Ken Rice, Master Shoemaker


   In the fall of 1969 while I was attending the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Canada I stumbled into what would become the main venue for my artistic expression.  I began to dabble with leather making fringed pouches and vests and then a sandal with tire tread soles.

  In the summer of 1970 I headed west to Vancouver, B.C. on a one way train ticket and my backpack filled with leather tools and some basic necessities.  There I continued to work with leather making belts, bags and hats. However, things were about to change. 

  I became affiliated with Peter Fox through the church we were both attending. 

  Peter a shoe designer, entrepreneur, and at that time a partner with John Fluevog, presented me with some shoe lasts and wooden clog soles from Spain and said put your artwork on these. And so away I went.

  In late 1973 I decided to pursue the art of shoemaking and I have journeyed on this path since.

  I am self-taught in traditional handmade shoemaking and mix it with my techniques of embellishing, dying and finishing leather and wood that are the main materials I use in my designs.

  There are easily over 100 steps in designing and hand making a pair of shoes.  A few steps are drafting the pattern, hand cutting, dying and finishing, closing and lasting the uppers, make and apply the wooden or leather soles and heels.

   For me the fine art of handmade shoemaking is a blending of “form and function” and “comfort and beauty” to create a treat for both the eyes and feet.