Thursday, February 20, 2014

Luna Boots workshop.

    I've spent the past three days in Dunedin participating in a shoemaking workshop run by Luna from Luna Boots, held in Lou's studio. I heard about the workshop last minute from a friend I met at a hostel in Te Anau just days ago, and immediately knew I had to do whatever I could to get on the roster. There are some things I've always longed to do, and most of them involve using my hands to make tons of sorts of things-- knitting/ crocheting/ embroidery, book making, leather work... I've rarely been able to find the time or advice on how to get started on new projects, so when something like this stumbles across my path I have to participate.

    I've been traveling for over a week now, and was supposed to for yet another two weeks or so, but in order to make room for the workshop in my budget I shaved down my travel and found another WWOOF host for four days from now. I'm so glad I did-- the workshop was worth the time and resources to make a custom fitted, custom designed shoe of my own.

Lou has the prettiest studio I've ever seen. It's right in the heart of downtown, with big windows overlooking sweet and busy Dunedin cafes. Bonus, it was on top of a seriously delicious Japanese restaurant.

 Luna was such a great teacher. So kind, patient, and supportive with your work. She's been teaching shoemaking for nearly forty years, having started a shoemaking co op in Wales after college.

 It took three full days to make the shoes, which seems simultaneously like a seriously short amount of time and a quite lengthy process. The days flew by but the work was constant and complex. I'm left with so much appreciation for the process.

 Anyway, at this point I'm so totally mesmerized by the process of shoemaking. I'd love to make more once I'm home-- I found out about another shoemaking workshop in Port Townsend near Seattle that I'm too strongly considering making a trip out for.

We took some glamour shots of our shoes-- you can see the imperfections but I think they're a sweet reminder to myself that they were made by me with my own hands.

Everyone in the workshop wound up with the sweetest shoes that totally matched their personalities. I'm not sure mine necessarily reflect myself in them much, but, while the red lining was a sort of fluke brought on by lack of options, I think its suited to one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books that I first heard when I was fourteen and has stuck with me since: "if there is no love in the world, we will make a new world, and we will give it walls, and we will furnish it with soft, red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling into a jeweler's felt so that we should never hear it."

    (A funny thing: the redheaded girl with glasses went to Warren Wilson, I found out on the last day! An itty bitty college outside of Asheville. She now lives in New Zealand working for Amnesty International. I love it when the world makes it apparent how small it can really be.)

    Anyway, soon I'm off to Christchurch to meet the friend I heard about the workshop from and travel around the tip of the South island before bridging over to Wellington.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Oh my gosh, okay. I just got back from the dreamiest day trip of my life: across the Milford track from Te Anau to the sound. I managed to get a nice tour within my budget which was small-- five other couples joined my lonesome self, and I was the youngest there by at least thirty years but no where near the liveliest. 
Seeing Milford Sound was my true dream for my time here in New Zealand. It's probably the reason I'm here at all. Nestled into Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound (it's not really a sound, but a fiord-- rather than being carved by a river, it was carved by a glacier) is without a doubt the most special place on these islands. It was a rainy day, so the mountains weren't as clear as in the tourist pictures I've been drooling over, but I preferred it that way. I think fog is probably my favorite aesthetic, so quiet and dark and heavy. it affects you like that.

We made tooonnnss of pit stops along the way to itty bitty places with weird histories and gorgeous scenery. Some waterfalls, cascades, historic camps of famous travelers...

We spent so much time in the rainforests here, and I'm covered in sandfly bites now. The mossy, rich landscapes were worth every one, no doubt.


 They're hard to see, but there's a whole colony of baby boy seals on that rock, ahhhh

I've been in a daze ever since.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

fox glacier.

Two days ago I ventured ten hours by bus to a small town called Fox off the west coast of the south island. Home, what I consider to be a small town might have 3,000 residents, but just on the way to Fox we passed through one town with a population of two (plus their dog.) Fox has about 200 residents and one grocery store which is really more of what I would consider a gas station.
Fox Glacier is settled in the middle of a rainforest, and the glacier sometimes shrinks up to a meter per day in the summer time.  Walking onto the glacier, I felt like I must have been transported to another world, or at least another half of the world I thought I was on-- after spending two weeks in warm farming mountains, I was suddenly surrounded by rocky cliffs and glacial streams.

At some point, it dawned on me that this was the most special place I'd ever been. I tried to cherish the few short hours I spent on the ice, but already I'm wishing I was back there. No photos or words could do the magic of this place any justice.