The Dos and Don'ts of Foot Tracings

If you know anything about our shoes, or about full grain leather for that matter, then you know that it's all about creating a custom fit.  We spring for the top grade leather because it performs like nothing else can.  When sized properly, our shoes mold to their wearers' feet like a glove and become incredibly comfortable.  It's all great, except...

We're basing all of our fit measurements on tracings that people send in.  It sounds like a simple task - trace your feet and we'll make you a pair of shoes that will fit you like no other.  And it really is simple, but only if the tracings are a true reflection of your actual foot size.

custom made leather shoes
go to the source here

The Dos and Don'ts of Foot Tracings

  • stand flat footed on an even surface
  • use a standard width pen or pencil - bic pen, standard #2 pencil.  The resulting tracing should be slightly larger than your actual footprint by the width of the pen or pencil you use.
  • ask a friend to help so that the pencil maintains a straight angle all the way around
  • trace both feet (they are almost never exactly the same)
  •  prop your feet up, thinking that it will be easier.  Well, it will be easier, it just won't be accurate!
  • use a thick marker, pen, or otherwise wide writing utensil (the extra width can make a huge difference in your perceived measurements).
  • angle the pen or pencil inward or outward - this seems obvious, but it's easy to do and it makes a big difference.

A Note on Scanned Images

In our digitized age, it's sometimes frustrating to have to deal with paper and postage when computers make the world run faster.  We're often asked if tracings can be scanned and emailed, and trust me, we get it.    Dave has spent a lot of time thinking about how to accommodate this desire and here's his answer to the long standing question, Can I just send you a scan?

The problem with scanned & faxed images is that they can be stretched or skewed, so we don’t always get perfect measurements.  We prefer to receive them in the mail.

If you can’t get them in the mail, then we'll need you to follow a couple of extra instructions when you scan or fax your tracings to us:

1.  Be extra careful to follow the tracing guidelines closely – use a regular width pencil or pen & hold it straight up & down.

2.  After taking the tracing, draw a straight line from the bottom of your heel to the tip of your furthest reaching toe.  Measure the distance & record it on the tracing (to the closest 1/8 inch or 1mm).  Do the same for the widest point of your foot.  This will allow us to re-size your tracings after they have been stretched/skewed by the scanning/printing process.

3.  If you plan on sending a fax, let us know ahead of time so we can turn our fax machine on.


Birds of A Feather: Assembly

We find inspiration in other businesses and organizations who, like us, work to promote a love of good design and an appreciation for fine craftsmanship.  In this series, which we call Birds of a Feather, we'll share stories and ideas from around the world that reflect our own values.  We hope that you find them as inspiring and thought provoking as we do.

Assembly  is a new design studio with a solid foundation in art and craft based practice.  Based between NY and Western MA, co-founders Nora Mattingly and Pete Oyler have coupled their passions for interior design and handcraft with a focus on natural materials and a clean aesthetic.  

Dave and I met up with Nora and Pete while they were in Aurora this summer.  We enjoyed a few beers, showed them around the shop, and chatted about small scale manufacturing and design.  We are inspired and encouraged by Assembly's support of U.S. based handcraft and are pleased to share their ideals and philosophies with you here.

Assembly Design, Nora Mattingly and Pete Oyler

How did Assembly, or better yet, the idea for a design firm, get its start?

On hour 9 of a 13 hour drive from Louisville, KY last December we decided to launch Assembly – funny what seems like a good idea when you’ve been cooped up in a car for too long!

No, but more seriously, for years Pete and I have been having conversations about all things design; from our own projects and those of our peers, the globalization of production and fabrication, to the lack of resources for young emerging designers. Most importantly, we have had countless conversations about the many and massively talented artists, designers, and craftspeople we know living and working throughout the USA.

We believe that we are at a critical junction in the development of American Design. We are dedicated to and excited about being part of it.

When I graduated from RISD in 2009, I knew I wanted to start an interdisciplinary design firm. I also knew that I wasn’t quite ready—I had just moved to Brooklyn, and needed some time to settle in to city life and hone my business skill sets. Nora had also just begun her graduate studies in Interior Design at Pratt. In 2011 and after her second year of school, we started talking seriously about starting a practice together, what that would look like and what it would mean for both of us. Our interests and aesthetics have always been aligned and our skill sets are very complimentary. However, and perhaps most importantly, we are both completely committed to encouraging and supporting studio practices and small creative businesses in the U.S.

We (obviously) love your dedication to craft based projects. Why do you find this kind of work so appealing and important?

