Smitten with Slippers

Many of you will join me in my excitement over this announcement — I’m finally teaching  a workshop on how to make the woven slippers! thanks due, as always, to Vladimir Yarish and his book, Plaited Basketry with Birch Bark.
Saturday February 6,  9:30am to 6:00pm including breaks
MacLean Park Fieldhouse, Strathcona
$125 including materials
Register on the Workshops page at EartHand.com.

For those of you who haven’t seen these slippers before, here’s a bit of background and some of my thoughts, based on a few years of making them in a variety of different materials:

I’ve been in love with Lapti, the Russian/Scandinavian woven slippers, since the moment I first saw one, on display at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.  I swoon over their fascinating structure, and being able to make each shoe in one piece out of any flat, weave-able material, without needing a mould.
(I know you’re rolling your eyes and thinking “Geek!”, right?)

But these slippers catch the eyes and imaginations of everybody; when my kids went to school with their felt slippers, I had parents coming up to me to say they’d seen them and asking how they could get a pair for themselves or their kids, too. When I wore a pair of yucca slippers running an errand in the DTES, the street folks were equally keen to know about what I was wearing. Why is this? I wondered.

Well first of all, they’re cute, but not gooey; not amorphous like most felt footwear, slippers, and non-leather footwear, they look both comfy and sophisticated at the same time. And if you’re into the Luxe Handmade a la Etsy aesthetic, these slippers made in felt are an instant classic.

Second, they’re conspicuously hand-made. All baskets are hand-made (even the plastic $2 easter baskets at the dollar store…), but these look so obviously un-machined that they’re like headline ads for human ingenuity. Even non-weavers are instantly curious about how they’re made.

Third, going a bit deeper (and maybe being a geek about this), these slippers make the idea of making a pair of shoes more accessible to all of us. Making, and knowing how to make, imparts a powerful sense of agency and self-sufficiency. You don’t have to be a dedicated urban homesteader to feel the pull of a more direct experience of things, the satisfaction of making something real with your hands instead of touching buttons on a screen.

​So if the idea of making your own woven slippers appeals to you, please go to the Workshops page on EartHand.com — scroll down til you see the buttons to register for the Slippers Workshop — and grab yourself a spot in the group on February 6.

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