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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Queen’s footwear – and the fact that she has someone to break in her new shoes for her – has been in the news recently and bespoke shoemaker Bill Bird was interviewed about this on Radio Gloucestershire this morning.
Radio Gloucestershire presenter Nicky Price chatted to Bill for about ten minutes about shoe comfort, the difficulties around 50% of the population has finding comfortable shoes and our young team of bespoke shoemakers.
We recorded his interview live in our Cotswold workshop and you can listen to it here.