Meet The Shoemaker
Here in the mountains of rural Virginia, Glen Leasure crafted durable, attractive shoes, made with high-quality materials, and a genuine love for his work. A great many feet wandered, danced or hobbled through his shop, and walked out happy, in custom-designed and individually fitted shoes. His goal was to make custom shoes available to more people, and to share his knowledge and love of his craft, by teaching shoe/boot making to others.
Although always interested in shoes, Glen’s serious interest in footwear began in the early 80’s. A friend taught him to make moccasins which he then lovingly made for his family. After a few years he left the moccasin method behind since repairs were frequent and difficult. His mother gave him a book on shoemaking and a new love was born. He was drawn to the stitch down method since he could do it entirely by hand and a satchel of tools was all that was necessary. By the turn of the century he had turned his hobby into a profession of making custom fitted shoes. After many requests he developed a curriculum for his craft and began teaching classes in his shop. Students from all walks of life and from all over the world have come to his shop to learn his unique method of shoemaking.
Glen Leasure was a man of passion and principles which he tried hard to live by. His heart was big. Upon receiving a request to help teach shoemaking in Sierra Leone, West Africa, Glen rose to the challenge and spent more than a year gathering donated and purchased tools and supplies to send to a country that had lost so many skills due to a brutal 10 year civil war. Fundraising ensued to raise money for expenses. In January 2010 he crossed the ocean for a two month stay but, after a month he became very ill and was sent home. For the next eight months he danced with two kinds of Leukemia one of which brought him to passing in August 2010.
Fortunately, Glen always had a keen interest in keeping the art of shoemaking alive. In 2007 he had the foresight to have a cinematographer come and film him making a pair of custom shoes. After his death his family picked up this project, and completed the editing and production of the DVD set now called The Art of Shoemaking.
Click here to listen to an interview with Peggy & Gabe on National Public Radio about Glen, Shoemaking, and our new DVD set.
A few highlights along the way
- Glen studied historical footwear during a week-long apprenticeship at Old Salem, North Carolina
- In Helena, Montana, he apprenticed for two intense weeks with L. S. Bingham- Master Bootmaker
- A 17-year licensed pedorthist, Tony Tate, coached him on physiology and orthopedic practices
- He taught several classes at John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, North Carolina
- The American Shakespeare Center, of Staunton, Virginia, came to him when they needed 16th Century style shoes for a production of Twelfth Night. Eleven pairs of shoes were made for the actors. They gave him the nickname “Dr. Ambulator”
- Glen authored articles for Shop Talk, a national trade magazine.
- He was featured in several articles in local papers and also in Shop Talk.
- Through Glens instruction an Amish Community in Kentucky was able to reestablish their lost art of shoemaking which then led to a very prosperous business. Over the years they swapped many tricks of the trade with each other.