“Mister, will you make shoes for my doll?” “What are these shoes for?” “Do you have something for Cinderella?” Children have been “torturing” the workers of a private shoemaking salon located in Mogilev for years now. Kids that still believe in fairies, hobgoblins and wizards often drop in. For many of them it is a sort of excursion: where else could you see a collection of tiny boots, shoes and slippers that won’t fit every doll? The largest one is just 10 centimeters from toe to hill, and the tiniest sandals are hardly bigger than a toenail!
The idea to create a collection of miniature shoes belongs to Valery, one of the owners of the salon. “In Poland and Moscow such showcases are widely spread, because our colleagues were clever enough to understand that Lilliputian sandals and boots could serve as a sort of trademark: it certainly takes all your skills to make an inch-long shoe that looks just like a real one. We have toenail-long sandals, two-inch boots with heels and locks, and spurred wellingtons,” he says.
The first one was Alexander Shabeko. He found elegant men’s shoes in a catalogue and made a close mini-copy. Boots and slippers followed the first pair, making the other employees jealous. They are all able to work neatly and painstaikingly, just like surgeons with no chance to fail.
They have created over 100 pairs of doll shoes so far: clown’s boots, fur slippers, regular slippers, stylish boots and moccasins, and elegant 1.5-centimeter sandals just like those warn by real fashionmongers.
— A professional can make two pairs of real shoes in a day, but these toy shoes may take a week, because you have to follow all rules with miniature components, the makers tell me.
Not only children are eager to have a look at a pair of sandals small enough to be covered by one hand. Adults often offer pretty penny for at least one shoe, but shoemakers never sell the tiny collection. They say this is not business, but pleasure.
— Some people had to accept that we won’t sell toy shoes and for some reason started bringing us tiny shoes as souvenirs. So now we have small wooden, straw and glass shoes from Turkey, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, Alexander Shabeko tells me showing the collection. — This is not handwork, though, except for those boots made from bread that was sent from a prison.
There are visitors of a different sort. They realize that no one is going to sell them a shoe and while the receiving clerk is away they take the micro-shoes they like and simply flee. Over 10 pairs of shoes have been stolen. Nobody will report thefts to the police, because an inch-long shoe is almost impossible to find. At the same time, a shoe for Tom Thumb may cost up to an impressive $50. “So expensive!” some old lady said after she learnt the price. “Why do you make them, anyway? No one can use them!” “Who knows, maybe some boggards gather here at night and try them on and break them in,” shoemakers snigger.
…I don’t believe in boggards or hobgoblins, but when you hold a small sandal in your hand you want to believe in fairy-tales, because when you believe you become a little bit kinder.