Tom Carbone Graduated with a BFA Crafts degree from The College for Creative Studies in 2002. Tom’s range of experience is wide; he has worked in ceramics, jewelry, metals, wood, and glass. Among dozens of other lesser interests Tom’s personal creative outlets have included Pottery, Sculpture, and Studio Furniture. Currently he studies Shoemaking, creates Theatrical shoes, and makes Hand-tools for the Art of shoemaking.
Shoemaking is difficult and takes many years of training and practice, I am driven by the desire to “Make.”
My favorite quote comes from what may seem on the outside an unlikely place but it says it all to me.
Solomon Adler sums up how one is taken hostage by ideas:
“When an idea is conceived by an inventor, it never leaves him in peace, it possesses him day and night until it is expressed, after which he enjoys a sense of relief and accomplishment.”
As an artist and inventor for as long as he can remember Tom Carbone continues on what may appear only to him as a straight line from one medium and subject to another. One day as a very young child… “I stood in front of a pile of wood and realized I couldn’t build what I could so clearly see in my mind’s eye. Ever since that day I have been learning the skills, to make whatever I envision.” Tom has worked with his gifted hands all his life; he is a designer, a craftsman, and an artist. His many years in ceramics, furniture, and industry have given him the experience required to create beautiful things of great complexity.
Amongst all of the craft art mediums ceramics rose as a 1st love, later, at CCS that interest turned to furniture. And after a decade of Studio Furniture work his focus changed to shoes and making hand tools for shoemaking. “Shoes began for me during preparations for the 2004 Detroit Artists Market annual exhibition Furniture & Fashion, (where I exhibited 7 new pieces of Studio Furniture) as a challenge from fashion show curator Ivana Kalafatic. Ever since that evening when my first two pair of heels came down the runway I knew I had to do more.”
“My goal is to put custom shoes on custom feet. And to design and develop shoes for production” an endeavor that appears to be just around the corner.
“Shoes as Sculpture, on and off the foot”
A Studio Shoe Maker…one who designs and makes custom shoes. “I am now able to put to use all of my experience, training, and talent into the creation of beautiful shoes; the ultimate in functional sculpture.”
In the showroom setting we expect absolute perfection. New shoes are about perfection, I believe we are drawn to perfection in certain types of products such as Cars, Shoes, and Jewelry.
My design direction is centered on a visual “common sense” there is a natural or intuitive aspect of functional sculpture that not all shoes achieve. Straps should go places and do things that make sense and enhance the motion of the design, heels are an extension of the leg. When parts meet other parts, something happens and that interaction is very important. The shoe is an extension of the foot; the foot is always better looking with a shoe attached!
My shoes transform the foot into an icon of itself.
Studio Shoe Makers are rare indeed and although the trend is growing the legions are small.
“As a Studio Shoe Maker I get to use all materials in the creation of my footwear and tend to divide my energies between production like pieces and more couture works.”
Because shoes are both an esthetic and an engineering challenge my background uniquely suits the task. My many years in the design studios of the automobile industry were spent in the areas of prototyping, advanced engineering, and product development. These experiences gave me a deep understanding of how complex, multidimensional, and esthetically pleasing products are created. My Crafts degree from The College for Creative Studies has given me the training to design and create whatever I envision.
Shoes began for me during preparations for the 2004 Detroit Artists Market annual exhibition Furniture & Fashion, (where I exhibited 7 new pieces of Studio Furniture) as a challenge from fashion show curator Ivana Kalafatic. Ever since that evening when my first two pair of heels came down the runway I knew I had to do more. In January 2006 I switched my focus exclusively to shoes after more than a decade of Studio Furniture work.
Studio Shoe Maker – INTERVIEW
“Virtually every single part I make myself," the 59-year-old from Grosse Pointe said. "That influences the design and what I can achieve.”
He started making shoes in 2004 while taking part in a Detroit Artists Market furniture and fashion show. He was displaying work in the furniture show (he’d been making furniture for over 12 years), but all the craftspeople were invited to make items for models to wear.
“I had offered to make two pairs of shoes, which I had never done before," he said. After he saw models walking down the runway in his creations, he knew he wanted to make more shoes.
"People relate to shoes in an entirely different way," said Carbone, who attended the College for Creative Studies. "As a craftsperson I really want to please people. I’m looking for something that the greatest number of people respond to.”
He’s made a variety of Theatrical pairs of shoes, spending 20-40 hours on each pair. With each pair he makes, he said, he learns more about how shoes are made.
“I’ve been working in virtually all forms of crafts most of my life," he said. "Shoes allow me to use all of my skills; jewelry making, woodworking, machining, sewing, sculpting, and designing.”
Carbone, a retired Chrysler design engineer, said that shoes are difficult, but fun, to make, and has shown his work in runway shows and fashion shoots. Working in the Automotive styling studios where one-off prototypes and specialty properties are the norm uniquely prepares and educates one in the design process.”