Monday, December 18, 2017

Cosmetic foot surgery: The ultimate shoe accessory?

The rise in cosmetic foot surgery has seen exponential growth as more women want beautiful feet to match their wonderful shoes. Toe shortening and fat injections into the foot pad are among the most popular procedures in a new plastic surgery craze focused on feet. Procedures costing more than $5,000 US are commonly undertaken to surgically enhance 'ugly feet' in an industry considered to be worth an estimated $45 million a year in the US alone.

Some surgical podiatrists perform toe shortening procedures, which involve dislocating the digit before removing a section of bone and inserting a titanium rod to bring the shortened bone back together again. Soft tissue transplants to the heel are also routinely undertaken.

Fat is lipo-sucked from a patient's tummy and injecting it into the balls of the feet to give added cushioning as well as cover up boney feet caused by the aging process. The 'pinky toe tuck' remain another popular procedure in which fat is taken out of the little toe to make it narrower.

Like all surgery cosmetic foot surgery is not without potential problems which include permanent nerve damage, infection, scarring, a recurrence of the deformity that was supposedly fixed and chronic pain when wearing not just high heels, but all shoes. Many patients are willing to accept the risks as the price of fashion, however it is recommended to anyone considering surgical procedure to first seek Informed consent for elective surgery and discuss these and other issues with their specialist prior to surgery.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Kangaroo skin shoes

From 1790 convict shoemakers made large quantities of footwear. Inferior bovine hides meant alternative were sought and from 1805, Kangaroo leather was used as a cheap and convenient substitute for kid leather. It transpired kangaroo skin had superior qualities of high strength, light weight and durability which made it ideal for finer boots, whips, gloves and eventually sporting shoes.

By the mid nineteenth century there were many small tanneries established as the demand for quality kangaroo products rose across the world. As today, an estimated 80% of kangaroo skin products went abroad.

The native marsupial developed a special skin which it to survive harshest environments and against many predators. Studies conducted by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) confirmed kangaroo was one of the strongest leathers of similar substance. When split into thinner substances kangaroo retains much of its original tensile strength i.e. when split to 20% of original thickness kangaroo retains between 30 to 60% of the tensile strength of the unsplit hide. As a hide it is lighter and stronger than the hide of a cow (bovine) or goat. It has 10 times the tensile strength of cowhide and is 50% stronger than goatskin.

Microscopically kangaroo presents with uniform orientation of collagen fibre bundles in parallel with the skin surface. By comparison cattle has complex weaving patterns with fibre bundles angled as much as 90 degrees to the skin surface. In kangaroo skin the low angle of weave running parallel to the surface of the skin acts like a rope gives the material exceptional strength. Because there is no fat within kangaroo hide the tanning process does not leave “voids” which can cause a reduction in strength per unit thickness. The hide also does not contain sweat glands or erector pili muscles and elastin is evenly distributed throughout the skin thickness. This structural uniformity explains both the high tensile strength of the whole leather and the greater retention of strength in splits. By comparison, bovine skin is much more complex in cross section. Hence it has many more weak points from which tears can start when placed under tension. In addition when sliced into splits the collagen fibres running at significant angles to the skin surface are cut which further weakens structural strength.

In Australia, kangaroos have never been farmed and hides are produced from free ranging wild animals. Today most species of macropods are protected from hunting by law. Most of the leather used today is a by-product of beef industry. Fifty (50) % is used to produce shoes, 25% to make clothing, 15% for upholstery and the rest is used to produce accessories.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Foot gifts at Christmas time

How many of us wake up Christmas morning only to open presents we don't want, don't need and sometimes absolutely detest? Our nearest and dearest have hocked themselves just to buy the latest craze and although it's the thought that counts, this is small consolation. In the top ten of unwanted gifts after Christmas is a foot spa. What seems a great idea for a loved one before the festive season quickly becomes an unnecessary chore and soon the footbath finds itself, gathering dusk in the back of a dark cupboard. Take yourself to a new year trash or treasure sale and I can lay money on it, you will see at least one unwanted foot spa for sale. Pity really because they can be great fun and very satisfying.

