2 years ago I made myself a pair of Huaraches, here is a short photographic introduction, overview and a pitch for my Huarache Blog in case you would like to know more about the fascinatingly varied and often complex craft of Huarache sandals.
I traveled to the town of Sahuayo, Mexico, which with over 200 production centers (factories and workshops) is the manufacturing center for Huaraches in Mexico.
I arrived in Sahuayo and after some asking and searching I found the Ochoa ‘Taller’ (workshop) down this dusty street.
Antonio Ochoa and his son Victor are the only Huaracheros in Sahuayo who make formal/dress Huaraches. Below is a photo of Antonio the ‘Master Huarachero’, who showed me how to cut and weave my Huaraches.
I used a new dress last I purchased from a last maker in the city of Leon, Mexico. Mexican Huaracheros, have very few resources and typically use what lasts they can find. Many Huarache lasts are 50-80 years old!
Woven Mexican Huaraches are unique shoes or sandals where the upper is woven into the sole from a single strip of leather. This type of traditional woven construction is not only very complex, but also effectively combines upper construction and lasting. Making footwear from a woven strip of leather reduces and can even eliminate the need for pattern cutting, without nesting very little leather goes to wasted.
Weaving my Huarache, you can see the single strip of leather (correa) that marks the weaving start point. The spike tool on the right is called a ‘corregidor’ and its used to guide and sometimes force the leather strip through the tight weave.
Finished weaving, notice the the end of the single strip of leather (correa) showing under the heel.
The outsole and heel are stitched on and the Huaraches are ready to buff. Most traditional Huaraches are made without glue and have have no stitching, they are simply made from leather, nails and rubber from an old car tyre for the sole.
A quick comparison with the existing Ochoa Huarache designs.
The final polish done, they were ready to wear. I had intended to keep the natural vegetable tan finish, but the Ochoas convinced me otherwise.
Later the Huarachero picnic.
For more information regarding the culture, history and design of Huaraches visit Huarache Blog.