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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.

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Lucy welcomes our new workshop cats

New cats welcomes to Bill Bird Shoes
New cats welcomes to Bill Bird Shoes
Our client Lucy gives our new workshop cat, Mash, a cuddle

Following the sad death of Roberta, the resident cat at Bill Bird Shoes’ workshop in the Cotswolds, we are pleased to have been able to give a new home to Mash and Salty. And our client Lucy was one of the first to give our new arrivals a cuddle!

Roberta, who died in May, was always a firm favourite with clients and the workshop felt strangely quiet and empty without her. We hope you will all love getting to know Mash and Salty and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

 

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Bill Bird Shoes team say a sad farewell to beloved cat, Roberta

Our beloved workshop cat, Roberta died yesterday after ten years of looking after us and our workshop, keeping it free of mice and entertaining our clients. She will be dearly missed.

Bill Bird said: “Bless you on your way Roberta and thank you for bringing joy into our lives. For keeping us free from mice, and not catching birds, and… very importantly… constantly reminding us that the world is bigger than the world of making shoes, if only by the diameter of a lovely and gentle pussy cat.

“Fair well, and if you re-incarnate, may you come back as a shoemaker who has as lovely a cat as you have been, to sit on your lap and on your tools and on your bench and poking through the arm your stitching machine!”

This is her grave at our workshop in Blockley, seen through the tree she loved to climb and sharpen her claws on. Bluebells will be planted over her to remind us of her for years to come.

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Bill Bird Shoes’ London fitting room gets a makeover

Bill Bird Shoes in London's Grey Flannel

Bill Bird Shoes in London's Grey Flannel

Bill Bird Shoes in London's Grey Flannel

Bill Bird Shoes in London's Grey Flannel

Bill Bird Shoes in London's Grey Flannel

Bill Bird Shoes in London's Grey Flannel

 

Bill Bird Shoes’ clients who visit us at our London fitting room at Grey Flannel, 7 Chiltern Street are in for a real treat!

Since Grey Flannell went into partnership with leading bespoke tailor and fashion designer, Timothy Everest MBE in September, our utilitarian basement has been given a makeover.

Once bedecked with hessian wall coverings, coarse carpet and basketwork chairs, the basement is now a warm, comfortable, shabby chic living room with plush leather sofas, a triple mirror, new carpets and lighting and a more welcoming and well-lit entrance and stairs.

We are delighted to be sharing this space with Timothy Everest and his team, who use the basement for pattern making and cutting. His new company, called MbE or Made by Everyone offers modern bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear tailoring.

Timothy Everest was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 New Year Honours for services to the fashion industry. He moved to London in his early twenties to work with the Savile Row tailor Tommy Nutter. He then became one of the leaders of the New Bespoke Movement, which as the name suggests, provides individually tailored casual clothing including casual shirts, smart-casual jackets and jeans of Savile Row quality.

Tim (as he is known to his friends and clients) has dressed a myriad of rock stars, artists, actors and politicians and has a long history in the provision of the iconic wardrobes for major films such as Atonement,  Skyfall and the Mission Impossible franchise. The consummate designer and collaborator, he has also designed tailored ranges for brands such as Rapha, La Martina and Superdry.

 

 

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Bill Bird interviewed on Radio Bristol!

Our very own bespoke orthopaedic shoemaker, Bill Bird, was interviewed today on BBC Radio Bristol. His expertise was called on to help explain why different countries have different shoe sizes and where they came from. We managed to record Bill and have included the recording here for you to enjoy!

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Thousands view bespoke orthopaedic shoemaking videos

Filming at Bill Bird’s workshop in Moreton in Marsh: (left to right) Lynwen and David Brown from Artisan Media with Bill Bird and Richard Paice, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers and member of the Pattenmakers Company Charitable Foundation.

Many of you may remember that just before last year’s Annual Footwear Dinner in the Saddlers Hall on April 11th, there was a presentation to launch the Bespoke Orthopaedic Shoemaking video series.

These 23 videos including an introduction, were made of Liveryman Bill Bird in three lengthy one-day sessions in September and November 2018 and January 2019.

The project came out of an idea by Past Master Richard Paice when he met and saw the work of David and Lynwen Brown of Artisan Media, a small film production company specialising in filming craft industries. Not only did PM Paice have the idea, but he also sponsored the 250 hours of filming and editing himself, and then put them under the care of the Pattenmakers. He made them freely available to all in order to pass on this knowledge and to inspire the new generations of bespoke shoemakers to develop the skills needed for orthopaedic work. His idea and his generosity will surely be appreciated by the 933 individuals worldwide who had subscribed to the video channel by April 1st.

