Important Things

It’s been almost a week since I returned home from a delightful vacation with my daughter. You may remember that I wrote about our vacation to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts last year and the “stitching” that entailed! (Here and here…)


We’ve made such wonderful memories on our previous Arrowmont trips, that when I read about an upcoming class on making shoes, I knew it would be¬†perfect. So on Oct. 29, we boarded our planes to go to Gatlinburg, TN. And of course, our favorite pizza!

Just like last year, we arrived a day early so we could drive through the mountains. Wow wow wow! I’ve been through the Great Smoky Mountains a number of times, but never in the autumn. And we were there at absolutely the right time! Annie and I descended into speechlessness for much of the time. Take a look at some of these photos (and realize that these photos don’t even come close to the reality!)


Of course, being the tiny-detail-oriented people that we are, we found a plant with dozens of ladybugs.


Last year our little insect find was butterflies!


When class started, we had lots of fun choosing our leather colors for our shoes. Then came cutting,




and more punching!


These pieces are lined, punched, and ready to put together.


We laced (this is where the stitching comes in)


and laced,


and laced.


Some of the students’ uppers ready to be stitched to the soles (mine is second from the left, Annie’s is third from the right.)


They look kind of like duck feet at this stage, right?!


Stitching the upper to the sole. This isn’t exactly a needle and thread for heirloom sewing, is it?!


After the lasts were slipped into the shoes, they were heated in a very low-temperature oven. It was pretty funny to see all these shoes “baking” in the oven!


Then it was time to prepare and glue on the heels and taps (with some very stinky glue.)


The sole and heel edges were dyed and waxed and burnished, and…finished shoes!


The shoemaking was a blast, but not the real reason for the vacation.


These vacations are not inexpensive; in fact, for what I’ve spent over the years on “crafting” vacations with my children, I could have bought a very nice car. But that car would depreciate in value the moment I drove it away from the dealer. And over the years it would get dings and scratches and wear, and would eventually be worth very little monetarily. But the value these vacations have brought to our relationship doesn’t depreciate. In fact, it increases in value. So I happily drive my 14-year-old car, and realize that my money was spent for the most important thing.