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Hey Welcome! I’m Crispina ffrench
Artist, Educator, Empowerer, Plant Eater,
Nature Lover, Cookie Baker, Climate Change Activist
I’m glad you are here, Now let’s make shift happen.

Simple Shoemaking - Guest Post

'It’s estimated that 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced annually, with roughly 300 million pairs ending up in landfills after they have been worn. The Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, which usually makes up the midsole of most running shoes, can last for as long as 1,000 years in a landfill.' The Chic Ecologist

Most every Thursday you will find a guest post right here from someone who lives an embraceable life, a life where passion, action and dreams intersect at that sweet magical spot where things just seem to match up in a way that inspires and guides. This week I am really excited to introduce you to someone doing just that. Sharon Raymond of Shutesbury, MA has a business called Simple Shoemaking. Her shoes are super functional, cute and made with recycled materials.

Check her out here:

For the last thirty years I have lived communally, either at the community down the road from where I live now in Shutesbury, Ma., or in our current home. Previously, my little family - husband, daughter and myself - lived for a year in a community in England. It was there that I learned that it is possible to make shoes, as several people there were shoemakers. Just learning of "possibility" was such a mind-blowing realization. I found a shoemaking book from the seventies and practically memorized it, but eventually branched out with my own techniques and styles.

Why does one direction become so clear and compelling, after years of superficially exploring many different crafts? I don't know the answer, but I imagine my interest in shoemaking was influenced by remembering the black velvet houseshoes that my Italian grandmother made for myself and all her grandchildren. We took off our outdoor shoes at the door in her house, whereas, while growing upon a farm in Indiana, it seemed there was usually more dirt inside the house than out.. I still have one little "scarpit" that she made and it is my only treasure.

 I originally used the standard toxic shoe cements and petroleum-based soling for making shoes, but awareness of the harmful effects of both materials gradually took hold. Now I only make, and teach people how to make, ecological simple shoes.This has been furthered by my attending a "reuse convention" in theBoston area a few years ago (http://www.reuseconex.org.) It was pointed out that the most ecological "R" is "reuse" (well, "refuse"to buy may be in first place, I admit.)

At the convention, I was fascinated by the representatives from "MakerSpaces" around the country who had all sorts of industrial waste materials to sell for making about everything. Especially significant was hearing a talk by the fellow who started .Repurposedmaterialsinc.

I have purchased conveyor belt edges and used fire hose to use as shoe soling from his company - and even purchased actual shoe soling (the petroleum-based type) from a bowling shoe company that he helped to liquidize. Re-using an existing material keeps me from buying something new.

Since then I have become involved with plans for a maker space, The Hive, in Greenfield, Ma. I eagerly await the day that it will be ready for me to move my shoemaking machinery, materials, tools etc, to this space and spend my remaining days teaching people how to make footwear, how to start "local"shoemaking businesses, and how to make things from all the resulting leather scraps. I believe in honoring an animal slaughtered for its meat (and I'm a vegan) by using every square inch of its hide. (I do use felted wool coats and heavy fabrics for making shoes as well as leather.) 

I first became aware of Crispina while visiting a shop in the Berkshires that had her lovely household items for sale. I resonated with her use of repurposed materials to make something new and beautiful. She was the first person to go in this direction that I had ever heard of. Then, someone mentioned to me that Crispina had a die press machine - and I had been seeking access to one, to cutout my leather shoe parts - fast! I had "dies" made, like cookie cutters but made of sharp steel, got in touch with Crispina and got the OK to spend an afternoon "clicking" out my leather components on her die press! Even though it was a two-hour-drive, it still was worth my time to use this massive, powerful machine. And, I got to know Crispina which was another major plus! I became interested in making "new" sweaters from felted old sweaters and enjoyed the results. I just can't fathom why anyone would prefer something new than these one-of-a-kind sweaters that scream "I enjoy being creative!"

I do have, perhaps, the power to make change in the world, through the teaching of non-violent communication, as developed by Marshall Rosenberg. My husband and I are enthusiastic about the educational programs that the community up the road has to offer to a troubled world - sustainable building, organic gardening, alternative energy use, but without skillful communication a place like this is unlikely to be a model of sustainability. We have recently been invited to teach NVC there, and are hopeful that the community can truly serve as a model of sustainability in all ways. Then, lots of people looking for a simpler, more shared - and less costly - life can learn all that is needed in one spot!

