Not every step of making the Snowshoes was photographed. This post will be an overview.
I began with a jig, or form, made of solid balsa. I'd inherited a slab of balsa from my father-in-law and it was easy to cut. This first picture also shows my 'test toe.' I knew I needed a test piece: How to do the curve of the toe? How to lace it? I was stumped for quite a while, despite my husband's snowshoe book which at least gave me the names of the parts.
At first, my snowshoe frames were fastened with pins.
Sanding and staining were done, and then varnishing. True to a tackshop's practice, the stain was Leather Glow and the varnish none other than Super Shene, four coats.
The next step was to cut grooves in the sides of the toe and tail. NOT in the center part, oddly.
Lacing the tail, I got into the real heart of snowshoe-making. Many pictures of both full scale and miniature snowshoes later, I got this far -- I was deducing the math entirely on my own. I think I redid the tail 4 times before I decided to stop counting the re-dos.
(Somewhere in there was a lot of toe-lacing on the test piece.)
If this next shot looks like a success, I can only say it was temporary. Note the uneven bottom row (next to the crossbar) on the toe.
It had taken all my toe and tail adventures to bring me to the proper frame of mind to appreciate what a miracle that was...
Somewhere in there I had re-laced the toe. Note there are 6 rows and no unevenness at the crossbar. I had done both centers by Sept 23rd. This odd photo made one shoe look larger.
I was picky now. For the umpteenth time I undid the lacing and re-laced... again
It was now the end of September and more than 40 hours had gone into the snowshoes. Pioneering pieces are always going to be longer. After an almost-argument over the bindings (they had to actually work, so that the user's toes pivoted around the master cord, plus no boot could slip forwards or backwards), I slowly evolved them towards something I was happy with. The bindings took an extra week. Why does the littlest detail loom as the hardest to finish!? Because the artist's mind has already moved on...
toys versus miniatures again...
Photographing the snowshoes was, like every other step, surprisingly hard to figure out at first but then fun and easy. I wanted to boast about my tackmaking skills but make it clear only the shoes were the subject of an auction. In the end I dragged out Steve the general-purpose Western Handler, dressed over so many years I can't recall who did what except I did the belt and bolo, LaJewel my best standing resincast, a Williams Matriarch finished by Katie Richards (thanks Katie!), my famous Elk saddle (it has the most rawhide braiding of any in the house) and my only solid-rawhide Fully Braided Rawhide Bridle, the year 2000 one. There I was, polishing silver with a Q-tip and wondering whether I'd used any coatings on that bridle 17 years ago. I hadn't.