shoes and are not used to wearing them, cross-score the sole lightly with a scissor blade to give a little grip until the sole wears in (More lightly that with yer clubbing stillettoes as leather cuts VERY easily). Women's period shoes (and I include modern periods in this ) are not designed to stride in. Be aware that wet grass, sundried grass on inclines and slopes, hot and worn tarmack and stone paths are very slippy. That small sure steps are safer than ginger, large ones. That slopes are best tackled with the foot edged in sideways in small steps unless you are confident to run up or down them in small, confident steps. And we all come an undignified cropper from time to time until we get the hang of it!

Posted: Thu May 21, 2009 10:05 am
by Thrud
Neats Foot oil is a good leather treatment as well.

Posted: Thu May 21, 2009 10:07 am
by Alice the Huswyf
I have been known to use both - but tend towards oil or oil and wax for upkeep as I have them to hand and can ladle it about from the kitchen cupboard

Posted: Thu May 21, 2009 10:46 am
by Merlon.
Thrud wrote:Neats Foot oil is a good leather treatment as well.
But if the wax has worn away from the linen threads, Neats Foot oil has a nasty habit of rotting the threads and your shoes fall apart...

Posted: Thu May 21, 2009 10:57 am
by chrisanson
Thrud wrote:Neats Foot oil is a good leather treatment as well.

yes it is but it makes your feet smell like a cold lamb dinner :cry: trust me i know this :roll:

Posted: Thu May 21, 2009 12:39 pm
by Colin Middleton
Good advice from Alice.

I've been told that Neatsfoot oil can was the beaswax out of the thread, making it more brittle and prone to rotting.

I've also been told the dubbin can promot rotting in the linnen threads.

When you're walking in soft soles shoes in general, don't stride. If you put your heal down hard on a stone (or even a hard bit of ground), you could bruise it as there is no padding (which modern shoes have) and you're limping for the next few weeks then!

Best of luck.

Posted: Thu May 28, 2009 1:40 pm
by ada-anne
If you put your heal down hard on a stone (or even a hard bit of ground), you could bruise it as there is no padding (which modern shoes have) and you're limping for the next few weeks then!
Get some fleece or thin sheepskin (rummage in the offcuts bin) and make yourself a pair of woolly insoles for warmth and padding.

Posted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:02 pm
by Colin Middleton
That's good advice. sheepskin insoles do make your shoes more comfortable and much warmer.

However it will still not provide the same amount of cusioning and impact absorption that modern shoes do. Take your time walking, put your foot down with a bit of care and consider leading with your toes not your heals. Your feet will thank you for it.

Best wishes.

Posted: Fri May 29, 2009 2:55 pm
by Sir Thomas Hylton
chrisanson wrote:
Thrud wrote:Neats Foot oil is a good leather treatment as well.

yes it is but it makes your feet smell like a cold lamb dinner :cry: trust me i know this :roll:
Would that be lamb shanks...... mmmmmmmmm lamb. (drool) :lol:

Posted: Fri May 29, 2009 8:35 pm
by chrisanson
Sir Thomas Hylton wrote:
chrisanson wrote:
Thrud wrote:Neats Foot oil is a good leather treatment as well.

yes it is but it makes your feet smell like a cold lamb dinner :cry: trust me i know this :roll:
Would that be lamb shanks...... mmmmmmmmm lamb. (drool) :lol:

8)

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:00 am
by frances
Umm, don't put wax on your soles. They get very, very slippery. OOoooppss!!

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:37 pm
by Thrud
I always sleep in mine as well so they tend to dry out over night if they got wet during the day, also good for emergency toilet trips.

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:50 pm
by Simon Atford
I quite often sleep in my shoes at events but not intentionally :wink:

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:35 pm
by Lady Willows Retinue
Thrud wrote:I always sleep in mine as well so they tend to dry out over night if they got wet during the day, also good for emergency toilet trips.
Eeeeeew, That will make them all soggy - it'd be better in an emergency to find a nearby tree.

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:53 pm
by Thrud
Lady Willows Retinue wrote:
Thrud wrote:I always sleep in mine as well so they tend to dry out over night if they got wet during the day, also good for emergency toilet trips.
Eeeeeew, That will make them all soggy - it'd be better in an emergency to find a nearby tree.
Eats shoots and leaves.