The Cobbler Apprenticeship

The Cobbler Apprenticeship


Shoe Maker is also known as a Cobbler. Yes, its still a trade, The Cobbler Apprenticeship is although a dyeing  art one might say.

have a friend called Robert, who is a Trade Certified© Cobbler. That is to say he did an apprenticeship with Clark shoes and studied at the Douglas Mawson TAFE on Richmond road, Adelaide, South Australia.

he told me about his career I was fascinated. I felt this skill would be invaluable if you had a large family, which Robert does.

know that I would love to be able to make my own shoes.

now works in the Technology industry installing software for other businesses which often sees him traversing the world.

, in search of Cobbler skills I have been on an interesting research journey.

History of the Craft:

The earliest shoe prototypes were soft, made from wraparound leather, and resembled either sandals or moccasins. … Up until 1850, shoes were made straight, meaning that there was no differentiation from left and right shoes, which would be great for me as I often get my left and right bamboozled. As the twentieth century approached, shoemakers improved comfort by making foot-specific shoes (yah!).

People would often make shoes from home and then trade them at meeting places. As society developed the market meeting places became the main street. Trade people would live in their houses on main street and in time, began to trade out the front of their homes. They moved the street stalls into the front of their homes. And this is the concept that we recognize today of main street, especially in rural communities like my home town of Strathalbyn, South Australia.

As time moved on, and demand increased the implementation of mechanization which then  secured the productivity and mass production of shoe making.

Alas, even though mass production met the need and there were lots of great looking shoes available, the workmanship would let them down. Bright shiny new shoes, but in need of regular replacing.

Hand skills in this field are now part of what is defined as a ‘niche market’.

“A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact. It is also a small market segment.” Wiki

So in short, hand made ‘things’ last longer. You train longer to perfect your skills to make things by hand. They take longer to make. Therefore, they cost more. But, They last longer. As an added bonus, items that are hand made are usually unique. So you will feel exclusive when you use or wear them, its all part of the service.


Current Trade practice:

Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (SA)
PO Box 137 Welland SA 5007
Ph: (08) 8241 5855
Fax: (08) 8346 8423

Footwear Manufacturers Association of Australia (National Office)
22 Ceylon St Nunawading VIC 3131
Ph: (03) 9894 4470
Fax: (03) 9894 4035

Where to train in the year 2017:

Andrew McDonald
Sydney, New South Wales Australia
School of Footware
367 Parramatta Rd,
Leichhardt, NSW, 2040
Phone  +61 401 385 957

The shoe school

The Shoe School in Port Townsend, Washington provides short courses and distance learning courses.


New Zealand



Where to get supplies in 2017:




All the topics are chosen by me and in line with what I am interested in. I do not profess to be an expert, so all information should be further researched by the individual. I use text (books), the internet and personal conversations to collate what I learn. I have no affiliation with any of the links above, accept the Academy of Jewellery Manufacture and Design ( and Studio 41 ( as this is where I work from. If any information above is not correct please contact so that edits can be made. This blog is created purely for Theo’s curiosity’s satisfaction.  (


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