Nurse Entrepreneur Sells Hand Painted Clogs

Kira painting clogs in The Swanx booth at Sock Summit. photo: jparadisi 2011

Craft is remembering that art is seen, felt and heard as well as understood, knowing that not all ideas start with words, thinking with hands as well as head.

Mark Jones, Director, Victoria and Albert Museum

Yesterday, I went to Sock Summit, billing itself as the greatest (and only) sock knitting show on earth.” Sock Summit is a conference for knitters held annually in Portland, Oregon since 2009. Their tag line is “Taking sock knitting almost too far!”

I wasn’t there to shop for yarn or knitting projects though. I was there to meet Kira Chelemedos, an artist who hand paints clogs for The Swanx, a Washington business owned by a nurse, Shawna Johnson, and her husband Curtis. Kira begins with a pair of leather clogs, and custom paints virtually any design a buyer wants, including portraits of pets, children, or grandchildren. The paint is sealed onto the leather, and waterproof. The Swanx website features many original designs by artists if you aren’t interested in designing your own.

Tiny beaded Victorian purse necklaces knitted by my Mom. photo: jparadisi 2011

I tried on a pair of open back clogs and was surprised to find non-slick inner soles. I have narrow feet with high arches; when I wear open back clogs my feet slip out backwards and I hit my instep on the back of the shoe, which hurts like hell. The non-slick inner soles of these clogs prevent that from happening. The pair I wanted was already sold in my size, so Kira and I discussed the idea of sending her a jpeg of one of my paintings for her to copy onto a pair of open backed clogs. It costs a little more for a custom design, but how cool will it be to wear my painting on a pair of shoes?

Afterwards, I toured the other vendors’ booths. I can knit. I have made several sweaters, (which I actually wear), scarves, and felted handbags. I’ve also knitted wire bowls, which I’ve exhibited in a gallery, and sold from my studio. I do not consider myself a knitter, however. My mother is a knitter, and by that I mean she can make anything from a long, continuous strand of yarn: tiny, beaded Victorian purses to hold an amulet and wear around your neck, scarves that look like lace, prize-winning christening gowns for babies, and well, socks. It’s rare to see my Mother sitting without knitting needles clicking between her fingers. As soon as I entered the conference room full of vendors selling hand spun and dyed yarns, and knitting paraphernalia, I wished my mother and I lived in the same city so we could have shared the experience.

Note: I did not receive payment or reimbursement, either financial  or in product from Sock Summit or The Swanx for this post . The information above is my opinion.


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