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Henry Moore styled shoe trees from Bill Bird Shoes in Blockley

Henry Moore styled shoe trees from Bill Bird Shoes in Blockley

 

We thought our blog readers might be interested to see a pair of hand-carved, Henry Moore-styled shoe trees that have been crafted by Bill Bird at our workshop in Blockley, Gloucestershire.

They have been carved out of a single piece of beechwood, hollowed and carnauba-waxed polished. As well as being beautiful in their own right, shoe trees can double the life of your made-to-measure footwear from Bill Bird Shoes in the Cotswolds and London.

Hand crafted by our bespoke orthopaedic shoemakers, the shoe-tree replicates your last – the wooden blocks around which your shoes are made.

Shoe trees are easy to get into and out of your shoes. Every time the shoe tree is placed back into your shoe it reforms it, taking it back to its original shape. This helps avoid creases forming  at the front of the shoe or boot, keeping them smooth and new-looking.

If you would like to find out more about our handmade shoe and boot trees, please get in touch. You can email or call us on 01386 700855 – we look forward to hearing from you.

 

Henry Moore styled shoe trees in the making from Bill Bird Shoes in Blockley
Our Henry Moore-style shoe tree in the making.
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Would you like to host the 25th independent shoemakers’ conference?

We would like to say a big thank you to all of you for attending the 24th Independent Shoemakers’ Conference.

It was good to see so many familiar faces again, as well as so many new faces given the uncertain times of late. Also having delegates join us from Europe, USA and Australia was a real privilege. We appreciate everyone that travelled to be there and that all enjoyed the weekend as much as we did.

There were many good points raised over the weekend about how the conference can evolve going forward. On that note we are still looking for an offer to host the 2023 conference, which will be its 25th year. If you are interested in doing so get in touch and we can forward all the information you’ll need.

We have also been informed of some missing gloves from the weekend. They were left in a goody bag on the day of the conference. If you accidentally picked them up get in touch with us so we can re unite them with their owner.

Also depending on interest from delegates we may have the opportunity to go on a shoemaking visit to Spain. If you’d be keen for a trip like this let us know so we can get started on the organisation of that.

It was a brilliant weekend and we hope you all enjoyed it!

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Conference delegates enjoy last demo at Bill Bird Shoes’ workshop

Bill Bird Shoes was delighted to welcome delegates at the 24th Independent Shoemakers’ Conference to its workshop in the Cotswolds on Sunday, February 28th.

Attendees were given a tour of the workshop, then watched Bill carve a last on a bandsaw and sander. This event rounded off the fantastic weekend, which also included a gala dinner at the Kings Court Hotel in Alcester, where the conference was held.

Delegates from the Independent Shoemakers' Conference visit Bill Bird Shoes workshop in the Cotswolds

Delegates from the Independent Shoemakers' Conference visit Bill Bird Shoes workshop in the Cotswolds

Delegates from the Independent Shoemakers' Conference visit Bill Bird Shoes workshop in the Cotswolds

 

 

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Shoemakers’ conference run of events is released

24th annual independent shoemakers conference taking place in Alcester, Warwickshire from the 25th – 27th Feb

We are pleaaed to release the schedule for this weekend’s 24th Independent Shoemakers’ Conference, which is being held at the Kings Court Hotel in Alcester, near Redditch.

Delegates are reminded that there is no dress code for the Gala Dinner on Saturday night (Feb 26th). Also, if you are paying Bill Bird Shoes’ workshop a visit on Sunday, please remember to arrange your own transport.
We are very much looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend and if you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch.

 

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Last few places at shoemakers’ conference are going fast!

24th annual independent shoemakers conference taking place in Alcester, Warwickshire from the 25th – 27th Feb

Places at the 24th annual independent shoemakers conference taking place in Alcester, Warwickshire from the 25th – 27th February are now very limited – so don’t delay, book today!

Shoemakers from USA, Norway and Spain will be flying in to join their UK shoemaking friends for the conference being hosted by Bill Bird Shoes bespoke orthopaedic shoemakers in the Cotswolds.

The conference is taking place at the Kings Court Hotel near Redditch and delegates can book directly with Bill Bird Shoes. We look forward to hearing from you!

We have worked hard to offer the best value for money for conference delegates. Please book your accommodation directly with the hotel quoting ‘Independent Shoemakers Conference’. You can call the hotel on 01789 763 111 or email info@kingscourthotel.co.uk

Prices

  • Conference Day Delegate with Lunch – £60
  • Conference Day Delegate with Lunch & Gala Dinner – £90
  • Lunch & Gala Dinner (for plus ones) – £50
  • Single Night – £80/ person
  • Two Night Stay – £130/ person
  • Additional Nights – £65/ person

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Our mighty oak is in a sorry state

Before and after of the oak outside Bill Bird Shoes' Cotwolds workshop
Anyone who has visited in Bill Bird Shoes’ workshop in the Cotswolds cannot have missed seeing and admiring the huge oak tree which overshadowed number 49.
Bill Bird Shoes nissan hut

When Bill took on the unit in 1988, the oak tree was already there, but, as you can see from the black and white picture, it wasn’t much higher than the Nissan Hut itself.

In those early years, the heat on a warm summer day made the hut unbearably warm. As the years progressed, the welcome shade of our oak tree kept us cool and protected.

