I love the internet. Every day another adventure. Every day something new to discover. It's almost as much fun as shopping the shoe aisles at Nordstrom Rack!
I was rooting around on Etsy.com a couple weeks back when I was astounded by a dazzling variety of creatively decorated clogs. And these were not just your common or garden variety Swedish shoes with some brightly colored leather slapped on 'em. These were clogs with lavishly woven uppers and clogs with colorfully painted bases and clogs with silk ribbon accents. Sometimes all on the same shoe. And what amazed me most is that they were all the product of one incredibly fertile imagination. Designing shoes is only the tip of this particular creative iceberg. I hesitate to tell you all the things she's been up to for fear that you'll experience the same moment of underachiever anxiety that I did. The artist's name is Rabiah Hodges. And to describe her as merely a shoe designer is to overlook the reams of other intriguing projects she's been a part of.
For the purposes of Every Clog Has Its Day, I'll simply introduce her as the owner of Chameleon Clogs, a line of wooden soled shoes that feature her custom woven uppers. But if you look around on her Etsy pages or visit her MySpace gallery, you'll see she has accomplished a lot in her tireless life. I'll let her tell her tale herself, and you can click through on one of the many links provided to do a little more digging about this artistic entrepreneur on your own.
Zsa Zsa clog from Chameleon Clogs
ECHID: This blog is unashamedly about clogs, clogs, and more clogs. But I know your own artistic endeavors cover a lot of other turf. Tell me how your got started as an artist and how you've scratched that creative itch over the years.
RABIAH: I have studied art all my life and began working towards my BFA focusing on wearable textiles in college. My mother made purses from damaged oriental rugs, and I began weaving textiles to coordinate and to be the focal point on many of her bags. Working with her was my first experience as an artist creating a body of wearable art for sale. I knew I would always want to be in the world of fashion, design and textiles...
Tropical Sunset clog from Chameleon Clogs
ECHID: How did you first get the idea to meld your weaving with footwear?
RABIAH: In 1999 I started a non profit weaving project with my local crisis center and women's shelter. I was given all the discarded clothing and accessory overflow to use to rag weave or remake into new saleable goods. [Here's the web site: www.ragweavers.com.] I did this for 8 years, and during this time I had the fortune to have two ladies come into my store and offer an incredible partnership. These ladies were the originators of Chameleon Clogs. They were looking for new, exciting surfaces for their collection of customizable clogs and my wovens were Perfect!!! I spent almost 2 years developing the fabric and its applications, and the rest is history!
ECHID: Do you make the clogs yourself? Or hire a cobbler to do the assembly?
RABIAH: I have the great fortune to work with a wonderful cobbler that alows for all kinds of creativity and helps me to get a perfect fit with custom work.
Purple Haze clog from Chameleon Clogs
ECHID: Why clogs? As opposed to creating intriguing woven sneakers? Or oxfords? Or sandals? What was the appeal of working with clogs?
RABIAH: Well, firstly, my clogs are the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. I wear them all year round even to work in. I would love to branch out to leather bottomed sandals, too...I am always looking for a new look. I recently added a higher heel to my collection and I am thrilled with the new height option. Secondly, I can paint on a wooden base and I love the combination!
Red N Zebra clog from Etsy.com
ECHID: Any surprises as you started designing your own shoes? Obstacles in the creative process to overcome? New ways of doing things you had to dream up?
RABIAH: Yes! As I said before it took almost 2 years to get them just right. Fine tuning the woven textile so it would stretch and not fray or fall apart was the biggest obstacle.
Chocolate Kiss clog with Giraffe bottom from Etsy.com
ECHID: How do you construct the uppers on your clogs so that they remain firm on the foot and prevent the fabric from unraveling?
RABIAH: I glue the textile to a leather hide first. Then the shoe shapes are cut out and sewn around all sides to secure the warp threads. This gives the clog a leather interior and structure. After construction and sizing I finalize the textiles with a overall coating of Scotchguard and fabric glue on the toe. This prevents future abrasions or scuffing from damaging the toes of your fabric clogs.
City Denim clog with closed heel from Etsy.com
ECHID: You've had a lot of fun naming your clogs. Any particular way you went about deciding what to call the different styles?
RABIAH: I love naming things. I would truly enjoy the job of naming lipstick and nail polish, too :) By giving the shoe a title, I can identify the colorway/design very easily. And I love to associate the palettes with favorite desserts and beverages: Chocolate Kiss (all browns) and Limeade (lime green and light denims) are two great examples. It brings to your mind yummy thoughts and feelings. Can't go wrong with that!
[N. B. Okay, the word "colorway" was my new thing to learn today. It's a term from the world of fabrics that refers to an arrangement of colors.]
Key Lime clog from Chameleon Clogs
ECHID: When did you first discover you liked wearing clogs? And do you have any stories of a favorite pair?
RABIAH: I am 5' so I have always been a fan of platforms or higher heeled shoes. In college I came across a vintage pair of wooden Candies clogs with a fur collar and wore them to death even though they were just a tad too small! My friends always joke with me because they know when I am coming due to the "clip clop" of my clogs. I currently am the proud owner of 12 pair of my clogs and one treasured pair of boots. :)
Woven boots with nubuck leather bottoms from Uncommon Threads MySpace page
ECHID: You've stepped outside the box already with the kind of clogs you create. What kind of responses are you getting from the marketplace? What feedback have you gotten that has given you the most pleasure?
RABIAH: I have been making these clogs for 6 years and I love to see that my collections are timeless and trendy! You can create something really now and hip or go with a timeless classic.... They may even be one and the same! I have a pair I've been wearing for 4 years now and they are Hipper now than they were then!!!
Another colorful pair of shoes in the process of being woven
ECHID: What are you proudest about when it comes to your line of Chameleon Clogs?
RABIAH: As a weaver and textile designer, I have been looking for a niche for many years to showcase my craft and not have to spend days and weeks finishing one scarf!! (that I would be then told was too expensive). I have found that the clog collection does just that!!!
The artist pictured with her first collection of woven handbags
ECHID: What are you proudest about in your artistic career in general?
RABIAH: That I am still a practicing artist and have been doing so for almost 20 years. And my development of Endless Possibilities. It is my crowning artist achievement. I hope to help more communities in the future to have one for their own! We raised over $120,000 in 2006 for the Outer Banks Hotline Crisis Intervention and Prevention Center!