These shoes had suffered serious fabric losses to both sides of the vamp (the upper part of a boot or shoe covering the instep and usually extending over the toe), as well as minor fabric losses along the topline. The silver filament metallic lace had unraveled around the corners of the toes and the backs of the heels. Our conservator, Ada Hopkins, needed to find a way to create a fabric which could be used to fill in these losses but not look out of place on a 17th century shoe.
In order to achieve this, a silk satin of similar weight was dyed in a hot bath of Earl Grey tea which was historically used to dye small batches of textiles and lace made from natural fibres. This method gives a pinky-yellow faded-antique colour to the bright white silk. Strands of hair silk were dyed to match in the same manner. Dyed fabric for each shoe was cut using templates which had been created by placing small pieces of plastic over the area of loss and tracing the outline. Next, tiny strips of an adhesive film were cut to the shape of the existing satin. The fabric infill was then inserted along with adhesive strips which are vapour activated. Any frayed fibres which had not been secured were then stitched into place using the hair silk.
|Back seam of shoe|
This rare pair of 17th century slapsoles can be seen on display in "On a Pedestal" only until September 20th, 2010.
|Slapshoes after conservation|
All images (c) 2010 Bata Shoe Museum