Brooklyn Shoe Designer Launches Make-Your-Own Summer Sandal Workshop

By Nikhita Venugopal on July 25, 2013 7:59am 

Slideshow
 Shoemaker Olivier Rabbath will conduct a summer sandal-making workshop at his Boerum Hill studio.
Summer Sandal Workshop
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BOERUM HILL — Nothing says Brooklyn summer like do-it-yourself sandals.

Olivier Rabbath, a shoemaker and designer, is launching a “Sandal Summer Workshop” at his Hoyt Street studio, teaching students how to craft their own strappy footwear.

Rabbath, 52, who has lived in Boerum Hill for four years, has crafted more than 30,000 pairs of shoes during a career that’s spanned two decades, he said.

From cowboy boots to formal pumps, shoe lovers have created “every kind” of footwear at Rabbath’s workspace at 180 Hoyt St., where he has been teaching a workshop called “How To Make Boots From Your Garage” for four years.

But Rabbath likes to start out with knee-high boots, especially for beginners.

“By teaching you [how to make] high boots, I teach you the whole spectrum of footwear,” said Rabbath, whose shoes were exhibited last year at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

At the eight-hour sandal-making workshop, priced at $300 for two-to-four weeks, shoe crafters can design, purchase material, create and take home a pair of unique sandals.

The French shoemaker, who moved to America from Paris in 1989, will also help students create a life-size plaster replica of their foot — on which students will create the shoe — so it will be a perfect fit, he said.

“It’s very much in the hands of the student,” he said.

Leonard Jazwiecki, 62, an artist and therapist who lives in Westchester, took classes with Rabbath last spring, as an “unusual and interesting” way to spend time with his son, he said.

While the private lessons were supposed end in five weeks, they continued the sessions for about three months, he said.

“It was absolutely enjoyable,” he said, describing Rabbath as an “amazing… craftsman right here in Brooklyn.”

During the boot-making workshop, Jazwiecki was surprised by how tired he felt from cutting and sewing at the end of each class, he said.

“It’s concentrated heavy-duty effort,” said Jazwiecki. “You’re using all of your mind and all of your body.”

Jazwiecki left the class with a pair of navy blue suede boots and his 34-year-old son made a pair of classic brogans in brown.

“It’s an experience not to be missed,” he said. “Olivier can teach anybody.”

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