Category: About

A bespoke shoemaker in our neighborhood

One has to travel far to find a bespoke shoemaker… well, actually not that far after all. We are proud to announce that such a rare pearl just established his shop in our neighborhood. He deserves all our encouragements. The official inauguration will be on the night before Crispin day, the patron saint of shoemakers and leather workers. That is on the day exactly 11 years after the official opening of our shoe museum.

You can see more on the Webpage of  Guillaume Deuzet.

Even our streets had a face lift

The streets of our neighborhood are finally free from graffiti and tags accumulated during two or three decades by successive layers. This is the final touch of the development of the neighborhood. The atmosphere of gangs that never really roamed in our streets is gone. Pessimists are already betting on the first appearance of childish scribbles on the walls by those attempting to mark a territory that isn’t theirs. As for us, we enjoy the moment of silenced walls in our neighborhood, hoping it lasts at least for a while.


Two new street names for the Rôtillon

A small celebration will be held this Friday, June 20 to inaugurate the completion of Rôtillon project. The streets are all newly paved with cobble stones and look great now. The final touch is a spring-clean of the remaining old buildings. The gaudy facades covered with graffitis and tags receive a fresh coat of  paint and we just completed the renovation project for the museum. We will open our doors to the public, but also set up a special booth about leather and tanning in the “Rue du Flon”. A currently nameless alley will receive the name of Tanners Alley (Ruelle des Tanneurs) to remember the past of this neighborhood. Also the long stairs next to the Café des Artisans will be called the Cobbler’s Stairs (Escaliers des savetiers) from now on. It fills our heart with joy to see that the city is finally giving credit to the industrious “leathery” past that flourished here a long time ago.

Our neighborhood, the Rôtillon

Our neigborhood, the Rôtillon was once the industrial centre of the medieval and post medieval town of Lausanne. Lots of changes happened over time, like in all neighborhoods.

Evolution of the Rôtillon over 300 years

Looking at its history we could n0t have chosen a better spot for our Shoe Museum. We are in the ancient neighborhood of tanners, shoemakers and other leather professionals. The tanneries dissapeared with the covering of the river Flon, about a century ago. Like many rivers crossing towns, its destiny is similar to another famous tanner’s river, the Bièvre in Paris. For a long time they supplied the tanneries with water. In the 19th century they where covered up and turned into streets. Later on their water was deviated and now they serve as sewers and for the evacuation of rain water.

The map below shows local leather professionals that used to work in our neighborhood. Nowadays they are all gone and our museum can count as a small monument to a local economic glory of the past.

All secrets of ancient shoe making revealed

The results of 20 years of research are finally being published. The examination of over 4,000 shoe remains recovered by archaeologists throughout Europe tell us about the evolution of technique and fashion of footwear over a period of nearly 5’000 years. Marquita Volken’s Thesis is finally accessible to the public.

you can order the book here: //  or  Oxbow Books

The knowledge of how to make a shoe pattern was certainly the ancient shoemaker’s most closely guarded secret, passed from master to apprentice but never written down. Now, after 20 years of research, the principles for making ancient shoe patterns have been rediscovered. Marquita Volken uses the practical knowledge and research techniques developed by Olaf Goubitz in combination with the methods established by Carol van Driel-Murray and Willy Groenmann-van Waateringe to identify the 17 basic types of cutting patterns used for archaeological leather footwear. Over 400 named shoe styles are identified and presented within a chronological framework covering Prehistory, the Roman period, the Middle Ages and the early modern times. This comprehensive guide to European archaeological footwear is richly illustrated with drawings and photographs of archaeological leather shoe finds and shoe reconstructions. A catalogue presents each named shoe style along with the cutting patterns used, a concise description and a full list of the published examples. The volume also includes a short history of calceological studies, case studies, the fundamental research methods and an overview of shoe sole/upper constructions for archaeological leather shoes.

About the author: Marquita Volken holds degrees in philosophy, art history, fine art, and a doctorate degree in archaeology. She is the author and co-author of over 70 articles and book contributions about archaeological leather finds from Switzerland, The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and France

you can order the book here:
or  Oxbow Books
or //

Cobblestone paving in front of our doors

The rebuilding project of our neighborhood also involves setting cobblestones in all the streets and passages. It is hard work and best done by hand. The sound of hammer strokes on the stones being driven into the laid out sand is music and that will accompany us for weeks to come. Each day, be it sunshine or rain they advance a few yards.

On the radio

How a shoe can be dated (in French), to hear on Radio Suisse Romande la première (RSR1), radio show “impatience” Sept. 14th 2011

Calceology, the discipline of studies of old shoes, where shoes are a tool to date an archaeological site. Because shoes change with fashion and fashion changes rapidly those common object become a crucial indicator of time, able to narrow down time frames where C14 dating lacks in accuracy.

RSR 2011