The launch at the Footwear Dinner showed the introduction video followed by short talks by PM Richard Paice, Liveryman Bill Bird, as well as an insight from an ex-serviceman of the British Army, who was injured in Afghanistan.

Lynwen and David Brown with Bill Bird and Richard Paice at the launch

The video series was uploaded onto YouTube on May 1st 2019 and the take up worldwide has been extraordinary. Many of us will be used to seeing interesting video shorts with viewings of several thousand, but these videos are on a very specialist technical subject and range in length from five minutes to half an hour.

The most popular, a 13-minute video on how to measure the foot for bespoke orthopaedic footwear, had over 112,000 viewings by April 1st. In fact, the total viewings of all the videos totaled over 43,100 hours of watching. Given that there are only 7,946 hours in 11 months, on average there have been between five and six people, presumably many of them shoemakers, who have been watching the videos at any one time worldwide, 24/7. Bill has received appreciative emails and Facebook comments from shoemakers from as far away as Turkey and Australia.

The following list compiles the videos which together cover the core principles of Bespoke Orthopaedic Shoemaking, presented by number, description, length, number of viewings and finally the time that has been spent viewing them. Some of them set-up the information needed before watching an instructional video. These have fewer viewings but it is the instructional videos that have been watched over and over again to get the techniques right.

Orthopedic Shoe Making – Introduction to the Video Series

4:59 minutes            2,269 views      189 hours of viewing

1. Principles of Measuring a Foot for a Bespoke Orthopedic Last

8:36 minutes           2,929 views      415 hours of viewing

2. The Soft Tissue Structures and Bones of the Foot

11:17 minutes        2,127 views       400 hours of viewing

3. Measuring a Client’s Feet for Bespoke Orthopedic Shoes

13:30 minutes    112,659 views      25,348 hours of viewing

4. Draft to Last: The Heel Section

12:43 minutes         21,611 views    4,538 hours of viewing

5. Draft to Last: The Toe Section

11:09 minutes         9,685 views     1,790 hours of viewing

6. Draft to last: Girth Measurements

8:46 minutes            7,828 views     1,135 hours of viewing

7. Draft to Last: Creating a Profile and Outline from a Draft

14:13 minutes        6,810 views      1,611 hours of viewing

8. Last Carving: The Wood and the Bandsaw

6:23 minutes             6,575 views    695 hours of viewing

9. Last Carving: Carving the Last Outline and Profile on a Bandsaw

6:48 minutes             5,114 views     580 hours of viewing

10. Last Carving: Carving Detail on Bandsaw

5:33 minutes            6,085 views      558 hours of viewing

11. Last Carving: Using a Rasp to Smooth Contours

3:30 minutes           3,836 views      224 hours of viewing

12. Last Carving: Sanding

31:13 minutes       4,450 views      2,308 hours of viewing

13. Categories of Foot Conditions Requiring Bespoke Orthopedic Shoes

27:57 minutes       2,985 views     1,388 hours of viewing

14. Shoe Design Principles for People with Chronic Tissue Swelling

15:42 minutes       1,971 view     516 hours of viewing

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Student shoemaker scoops 2nd top award in 12 months

George Paish from Moreton in Marsh (centre) is pictured with fellow bespoke orthopaedic shoemakers Bill Bird (right) and Russell Marks from Bill Bird Shoes.
George receives his Student Shoe Fitter of the Year Award from comedian Ian Moore (l), Rosemary Gray President of the Society of Shoe Fitters and Laura West Secretary of the Society of Shoe Fitters (r) at the prestigious Footwear Industry Awards ceremony in Birmingham.
George receives his Student Shoe Fitter of the Year Award from comedian Ian Moore (l), Rosemary Gray President of the Society of Shoe Fitters and Laura West Secretary of the Society of Shoe Fitters (r) at the prestigious Footwear Industry Awards ceremony in Birmingham.

Budding Blockley shoemaker George Paish from Bill Bird Shoes joined the very best in footwear at the weekend – and won Student Shoe Fitter of the Year!

The Footwear Industry Awards celebrates excellence and innovation exercised across the field and is specifically designed to celebrate the brands, retailers and professionals at the heart of this vibrant sector.

No stranger to industry accolades, this is George’s second major award win in 12 months. Last year, the 27-year-old from Moreton in Marsh, scooped the 2019 David Xavier Student Bespoke Shoemaking Award. His latest win was revealed at the highly-anticipated black tie awards ceremony on Sunday 23 February at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham.

“I’m delighted to bring the trophy back to Bill Bird Shoes for a second time. My colleague Becky Thorne won this award five years ago, so for Bill Bird Shoes to win it twice is an amazing achievement that means a great deal to us,” said George.

“To win the award I had to complete a 5-month shoe fitting course. The portfolio I produced included all that I had learnt along with photographs, drawings and 3D elements to support my learning. A lot of time and effort went into what I had produced so it’s great to be rewarded.”

Now in its ninth year, the Footwear Industry Awards is established as one of the most important dates in the sector’s calendar, with a wide range of categories designed to reflect the varied breadth of the footwear trade.

Awards are made in recognition of the very best companies, products and individuals at every level, from bold, independent start-ups to well-known multinational corporations.

“The industry is given the chance to have its say in who takes home an accolade – with votes from the sector’s professionals being used to determine shortlists in the brand categories, and the retailer and industry accolades being entirely decided by the secure online voting process. This means that winning an award is a truly unrivalled and independent stamp of approval,” said the organisers, Datateam Business Media, publisher of Footwear Today magazine.

The Footwear Industry Awards is supported by the British Footwear Association (BFA), the Society of Shoe Fitters (SSF), the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers and Footwear Friends.

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“Without sounding too dramatic, Bill Bird has changed my life”

Carole Arnold has her shoes fitted at Bill Bird Shoes in the Cotswolds

At just 18 years old, Carole Arnold was involved in an horrific car accident where she was thrown through the windscreen. She had 300 stitches in her face, a fractured shoulder and her femur was destroyed. Carole spent nine months in hospital in traction and it was 18 months before she could go back to work. As a result of the accident and subsequent operations, Carole has a difference in the length of her legs.

Carole has recently had some shoes, boots and slippers adapted by the team at Bill Bird Shoes in the Cotswolds. Click here to read her story.

 

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Bespoke Bill Bird shoemakers keep their skills up to date

Bespoke shoemakers Chris and George from Bill Bird Shoes

 

Two of the bespoke shoemakers at Bill Bird Shoes in the Cotswolds attended a personalised pattern cutting course recently to ensure their skills are kept up to date.

The course was run by Phil Stewart, the senior lecturer at De Montfort University’s Footwear Design Department. Chris and George learned the basics of making forms, half mean forms and patterns for Oxfords, Derbys anbd strap court shoes.

They spent a total of 13 hours in training and will hone their skills with fellow Bill Bird shoemaker Emily for a few weeks before attending a refresher course, where they will also learn how to stretch and design.

Patterns created by bespoke shoemakers at Bill Bird Shoes

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Bill Bird Shoes to feature on Radio Gloucestershire tomorrow!

Radio Gloucestershire reporter Chris Mace visits the bespoke orthopaedic shoemakers at Bill Bird Shoes in the Cotswolds

Radio Gloucestershire reporter Chris Mace visited Bill Bird Shoes in the Cotswolds today to interview Bill and our team of bespoke orthopeadic shoemakers. We will feature on the mid morning show tomorrow – so tune in between 9am – 12pm to hear more!

Our very own bespoke orthopeadic shoemaker Bill Bird is interviewed by Chris Mace from Radio Gloucestershire
Our very own Bill Bird is interviewed by Chris Mace from Radio Gloucestershire

 

Bespoke orthopaedic shoemaker Becs from Bill Bird Shoes being interviewed by Chris Mace from Radio Gloucestershire
Bespoke orthopaedic shoemaker Becs from Bill Bird Shoes being interviewed by Chris Mace from Radio Gloucestershire
Bill Bird Shoes' award-winning shoemakers Chris and George talk to Chris Mace from Radio Gloucestershire
Bill Bird Shoes’ award-winning shoemakers Chris and George talk to Chris Mace for tomorrow’s radio broadcast

The team at Radio Gloucestershire were so impressed with the young team of made-to-measure shoemakers here and the way we work as a collective, that they decided to pop in to carry out a longer interview for tomorrow’s show.

It has been Bill’s dream to pass on his legacy to younger generations and this was the driving force behind his series of exceptional quality instructional videos on orthopaedic shoemaking that appear on the Bill Bird Shoes YouTube channel.