Leatherworker Customizes Red Wing Boots | Art Insider

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I'm Ariss. I'm a co-owner
of Awl Together Leather. I've been in the leatherwork
industry for five years, and today I'm going to be resoling and redyeing a pair of
mock-toe Red Wing boots. So, the first step is
to take out the laces. The next step is to take the sole off, either by hand using pliers, or by machine using sanders.

The next step is to tape
off the inside of the boot so that no dye spills anywhere where it's not meant to be. Then I use a dauber to evenly apply multiple layers of black dye, and wait for those layers to dry. Sometimes with boots
you have to deglaze them before you can dye them, otherwise dye will bleed out. In this case, I don't have to. So, once the layers are dry, I then spray a sealant
coat onto the boots. The sealant we're using today is specifically formulated
for oil-tanned leathers, which will prevent the
dye from bleeding out. It also makes the boot
more water-resistant. To reattach a new sole,
we need to prep the sole by sanding it and applying glue and waiting for that glue to dry. We also have to sand and
glue the boot itself. So, once our glue is ready, we can attach the sole to the boots and hammer it or press it using a industrial sole press.

I will sand the boots to shape using my industrial sanding machines. So, sanding the sole to shape is purely done with experience and through training from
generations of cobblers. It is purely a skill; there are no tools to help it. You just know when you're
doing the right job. Finally, we will polish the boots, take off all the tape, and shine it up.

Working in cobbling is
such an intricate trade that's being passed down from
generation to generation, and I'm excited to pick this up as a queer nonbinary person and pass it on to a new
generation of cobblers. So, I'm a big fan of keeping things out of a landfill, and so bringing items
back, giving them new life, reviving them into a circular economy is a really great way
to battle fast fashion..

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