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Swan Shoes

As you can see in my post about my first visit to the Northampton Museum & Art Gallery shoe store I began be concentrating on silk evening shoes and beautiful silk boots. Still focusing on silk shoes when I visited for a second time there were other themes that I wanted to draw out also, so shoes made of other materials also became relevant.

The collection of paper and thread shoes I am intending to have made for exhibition at Northampton Museum in 2029 will see each shoe inspired by a different bird. You can view the first five shoes from the series: 300 Years of Shoes here

So I was on the look out for shoes with birds portrayed on them, or in some way related to them. Then I came across these leather shoes. The swan was already a strong contender for being the next bird of interest, given it's links to Royalty and the links between royalty and the silk collection I am also working on.

When I found shoes which had a swan as their logo it seemed to cofirm my choice..

Women's single tan bar shoe and women's single brown leather bar shoe

Swan Shoes, Crockett & Jones 1925-30

All the images you can see in this post are credited to Northampton Museum & Art Gallery

Women's singe tan leather Oxford shoe

Swan Shoes, Crockett & Jones 1920-25

Women's single black leather Oxford shoe

Swan Shoes, Crockett & Jones 1920-25

It seems that not only the name but the shape of the swan continues to inspire shoe makers today. I did a bit of googling and came up with these sites which show some examples:


I am waiting to see what comes here:

And yet there is of course another strong link between swans and shoes and art, the art of ballet that is.

Who doesn't think of Swan lake when the word ballet is mentioned. Who hasn't seen ballerina's portrayed as those white feathered, graceful, long necked birds.

And there are ballet shoes in this collection:

Pair of apple green ballet shoes and pink satin pointe shoes (unworn) - Gandolfi Ltd 1954-55

But it was seeing Beryl on pointe that gave me the idea for the likely shape of my proposed swan.

Woman's single pointe shoe signed by Beryl Grey, ballerina, 1955 (with cards showing Beryl Grey dancing)

Pair of women's pink satin blocked pointe shoes. Worn by Elisha Will, Birmingham Royal Ballet 2013

Pink satin pointe shoe worn by Chloe Davis, Royal ballet co. - Frederick Freed 1998

Pair of women's pale peach satin pointe ballet shoes worn by Janina Harris 1998-1999

Pair of pink satin pointe shoes - 1956-57

On the research & making pages of you can see the research I have been doing toward my collection Weaving silk stories including posts concerning the Huguenot silk weavers of Spitalfields in London. Before the rest of the 300 Years of Shoes collection is ready for exhibition I believe my proposed swan shoe will be shown alongside this collection (and will incorporate silk thread) so it was wonderful to find a link direct to a ballet shoe maker from that area of the world and also to see how they are constructed:

In Northampton Museum & Art Gallery's Shoe gallery stand this pair of pointe ballet styled high heels which made me smile:

'Ballet' fetish style shoes, synthetic patent leather - Maker: Devious, China 2007

They surely play with the idea of the the pain and discomfort of both the high heel and the point shoe and perhaps nod toward Chinese shoe history and the notion of foot binding, from which there are also shoes in the Northampton Museum & Art Gallery collection.

I am not looking to make pain part of my swan shoe follow it's development please look out for a post here


This blog was produced as part of the research for 300 Years of Shoes the collection and Weaving Silk Stories the collection.

Please revisit to see the research and the collections develop.


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