I have recently completed the writing of How to Make Ecological Simple Shoes for Women and How to Make Ecological Simple Sandals. Phew! And, there's another book in the works as a result of working with a Waldorf handwork teacher currently: she has 20 7th-grade students that she will be teaching shoemaking to. I was asked to develop a shoe for them to make that was do-able with a large group, that had a cost-limit on materials and tools, that was appealing to the students, that offered opportunities for creativity as well as precision - so "moccashoes" were invented.

Another project that I thought I invented is making "forever" flip-flops. I made them with conveyor belt soles and bicycle inner-tube straps for a climate scientist who is trying to raise awareness about the heating of the planet by placing an educational "sticker" on a variety of products (see bottom left image). He told me he would sell my ecological flip-flop with the sticker if I created one. And, I'm really pleased with it, but when I met a relative recently, who fought in the Vietnam War, he said, "I heard you've been making Ho Chi Minh sandals!" So I did an internet search and there they were, similar to but not exactly the same as mine.

I dream, through The Hive, of transforming the Pioneer Valley where I live into a"Maker" valley - where people create unique moccashoes for themselves and family to wear, as well as "over-the-top overalls" to complete their Valley uniform.  Then it will spread so people are making unique colorful clothes and shoes everywhere!

- Sharon Raymond, Simple Shoemaking

Simple Shoemaking - Guest Post

'It’s estimated that 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced annually, with roughly 300 million pairs ending up in landfills after they have been worn. The Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, which usually makes up the midsole of most running shoes, can last for as long as 1,000 years in a landfill.' The Chic Ecologist

Most every Thursday you will find a guest post right here from someone who lives an embraceable life, a life where passion, action and dreams intersect at that sweet magical spot where things just seem to match up in a way that inspires and guides. This week I am really excited to introduce you to someone doing just that. Sharon Raymond of Shutesbury, MA has a business called Simple Shoemaking. Her shoes are super functional, cute and made with recycled materials.

Check her out here:

For the last thirty years I have lived communally, either at the community down the road from where I live now in Shutesbury, Ma., or in our current home. Previously, my little family - husband, daughter and myself - lived for a year in a community in England. It was there that I learned that it is possible to make shoes, as several people there were shoemakers. Just learning of "possibility" was such a mind-blowing realization. I found a shoemaking book from the seventies and practically memorized it, but eventually branched out with my own techniques and styles.

Why does one direction become so clear and compelling, after years of superficially exploring many different crafts? I don't know the answer, but I imagine my interest in shoemaking was influenced by remembering the black velvet houseshoes that my Italian grandmother made for myself and all her grandchildren. We took off our outdoor shoes at the door in her house, whereas, while growing upon a farm in Indiana, it seemed there was usually more dirt inside the house than out.. I still have one little "scarpit" that she made and it is my only treasure.

 I originally used the standard toxic shoe cements and petroleum-based soling for making shoes, but awareness of the harmful effects of both materials gradually took hold. Now I only make, and teach people how to make, ecological simple shoes.This has been furthered by my attending a "reuse convention" in theBoston area a few years ago (http://www.reuseconex.org.) It was pointed out that the most ecological "R" is "reuse" (well, "refuse"to buy may be in first place, I admit.)

At the convention, I was fascinated by the representatives from "MakerSpaces" around the country who had all sorts of industrial waste materials to sell for making about everything. Especially significant was hearing a talk by the fellow who started .Repurposedmaterialsinc.

I have purchased conveyor belt edges and used fire hose to use as shoe soling from his company - and even purchased actual shoe soling (the petroleum-based type) from a bowling shoe company that he helped to liquidize. Re-using an existing material keeps me from buying something new.

Since then I have become involved with plans for a maker space, The Hive, in Greenfield, Ma. I eagerly await the day that it will be ready for me to move my shoemaking machinery, materials, tools etc, to this space and spend my remaining days teaching people how to make footwear, how to start "local"shoemaking businesses, and how to make things from all the resulting leather scraps. I believe in honoring an animal slaughtered for its meat (and I'm a vegan) by using every square inch of its hide. (I do use felted wool coats and heavy fabrics for making shoes as well as leather.) 