Over the years it has grown to be a huge and we thought a healthy specimen.

Last year however was an acorn mast year and our oak tree was prolific! So much so, that the massive weight of the acorns began to tear the four great branches apart.

Then with the winds over Christmas, these same cracks began to open up so that we could see daylight through them.
Oat at Bill Bird Shoes workshop Blockley

We called in the tree surgeon and he agreed that the Nissan hut itself was in grave danger of being crushed as it wasn’t a case of if, but when one of the great branches came down.

So, with a heavy heart and a sense of real urgency, our beautiful tree has been pollarded to below the cracks.

Our plan, should it put out shoots, is to trim off all but the most upright and to keep trimming away all shoots but that one.

That way we hope to have a tall, single trunked tree rather than the four branches that we had before.

So, a sorry sight for now, but we hope it’s not the end of our lovely tree!
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Book now for this year’s shoemakers conference in Alcester – hosted by Bill Bird Shoes!

24th annual independent shoemakers conference taking place in Alcester, Warwickshire from the 25th – 27th Feb

Don’t miss the 24th annual independent shoemakers conference taking place in Alcester, Warwickshire from the 25th – 27th February.

Bill Bird Shoes is hosting this year’s conference at the Kings Court Hotel and we have some fabulous speakers lined up:

Caroline Groves – Lasts & Design

Dean Westmoreland from BBC1’s The Repair Shop – The Craft of Repair

Bill Bird – Carving Ladies Wooden Heels

Tony Slinger & Mariano Palencia Crespo – Building Stacked Leather Heels

Shoemaking Education (various contributors) – A Showcase of Shoemaking Courses

The conference attracts independent shoemakers from across the world who join together to learn, share, discuss and party.

Bill Bird Shoes has worked hard with Kings Court Hotel to offer the best value for money for conference delegates. Please book your accommodation directly with the hotel quoting ‘Independent Shoemakers Conference’. You can call the hotel on 01789 763 111 or email info@kingscourthotel.co.uk

Prices

Conference Day Delegate with Lunch – £60

Conference Day Delegate with Lunch & Gala Dinner – £90

Lunch & Gala Dinner (for plus ones) – £50

Single Night – £80/ person

Two Night Stay – £130/ person

Additional Nights – £65/ person

Delegates can book directly with Bill Bird Shoes. We look forward to hearing from you – and if you’re already booked in, see you there!

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The Repair Shop’s Dean spends the day at Bill Bird Shoes

Dean Westmoreland from The Repair Shop small

 

 

The bespoke shoemakers at Bill Bird Shoes’ workshop in the Cotwolds welcomed a very special guest last week – Dean Westmoreland, The Repair Shop’s newest recruit!

Dean is a high-end shoe restorer, who is based in Yorkshire, where he runs the Yorkshire Sole. He visited our Blockley workshop and we had a great day chatting all things shoes.

We are thrilled to announce that Dean will also be speaking at the 24th Independent Shoemakers Conference, which runs from February 25-27th and will take place at the Kings Court Hotel in Warwickshire.

Please get in touch to book your place!

 

 

 

 

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Bill Bird Shoes welcomes esteemed guests from the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers

We were absolutely delighted to welcome some 30 esteemed guests from the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers to Bill Bird Shoes’ Cotswolds workshop on Friday.

The Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers is one of the ancient livery companies of the City of London, and whilst its original trade has disappeared, it is now an important supporter of the bespoke and orthopaedic footwear sector. Bill has been a member since 2011.

Historically, the Pattenmakers organise an annual trade day where a group of liverymen and women pay a visit to a variety of tradespeople in the UK. Covid restrictions have put paid to outings over the last couple of years, so we were very pleased to host an educational and informative visit to our bespoke orthopaedic workshop, one of their first since restrictions have been eased.

Bill Bird outlines the online Bespoke Orthopaedic Course that he has been instrumental in orchestrating.

 

Principal pattern maker, Emily guides guests through the bespoke shoemaking process.

 

Bespoke orthopaedic shoemaker George discusses how Bill Bird Shoes helps solve clients’ fitting and walking difficulties.
Rebecca and Chris explain the process for making lasts, which we hand carve from new air-dried wood in the traditional way.

The whistle-stop tour included a display of the online Bespoke Orthopaedic Course that Bill has been instrumental in orchestrating – and which has received generous funding from the Pattenmakers. Bill Bird shoemakers Emily, Rebecca, Chris and George are in the student cohort that are piloting the course and they are set to graduate in July 2022.

Emily, our principal pattern maker and George guided guests through the shoemaking journey, from taking initial measurements and discussing how we help solve clients’ fitting and walking difficulties, right through to choosing leathers and designs, making patterns and utilising lasts.

Lasts represent the anatomical form of the foot and are totally unique to each client. At Bill Bird Shoes’ Gloucestershire workshop, we hand carve wooden lasts from new air-dried wood in the traditional way in our auxillary workshop – and it was this process that Rebecca and Chris explained, alongside answering questions.

Our guests seemed genuinely fascinated by the dedication and passion displayed by our bespoke shoemakers and it was a joy to show them around. On their trade day, the Pattenmakers also visited Beckford Silk, and attended a black tie dinner at the Lygon Arms in Broadway Saturday evening, which Kate and Bill Bird also joined.