Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Old Wooden Shoe Carver in Gouda


My family loves to watch craft demonstrations, and what could be more culturally relevant and fun in the Netherlands than observing a wooden shoe carver at work?  This old gentleman at the cheese market in Gouda kept us entertained for at least an hour watching his skill with ax, chisel, and file.  In his perfect English he told us he had been making Dutch wooden shoes his entire life, and now, in his retirement, he likes to demonstrate the centuries-old handicraft at fairs, markets, and international shows.


Wooden shoes are called klompen in the Netherlands (because of the klomp-klomp sound they make when you walk) and are still worn by many people in the lowlands of Europe even today:


Starting with a block of soft but strong aspen wood, the friendly shoe carver in Gouda roughly shapes it into a shoe with an ax.  He then continues to file and chisel the shoe into its final shape.




Later it is painted and/or etched with wood-burned designs.  Wooden shoes in all sizes are one of the most popular souvenirs purchased in Holland!

Finished and unfinished klompen.


Related posts:
Chocolate Making in Broc, Switzerland
Cheese Making in Gruyères, Switzerland
Violin Making in Mittenwald, Germany
Glass Making in Murano, Italy
Porcelain Making in Delft, the Netherlands, and in Oberschliessheim, Germany

12 comments:

  1. Wow this looks like it would be really nice to see. I have always wondered how wooden shoes are made. Thanks for the great post and I love the pictures

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  2. I enjoy watching artisans create too! I'm sure this was very interesting. I wonder why they started making shoes out of wood?

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  3. What a fun demonstration to watch! I have wanted a pair of wooden shoes since I was a wee girl and saw a picure of them. One day I'm going to get to the Netherlands and buy myself a pair.

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  4. Wow, that is so cool. I would love to see that in person someday.

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  5. Well, it is really amazing and exciting as well. I have seen various uses of wood, but the way you have used the wood is appreciable for sure. There are several wood workers having expertise in crafting wood in any shape availing the world with unique and highly attractive creations and you have also done a great job.

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