I first became aware of Crispina while visiting a shop in the Berkshires that had her lovely household items for sale. I resonated with her use of repurposed materials to make something new and beautiful. She was the first person to go in this direction that I had ever heard of. Then, someone mentioned to me that Crispina had a die press machine - and I had been seeking access to one, to cutout my leather shoe parts - fast! I had "dies" made, like cookie cutters but made of sharp steel, got in touch with Crispina and got the OK to spend an afternoon "clicking" out my leather components on her die press! Even though it was a two-hour-drive, it still was worth my time to use this massive, powerful machine. And, I got to know Crispina which was another major plus! I became interested in making "new" sweaters from felted old sweaters and enjoyed the results. I just can't fathom why anyone would prefer something new than these one-of-a-kind sweaters that scream "I enjoy being creative!"

I do have, perhaps, the power to make change in the world, through the teaching of non-violent communication, as developed by Marshall Rosenberg. My husband and I are enthusiastic about the educational programs that the community up the road has to offer to a troubled world - sustainable building, organic gardening, alternative energy use, but without skillful communication a place like this is unlikely to be a model of sustainability. We have recently been invited to teach NVC there, and are hopeful that the community can truly serve as a model of sustainability in all ways. Then, lots of people looking for a simpler, more shared - and less costly - life can learn all that is needed in one spot!

I have recently completed the writing of How to Make Ecological Simple Shoes for Women and How to Make Ecological Simple Sandals. Phew! And, there's another book in the works as a result of working with a Waldorf handwork teacher currently: she has 20 7th-grade students that she will be teaching shoemaking to. I was asked to develop a shoe for them to make that was do-able with a large group, that had a cost-limit on materials and tools, that was appealing to the students, that offered opportunities for creativity as well as precision - so "moccashoes" were invented.

Another project that I thought I invented is making "forever" flip-flops. I made them with conveyor belt soles and bicycle inner-tube straps for a climate scientist who is trying to raise awareness about the heating of the planet by placing an educational "sticker" on a variety of products (see bottom left image). He told me he would sell my ecological flip-flop with the sticker if I created one. And, I'm really pleased with it, but when I met a relative recently, who fought in the Vietnam War, he said, "I heard you've been making Ho Chi Minh sandals!" So I did an internet search and there they were, similar to but not exactly the same as mine.

I dream, through The Hive, of transforming the Pioneer Valley where I live into a"Maker" valley - where people create unique moccashoes for themselves and family to wear, as well as "over-the-top overalls" to complete their Valley uniform.  Then it will spread so people are making unique colorful clothes and shoes everywhere!

- Sharon Raymond, Simple Shoemaking

Simple Shoemaking - Guest Post

'It’s estimated that 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced annually, with roughly 300 million pairs ending up in landfills after they have been worn. The Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, which usually makes up the midsole of most running shoes, can last for as long as 1,000 years in a landfill.' The Chic Ecologist

Most every Thursday you will find a guest post right here from someone who lives an embraceable life, a life where passion, action and dreams intersect at that sweet magical spot where things just seem to match up in a way that inspires and guides. This week I am really excited to introduce you to someone doing just that. Sharon Raymond of Shutesbury, MA has a business called Simple Shoemaking. Her shoes are super functional, cute and made with recycled materials.

Check her out here:

For the last thirty years I have lived communally, either at the community down the road from where I live now in Shutesbury, Ma., or in our current home. Previously, my little family - husband, daughter and myself - lived for a year in a community in England. It was there that I learned that it is possible to make shoes, as several people there were shoemakers. Just learning of "possibility" was such a mind-blowing realization. I found a shoemaking book from the seventies and practically memorized it, but eventually branched out with my own techniques and styles.

Why does one direction become so clear and compelling, after years of superficially exploring many different crafts? I don't know the answer, but I imagine my interest in shoemaking was influenced by remembering the black velvet houseshoes that my Italian grandmother made for myself and all her grandchildren. We took off our outdoor shoes at the door in her house, whereas, while growing upon a farm in Indiana, it seemed there was usually more dirt inside the house than out.. I still have one little "scarpit" that she made and it is my only treasure.

