Monday, February 13, 2012


Chopines are these amazing platform shoes from the Italian Renaissance. They were quite helpful in keeping skirts out of dirty streets, and as with many things, they grew to become an elaborate fashion item.

I had wanted to make chopines for years, and finally, I got around to it! Oh, I had attempted it before. I tried wood blocks and found that my strength with tools was just not up to par. This time, I went with cork. You need high density cork for this project, and most of it comes in very large blocks that were out of my price range, though they are large enough for several pairs of chopines. I found that my feet were just small enough to fit yoga blocks, so I bought two of those. I began by patterning my shoes and tracing the pattern onto my cork blocks.

Next, I used a handheld power sander to achieve the 2-dimensional shape.

During the next step, I sanded to achieve a 3-dimensional shape. I used a low grit sandpaper to do the initial sanding and cutting away of material. Then I switched to a higher grit for fine sanding and evening things out.

The shoe covers were made of brocade. I patterned them with a lot of extra material, sewed them together, and attached them to the cork block base. I used cotton canvas as my insole.

For my soles, I cut black leather pieces and then attached them with nails. I added some trim to cover my edges and make the shoes look extra pretty. Tada!

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