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Custom built shoes
Pebbled brown derby, Custom built shoes, 2011; Theodore Green; Roxbury, Massachusetts; Leather;
Pebbled brown derby, Custom built shoes, 2011
Theodore Green
Roxbury, Massachusetts
Theodore Green at work; Custom built shoes; 2011: Roxbury, Massachusetts
Black pebbled derby; Custom built shoes; 2012: Lowell, Massachusetts
Theodore Green demonstrating at the Lowell Folk Festival; Custom built shoes; 2011: Lowell, Massachusetts
verticle bar Artist
Theodore Green
Roxbury, MA
Shoemaking in America is as old as the country itself, coming over with the first European settlers in the early 17th century. In Massachusetts, cities like Brockton, Lynn, and Haverhill had prosperous shoemaking industries by the mid-1600s. Theodore Green is one of the few hand builders of shoes in the area. He specializes in classic oxford and derby shoes for men, but makes fashionable women's shoes as well. The shoemaking trade is full of terms that hark back to its roots in northern Europe, like the Scottish brogue, English Oxford, and the German blucher, also known as a derby. Full brogues are also known as wingtips in the U.S. because of the resemblance of the decoration to a bird in flight.

Inspired by Italian craftsmen whom he observed working in small shoemaking workshops in Florence, Theodore studied old shoemaking manuals and foot anatomy. He sought out mentors like Ron Donovan in New York, and Bev and Steve Gilger of Dubois Leather Co. in Idaho. Theodore combines hand and machine work to blend clean, simple lines with strength and sturdiness. His most important tool is a last, the form used to mold the shoe. He has ten different lasts, both wooden and plastic, some custom made. Theodore builds up leather over the lasts to fit the shape of client's specific measurements. Then, he adds the insole onto the last, splices the upper leather, and creates the toe, sole, and heel. "It's almost like sculpting," he says. He uses cow hide, deer skin, and even a metallic gold calf skin. Theodore combines tradition with his own innovations, seeking to do work that excites him.
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