What is a Shoe-Bird?

Basically, a “Shoe-Bird” is an original concept I developed a few years ago.  I carve a head of the shorebird I’m creating and attach it to an old shoe last.  I paint and seal the bird, then add legs and a base. The result… the one and only  “SHOE-BIRD.”

The Process…

What is a shoe-last?  Shoe companies in the early 1900’s made shoes by stretching leather around wooden forms called “lasts”, often confused with shoe stretchers. (both in photo left)

I search for lasts at antique stores, auctions, and other places. I envision the bird species I am making, carve the head, attach it to the last, partially paint it, then add legs and base. 

Yellow Legs

Approximately 16″ high

Collection of R. VanCleave

This alert yellow legs shoe-bird was made from a rare, high ankle shoe last which is very difficult to find.


Approximately 17″ high

 Private collection

A woman’s high heeled last was used for this piece.   This shoe last was one of my favorite finds.

Like all my my Shoe-Birds, a rusty pitch fork tine was used for the bill.

Long Billed Curlew

Approximately 28″ long

Collection of the artist

Curlews are the largest shore birds found in America.  They were also one of the tastiest, thus Curlews were almost hunted to extinction.

The high ankled, lace up shoe was popular with ladies around the 1800 ‘s.  Shoe manufacturers  made these forms to create this shoe style.

Long Billed Whimbrel

Approximately 18″ long

Collection of the artist

Whimbrels are found on the northwest American coast, and occasionally on the east coast of Canada.  They are excellent flyers.

This Whimbrel in the feeding position is very popular with decoy collectors. 



eMail:  RD@RDartz.com