Monday, May 18, 2009

Just a Little Sole - Part Four: Let the Experiments Begin!

In part three, I summarized the three types of cork soles found in my research:

1.) Sheet cork soles covered in fabric.

2.) Soles formed of ground cork and a variety of binding agents.

3.) Loose ground cork in fabric.

I decided to start with the least probable, #3. The loose cork just seemed too prone to shifting around and causing uncomfortable lumps.

I started by creating a template by tracing my foot and using the patterns in Every Lady her own Shoemaker to refine the shape. I traced this pattern onto some tightly woven wool.

I then sewed them together, leaving the toes open. Next, I trimmed, turned and pressed.

It was time to add the cork; in this case, granulated cork approximately 1-2 mm in size.

I formed a paper funnel, filled the fabric soles until plump and then whip stitched the toes closed.

I placed these in my modern slippers, as insoles, and wore them around the house for three days. I was quite surprised at the results - they were very comfortable and quickly compressed and conformed to the contours of my feet. In addition, they were toasty warm!

The cork is not permanently shaped, the insole can be easily "fluffed".
Conclusions from experiment #1:
1.) Soles of this type are easily custom made inexpensively.
2.) They are comfortable, providing good instep support and cushioning, and are also warm.
3.) These are best suited as insoles for boots or shoes, but not as the sole for slippers, as they do not maintain their shape without additional support.
Coming soon - experiment #2!

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