Local Heart, Global Soul

March 6, 2014

The Very Strange Mixture Of Wonder And Disbelief…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Tourist shops are tourist shops: piled high with merchandise that can generally be classified as “the good, the bad and the ugly”…

…or more often ” the ugly, the useless and ugly and the both tasteless, useless and ugly”.

Here in Zaans Schans it’s running pretty much to the rule, there are a few tasteful  things and a ton of tat, but most of all there are shoes: tons and tons of wooden shoes.

I’m not an ornamental type of gal, the porcelain figures of the cute kitsch Dutch boy kissing the cute kitsch Dutch girl are light-years from what I would call a stunning addition to my home.

But each to their own… someone must like them and buy them or things like these wouldn’t be on sale in Dutch tourist shops.

Personally I wouldn’t object to a pair of klompen (clogs / wooden shoes) , but my pair of choice would preferably be old, even antique, very well used, plain in style and have been clearly worn. They would have ( preferably long)  history and character. Imagine my shock therefore when I came around the corner of the corridor in the museum and discovered the tourist shop. “Wall to Wall” clogs is n understatement… it’s wall to wall and floor to ceiling and the entire ceiling covered with clogs. The loft space of the building is visible and even that is a storage space for clogs.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You name a shoe size and they will surely have clogs here to fit, I can seriously say I have never seen so many clogs in one space, and in fact I hazard a guess that some regular Dutch shoe shops have less pairs than this. From a photographic point of view it’s fascinating,  from a personal point of view I’m cringing, it’s like a weird melange of  “Oh Wow!” and “Ew!” at the same time.

At one end of the room it’s possible to see a demonstration of how the clogs are made, as I stand taking photographs a young man comes and carves out a little more on a clog mounted on a lathe nearby. I find the rough, less hewn pairs more fascinating than the shiny, glossy, painted finished pairs.

I also like the decoration on the old metal till better than the little porcelain blue and white windmills.  Sigh, having confessed that must I now relinquish my Dutch nationality? Is this treason? These clogs are fascinating: I wonder on earth buys them all, do they actually try and wear them? ( I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall when they did because surely these can’t be correctly fitted or comfortable?) …do they hang them on the wall? …do they park pot plants in them? .. or are they shoved in the back of a cupboard or adorn the cistern on the loo?

I have a smile on my face… one of wonder and disbelief, but each to their own I suppose: what scares me in this room obviously makes a lot of other tourists very, very happy indeed. Mind you, upon reflection maybe it’s me that’s the odd one out here, after all I adore old tools and patterns on street drain covers… One thing is for certain: The object that is one man’s nightmare is another’s dream, and wht not? … each to their own.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 5, 2014

From The Stunningly Beautiful To The Dreadfully Bizarre….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Everyone knows that a special occasion such as a wedding is often a time when people splash out on a new outfit and shoes.

This is not a modern tradition, and in fact, in one respect grooms have less hard work to do in preparing for their nuptials now than in times of old.

Here in the museum at Zaans Schans, back in the summer of 2012 I learned lots of new things about Dutch traditions to do with “klompen” (clogs / wooden shoes) such asone information board tells me:

” If you were to be married on Marken or elsewhere a unique task awaited the bridegroom- this was to carve a pair of clogs by hand.

Beautiful motifs often with a symbolical meaning were used, sometimes the brides name and wedding date were engraved, and after many. many hours of intensive work an exclusive gift for the bride -to-be was created. The beautiful clogs were worn with pride once the pair were engaged.  The Marken bridegroom used many motifs and patterns in his carvings. Varying from figurative to symbolical – such as the bird which symbolizes fertility: and geometric to semi-abstract – such as the use of rosettes, stars, interwoven hearts, spirals and knots. Incredibly time consuming, the clogs are a true expression of love!”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Religion also determined footwear in centuries past, another information board tells me: ” Church clogs from Hindeloopen (1675)  These wooden shoes are about 300 years old, dating back to the period of early Hindeloopen folk art. At that time religion determined he lives of the people, more so than it does now- even footwear was decorated with biblical images. In this case the right clog shows “The lost son in grief” and the left “The lost son in splendour“.

It’s hard to get a photograph though the glass of the cabinet, but the colour and detail is exquisite…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“Platijnen”In the middle ages the wooden sandal developed into the “pattern”or “platijnen”. the “pattern”served as overshoe in which a thin slipper was worn. The metal platform meant that leather shoes and garments made less contact with street dirt. These “platijnen”date back to the 15th century.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Elegant carved, possibly bridal clogs, acquired in 2001, presumed to be from East Friesland, just over the German border.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And other clog from around Europe are sometimes just as ornate: These are from the Pyrenees area of France.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A special hatchet for clog makers (with a tilted handle) used to chop the rough clog shape out of a block of wood. Three special scooped chisels/drills are used to hollow out the foot opening.

It’s also worth noting that the “tourist” clog  that can be bought in many a Dutch souvenir shop differs vastly in fit to “real” klompen still worn today on farms, docks etc as proper working shoes. People who work in klompen have appointments with the makers who custom fit the inside of the clog so that it fits the wearer perfectly, so no rough edges and hard uncomfortable bits in their shoes, unlike the poor tourist who is generally lumbered with the “one size fits all” version.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Of course where you have the sublime you will usually also find the ridiculous: The Dutch have a sense of humour and this is reflected in their klompen… from mimicking leather shoes to the rather unsteady looking high heeled clog, there are also a selection on display that range from the funny to the cringe-worthy…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 7, 2013

A Soft Shoe Shimmy To Great Heights…

Filed under: ART,Funny,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

There must be something in the air around this busy intersection in  Leidschendam. Not just exhaust fumes from all the traffic either…  a sense of humour, maybe contagiously infected by the “robot” shaped telephone and communications mast on the other side. As we wait at our set of red traffic lights we spy strings of old shoes right at the top of some very tall street lights.  It would take a strong and brave climber to get up these poles to add a shoe or two.  A little distance away someone else has tried to start a “new” shoe string of their own… early days for this one it seems.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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