There is such a rich history of craft in the US. I think that is important to understand where you are coming from in order to know where you'd like to go. Drawing from craft based practice(s) is one way that I do this.

On a personal level, I have always loved working with and thinking through my hands. In general, I think making things is incredibly rewarding and also incredibly important in teaching really valuable and variable skill sets.
"Design is not in the details.  Design is the details" Eames

Do you have a set of design principles that you live and work by?

Design is like life in so many ways—it is a constant practice of patience, intention, and imagination. In my work and in my life, I try (and sometimes fail) to strike a balance between these things. Of all of the really inspirational things that Charles Eames said, one has always stuck with me: “Design is not in the details, Design is the details.” I think about that nearly every day—that the details, the many micro decisions we make, are part of a much larger picture that work to shape not only our aesthetic experience but our lived experience as well.
repurposed cardboard chair

Your pieces have a simple aesthetic and really showcase the materials used. Is this an intentional part of your design philosophy?

I think that we are both really enchanted by natural textures, colors, and motifs – especially the simple ones that people experience everyday but appreciate much less frequently. This source of inspiration for both palette and process comes across strongly in most of our work. Recently, we have also been very interested in utility, a quality that has been central to the way we live in Brooklyn, which demands a strong but sophisticated sense of simplicity.

Ditto to everything Nora mentioned... Ultimately, our goal was to take archetypical forms and very raw materials and create a collection with both a forward thinking aesthetic and a strong utilitarian feel.
via dezeen.com

What can we expect from your upcoming exhibition at the Roundhouse at Beacon Falls?

The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls is such an exciting development. Beacon, NY has long been a destination for both artists and art lovers alike. When the opportunity arose for us to curate viewing spaces at the Roundhouse we were thrilled: it was the perfect opportunity to simultaneously foster creative culture and showcase the talent of so many fine artists working in various mediums. For the first installation set to open Labor day weekend we are showing the works of mixed media artists Chris Domenick and Guadalupe Rosales and painter Alexa Williams. 

Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn NY
Table and stools by Assembly for the Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn

Is there anything else new or exciting that you'd like to share?

Nora has been working on a really impressive set of textiles that will be released early next year…. I don’t want to give too much away but so far the work is looking great and I think will add a new dimension to Assembly’s home product line.

For updates and news, sign up for our
mailing list!

Thanks for the thoughtful interview, Nora and Pete!

You can stay in touch with Assembly via Twitter @AssemblyUS and now on Facebook.

(Most photos by Matthew Williams, via Assembly) 



We were thrilled to be selected as a vendor at the exclusive NorthernGRADE menswear pop-up market.   The market features only 100% made in the USA menswear and seems like a perfect fit for our American (sourced and made) shoes. 

Dave and his wife Andrea will be heading out to Minneapolis for the market in mid September and they'd love to see you there. 

All images via NorthernGRADE.com.  Check out their list of vendors here


A Harvest Supper

After months of discussion and a little bit of planning, Dave and his wife, Andrea, hosted a relaxed dinner party for a handful of like minded local friends.  We celebrated a highly anticipated wine release and talked about the challenges of running small businesses in our small, rural town (spotty and inconsistent internet coverage being the main complaint!).

While Dave and Andrea provided a lovely location and a perfectly retro playlist, we all brought food to share and collectively created a beautiful meal.

keeley's cheese co.
Keeley brought her delicious washed rind cheeses which were great on their own and amazing on top of our steaks during dinner.

Katie and Dan brought pickled beets and garlic scapes from their garden.

Dave grilled up some massive steaks

I brought salt potatoes tossed in garlic (thanks again, Maggie!), olive oil and local basil, and  sauteed collard greens from our weekly share at Early Morning Farm.

mackenzie childs

Dinner was simple and delicious.  But dessert was a chocolate lover's dream.

From the top...

Pain au chocolat (my favorite pastry of all time) made the right way by Keeley's husband, Alan, who apprenticed at a bakery in his native Ireland, and really ought to get one going here. 

He also whipped up some buttery raisin scones (my second all time favorite)...

And this decadent chocolate cake made with spelt flour and merlot! 

And to top it all off, Katie served up her grandmother's chocolate zucchini cake (you want this recipe).

king ferry winery treleaven And of course, a bottle of Treleaven Dry Rose was the perfect accompaniment to all of that chocolate.

Even the flowers were local! 

Dinners like these are such a great way to celebrate the season and all of the local goodness that comes with it.  With all of the hustle and bustle of daily life (running small businesses, managing small children, etc., etc, etc) it's nice to spend some time reconnecting with old friends and making a few new ones.  Especially when food and wine are involved!

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