Frances’ interest in traditional shoemaking stems from her love for the inherent qualities of leather and the detailing in historical footwear. Being a maker of hand crafted footwear allows one to explore the possibilities of leather through the creation of forms that are both decorative and functional: from wet-moulding British oak-bark leather for soling, to appliqué and openwork of fine skins and exotics. She loves looking at historical shoes, exploring museum archives and researching designs, and is especially drawn to the silhouettes and embellishment of footwear from the 1880s through to the 1930s. The quality of footwear production from this time is rarely replicated today but Frances hopes to develop her skills in order to bring some of this historical luxury into her own work.
After graduating with a first class degree in Modelmaking from the Arts University Bournemouth, Frances then spent two years learning and developing skills while at bespoke leather interiors specialist Bill Amberg Studio, and a further year with luxury bag makers Simpson of London. Here, she explored the qualities and applications of different leathers, and refined both her machine and hand stitched work. Throughout this time she completed several terms of evening classes with the Carréducker Shoemaking School, where James Ducker and Deborah Carré guided her through the two-hundred stages of the hand welted shoemaking process.
The QEST scholarship will allow her to progress with her training through one-to-one sessions with Carréducker London Ltd and a number of other specialists in the industry. In the future, she hopes to establish herself as an independent designer-maker of luxury bespoke footwear, rooted in traditional making and inspired by the beautiful decorative techniques of the past.
‘Handmade products created with care and attention can last a lifetime and I am committed to practicing traditional skills in order to produce unique artefacts that reflect the very best of British shoemaking and leather craft.’