The Making of Pointe Shoes

Traditionally, pointe shoes are sewn inside out. The shoe is only turned to the right side after the toe block has been constructed. The constructing of a pointe shoe requires a pre-cut piece of satin and lining (which will form the upper part of the shoe), and the insertion of a vamp section (which will form the sole of the shoe). Peach pink shades remain the traditional color for pointe shoes, implying the illusion of an extended leg. Pointe shoes have no right or left. The craftsman will use a special glue formula (based on a simple flour and water paste) to form the block. The shoes enter a hardening process in a hotair oven. Finally, the excess cloth is trimmed and the insole is attached with glue. The dancer herself undertakes the last step: Four pieces of ribbon are sewn onto the in-sides of a pair of shoes. Pointe shoe dancers usually experiment with the right placement of the ribbons in order to give maximum hold. To extend the short life of a pointe shoe, the ballerina will bake them and apply resin, floor wax, or super glue before she "breaks-in" the shoes to make them feel like a second skin. The altering caused by "breaking-in" can often shorten the life of a shoe by 50 percent.

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