The combination of heat and electricity in small doses has a directive sedative effect on the nerves responsible for pain. Invigorating massage increases the local circulation, relaxing even the most tired of feet. Sounds good, well the next time you have your feet in a basin of look warm water throw in a handful of health salts and you will get the general picture.

Superstitious people will never give shoes for Christmas gifts, which is not so strange really since we all know how difficult it is to find a pair of comfortable shoes for ourselves let alone others. An old wives tale is if you give a friend a new pair of shoes then they are sure to walk away from you. Probably best then to stick to slippers or sandals as gifts this Festive Season. There are plenty to choose from. A visit to your local Pharmacy will leave you totally bewildered at the current range of thongs (sandals).

Socks, tights and nylons can be a bit boring as gifts but there are plenty fun items around which are sure to liven up everybody's Christmas Day. For practical reasons when buying such items, always a good idea to know the right size, of course. One size items are no problem but if in doubt buy a bigger size and keep the receipt. The most inspired foot, or in this case, sock related gift I could find was called "Little Feet" sock pairers . If you have ever experienced the frustration of losing a sock then this is your lucky Xmas. One clever inventor has come up with an idea of keeping socks together whilst they are in the washing. Based on the design of tea towel holders, 'Little Feet" have proved a great idea for those of us frustrated by finding one sock in the pair. Alternatively, for the executive in the family with everything, a personalised pedicure set seems appropriate. There are several to choose from, and the market ranges from the cheap and cheerful to the gold plated collector's range.

A perfect gift for the Christmas baby is a baby nail kit.

Back to the adults and there are several 'adult toys' which help bring out the animal in us all. Textured wooden massage implements which would look more at home in a torture chamber are widely available for "hitting the right spot". Combined with the right oils you are guaranteed to give your partner hours of endless fun. Just don't tell the wife!

Something to avoid is callous removers, tempting as knives or machines designed to scrape the skin may be these can damage the skin surface. Some people living with diabetes for example may have lost the feeling in their feet, and are unaware of cuts and tears in the skin until they become infected. Your money may be better spent on a gift voucher for podiatry assessment.

For those of us who find it difficult to reach the outer limits, our worries are over because the perfect gift of a long shoe horn is out there and ready to fill your stocking. The pedal extremities will never look so good.

House the homeless and Feed the World

Chinese man wears 300 lbs shoes claiming it helps hair growth

Kiwi shoe polish and chunder

Patent leather describes the gloss finish on the leather and was developed in 1818. The leather protection ensured dressier looking footwear which could easily be kept clean with a cloth. It was invented in Newark, New Jersey by Seth Boyden and involved coating the leather with linseed oil. By the nineteenth century, leather shoes and boots had become more affordable to the masses and to ensure the leather looked its best shoe polish became an essential accessory.

The world’s best known shoe polish (Kiwi) was first made in Melbourne Australia in 1906. The polish was developed by William Ramsay (Scotsman) who named it Kiwi after the flightless bird endemic to New Zealand. This was the home land of his wife, Annie Elizabeth Meek Ramsay. Kiwi shoe polish was a fine blend of quality waxes which protected and nourished leather as well as giving the shoes a longer lasting glossy shine. Initially it was sold to local farmers but eventually caught on in the towns and cities. Shoe polish gave both a shoe shine as well as preserving shoe leather. Later in 1908 the product incorporated agents that added suppleness and water resistance to the leather.

At the outbreak of World War I (1914) a gigantic demand for army boots followed and these needed to be polished easily, quickly, and efficiently. Sales in boot polish rocketed and very quickly Kiwi shoe polish became the Commonwealth troops’ favorite. Kiwi Polish was also adopted by the Americans as Australian-made boot polish was then considered the world's best. Doughboys took the marvelous boot polish back to the states where it became popular it soon started to be manufactured in the States. By the mid twenties Kiwi polish was sold in over 50 countries and had became a must accessory for the prevalent English style which prevailed at the time.

