The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Clog making (hand-carved soles)

 

The making of clogs with hand-carved wooden soles and leather uppers.

 

Status Critically endangered (see ‘Other information’ for further details)
Craft category Wood; Leather
Historic area of significance Roman
Area currently practised Cardiff and Herefordshire
Origin in the UK Roman
Minimum no. of craftspeople required 1
Current no. of trainees 1
Current no. of skilled craftspeople 2
Current total no. of craftspeople 3

 

History

Clog makingTraditional clogs developed as a strong type of footwear that was better in water and heat than conventional leather-soled footwear. They were often worn in heavy labour, but today the variants are considered for everyday wear. The interest in clogs ranges from the fashion industry to the general public and they are often still worn by factory workers due to their durability and comfort.

Jojo Wood, apprentice clog maker. Photo: Robin Wood

 

Techniques

The traditional English clogs have a hand-carved wooden sole, made using three pivot knives approximately 3-ft long. See www.clogmaker.co.uk for videos showing how to make a clog.

 

Local forms

In the UK, clogs always have a leather upper and a wooden sole. Any local variations were rather homogenized in the Victorian era, although a lot of Welsh slippers in SW Wales and toe shapes still varied. It was said that you could ‘tell a man’s village by the cut of his clogs’.

 

Sub-crafts

  • Patten making

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Market issues: It’s not possible to compete on price with machined standard sized clog soles – the only future is for top end bespoke and orthopaedic clogs.

 

Support organisations

 

Craftspeople currently known

There are two skilled clog makers and one trainee who hand-carve soles:

  • Jeremy Atkinson – based in Herefordshire, the only practitioner offering a fully bespoke service. He has travelled in Spain and France researching European clog-making traditions and demonstrates his skill at County and Craft Fairs across Britain during the summer.
  • Geraint Parfitt – based at St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff.
  • JoJo Wood – based in Herefordshire. JoJo is learning the craft of clog making from Jeremy Atkinson.

There are approximately seven other clog makers who make clogs from bandsaw-cut soles.

 

Other information

Status: While the craft of making clogs with hand-carved soles has been classified as ‘critically endangered’, the craft of making clogs with machine-made soles is considered to be endangered/least concern.

 

References

  • Clogs and clogmaking (Shire Album) – and associated bibliography