This Site is for those interested in traditional english clogs and clog making. I'm the last of the traditional cloggers making bespoke clogs in England. Whilst others claim to make handmade clogs, the clog soles are actually machine cut, limiting true customisation, although if they fit then they fit!. English clogs were always part wood part leather, the dictionary definition being "a composite of wood & leather". I hand cut the leather uppers and hand carve the soles. I was taught by a man who was taught by a man who was taught by a man. In other words I'm of a line stretching back centuries. In turn I have taught a welshman, only fair since I too learnt from a welshman. Whilst there are certain styles pertaining to each country, a great many styles are common to both. The English tended to carve welsh and west country alder, scottish birch and lincolnshire willow. The Welsh used alder, birch & sycamore. It was said that they paid more for sycamore. I've found it to last much longer in mud. Cherry is also surprisingly durable and stable
Here is a slightly staged Clog Blocking video from about 1940ish. https://vimeo.com/album/3066221/video/107803204
I think he's cutting down a fruit tree, certainly the timber he's working was delivered and much better quality, Also Alder is not the best wood for clogs, it's the easiest worked, so soft that it will work dry and mold to the foot's weight, if it lasts that long. Apart from all that it's brilliant!
Here is a bunch of you tube videos of me wittering on and carving in early 2012
You may get through one or two of them before you lose the will to live
Unlike one particularly irritating individual I do actually make all the clogs this way, it's not a case of mugging it up for the camera and secretly using machinery. Geraint, whom I taught, is the only other skilled and active carver in Britain
| Materials |
I tend to use young 20-30 year old Welsh Marches sycamore cut green with the centuries old traditional 3 swivel knives out of a split trunk of between 7- 11inches in diameter. This allows the wood to be cut following the grain and minimises the risk of tension within the wood causing splits and uneven shrinkage. Shrinkage is minimal in sycamore and in bygone days sycamore clogs could be and were cut out of living trees and finished the same day. However, central heating has made this a rather more risky proposition so I do allow the wood to lose much of its moisture before lasting and nailing on the leather upper.
I do use alder on request. It is a softer less durable wood than sycamore, nevertheless it was the wood of choice throughout the industrial revolution. It comfortably molds to the shape of the foot over time and for an urban clog it's durability is acceptable. It rots if permanently damp so is not so good in country mud.
Birch is a touch harder and more durable than alder. It was used in lake district mines due to this. I've found a source of high quality birch so I can cut that on request . Both these timbers are at standard price
The leather I use is crust dyed chrome, between 2 - 5mm thick and waterproof. I haven't used veg tan cowhide leather for over 20 years as it is neither waterproof nor supple. It's generally too stiff to be initially comfortable and it's stitch strength is poor. It was little used in traditional clogmaking. Waxed Kip was veg tanned but it was Water Buffalo derived. I don't use the thin predyed [sprayed] chrome leather as it is altogether too thin and looks, I think, naff. It only came to be used in clogmaking when makers were desperately trying to produce cheap footwear. However patent leather was used for some dancing clogs in late victorian times.
I hand dye each pair to the customer's wishes but cannot promise to get an exact match as the leather has so much oil within its structure that it inevitably influences the final colour. Hides vary in their oil content and there are even variations within each hide. Like stoneware pottery glazes, the nature of the materials preclude exactitude and the lighter the colour requested the more problematical. One cannot dye a leather (that is infuse its structure) white so this is the one colour I will not do - I do not use paints. As of 2005 I have sourced 40 year old rolls of waxed kip clog leather, so I can now finally use my half round bottom glazer in anger! [don't ask, well if you must]
Crimping is hand done individually on each pair as the leather is too supple to emboss, hence the price. Customers can submit designs to be worked into the leather.
About The Craftsman
|Jeremy Atkinson specialises in making traditional nineteenth-century
styles in his workshop in Kington.
Jeremy has travelled in Spain and France researching European clog making traditions. He demonstrates his skill at County and Craft Fairs across Britain during the summer.
He is the last person in England following a centuries old craft. Others use machine soles which may preclude an acceptable fit, or work with a mixture of machine and traditional tools using preplanked dry wood. In Wales Geraint Parfitt is the only traditional clogmaker, the only other welsh maker uses machinery to make soles
Single hole Blucher