Even after hostilities in the Second World War the benefits of well polished boots swung advantage in the minds of Japanese “Pom Pom Girls” (teenage prostitutes) who during the Allied occupation of the country preferred boys with a shine on their boots. Despite their designer uniforms US rank and file were not dab hands with the shoe brush but once they realized there was a superior Australian boot polish, the commodity became a prize black market item. US soldiers returning from the war continued to use the product, leading to a further surge in its popularity. Kiwi shoe polish stayed Australian based for nearly 70 years. Today KIWI shoe polish is sold and marketed in almost 200 countries around the world.

The market for shoe polish was fiercely competitive in Australia with many rival brands. Most used fictional figures or historical characters to advertise their products. Cobra Boot Polish was made in Sydney and advertised in The Sydney Bulletin (1909 -1920). The cartoon character used was "Chunder Loo of Akim Foo." (Chunder Loo was rhyming slang for and spew or sick). Drawn by Norman Lindsay (later by hs brother Lionel Lindsay) the adverts usually had a short poem which dealt with topical issues. As a result the adverts were very popular ensuring the Australian colloquialism “chunder” became common vernacular. Much later the term became forever associated with Barry Humphries’ Australian abroad, character, Barry McKenzie.

In 1906 Cherry Blossom Boot Polish was launched in 1906. It sold well and the ‘fish plate’ metal opener was introduced in 1924. This design paved the way for the ‘press to open’ tin we still use today.

Shoes transform from flats to high heels in seconds.

Are shoes with swappable heels the future? Kitty Knowles, The Memo.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pacific North West macabre shoe finds

Washed up shoes containing human feet continue in British Columbia with the most recent find in December 2017. According to CNN, this is the thirteenth such discovery on the same stretch of coast since 2007.

The British Columbia Coroners Service says the 12 feet found earlier all belonged to humans, and that eight of them have been identified. Early analysis suggests the latest find is human and further investigation and testing in ongoing. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in conjunction with the Coroners Service are trying to identify the foot, the cause of death, and whether it matches any records for missing persons.

In 2016, a pair of running shoes containing human feet washed up on on Botanical Beach almost a week apart. The BC Coroners Service Identification Unit were able to confirm the macabre findings were a matching pair of human feet. To date the owner has not been identified. Forensic inquiry includes identifying make, size and colour of the shoes to trace where that particular type of shoe was first sold in North America. In the absence of other forms of identification, other than missing persons, shoe provenance helps investigators identify a time line i.e. when these shoes were manufactured and sold. Limited edition trainers are especially helpful.

Feet disarticulate naturally after a body is exposed to prolonged immersion in water, however, the feet in all cases, were preserved by the rubber soled shoes. The shoe not only protects the decomposing foot but because its buoyancy floats on the tides it can carry them hundreds of miles. Fish are unable to chew through them and the remains were taken by the tide and deposited at random places along the coast of British Columbia in Canada and Washington State in the U.S. British Columbia coroner, Stephen Fonseca, was convinced the earliest finds did not belong to victims of the Asian Tsunami of 2004 and has also dismissed the theory they were victims of human trafficking or stowaways who smuggled themselves onto a container ship as it left Vancouver. The BC Coroners Service has been able to identify 10 of the previous 12 feet, belonging to seven individuals. In none of the cases was any foul play involved. Seems on the balance of probability most belonged to suicides who threw themselves off nearby bridges.

According to reports in the Canadian press, the discoveries began in August 2007 when a man's foot was found on Jedediah Island, northeast of Nanaimo in British Columbia. Over the next five years they have turned up with occasional regularity on nearby beaches and always clad in a rubber soled shoe. Pranksters have made the investigation more difficult and in 2008, a hoax ‘foot’ was planted on Vancouver Island which renewed interest in the case. Through painstaking work the forensic experts cross-checked the locations where the feet were found with missing person’s directories. Tide flows and data on where the shoes were manufactured. It appears most of the victims jumped from a bridge over the Fraser River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver.

