This is the name given to the process of cutting the leather sections of the shoe uppers. The name ‘clicking’ is derived from the noise that is made when the blade of the knife is removed from the leather when this is done by hand. Although we source the finest leather from the best suppliers – all leather has its flaws. It takes a very skilled craftsman to be able to work the leather to avoid flaws and marks, yet minimise waste, whilst always cutting on the correct grain (the direction in which the leather should be cut to maintain the pattern shape.
“Closing” is where the various sections of the shoe upper are stitched together. There are many stages within this one operation. For example, the thickness of the leather is “skived” (reduced) to avoid bulkiness and the edges of the leather are stained, seared or folded to improve appearance. The brogue punch holes and eyelet holes are also added at this stage of the shoemaking process.
The shoe upper is pulled over the “last” and attached to the insole at the toe, sides and seat. Before lasting, the uppers are “mulled” (conditioned) in a special room where the temperature and humidity are controlled to get as much moisture as possible into the upper before the lasting process. This makes the leather more pliable and allows it to mould to the shape of the last easily.
The “welt” is a strip of leather that is stitched to the upper and the insole, and to which the sole will also be stitched. Because welted shoes are sewn together, rather than glued, skilled craftsmen can dismantle and repair them – meaning if you take good care of the uppers, they can last you years.
At this point of the process, the sole is stitched to the welt (the strip of leather that is stitched to the upper and the insole). The soles are lock stitched, using two separate threads, for maximum strength. Before this happens, the space between the welt and insole are filled with cork, which gives extra comfort as it moulds to the wearer’s foot and also provides the shoe with great insulation and flexibility.
The edges of the soles are trimmed to shape before they can be stained. This is a highly skilled operation which is performed ‘freehand’. Not only do both shoes in the pair have to look identical, but the craftsman has to be sure not to trim too much off. Later they will be waxed, ironed and polished.
The sole bottoms are then stained and polished. These will be stamped and wheeled at a later stage to add the finishing detail and give the soles a neat, striking finish. Again, this is all done ‘freehand’ and requires very skilled craftsmen with years of experience in the art.
The final burnishing, dressing and polishing operations are very time consuming and have to be done entirely by hand. Once these are completed, the shoes are laced and boxed and ready to go to their new owners.