At this stage the upper is properly settled on the last, where the leather insole has already been set and shaped. Between the lining and the upper the front support (puff) and the back support (counter) are inserted. The shoe is left like this for several days, during which time the leather shrinks, stretches, breathes and changes according to the temperature and humidity of the environment.
This is the final positioning of the upper onto the base of the shoe using hundreds of tiny tacks, or lost-head nails, distributed along the perimeter of the foot. This is followed by the insertion of the shank in the narrowest part of the insole between the heel and the ball of the foot (this gives the shoe the necessary rigidity and supports this part of the foot) and of the rand from the toe to the attachment of the shank.
The Application of the Sole.
After having coated the external borders of the insole with a rubber glue – this should be no wider than 1.5 cm so that the glue doesn’t block the pores of the leather – the shoemaker applies the sole. He trims the border of the sole and the welt and, with the knife, cuts a fingernail-width groove, a channel into which one of the edges is lifted; to fix the sole to the welt requires a second stitching with pitch thread. Having done this he replaces and glues the edge, the lip of the channel, to hide it completely and it is then smoothed and pressed. Then on the upper surface of the welt the marking is carried out, the cross-hatching in relation to the toes which gives it its characteristic aspect.
Stitching the Welt.
The welt is a strip of soft leather, accurately worked to the thickness of 2.5 mm and 15 mm in width. Its purpose is to form a base for the stitching which joins the upper and insole to one side and the sole to the other, guaranteeing a perfect impermeability and the possibility of further soling. Using an awl and a boar’s hair bristle which functions as a needle, the artisan fixes the welt to the insole using chain-stitch and three-six threads of tightly twisted hemp or linen.
To balance the difference in height created by the application of the welt a lightweight sockliner is glued to the sole.
The Construction of the Heel.
The heel consists of several layers of leather. The heel is completed by the application of a top piece, also in leather. The heel of a stylish shoe shouldn’t exceed 2.5 cm. After these stages are complete any excess leather on the sole, welt and heel is trimmed. The entire sole is then completely rubbed down using a rasp, glass and sandpaper; finally a damp sponge is passed over the leather sole to remove any residual dust.