More information
Why are severed feet washing up in Pacific North-west? Newsday BBC World Service
Quackenbush C. 2017 A Foot Has Been Found on the Beach in Canada. It's the 13th Such Discovery in a Decade Time December 11, 2017

Reviewed 13/12/2017

Sushi Shaped Like Yeezys

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Scots: Xmas, Nativity and Christmas cards

The Scots never miss the chance to party, or so you might think, but they were last Europeans to resist the temptations of the festive season. There was no reference to Christmas in the New Testament and so the Scots did not regarded it as a Christian festivity. Traditionally the Scots (or Celts) celebrated New Year and viewed the idea of Christmas as an attempt by the English as pure commercialism and a poor attempt to emulate Hogmanay.

Critics of the Victorian Christmas suggested it was a time for “do gooders” to exercise charity to the less privileged. Charles Dickens author of “Christmas Carol“ was a firm believer charity should be extended throughout the year and not restricted to one day. Ironically the success of Scrooge, encouraged Christians to combine capitalism with the doctrine and practice of Christianity. Christmas Day and Boxing Day were concertinaed into the feast days for family fun and celebrations. These were celebrated at home and abroad.

Christmas was celebrated by expatriates wishing to link with their friends and families back in the motherland. Many Scottish exiles ate plum puddings and turkey dinners long before their relatives recognised Christmas Day in Scotland. Back in the Highlands at the beginning of the 20th century Christmas was just another day with faint echoes of bonfire ceremonies, more related to pagan sun worship than celebrating the birth of Christ.

Twelfth night had more significance to the Scots ironically because of its pre-Christian association with the end of Samhain, or the Celtic Festival of the Dead. During the time from Halloween to the Twelfth Night, Celts celebrated walking with those who came before and those who were still to come. Dickens’ captures this with his Ghost of Christmas past and Ghost of Christmas yet to come.

After Prince Albert and Queen Victoria took the European winter traditional of decorating fir trees with flags of the Empire and candles it became very popular. Along with the invention of electricity came electric Christmas lights which furthered the general celebration of Christmas in England and America.

Santa Clause made his first appearance in 1860. There were many models for Santa or St Nicholas but the most popular was a humanitarian bishop in Asia Minor in the fourth century who became the symbol of gift giving in many European countries. Kids from poor families could anticipate finding in their stockings an orange, a new penny a piece of shortbread and a toffee.

Christmas dinner for the average family consisted of chicken broth followed by potatoes roasted at the garden or street bonfire. Families sang carols and clapped their hands to keep warm.

Pre-Christian Druids gathered mistletoe as a medicine from sacred oaks. These were cut down with golden sickles and considered helpful with fertility and that is why, to this day we kiss under a sprig of mistletoe at Christmas and New Year.

Nativity scenes painted mainly the 15th & 16th centuries inspired Christmas cards with written inscriptions and these became popular from the 18th century on-wards.

The term, Xmas was not a convenient abbreviation for Christmas card designers but instead relates instead to the translation of "CH" from Greek. Holy scriptures were originally written in Greek, before beig translated into Latin then English. In Greek, words beginning with "CH" and written as an "X", are pronounced with a silent "h", but when spoken in English this becomes a harsh sounding "K" e.g. K-mas or the mass of Christ.

Christmas Customs: Feet and shoes

Christmas is a Christian festival but mid-winter was celebrated in pagan times and many superstitions still prevail. The Yule log for example was burnt on the winter festival fire and after was broken into many pieces and kept by members of the household as lucky talisman for the year ahead. It was a bad omen if the Yuletide log was touched by either a woman with flat feet or a man with a turn in his eye.

The Evil Eye is well documented in occult culture but there is no reasoned explanation for flat feet. The Judo-Christian belief that man was made in the image of God gave origins to the ideal body form which we still see today. In Christian art the foot was presented as curved and well formed. This came to represent the Christian Foot, the corollary i.e. a flat foot, was thought to represent evil. In the horrendous time of witch hunts much remorse was expressed after the murder of witches by the community whose frenzy had been orchestrated by the Witch Hunters. To pacify them great ceremony was placed on demonstrating “the mark of the devil” and cadaver feet often presented as flat.

An old English saying was "If you do not give a new pair of shoes to a poor person at least once in your lifetime, you will go barefoot in the next world." This belief may be the reason why Christmas gifts were exchanged by the middle classes so as to avoid poverty. Miniature shoes became popular gifts for good luck from the 18th century on-wards. One reason why miniature shoes were given instead of the real thing might be because superstitious people believe if you give a friend a new pair of shoes then they were sure to walk away from you. Wearing new shoes on Christmas Day was also thought, by many, to bring bad luck.


