Nestled in a small workshop somewhere in this vast city of Angels sits a Shoe Cobbler named Chris Francis, he spends his days and sometimes nights making one of a kind creations that adorn the feet of various clients who wish for that unique vision born only through his hands and mind. Lining his workshop stands iron machines like soldiers at attention waiting for their next order one that only Francis can give them and the only one they will obey. These machines sit waiting for their time to serve, some decades old yet still as strong and vital as the day they were created with the same dedication to craftsmanship as the shoes they help produce.
With every set of twin artworks that come out of Francis’ workshop it is good to remember that every stitch and adornment is meant for that one pair because each set is one of a kind and made for that owner’s unique foot shape and arch. The mold of each client’s feet hangs along the rafters of Francis’ workshop carefully labeled with the client’s name so as to help him create the perfect fit for comfort that will match the style requested.
Francis is not your average Shoe Cobbler, there are moments when he has literally bled for his work which has led him to frequent trips to the emergency room after which he is back in his workshop to finish where he left off. In addition to the artwork he makes with is hands spending time talking with him creates amazing stories in one’s mind as he recalls his life before shoes and his many adventures that only time can provide.
Having taught himself through books, some of which he found at FIDM sans the class registration, and pure ambition, Francis has made a name for himself in the art world as well as the shoe world. His creations at the Craft and Folk Art Museum a few years back demonstrated his ability to create shoes from everyday objects which pushed his creative abilities to the limits while still manifesting creations that spoke his footwear language.
The beauty of shoe making is a tradition passed on to willing craftsmen and women, which is another aspect to the work of Chris Francis because not only does he create he inspires willing students in the art of the shoe. Last summer Francis taught a Shoe making workshop at Otis College of Design where students learned how to create from the sole to the stitch and even the detail of dying leather to accent their creations. The class was just the right size that Francis was able to give one on one instruction and help guide students into the foundations of shoe making so that they could all go on and build upon the things they learned and start to make shoes of their own manifestations.
One has to admire the work of a man whom no one would teach who is now passing on what he knows to eager minds. It should be a lesson to everyone who might think of giving up, that if Francis can succeed after having so many doors close on him, then maybe they too can find that same ambition and determination within themselves and make their life as amazing as the Shoe Cobbler of Los Angeles.
To see more of Chris Francis’ work and to request a quote contact him @chrisfrancisshoes