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April 26, 2017

"Entrusted to the hands of the antique finisher, the upper part of the shoe becomes a work of art". The technique used to achieve this work of art is known as 'Anticatura'. Anticatura is Italian for antique finishing, it is a specialty of Italian and French maestro shoemakers.
 The Anticatura method is a hand dyeing procedure of leather, which creates a completely unique patina with an aged effect. The procedure begins with unfinished crust leather, which has been tanned and handled, but not yet dyed. The artist applies the dyes by hand to the uncut hide and the fully assembled shoe, with the usage of white cloths, brushes and sometimes sponges, to create a unique look on each and every pair of shoes.


The procedure includes applying many layers of colors to the leather to build up the patina until the desired look is completed. It starts with one or two stages involving different dyes, applying as much as seven or eight dyes for an even greater depth of color that can only be found in hand colored shoes. Other times multiple colors are used to obtain a patina with many unique color shades, in which cloths and brushes are needed, because every dye requires its own cloth and brush, in order to avoid destroying the desired effect. The Anticatura procedure allows the Antique finisher to highlight certain parts of the grain, and also specific parts of the shoe, often the toe cap, the heel counter and the eyelets, from the throat line up to the top of the tongue. The technique offers the leather volume, created by using the contrasting light and shadow of the grain. The procedure is reminiscent of the 'Chiaroscuro' technique in fine art, which describes the dramatic effect of contrasting areas of light and dark.                          


 In contrast to  painting on a canvas, leather is a living and unpredictable material. Each piece of leather different from the next, despite the fact that it comes from the same hide, its numerous points absorb the dye differently. So as to be able to stabilize the dyes and make sure the color stays set, tiny irons, made particularly for the project, are rubbed over the shoe, the high temperature blocks the pores of the leather and the dyes are then set by using creams and polishes made from beeswax.


 It takes passion, skills and consistency to grow to be an expert in Anticatura. The intention of an expert antique finisher is to create a pair ofshoes that seem identicalto the others in the size range of the collection. However, no pairlooks the same, as each antique finisher puts theirpersonal interpretation on the desired effect, which is the appeal of creating shoes that are technically ideal, but at the same time special pieces that are truly work of art. 


Santiago Garcia








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