There is an old Greek traditional of burning old shoes during the Christmas season to prevent misfortunes in the coming year. The ancient Egyptians inhaled the fumes from burning sandals as a cure for headaches. Some people believe shoes retain the spirit of the wearer and by incinerating them the spirit is released. Footwear made from vegetable materials would also contain natural Salicylates to clear the head. Occultists uphold evil is repelled by human smells and the most foul to linger would be a pair of well loved shoes. None of which explains why keeping Christmas cake or the remains of the Yule Log under the bed helps get rid of chilblains.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A brief history of miniature shoes and Sabot de Noels

Miniature terracotta shoes were used as funerary vases in Persia 2000 BC and from Greek times jars or aryballos made in the shape of shoes or boots were used to store oils, ointments or perfumes.

The prehistoric northern tribes which inhabited the Italian peninsula and eventually became the Romans kept jars and amulets in the form of shoes. The Romans considered models of the foot good luck charms which would ward off evil spirits as well as encourage fertility. Oil lamps in the shape of feet wearing sandals were used as night ;ights by the Romans

Between the 8-12th century, the Incas used vases in the shape of model feet and were called the third foot. These might store powers of chica and cola which were used as burial offerings.

In 15th century Europe, long toed boot shaped drinking cups became popular. Many believe these vessels were first used as ceremonial goblets used to welcome new members or bestow special cheer to mastership of the Cordwainer's Guild. Loving cups from the same time were more often modeled on women's shoes, some with inscriptions like, "I wish for no other."

Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries the workshops of Faenza and Florence made delightful majolica versions of delicate shoe styles of the time. These were tin-glazed earthenware richly coloured and decorated. Men used these artifacts as hand warmers or containers for spirits. Many were made with a neck for straws and these were thought to be popular wedding presents so the couple could enjoy a honeymoon toast.

During the 18th century it became very popular for adults to exchange gifts of porcelain shoes. Known as 'fancies in faience' these were miniature shoes filled with sugar almonds or jewelery like rings, brooches and even shoe buckles. The term faience was derived from Faenza in Italy. The shoes were meant for luck and their contents underpinned friendship. The fashion for faience grew throughout the 18th century and porcelain makers like Delftware catered accordingly. Delft was based in the Netherlands and produced distinctive style of glazed earthenware (usually blue and white). The company produced wonderful miniatures much admired because of their painted designs, often including people in everyday events.

The Rococo slipper imortalised by the fairy tale Cinderella (written by Charles Perrault -1697) and was copied endlessly. Miniature shoes took on an erotic nature and polite gifts of shoes were often exchanged between lovers in the hope and expectation the ultimate prize would soon be within grasp.

Traditionally French and Spanish children left their clogs filled with carrots and hay for the reindeer and Santa reciprocated by filling their shoes full of confectionery. This is known as Sabots de Noel. If you are ever in France during the festive season you may be surprised to find children lay out their shoes and not their stockings for Père Noël (Father Christmas}.

The origins of Sabots de Noel, are according to tradition on Christmas Eve, a little French girl put her sabots in front of the fire, hoping Père Noël would leave her something. When she woke up on Christmas morning she could not find her wooden clogs but instead, where the clogs were, she found a pair of clay fired, shoes, filled with confectionery. Her grandmother explained the strange transformation. when Père Noël was chilled to the marrow he was forced to light a fire to keep himself warm. When he ran out of firewood he used the little girl's clogs to feed the fire. By means of thanks and so as not disappoint the child, Père Noël ventured outside into the cold to find some clay. With incredible skill he forged a pair of porcelain shoes and left them, filled with nuts, apples and spiced buns.


It was only in the English version of Saint Nicholas did he throw golden coins down the chimney which were caught in the children’s' stockings, hanging up to dry by the fire.

Weber P 1982 Shoes : a pictorial commentary on the history of the shoe Switzerland: The Bally Shoe Museum