For centuries, Dutch wooden shoes have been a tradition for Dutch people. The process starts with the farmer obtaining the raw materials from the woods on an annual basis and there are still many craftsmen and women who work this way today. The wood is cut down in different sizes and shapes, usually with a two-person team to make sure the desired piece of wood gets turned into a finished product. A special machine called a ‘turner’ is used to shape it into its final form. After that, it’s split into thin strips and sent off to different workshops for various purposes such as boxes or boats. The workers who make the shoes, feel as though they are contributing to the economy of their country.
A Dutch wooden shoe can be made from as few as three pieces of wood. The upper part is a slit piece that is bent around a wooden last to form the vamp which covers the top of the foot. Two to four open strips are then attached to the front of this vamp. A Dutch wooden shoe has a long toe cap that is bent into a double-curve shape, creating a distinctive round top edge. After this, it’s sent to be finished by smoothing out any rough spots with sandpaper. Then it goes back yet again for lacquer or varnish where it’s polished and stained in different colors.
A Dutch wood shoe from the 17th century can sell for up to 1,500 euros ($1,856). Shoes that were part of a set that was used by a 19th-century amateur painter were recently auctioned at the Kunsthal Rotterdam in Rotterdam, which continues to hold its own auctions of fine art and antiques. The shoes are made from elmwood and measure 12 cm (5.5 inches) long and 23 cm (9 inches) wide as well as 2 cm (0.8 inches) thick.
The culture historian Karl-Josef Kuschel wrote in an article about the way shoes are made in the Netherlands in his book “Die Schuhe in der Niederlande”: