Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 17 October 2014

An Honest Living


I took this picture of the Cypriot mosaic artist on a street in Nicosia in 1992. He was working just inside the doorway and shaded from the intense heat of the sun. He appears to be referring to a book of reproductions of ancient mosaics which he may have been trying to replicate for the tourist market. Cyprus of course has many examples of the real thing so I can’t blame him for cashing in. He makes it look easy but I suspect it is just as painstaking as the originals.

Our Sepia Saturday picture prompt* this week is a street artisan found on a hand-coloured lantern slide of the 1930s. This gentleman is a shoemaker and mender and is surrounded by the tools of his trade.


There are no pictures of shoemakers or boot menders in my family album and the mosaic artist is the nearest I can get. However, just last week, we came upon this street artisan in the village of Maguez, here in Lanzarote, and he graciously consented to having some pictures taken.


He told us that the clays came from the surrounding volcanic landscape. The pots are probably very close  to the pots made by the earliest inhabitants of the island who would have used whatever materials came to hand. Their craftsmanship was born of necessity not to feed a tourist market, but one has to admire the potter here for using his craft to make a living.


As luck would have it, only yesterday, whilst in the island’s capital Arrecife, we had a coffee in the old ‘Recova’ market, which itself is steeped in history, and I was delighted to spot the shoe maker in one of the artisan booths. I have written about the Recova before in From Fish Stalls to Fiestas, where you can see the shoemaker in context and view some real sepia images which decorate the market walls. Once again the artisan kindly allowed me to take his picture and was eager to show us his catalogue of shoes all made from the finest leather, as well as some goatskin sandals. You can even spot some tools of the trade which match our prompt picture. I expect he would also repair shoes or boots if asked, but I think he was mainly a craftsman, designing and making shoes from scratch; an honest way to earn a living.

Why not join other Sepians this week to see what they made of the prompt.

* From The Powerhouse Collection courtesy of Flickr Commons

15 comments:

  1. I suspect that you will win this week's prize as the best "matcher". That is if there was a prize. But it's amazing how similar your photos are to the original.Perhaps I should have visited som e of our Sunday markets to see if there were any matches. I know a woman who does haircuts at a Sunday market but I don't think a pair of scissors would match that mosaic artist. Just lovely.

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    1. Pure serendipity. The potter was a real find and although I knew of the existence of the shoemaker, we rarely go to Arrecife. Now I’m on the look out for more of these artisans; I fear they’re a dying breed.

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  2. We used to go to such a traditional shoemaker in the eastern districts of what was then Southern Rhodesia when I was a child. Way out in the country side, far from town, but he and his sons had reputations as the best around, and always repaired my well worn school shoes with the greatest of care and skill, not to mention giving lots of attention to the precocious schoolboy. His name was Tsuro Bore, tsuro meaning rabbit in Shona, the local language.

    Thanks for reviving those memories.

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    1. It’s good to see the skills being kept alive. My Dad used to ‘cobble’ our shoes to the best of his ability. We had a ‘last’ for years I remember. My great grandmother was so good at it that the neighbours bought their children’s shoes to her to mend. A skill born of real necessity in her case.

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    2. This is so neat how one thing leads to another in this post. I enjoyed all of your pictures. We have a lot of artists around here, but it has been years since I have seen a shoe repair shop.

      Kathy M.

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  3. You must be one of those people who keeps an eye out for anything that you think might pop up on Sepia Sat. at some point which, as we all know, is bound to happen sooner or later. Nice post & very much in keeping with the prompt!

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  4. When I was young my father made a mosaic coffee table. He used a 1950s design and embedded the mosaic design n the wood table which he also made.

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  5. I agree you've got the best match going for the theme. I've seen a few shoe craftsman while I've traveled around but the hand made shoes are so expensive...really out of reach for most people. I'm amazed to hear your father repaired your shoes - he was a man of many talents.

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  6. Despite the proximity of Mr Robinson, two doors from us, by father mended our shoes during the war. As a saddler originally he was used to working with leather. Lanzarote seems to have been an ideal place to find working artisans to show us.

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  7. Well done! Not only 3 perfect matches but amazingly fresh photos too!

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  8. I don't think I would have the patience to make such a mosaic. Having some shoe repair skills would be very welcome!

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  9. Great images - I love seeing people working at a craft anywhere in the world. Patience is required but if you love what you do I guess it's not a challenge...perhaps less so if it's required work. Like Bob, my father used to do the standard repairs on our shoes: replacing soles and heels for example.

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  10. I wouldn't have the patience to make a mosaic either!

    You have reminded me that I do have a photo of a shoe shiner at work..........another time!

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  11. You are on the money! I love to see artists at work, especially in tourist areas. I bought a lovely watercolor from an artist in Florence, Italy. Of course, the Duomo is in the scene. When I commented on all her beautiful work, she said, "I'm sick of the Duomo." HA -- yeah, if you're painting FOR the tourist, you gotta include those icons, I guess.

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