My sandalmaking career began as chief sandalmaker for Chappelle's Leather Boutique in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco, the summer of 1966 - I was 23, fresh from art school. I had been hand-sewing mocassins since I was 15.
Co-owner Doug Hawthorne (who previously ran The Blind Owl sandal shoppe in that storefront) brought San Francisco bands (Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin) to Vancouver for Trips Festivals and other performances that year. We enjoyed a close sister-community cultural relationship with the Haight-Ashbury and our Kitsilano store was a vibrant meeting place.
After wearing a pair of Lord of the Rings in a circumnavigation of the earth in '67 - '68, I opened Leathersmithe (2) on Marine Drive, near the North Vancouver exit of the Lions Gate bridge.
In the Spring of 1970, with the help of Dollarton Maplewood Mudflats Deluxe Carpenters, The Good Earth Footware & Bag Shoppe at the foot of Lonsdale in North Vancouver was launched. Far from the excitement of 4th Avenue and the rebirth of Gastown, I settled into that sleepy working-class neighbourhood with companion Kimberley Curtis, partners Dan & Wendy Clemens and esteemed apprentice and best friend Ross Garrick.
In 1973 Kim and I left BC and lived and made bags & shoes, “whipping the cat” as cordwainers, out of a shingled truck-house in Sun Valley, Berkeley and San Francisco, Leathersmithe (3). In 1973 I returned to British Columbia and with Deluxe Carpenters, Ross, Wendy and Dan, presented the last of three large music and crafts faires, the 1973 Pacific National Exhibition Christmas Craft and Music Faire, 8 days of music and over 140 participating craftspersons.
I moved to Victoria, British Columbia in 1975 and opened the highly successful 1010 Cook Street Leathersmithe (4).
In 1978 I opened Mill Valley Sandalero across the Golden Gate bridge from San Francisco.
My last public shoppe was Leathersmithe (5) in Garberville CA from 1984 - 1986, when I accepted a real job offer at Alternative Energy Engineering, selling solar, water, & wind renewable energy products for the next 25 years. I continued to build shoes and sandals from my Arcata Leathersmithe (6).
I'm now retired from the solar energy business and accepting sandal orders from my South Pender Island home shoppe, Leathersmithe (7).
California Historical Tannery Archive
San Francisco's Poetsch & Peterson Tannery Archive
Santa Cruz’s Salz Tannery Archive
Recollections of Manasse Block Tannery
George Barnsley & Sons leather tools Sheffield, England
Mudflats Living, Shangri‐la, and Malcolm Lowry
The 1971 burning of squats at Maplewood Mudflats
Click photos to enlarge
All hand-sewed or clincher-nailed