 I originally used the standard toxic shoe cements and petroleum-based soling for making shoes, but awareness of the harmful effects of both materials gradually took hold. Now I only make, and teach people how to make, ecological simple shoes.This has been furthered by my attending a "reuse convention" in theBoston area a few years ago (http://www.reuseconex.org.) It was pointed out that the most ecological "R" is "reuse" (well, "refuse"to buy may be in first place, I admit.)

At the convention, I was fascinated by the representatives from "MakerSpaces" around the country who had all sorts of industrial waste materials to sell for making about everything. Especially significant was hearing a talk by the fellow who started .Repurposedmaterialsinc.

I have purchased conveyor belt edges and used fire hose to use as shoe soling from his company - and even purchased actual shoe soling (the petroleum-based type) from a bowling shoe company that he helped to liquidize. Re-using an existing material keeps me from buying something new.

Since then I have become involved with plans for a maker space, The Hive, in Greenfield, Ma. I eagerly await the day that it will be ready for me to move my shoemaking machinery, materials, tools etc, to this space and spend my remaining days teaching people how to make footwear, how to start "local"shoemaking businesses, and how to make things from all the resulting leather scraps. I believe in honoring an animal slaughtered for its meat (and I'm a vegan) by using every square inch of its hide. (I do use felted wool coats and heavy fabrics for making shoes as well as leather.) 

I first became aware of Crispina while visiting a shop in the Berkshires that had her lovely household items for sale. I resonated with her use of repurposed materials to make something new and beautiful. She was the first person to go in this direction that I had ever heard of. Then, someone mentioned to me that Crispina had a die press machine - and I had been seeking access to one, to cutout my leather shoe parts - fast! I had "dies" made, like cookie cutters but made of sharp steel, got in touch with Crispina and got the OK to spend an afternoon "clicking" out my leather components on her die press! Even though it was a two-hour-drive, it still was worth my time to use this massive, powerful machine. And, I got to know Crispina which was another major plus! I became interested in making "new" sweaters from felted old sweaters and enjoyed the results. I just can't fathom why anyone would prefer something new than these one-of-a-kind sweaters that scream "I enjoy being creative!"

I do have, perhaps, the power to make change in the world, through the teaching of non-violent communication, as developed by Marshall Rosenberg. My husband and I are enthusiastic about the educational programs that the community up the road has to offer to a troubled world - sustainable building, organic gardening, alternative energy use, but without skillful communication a place like this is unlikely to be a model of sustainability. We have recently been invited to teach NVC there, and are hopeful that the community can truly serve as a model of sustainability in all ways. Then, lots of people looking for a simpler, more shared - and less costly - life can learn all that is needed in one spot!

I have recently completed the writing of How to Make Ecological Simple Shoes for Women and How to Make Ecological Simple Sandals. Phew! And, there's another book in the works as a result of working with a Waldorf handwork teacher currently: she has 20 7th-grade students that she will be teaching shoemaking to. I was asked to develop a shoe for them to make that was do-able with a large group, that had a cost-limit on materials and tools, that was appealing to the students, that offered opportunities for creativity as well as precision - so "moccashoes" were invented.

Another project that I thought I invented is making "forever" flip-flops. I made them with conveyor belt soles and bicycle inner-tube straps for a climate scientist who is trying to raise awareness about the heating of the planet by placing an educational "sticker" on a variety of products (see bottom left image). He told me he would sell my ecological flip-flop with the sticker if I created one. And, I'm really pleased with it, but when I met a relative recently, who fought in the Vietnam War, he said, "I heard you've been making Ho Chi Minh sandals!" So I did an internet search and there they were, similar to but not exactly the same as mine.

I dream, through The Hive, of transforming the Pioneer Valley where I live into a"Maker" valley - where people create unique moccashoes for themselves and family to wear, as well as "over-the-top overalls" to complete their Valley uniform.  Then it will spread so people are making unique colorful clothes and shoes everywhere!

- Sharon Raymond, Simple Shoemaking

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